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Short Takes: Ole Miss Sued over Right to Show Confederate Flag

from university wire

The battle over the waving of the Confederate flag at University of Mississippi football games moved into the courts when an attorney filed suit against Ole Miss for interfering with free speech rights.

Richard Barrett, a lawyer, asked federal judge L.T. Senter to lift the ban on sticks in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

In a copy of the suit obtained by The Daily Mississippian, Barrett said, "There is a considerable interest in the Confederate Flag waving at the ball game among students and others throughout the nation."

The incident stemmed from a confrontation between Barrett, his clients David Edwards and Richard Geldreich, both of New Jersey, and the University Police Department.

Barrett said that Edwards and Geldreich entered the stadium with a 3-by-5 foot flag without a stick and displayed the flag against a back wall near the scoreboard. After posting the flag "as so to not obscure anyone's vision," Barrett said that a patrolman approached the group and ordered them to take the flag down.

Barrett said that university police Captain Calvin Sellers was later called to the situation and threatened the three with arrest.

"The situation had nothing to do with the stick ban," Sellers said. "The flag was too large and flags of that size are not allowed in the stadium. This policy has been in effect for two or three years."

The rule says that no flags larger than 12-by-14 inches are allowed into the stadium.

Sellers also added that the violation had nothing to do with the stick ban because the flag in question was not brought in on a stick.

[Daily Mississippian, Nov. 21]

Editor convicted of embezzlement

Former Dartmouth Review Editor in Chief E. Davis Brewer began a six-month jail sentence last week for embezzling thousands of dollars from the off-campus conservative weekly.

In a hearing at the Grafton County Superior Court on Nov. 10, Brewer plead guilty to misdemeanor theft. In addition to the jail sentence, he was fined $500.

Brewer was originally charged in February for theft by unauthorized taking in excess of $5,000, a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in jail and a $4,000 fine.

During his tenure as editor in chief in 1995 and 1996, Brewer is alleged to have written checks in excess of $8,500 from The Review's accounts to pay his tuition bills, among other personal expenses.

The District Attorney, George Waldron, said he agreed to the lesser charge because Brewer had no prior criminal record and had paid the restitution in full.

Brewer sent a certified check to The Review about a week before the sentencing, according to English professor Emeritus Jeffrey Hart, who is a member of The Review's board. He said Brewer probably made this move in the hope that it would be considered in the sentencing.

Brewer, 24, an English major, did not graduate with his class and has yet to receive his diploma. If he returns to the college after his imprisonment, he may or may not be re-admitted.

A Senior Associate Dean of the college said a student's eligibility for re-admission after jail time depends on the student's status in leaving the college or on any changes in status while the student was away.

Several Dartmouth students in the past have served jail time, then returned to the college to earn their diploma, Nelson said. This includes students who have served jail sentences of a few days or several months.

[The Dartmouth, Nov. 24]

Wake Forest suspends fraternity

Wake Forest University announced last month that it is suspending its chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity through the academic year 1999-2000 for group responsibility violations, including hazing.

The fraternity immediately loses its housing and lounge privileges and must "cease all operations and activities at Wake Forest," according to a university press release.

The length of the suspension means that even the youngest brothers in the fraternity, who are sophomores now, will have graduated before the fraternity can ask to have the chapter restored at the university at the beginning of the 20002001 school year.

Harold Holmes, the dean of student services and an associate vice president, conducted the investigation and determined the fraternity's guilt and the sanctions.

Holmes said he constructed the sentence to give the fraternity a chance to renew itself. "You may want to give the fraternity an opportunity to start fresh," he said.

Unofficial reports suggest the charges against the Kappa Sigs included physical abuse of pledges, but the university did not release the exact charges of which Kappa Sig was found guilty, except to say that they fell under the broad context of group responsibility violations and hazing. It has therefore been difficult for students to judge whether the fraternity was treated fairly.

Pianca said that the fraternity brothers were unhappy with the results of the investigation. "Obviously there's a lot of displeasure and we're hoping for an appeal," he said. "From the start we were hoping it would be a little less harsh," he said of the verdict and the sentence.

[Old Gold and Black, Nov. 21]

Secret Service investigates writer

The Secret Service searched the apartment of Guy Branum and interrogated the Daily Californian columnist about his published observations on the Clinton family.

The two agents conducting the investigation then told Branum to stay in his apartment when he was not in class. They said they had obtained his course schedule from the campus Office of the Registrar.

The columnist openly recorded the encounter with the agents on a microcassette. University ofCalifornia police confirmed that they helped the Secret Service set up the visit, although the Secret Service would not comment on it. One agent told Branum the investigation was born after First Lady Hillary Clinton read a short news item about Branum's column in USA Today and discussed it with a different agent.

Agent Chris Van Holt told Branum: "I want to make sure you don't have any weapons or any of the stuff that you see on TV that actually happens in apartments, like a big picture of Chelsea with a big X' in blood on it."

The columnist asked UC Berkeley students last week to "show your spirit on Chelsea's bloodied carcass" after identifying her place of residence and saying she should be "destroyed." The Daily Californian said the next day in an editors' note that it should not have run the piece.

[Daily Californian, Nov. 25]

UC awards benefits to partners

Capping off a two-day meeting, featuring protests and an unusual visit by Gov. Pete Wilson, the University of California Board of Regents voted to extend health-care benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian university employees.

According to the proposal's supporters, this move will help retain employees and keep the university competitive. The proposal was approved 13 to 12 with one abstention, despite Wilson's efforts to prevent the item from passing.

Wilson appointed three new regents on Wednesday and Friday, all of whom were allowed to immediately become voting members of the board. All of the new regents voted against the proposal.

The vote came down to Regent Velma Montoya, a Wilson appointee. She proposed a failed amendment to the item which would not allow current retirees to receive domestic-partner benefits.

According to the proposal, drafted by UC President Richard Atkinson, the estimated cost of providing health benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners would be between $1.9 million and $5.6 million..

In order to qualify for benefits, a couple must each be at least 18 years of age, have lived together for at least 12 months, show mutual financial support and sign a contract stating that these conditions have been met.

Wilson made a rare appearance at the meeting last week in order to express his disapproval with the domestic-partner proposal, and to encourage the board to vote against it.

"The state does have a responsibility to adopt and follow policies that recognize and value the special status of marriage," Wilson wrote earlier to the board. "That responsibility in my judgment heavily outweighs the argument offered in support of creating this new benefit for unmarried partners of staff and faculty."

Wilson also said in the letter that the approval of domestic-partner benefits for only homosexual employees would open the university to lawsuits from heterosexual employees who would be ineligible to receive such benefits.

According to Wilson, by granting benefits to same-sex couples, the university would be legally obligated to grant the same benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples - a move he believes would further devalue the status of marriage.

[The Guardian, Nov. 24]

Nasdaq head admits to prank

When designing the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson never thought of putting cows on top of the University's rotunda.

But the most infamous prank in University history did just that, when a group of five students placed a 250-pound black calf 50 feet in the air on top of the rotunda during the spring of 1965. The animal died shortly after it was removed from the roof because of shock, dehydration and a sedative overdose.

The bizarre bovine case remained unsolved for 31 years until Alfred R. Berkeley III, now president of the Nasdaq stock market, confessed to being one of the culprits last June.

Last month, Berkeley donated $1,765, at the request of former Albemarle County Sheriff George Bailey, to the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad - the same amount of money investigators spent trying to solve the case 32 years ago.

Bailey, who headed up the investigation, learned of Berkeley's confession this summer from an article in the University's alumni magazine.

Bailey said he tallied up the investigation's expenses and sent an itemized bill to Berkeley, who was more than willing to pay.

Bailey, who had the opportunity to decide where to direct the funds, said choosing a donation for Berkeley's money was an easy one.

"I'm very proud of the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad," he said. "It was the natural thing for me to do."

The stunt had also been pulled about 100 years ago.

"Back in the earlier days it was pretty easy" to put a cow on the roof, he said. "Cows wandered around" campus freely.

But in 1965 cows were not regular denizens, making the events surrounding the prank all the more mysterious.

Bice said a large search for the culprit ensued. "They made an exhaustive search. Nobody had any calves missing," he said.

Bailey said he visited every farm in Albemarle County "to see if I could find out where the calf came from."

He said he asked the farmers if they sold a calf to University students or if any cows had been stolen.

"I personally went to the farm where the calf came from," he added.

But the calf was not stolen or bought, it was given to a University student by the father of one of the pranksters, Bailey later discovered.

[Cavalier Daily, Nov. 21]