Elon student dies at UNC-Chapel Hill | The News and Observer

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Nov 132015


November 13, 2015

Elon University students gathered at the school’s Rhodes Stadium on Thursday afternoon to remember a fellow student who died Wednesday in a fall from a high-rise residence hall at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Demitri Allison, a junior from Cornelius, was found outside Morrison Residence Hall, a 10-story building at UNC. He was a management major and a wide receiver on Elon’s football team.

An announcement on Elon’s website said Allison had left the Elon campus on Tuesday, prompting his friends, family and teammates to become concerned about his well-being and emotional state. Theyut his well-being and emotional state. They had asked police to look for him.

“Everyone associated with Elon athletics is devastated,” said Elon Athletics Director Dave Blank. “Demitri was a talented young man with a bright future who was loved by his teammates. We mourn his loss deeply and we pray for his family and loved ones.”

Both universities offered counseling to students, faculty, staff and teammates.

“The death of any student is devastating to our community, especially in situations like this, and we want to reach out to friends and acquaintances who knew Demitri,” said a message from Elon’s vice president for student life, Smith Jackson. “The loss of a classmate, friend and student reminds us that the life of each person in our community is precious.”


UNC dismisses two more employees in academic-athletic scandal | The News & Observer

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Nov 132015


By Dan Kane
November 13, 2015

UNC-Chapel Hill officials dismissed two more employees Thursday as part of its continued cleanup of the long-running academic-athletic scandal, but allowed a former administrator accused of missing clues to the mess to keep her job.

UNC cleared three other employees, saying the evidence showed they lacked knowledge of what a detailed investigation found to be the critically culpable knowledge in the case: that Debby Crowder, a former administrative manager for the African and Afro-American Studies department, was grading papers for the classes that never met.

The disciplinary actions come more than a year after Kenneth Wainstein’s investigation into the scandal. Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official, found that Crowder had hatched a “shadow curriculum” of classes that never met and provided a high grade if students simply turned in a paper.

She began the classes in 1993, the report said, after counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes complained that the department’s independent studies were too demanding. At first, she listed them as independent studies, even though no professor was involved, but by the end of the decade she was giving them course numbers associated with lecture classes.

Those disciplined or dismissed are:

▪ Roberta “Bobbi” Owen, the former senior associate dean for undergraduate education who oversaw the athletes’ tutoring program, was prohibited from ever serving in an administrative or programmatic role. UNC officials said she failed to recognize that the high numbers of independent studies within the department were a strong indicator of the fake classes.

Owen remains at the university as a drama professor. She said in a statement that Wainstein’s report was “wrong about me.” Her attorney, Douglas Kingsbery, accused the university in a letter of not providing all of the email correspondence to Wainstein detailing what she knew and didn’t know as the boss of Crowder and Julius Nyang’oro, the department chairman. Nyang’oro had condoned Crowder’s fake classes, which often listed him as the professor.

Kingsbery said Owen denied knowing Nyang’oro was listed as teaching inordinately high numbers of independent studies, and that while she did “admonish” Nyang’oro about actions Crowder had taken, Owen did not know about the fake classes.

In Owen’s statement, she also said: “As far as I am concerned, I always kept my supervisors and others informed. That said, I have no interest in Senior Administrative Positions at UNC-Chapel Hill at this point in my career, but do look forward to continuing to fully participate as an active member of the faculty in my department and of the University community.”

▪ Travis Gore, an administrative assistant to the department, was fired for inappropriate help to students that included “falsifying an email” so two of them would be enrolled in an independent study course.

▪ Brent Blanton, associate director of the athletes’ academic support program, was “discontinued” in that role. UNC officials did not provide an explanation in his termination letter, only stating that he was an “at will” employee. Blanton, was hired in 2005, and worked with athletes in nonrevenue sports, particularly women’s soccer. Wainstein found Blanton had steered athletes to the classes but did not know Crowder was doing the grading.

The employees UNC determined had not acted improperly are Andre Williams, a former director of development for the football team who now works as an associate development director for the university’s Arts and Sciences Foundation; Corey Holliday, an associate athletic director who primarily works with the football team; and Alphonse Mutima, a Swahili instructor.

UNC officials found that none of the three knew Crowder graded the classes. They also found that Williams and Holliday had not attended a presentation in which the football team’s academic counselors discussed how the impending loss of the classes — via Crowder’s retirement — were an immediate threat to some players’ eligibility. UNC said Mutima had refused Crowder’s requests that he give athletes better grades.

UNC had previously forced the resignations of two faculty — Jan Boxill, the former faculty leader, and Tim McMillan, an AFAM instructor — and fired Jaimie Lee, who was a counselor to athletes. Beth Bridger, who had left UNC-Chapel Hill but was working at UNC-Wilmington, lost her job at UNC-W. Wainstein found the four knew Crowder was grading the papers.

UNC-CH officials say there are no more disciplinary actions pending.

Wainstein’s investigation found that 3,100 students — half of them athletes — took at least one fake class over an 18-year period. The NCAA has hit UNC with five major allegations of noncompliance, including a lack of institutional control. That case has yet to be heard by the NCAA’s infractions committee.


Editorial: At a public university, the UNC board of governors prefers secrecy | The News & Observer

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Nov 132015


November 13, 2015

The virtues of giving large raises to 12 of 17 chancellors in the University of North Carolina system can be fairly debated. But what’s not open for dispute is the arrogance and ineptitude exhibited by the UNC Board of Governors in the granting of those raises in a secret meeting. The public was not privy to the debate or to the reasons for the action, simply because this board didn’t wish to do its duty in reporting to the people it is supposed to serve.

Instead, the board dominated by Republicans appointed by the GOP-run General Assembly acted as if it were the board of a private corporation.

The News & Observer is among the media organizations that objected to the closed meeting and The N&O has continued to pursue minutes of the meeting, which have not been released as required by law. Instead, the UNC system’s lawyer says the minutes haven’t been prepared and the board will take up the issue in its December meeting.

But now a special meeting has been called for today, because members of the General Assembly are concerned that the board may have violated the Open Meetings law. These legislators are the ones who put BOG members in place, but even they feel poorly informed about the board’s activities. They were miffed by the way the board chose a new UNC system president, Margaret Spellings, without keeping legislative leaders in the loop.

The board’s “we know best, mind your own business” attitude toward the public won’t cut it. And board members who are uncomfortable with doing the people’s business in public, and with full disclosure of how that business was done, shouldn’t be on the board.

A decision made in secret, particularly when it involves something as volatile as big raises for chancellors who already make big salaries, loses credibility with the public. For such decisions appear to be arbitrary, and the secrecy only makes people suspicious.

Making the case for chancellor raises, or any other controversial action, in public only strengthens public confidence that such action was duly considered.

The board has done itself damage by reverting to secrecy on an issue that deserved public debate.


Legislators want records from UNC board’s closed session on chancellor raises | The News & Observer

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Nov 132015


By Jane Stancill
November 13, 2015

Legislative leaders want “any and all records” from the UNC Board of Governors’ closed-door meeting last month where 12 chancellors’ salaries were raised.

Andrew Tripp, general counsel to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, requested the records on Oct. 30, the same day of the meeting. The UNC system board will meet Friday to consider the request.

Tripp wrote to UNC attorney Tom Shanahan on behalf of Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. “This request includes but is not limited to i) the audio recording made of both the open and closed portions of today’s meeting and ii) any agendas and minutes produced pursuant to G.S. 143-318.10, including draft and final versions, for both the open and closed portions of today’s meeting,” Tripp wrote.

The demand for records from a UNC board discussion was rare, and perhaps an indication of the level of lawmakers’ discontent with the 32-member governing board. For months, legislators have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the board has operated, both for a general lack of transparency and for a secretive presidential search process.

[Read the legislative request for records of UNC Board of Governors’ meeting]

Board leaders and Shanahan were summoned to appear before the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations next week. When asked Friday if that had to do with chancellors’ raises, Berger said: “It’s about that, but it’s about a more basic thing, and that is the idea of what you do in a closed session. But I think those two things are connected, obviously connected.”

Berger went on to say that there “may be multiple issues with reference to the Board of Governors.”

“I would say for me at this point the more problematic has to do with the open meetings issue,” Berger added, “because I think that cascades into a number of other issues.”

Media organizations also objected to the Oct. 30 closed-session vote, and the university’s refusal to release information about the salaries promptly after the action. Three days after the meeting, the university provided information about the raises, which ranged from 8 percent to 19 percent for a dozen chancellors across the state.

Amanda Martin, counsel for the N.C. Press Association, said there is no legal reason for the UNC board not to release the minutes of the Oct 30 meeting. “Just because the minutes haven’t been approved does not mean that they are not a public record,” she said.

The News & Observer has requested minutes of the closed session, which so far have not been released. State law says the minutes of closed meetings must be produced, as long as their release wouldn’t “frustrate the purpose of a closed session.” The raises, which were retroactive to July 1, have already been implemented.

Shanahan has said the information would not be released to the media until the board approves the minutes at its December meeting. Lou Bissette, vice chairman of the UNC board, said the minutes had not been prepared yet and wouldn’t be approved or provided to reporters Friday.

Bissette said he expected the board to take action to release the information, including a tape of the discussion, to the lawmakers on Friday.

“It is an unusual request,” Bissette said, “but under the statutes, as far as we can determine, they have every right to ask it.”

Tripp cited statutes in asserting the legislature’s authority to gain access to the board’s records.

“There may be some confusion regarding the ability of the North Carolina General Assembly to access records of closed sessions of public bodies,” he wrote to Shanahan. “In light of this, it may be helpful for your office to email a reminder to board members of the University’s continuing duty to respond to legislative requests for information, even where a particular meeting occurs in ‘closed session’ for purposes of the Open Meetings Law.”

Tripp asked for the information “as soon as possible.”

The raises have drawn the ire of faculty groups at Appalachian State University and East Carolina University. Faculty and staff at the state’s public universities received $750 bonuses but no raises this year.

Triangle chancellors were among the beneficiaries of the Oct. 30 board action.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt received a raise of 9.6 percent – or $50,000 – bringing her base pay to $570,000. N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White got a $45,000 raise – almost 16 percent – bringing her annual pay to $330,000.

Randy Woodson, chancellor of N.C. State University, received a 13 percent salary hike – or $70,000 – which will bring his base pay to $590,000. During the summer, he was given a four-year deal and a compensation package with an annual stipend of $200,000 paid by private funds at NCSU, plus the possibility of performance bonuses.


Protest leaders from Concerned Student 1950 included some of the unmet demands he helped create | The News & Observer

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Nov 132015


November 13, 2015

Healing a campus riven by student protests over race relations and recent online terror threats isn’t just a mandate for interim University of Missouri system president Mike Middleton. It’s also deeply embedded in his history.

The former law professor, whose appointment was announced Thursday, spent 18 years as deputy chancellor on the same Columbia campus from which he graduated in 1971 and later received a law degree. The 68-year-old stepped down in August but continued to work part-time with now-ousted Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on a plan to increase inclusion and diversity at the school.

As an undergraduate, Middleton was a founder of the Legion of Black Collegians, an activist student group that participated in the protests that led to this week’s back-to-back resignations of former system President Tim Wolfe and Loftin. Protest leaders from the group Concerned Student 1950 – named for the year Missouri admitted its first back student – included some of the unmet demands Middleton helped create as a civil rights and anti-war protester.

Middleton said he keeps a list of those original demands on his desk.

His bona fides contributed to a warm welcome and vigorous applause from university administrators and leaders of two black student groups who attended Middleton’s news conference.

“I am very excited,” said Tamara Hodges, a member of the Black Law Students Association at Missouri. “He’s been a part of this community for a long time. He’s going to be a great leader for this system.”

Concerned Student 1950 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about Middleton’s new position. A student who was one of the original organizers of the group was not immediately available for comment.

Middleton’s pride in the university – which he called “an incredible institution” – was apparent. So was his frustration and anger over recent events, including the student government president’s report of having racial slurs hurled at him, a black man, and the discovery of swastika drawn in feces in a dormitory bathroom.

“I was glad that I retired,” Middleton said. “It was embarrassing. It was hurtful. It was scary. It crossed my mind that my 30-year career here was a failure.”

He vowed to address the frustrations behind student-led protests but said that didn’t automatically mean the group would get its way.
Missouri Names Former Protester Interim Pres.

He also spoke candidly about the challenges the four-campus system faces and the broader societal divide that he’s spent most of his adult life trying to bridge, including a stint in Washington as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Former Missouri athletic director Mike Alden called Middleton “the right guy” for the job.

“Character-wise, experience-wise, compassionate-wise, leadership-wise, he’s the right person,” said Alden, now a faculty member who specializes in educational leadership.

Interim President Mike Middleton vowed to address the frustrations behind student-led protests but said that didn’t automatically mean the group would get its way.

Middleton also worked as an interim vice provost for minority affairs and faculty development, a role in which he was credited with turning women’s studies and black studies programs into their own departments.

Asked if he felt like his appointment was based on race, Middleton gave a nuanced response. The university system’s first black leader was the late Elson Floyd, who was in charge from 2003 to 2007.

“That’s a complex question, and it’s reflective of the institutional racism that we are trying to get beyond,” he said. “I suspect that my color will be met with much criticism from parts of our community.

“I also suspect that my color was a factor in the judgment that I was the person at this time for this position.”

Middleton added that “at the moment” he wasn’t interested in the permanent job.


Guilty Plea in Drug Overdoses at Wesleyan | The New York Times

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Nov 132015


NOV. 12, 2015

NEW HAVEN — A former Wesleyan University student pleaded guilty on Thursday to a federal drug dealing charge, admitting that he had distributed a party drug that left nearly a dozen students hospitalized, two in critical condition, after they overdosed on the drug last winter.

The former student, Zachary Kramer, 22, of Bethesda, Md., pleaded guilty in United States District Court to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute MDMA, a club drug also known, sometimes in different forms, as Molly or Ecstasy.

Mr. Kramer and a fellow former student, Eric Lonergan, were charged by federal prosecutors three months after the overdoses at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn. Both men were expelled after their arrests.

During a frantic Sunday in February, ambulances crisscrossed the university’s snow-packed campus, transporting students to hospitals. In all, 10 Wesleyan students and one guest were hospitalized after overdosing on a drug they believed was Molly.

One of those students most seriously injured was Abhimanyu Janamanchi, a friend of Mr. Kramer’s. Mr. Janamanchi’s heart stopped hours after he took the drug, and Mr. Kramer administered chest compressions at the direction of a 911 dispatcher after he called for help from his dorm room.

On the way to the hospital, paramedics shocked Mr. Janamanchi’s heart six times. He recovered, and later was also arrested on drug charges. He has pleaded not guilty. His next court date is in February.

In all, five students were arrested after the overdoses. Mr. Lonergan and Mr. Kramer, whom prosecutors have said were the primary distributors of Molly on campus, were the only two who faced federal charges.

The drug that sickened students was not Molly, prosecutors said. In fact, unbeknown to Mr. Kramer, prosecutors said, what he and other students distributed on campus was a combination of two different chemicals, one of which was a controlled substance called AB-Fubinaca.

Prosecutors said Mr. Lonergan, who is expected to plead guilty later this month, started selling Molly on campus in fall 2013. A year later, Mr. Kramer also started selling the drug, which he bought from Mr. Lonergan, they said.

By last December, Mr. Kramer was the primary distributor of Molly at Wesleyan, one of the prosecutors, Robert Spector, said in court on Thursday.

When students returned to campus in January after winter break, Mr. Kramer bought the rest of Mr. Lonergan’s stash, prosecutors said. He then distributed the drug to other students, who sold it to classmates.

On Thursday, Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam asked Mr. Kramer whether he understood the maximum jail sentence he faced.

“Twenty years, Your Honor,” he said.

But Mr. Kramer is unlikely to serve anything close to that. Federal guidelines call for a 12- to 18-month sentence, although the sentencing judge is not bound by those guidelines or by the agreement Mr. Kramer struck with prosecutors, Judge Merriam said during the hearing.

In addition to a possible prison term, Mr. Kramer also faces supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant of Federal District Court in Hartford.

Mr. Kramer’s lawyer, William F. Dow III, said he expected the state charges would be dropped after his client was sentenced on the federal charges. Federal prosecutors said they would dismiss two additional charges pending against him after his sentencing.

Mr. Kramer was released on bond after his arrest, and has been staying at his parents’ home in Maryland. Judge Merriam agreed to let him remain on bond until he is sentenced.


Swastika at Bowie State as threats, resignations, protests spread across American colleges | The Washington Post

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Nov 132015


By Michael E. Miller
November 13 at 9:44 AM

Another swastika. Another campus. Another outrage.

On Thursday morning, students at historically black Bowie State University in Maryland found a swastika scrawled on a building named after a civil rights movement hero.

The swastika was spray-painted on a column at the Martin Luther King Jr. Communications Art Center, the university announced. The racist symbol was quickly removed, but not before photos — and anger — spread from the Maryland university to the Internet and beyond.

The ugly incident, which campus and county police are investigating as a possible hate crime, was only one of a number of incidents at universities across the United States, however.

At the University of Missouri, where anonymous death threats terrified minorities earlier in the week, the school suffered another setback when a sign for its black culture center was vandalized.

Howard University, another historically black institution, in D.C. was also hit with anonymous death threats as someone identifying themselves as a disgruntled Mizzou student said they were going to shoot black people.

“After all,” the person wrote, “it’s not murder if they’re black.”

Meanwhile, liberal arts colleges across the country struggled with racial tensions. On the East Coast, students at Yale and Ithaca College continued to demand administrators step down over recent incidents.

And at Claremont McKenna College in California, a dean did just that, resigning after an op-ed provoked ire from minorities.

“Chaos on campus,” is how Fox News summed up the string of incidents on Thursday.

Whatever you call it, what’s clear is that unrest is spreading across American universities. One by one, campuses are lighting up with protests, demonstrations and — in a handful of cases — death threats, plunging the country into a broader debate about lingering racism more than half a century after the Civil Rights Act.

Many of the demonstrations, as well as several of the death threats, are connected to what’s occurred at Mizzou.

Students at colleges across the United States engaged in a “Blackout” demonstration Thursday, wearing black to denounce racism and show support for protesters at the University of Missouri. From New York to Arkansas to Texas to California, college students posted photos on social media with clenched fists held in the air. Even students at the University of Kansas, Mizzou’s bitter Midwestern rival, joined in.

At several universities, students are taking strategies on display at Mizzou and adapting them to their own struggles.

On Wednesday, students at Ithaca College in central New York state engaged in a “die-in” to show solidarity with Mizzou but also to protest Ithaca administrator’s own alleged indifference to racism on campus.

The unrest in Ithaca dates to Oct. 8, when the school hosted an event featuring four alumni. What was supposed to be a brainstorming session on academic immersion, however, quickly went south as two older white alumni referred to a young African American alumna as a “savage.” After Tatiana Sy said she had a “savage hunger” for success, CEO J. Christopher Burch added, “I love what the savage here said.” The panel’s moderator, former NBC News correspondent Bob Kur then pointed to Sy and said, “You’re the savage.”

“What empathy means is actually caring deeply for other people’s personal pain,” Burch continued, “and so as this young—as this savage sits here…”

“All right,” Sy responded uncomfortably. “I mean…”

Ithaca College president Tom Rochon apologized for the “insensitive comments” but his statement only sparked more anger.

“In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus,” he wrote. “Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise disrespectful. Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community.”

Tempers have been rising on campus ever since. And on Tuesday, the day after University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe resigned, Rochon announced Ithaca was creating the position of chief diversity officer and filling it with an African American provost. On Wednesday, however, more than a thousand protesters chanted “Tom Rochon. No confidence,” demanding Rochon follow Wolfe’s lead and step down, according to the Ithaca Journal.

Protesters encourage students to lay down as part of a ‘die-in’ at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., on November 11, 2015. A walkout organized by a student group called People of Color at Ithaca College took place on Wednesday afternoon, attracting hundreds of demonstrators demanding the resignation of Ithaca president Tom Rochon. (Matthew Liptak/Reuters)

On the other side of the country, students at Claremont McKenna College emulated Mizzou protest leader Jonathan Butler by going on hunger strike and forcing the resignation of the college’s dean.

On Thursday, Claremont dean Mary Spellman stepped down after protests over an e-mail she sent to a Latina student saying she would work to serve those who “don’t fit our CMC mold.”

For some students, Spellman’s e-mail was a sign that she didn’t grasp the plight of minorities on campus. Back in April, about 30 students at the liberal arts college near Los Angeles wrote to its president to complain that they felt intimidated and isolated, according to the Los Angeles Times. They cited recent incidents including racial slurs, vandalism at the Queer Resource Center and the defacement of Black Lives Matter posters.

Taylor Lemmon, one of two Claremont students on hunger-strike this week to demand Spellman’s resignation, said the dean’s decision was a victory.

“Let this be a message to anyone who sees a wrong and speaks out to make it right. You can do it,” Lemmon wrote, according to the Times. “All you have to do is speak up, be strong in your convictions and never give up.”

Like Ithaca, Claremont had attempted to address students’ anger earlier in the week by creating new positions on diversity and inclusion for students and faculty. Adding to the charged atmosphere at Claremont were reports Thursday that the college’s junior class president had also stepped down after a photo surfaced showing her posing with two friends who were dressed in ponchos, sombreros and mustaches for Halloween.

The Missouri connection was also on display at Yale, where one of the Mizzou protest organizers phoned in during a demonstration on Wednesday. The Ivy League institution has been set on edge by its own series of racist incidents, including swastikas drawn on campus last year and allegations of a “white girls only” frat party this semester.

Campus protests really came to life, however, after a school official — charged with fostering “well-being and safety” in her dorm — sent an e-mail pushing back against the university’s warning against offensive Halloween costumes.

“Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” wrote professor and associate residential college master Erika Christakis. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity – in your capacity – to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?”

Christakis appears to have misread her students, however, by assuming they resented the university’s costume guidelines. When her husband, also a professor and residential college master at Yale, tried to defend his wife’s e-mail, he was shouted down by a distraught student in an exchange caught on a now viral video.

“Fundamentally, what hurt students… was that the response from the Christakises did not initially acknowledge students’ pain,” sophomore Alois Cerbu told the Yale Daily News.

Hundreds of students protested last week. And on Nov. 6, Yale University president Peter Salovey told students “We failed you.”

But the temperature on campus has hardly cooled. And inspired by the success of Missouri’s Concerned Student 1950 protesters, many Yale students have pushed for more results. On Wednesday night, more than a thousand people filled the largest chapel on Yale’s campus for a “teach-in” about issues facing minority students.

If demonstrations across the country show signs of connections to Mizzou, sadly, so, too, do some of the threats against minority students.

The appearance of the swastika at Bowie State came on the same day that the University of Missouri released a photo of its own swastika, written in feces on a dorm room wall late last month. The photos and a campus police report put to rest speculation by right-wing bloggers that the swastika was a “hoax.”

“This imagery symbolizes deep racial hatred and discrimination that go against the core values of Bowie State University,” the university said in a statement. “We live in a community at Bowie State that values diversity, civility, vigorous debate and scholarly discussions. The imagery that was left seemed to be hateful and such will not be tolerated. We do not tolerate hate speech among students, faculty or staff. We support those students who have decided to rally in opposition to hate speech.”

D.C. Metro Police patrol the front gates of Howard University in Washington, on November 12, 2015, as the campus tightens security after an online death threat was issued against the historically black college. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The threats at Howard University showed an even more troubling connection to the incidents at Mizzou. In an anonymous letter posted online Wednesday evening, someone claiming to have “left MU yesterday” threatened to shoot black students at Howard on Thursday.

“Seriously America why are we still putting up with this s—?” began the letter, which included a photo of Tim Wolfe, the MU president who resigned Monday. The hate- and expletive-filled letter then proceeded to blame African Americans for “whining and complaining.”

“I left MU yesterday because I couldn’t put up with it anymore,” the person wrote, according to WUSA 9. “I go home to MD and what do I see? The same old s—. Turn on the news and it’s always the n—— causing trouble everywhere.”

The person then threatened to shoot any African Americans on Howard’s campus after 10 a.m. on Thursday.

The spiraling number of racist incidents came full circle when vandals painted over the word “black” on a sign for Mizzou’s Black Culture Center Thursday morning.

The vandalized Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center sign on the University of Missouri campus on Thursday, November 12, 2015. (Bruno Vernaschi/The Maneater)

Meanwhile, the incidents at Mizzou have also stirred action at campuses that have not reported racist incidents.

At Georgetown University, a show of solidarity with students at Mizzou has quickly transformed into demands for change in D.C.

On Thursday, roughly 250 students demonstrated and announced their intention to stage a sit-in outside the university president’s office on Friday. They presented a list of demands, beginning with the renaming of two buildings named after a Georgetown president who sold 272 slaves and his lawyer, who performed the sale, according to student newspaper the Hoya.

Candace Milner, a business school student at Georgetown, read off other demands, including installing plaques on unmarked graves of slaves on campus and the creation of an “endowment to recruit black identifying professors,” the Georgetown Voice reported. The endowment should be “equivalent to the Net Present Value of the profit generated from the transaction in which 272 people were sold into bondage,” protesters demanded.

Students at Smith College in Massachusetts walked out of classes Wednesday to draw attention to challenges minorities face on campuses across America. They chanted “Who’s not here” to “call attention to white students who do not have to carry the burden of racism and racial injustice as well as to point out the black and brown faces that are not at (predominantly white institutions) like Smith College because of institutionalized, racially charged reasons,” wrote protest organizer Raven Fowlkes-Witten, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

In perhaps the most curious official response to the incidents at Mizzou, Purdue president and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels issued a statement Wednesday boasting about his university’s tranquil campus climate.

“Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech,” he wrote. “What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale.”

But Daniels may have spoken too soon. Hours after he issued his statement, Purdue students announced they were holding their own rally to show solidarity with Mizzou and — you guessed it — discuss past incidents of racism on campus.


Grade Point: Death threats at Howard U., with references to Mizzou, under investigation | The Washington Post

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Nov 132015


By Susan Svrluga
November 12 at 1:45 PM

An anonymous threat to Howard University circulated on social media Wednesday night, with the author saying that anyone on the historically black university’s campus after 10 a.m. Thursday would “be the first to go” and closing with: “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”

The message included a photo of Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system, who was forced to resign Monday after escalating protests over racial and other bias issues on campus. The threat at Howard — which is in Washington, D.C. — said that “good people like this guy have to suffer for it” when black people complain.

“I left MU yesterday because I couldn’t put up with it anymore,” the message continues, but expresses frustration about seeing the same issues in Maryland, alleging that black people are causing trouble everywhere. “Turn on the news and it’s always the [racial slur deleted] causing trouble everywhere.

“So I’ve decided. Any [n-word] left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go.” Any that try to escape on the Metro will regret that, the message continues. “I’ll go out a hero knowing I made the world better. I just hope at least someone else can see it too and continue the fight…

“After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”

On Thursday, Howard University released a statement:

“We are aware of the threat made against the University and its students and are working with campus, local, and federal law enforcement on this serious matter. This is an ongoing investigation. However, in an abundance of caution, the University has increased security on campus and at area Metro stations. We strongly encourage the campus community and our neighbors to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.”

But many students and parents were upset that the university wasn’t locked down.

Amber Cook said her daughter, a sophomore there, has been staying in her room today. Like many students, she had dressed in black to show her support for Mizzou, but a security guard stopped her on her way out and urged her to be careful. She hadn’t heard about the threat, and when she got to class, her professor told her it had been canceled.

Cook said she is very worried but is staying in constant communication with her daughter from their home in California. “I’m outraged that the university has not been proactive in making sure that students feel safe,” she said.

A protest leader at Mizzou, graduate student Jonathan Butler, who staged a hunger strike to demand Wolfe’s resignation, posted about the threat as word spread.


ECU dedicates pavers to vets | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 122015


By Holly West

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Family and friends of U.S. military veterans gathered outside Christenbury Memorial Gym Wednesday afternoon to dedicate pavers to their loved ones.

The 6-inch by 9-inch grey brick pavers were placed in East Carolina University’s Memorial Walk, which now has 250 pavers commemorating service members and their supporters.

“We’re getting a nice problem here,” Steve Duncan, ECU’s director of military programs, said. “We’re running out of space.”

The pavers cost $125, with most of the money going toward scholarships for ECU ROTC students. Since the paver project started seven years ago, four or five scholarships have been given out each year.

“You, through the pavers, have honored a loved one and are keeping the legacy alive,” Duncan told the crowd.

Among Wednesday’s 58 honorees was Ben R660, the first service dog to receive a paver at ECU. Ben served two tours in Afghanistan and, like many other veterans, canine and human alike, he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He now is retired from service and lives with a Greenville family.

Another family, Wayne and Sherry Holloman, dedicated a paver to Sherry Holloman’s adopted father, Dr. Joseph Bower, who served in the Navy. It was the second paver they have purchased for the Memorial Walk, with the first being dedicated to her biological father, Lt. Doug McKee, at a previous ceremony.

“We just have a love for East Carolina, and it’s a day of recognition and appreciation for the sacrifices that have been made,” Wayne Holloman said.

As each name was read and paver placed, ECU ROTC Cadet Kelsey Page rang the Victory Bell that stands in the same courtyard as the Memorial Walk, in front of a plaque commemorating all ECU students, staff and faculty who have served.

Former N.C. Rep. Edith Warren and her family installed eight pavers, six of which honored six of her husband’s brothers all of whom saw combat and returned home. Their combined service began before World War II through the Vietnam War. Another paver honored service at Normandy, which recently marked the 70th anniversary of the end of that battle.

Lt. Col. Roxane Engelbrecht, an Air Force ROTC instructor at ECU, spoke at the ceremony about why she chose to serve. She said the camaraderie she developed with other service members made the sacrifice worth it.

“After 18 years, the wisdom of my inner peace tells me two things, that when the call comes I will be tasked just to the edge of my capability and it will be difficult,” she said. “But number two, I will be surrounded and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the men and women who will become my family, who will trust me with their lives and I will trust with mine. It’s that trust and those men and women who are my family and they are my greatest reward.”

Lt. Col. Joseph Pierce, an ECU military science professor, expressed a similar sentiment. He said the continuous years of war since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have challenged the armed forces, but the bonds between its members have only been strengthened.

“I saw the world at its worst, but remained inspired by the people like you see here in this crowd,” he said.


ECU raises awareness of sexual violence | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 122015


By Holly West

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

East Carolina University students wanted to take back the night ­— and they did Wednesday when hundreds of them walked down College Hill to raise awareness of sexual violence.

The event was held shortly after dark and served to highlight the fear that many students, particularly women, feel when walking to and from classes and other activities in the evening.

“Most sexual violence happens at night,” ECU victim advocate Kat Bursky said. “Most women are taught from young to be afraid of the dark.”

Senior psychology major Martha Ervin, who helped plan the walk, said she hopes the walk empowered women and made a public statement that they should not have to be afraid to walk at night.

“I really hope students learn the importance of being aware of sexual violence on campus, as well as how to stand up for their peers who might be victims,” she said.

Take Back the Night has been held on ECU’s campus for several years, but this year it is part of the first ever Pledge Purple Week, an education and advocacy effort focused on sexual violence, harassment and bullying.

Tuesday’s event was a bystander training program, which focused on what students should do if they witness acts of violence.

Throughout the day Wednesday, students were urged to sign the Purple Pledge to show the university’s commitment to making students safer.

“It’s saying not only will they not commit the acts but they’ll stand up for others who have been victimized,” Bursky said.

Tonight, Beverly Gooden, creator of the campaign #WhyIStayed, will share her experience as a survivor of domestic violence at 5 p.m. in the Vidant Medical Center Auditorium and at 8 p.m. in the Hendrix Theatre of Mendenhall Student Center.

The week’s events conclude Friday, when the ECU volleyball team will wear Pledge Purple shirts during warm-ups. Fans also are encouraged to wear their Pledge Purple shirts to the game, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in Minges Coliseum.

ECU graduate student Jarmichael Harris, who attended Take Back the Night, said it was good to see so many people come out to support the cause.

“It’s something I’m glad the university is getting behind,” he said.

For help after a sexual assault, students can contact the Office of Victim Services. Its 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone number is 328-6787. The staff can be reached by email at ecupdva@ecu.edu. The office offers counseling and connects victims with the appropriate resources.


New face of addiction epidemic in ENC: Part one | WCTI

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Nov 122015


By Rebekah Thurston
November 10, 2015

To view the news video from WCTI, click here.

GREENVILLE, Pitt County –

Law enforcement and health care providers in our area say drug addiction has changed and they’re now calling it an epidemic.

Christopher Strathy is your typical family man.

“I was the middle class, Eagle Scout, jock-next-door,” he said.

But he remembers how the typical life changed.

“It started it off with, you know, your basic what they give you when you hurt your back,” Strathy said.

His face, not what comes to mind when you say ‘recovering drug addict.’

At his worst, Strathy said he was taking a few thousand pills a month.

“Bottle says ‘take as needed’ and I said I needed it,” Strathy said.

For three years, he struggled with his addiction to opioid-based pain pills. Each fix was legally prescribed to him by his doctor.

“It was from a doctor, you know, it was prescribed,” Strathy said. “It was a lot safer. It wasn’t a street drug,” or so he thought.

But he, like so many, are susceptible to the epidemic.

“I don’t think people realize this is an everyday problem for everyday people,” said Chris Smith, a Chronic Pain Coordinator for Community Care Plan Eastern Carolina.

Law enforcement and healthcare officials say hundreds of people in Pitt County are dealing with addiction.

“The number of overdoses both in Greenville and nationally of the opioid-based painkillers has gone up dramatically,” said Dr. William Meggs, who is an emergency physician with the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Medical Center.

“The CDC told us that 100 people die each day because of a drug overdose. So that tells you right there how bad the problem is. Pitt County’s no different,” Smith said.

Recovery is hard, but possible. Strathy has been sober for the last year.

“I’m able to be a father again. Trusts takes a long time to rebuild, but it’s starting … What I have now is so much greater than what life was like when I was using,” Strathy said.

In Part two of her series, NewsChannel 12 reporter Rebekah Thurston sits down with two families whose children died of an overdose. Hear their stories and if your child is at risk on Wednesday.


Lawmakers concerned about UNC system board’s closed meetings | News and Observer

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Nov 122015


November 12, 2015

The UNC system’s Board of Governors will meet Friday to hear a report on faculty compensation and take action on a legislative request – two weeks after giving controversial raises to chancellors in a lengthy closed session.

The notice for Friday’s previously unplanned meeting was sent to reporters Wednesday. An agenda listed the two topics – faculty compensation and a legislative request – but gave no further detail. UNC system officials did not respond to a request for more information Wednesday.

Shelly Carver, a spokeswoman in the office of state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, said in an email Wednesday that legislators’ request to the board was “related to concerns about compliance with the state’s open meeting laws.”

On Oct. 30, the board met privately for more than two hours and acted to give raises to 12 of 17 UNC system chancellors. The pay increases ranged from 8 percent to 19 percent, prompting criticism by faculty and others who pointed out that rank-and-file employees and professors had received no pay raises this year.

Representatives of media organizations, including The News & Observer, objected to the secret vote and the university’s failure to promptly release information about the salary increases. Amanda Martin, counsel to the N.C. Press Association, said at the time that there was nothing in the language of the Open Meetings Law that would permit the board’s closed-session vote to set or raise salaries.

Salaries of public employees are a matter of public record under the law. The information about the chancellors’ raises was not released by the university system until three days after the vote. UNC system officials said by then the raises had been communicated to the chancellors and had been implemented.

The News & Observer requested minutes of the closed meeting and details on how board members voted, which some members have described as split. State law says the minutes of closed meetings must be produced, as long as their release wouldn’t “frustrate the purpose of a closed session.” So far, that information has not been disclosed.

In a Nov. 5 email, the UNC system’s general counsel, Tom Shanahan, wrote that the Oct. 30 meeting minutes had not yet been prepared or approved by the board.

“I expect that to occur at the December meeting,” Shanahan wrote to an N&O reporter. “The Board will then need to address your request to disclose the information that you are seeking. Until then, staff are not in a position to respond. Your request will be shared with the Board in advance of the next Board meeting.”

The board’s next planned meeting was to be Dec. 11 – until the scheduling of Friday’s meeting.

Lawmakers have voiced concerns about the board’s process for the presidential search that recently ended with the hiring of Margaret Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education. Some board members had complained that they had been kept in the dark by an 11-member presidential search committee. The board has 32 members.

The legislature responded with a bill that at one point would have required public disclosure of finalists in an effort to force more transparency in the process. In the end, the bill didn’t go that far. It dictated that three finalists be brought before the full board for review.

The bill became law without Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature – just as Spellings was named as the successor to UNC system President Tom Ross.

The board set Spellings’ base pay at $775,000, which is $175,000 more than Ross’ salary. She will also be able to earn more money with deferred compensation and with possible performance bonuses, according to her five-year contract.

Faculty groups at two UNC campuses – Appalachian State and East Carolina – spoke out against the recent chancellors’ raises. An online petition suggested the chancellors should decline the increases.

Board members who supported chancellors’ raises said the higher pay would put the UNC system more in line with competitors in the higher education market.


Elon student dies at UNC-Chapel Hill | New & Observer

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Nov 122015


November 12, 2015


An Elon University student and football player died Wednesday in a fall from a high-rise residence hall at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Demitri Allison, a junior from Cornelius, died after he was found outside Morrison Residence Hall, a 10-story building at UNC. He was a management major and a wide receiver on Elon’s football team. He was the son of Mark and Lisa Hartman of Cornelius.

An announcement on Elon’s website said Allison had left the Elon campus on Tuesday, prompting his friends, family and teammates to become concerned about his well-being and emotional state. They had asked police to look for him.

“Everyone associated with Elon athletics is devastated,” said Elon Athletics Director Dave Blank. “Demitri was a talented young man with a bright future who was loved by his teammates. We mourn his loss deeply and we pray for his family and loved ones.”

Elon will host a gathering in Allison’s memory Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Rhodes Stadium on the Elon campus.

Both universities offered counseling to students, faculty, staff and teammates.

“The death of any student is devastating to our community, especially in situations like this, and we want to reach out to friends and acquaintances who knew Demitri,” said a message from Elon’s vice president for student life, Smith Jackson. “The loss of a classmate, friend and student reminds us that the life of each person in our community is precious.”


Missouri student accused of posting threats against blacks | Associated Press

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Nov 122015


By Summer Ballentine
November 12, 2015


The racial tension at the heart of the protests that led two top University of Missouri administrators to resign remained at the Columbia campus with the arrest of a white college student suspected of posting online threats to shoot black students and faculty.

Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old sophomore studying computer science at a sister campus in Rolla, was charged Wednesday with making a terrorist threat after his arrest at a residence hall. The school said no weapons were found.

Park, who is enrolled at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, was jailed in Columbia, about 75 miles to the northwest. Because the county courts were closed for Veterans Day, Park was not expected to appear before a judge until at least Thursday.

The author of the posts, which showed up Tuesday on the anonymous location-based messaging app Yik Yak and other social media, threatened to “shoot every black person I see.” The posts followed the resignations on Monday of the University of Missouri system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus in Columbia.

Another threat said: “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.” The message seemed to echo one that appeared on the website 4chan — a forum where racist and misogynistic comments are common — ahead of the deadly campus shooting at an Oregon community college last month.

A message left on his mother’s cellphone was not returned. And an AP reporter got no answer when he knocked on the door of the family’s home in the affluent St. Louis suburb of Lake St. Louis.

The prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email asking whether Park had an attorney, and no information about the case was listed online. Prosecutors also didn’t immediately release the probable cause statement, which would include more details.

A second student was arrested at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville for allegedly posting a threat on Yik Yak that read, “I’m gonna shoot any black people tomorrow, so be ready.” Northwest Missouri State spokesman Mark Hornickel told several media outlets that authorities hadn’t linked the incident to threats at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus.

Authorities also are investigating another threat on Yik Yak, this one leveled at the Rolla campus by someone saying, “I’m gonna shoot up this school.”

Student foot traffic in Columbia was light as freshman Megan Grazman was on her way to class. Although she said she felt safe, “There’s nobody out. It’s a ghost town. It’s kind of eerie.”

Yixiang Gao, a Chinese student from Shanghai, said he felt safe, but he described the campus climate as “very heavy” on the night the threats emerged.

Also Wednesday, the university said an employee who was among those who clashed with a student photographer during campus protests was placed on administrative leave while her actions are investigated.

Janna Basler is the school’s director of Greek life. The videotaped clash helped fan a debate about the free press. Basler did not return a message seeking comment.

A communication professor also drew criticism for trying to stop a photographer from taking pictures. Melissa Click apologized Tuesday.

Months of protests culminated in a tumultuous week on the Columbia campus.

Back in September, the student government president reported that people shouted racial slurs at him from a passing pickup truck, galvanizing the protest movement. Last week, a graduate student went on a hunger strike to demand the resignation of university system President Tim Wolfe over his handling of racial complaints.

Then more than 30 members of the Missouri football team refused to practice or play in support of the hunger striker. Those developments came to a head Monday with the resignation of Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus.


Programs honor Veterans Day | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 112015


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Several Veterans Day programs are scheduled in Pitt County today to honor those who have served in the nation’s armed forces.

The Pitt County Veterans Council has scheduled a parade beginning at 9:30 a.m. from Reade Circle and Greene Street down Evans Street to the Town Common where a program will follow the parade at 11 a.m.

James Hooker, who retired from the U.S. Navy, will speak. The program also will include a wreath-laying ceremony, canon salute and an Honor Song by the Native American group Eastern Bull. Marcus Waller, president of the Pitt County Veterans Council and the Veterans of Modern Warfare Chapter 8, will be the master of ceremonies.

East Carolina University

East Carolina University continues its celebration of servicemen and women with a ceremony at 2 p.m. to dedicate 51 brick pavers beside Christenbury Memorial Gymnasium. The engraved pavers honor individuals who provided service in support of national defense, including military service and service to organizations such as the Veterans Administration, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Support the Troops, the Wounded Warrior Project and similar programs. The bricks will be added to the Memorial Walk across from the Freedom Wall on the west side of the gym.

Former N.C. Rep. Edith Warren will install pavers to honor the service of six of her husband’s brothers who all saw combat and returned home. Their combined service began before World War II through the Vietnam War. Another paver will be dedicated to honor service at Normandy, which recently marked the 70th anniversary of the end of that battle. And the first paver to honor a war dog, K-9 Ben, who served two tours in Afghanistan, will be installed.

The Victory Bell will be struck with the reading of the names of each honoree.

More than 250 people have been recognized through the paver campaign, which raises funds for Army and Air Force ROTC student scholarships and is sponsored by the ECU College of Health and Human Performance and the Office of Military Programs.

The Pirate Veterans Organization also is selling flags in honor or memory of veterans and current military members. Flags will be displayed in a Field of Honor outside Joyner Library until Nov. 18. All proceeds will go to help homeless veterans in Greenville. For more information, email pirateveterans@ecu.edu.

ECU held the Distinguished Military Service Society dinner and induction Friday. New society inductees Herb Carlton, Jeffrey B. Clark, Ronald E. Dowdy and Max R. Joyner were recognized at Saturday’s annual military appreciation football game where Nick Zuras, a 97-year-old member of ECU’s only undefeated football team, presented the coin toss. Zuras, Class of 1943 served in the D-Day invasion.

Pitt Community College

PCC will salute the nation’s military veterans with an event featuring remarks from retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gretchen Herbert.

The program is planned from 9-10 a.m. in the Craig F. Goess Student Center multipurpose room.

Herbert, who retired in January 2014 after 29 years of active duty, is a native of Rochester, N.Y. She graduated from the University of Rochester in May 1984 and received her commission as an ensign through the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps program.

As her last duty assignment, Herbert served as commander of the Navy Cyber Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. She was responsible for manning, training and equipping the fleet for cyber security readiness, telecommunications, electronic warfare, signals intelligence, cryptology, space systems and network operations afloat and ashore.

Herbert’s operational assignments include service as combat systems officer on the USS George Washington in support of Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and time spent on the USS Ronald Reagan as assistant chief of staff for communications and information systems to the commander of Carrier Strike Group 7.

This year’s Veterans Salute will be the 18th PCC has held to honor the nation’s military personnel, past and present, in conjunction with Veterans Day.


A Veteran’s Day program is planned at 2 p.m. in front of the Winterville Public Safety Building.
Col. Marvin Williams, reserve director for the Department of Public Safety for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, will speak and there will be music by the Tim Sutton Trio, the South Central High School ROTC and Vietnam veteran Gus Keyes. Email senatortonymoore@gmail.com.


The Town of Ayden will hold a program at 1 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Third Street. Speakers will include Congressman Walter B. Jones and Dr. Frank James, a retire U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and professor emeritus at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.


Grifton will hold a program at 11 a.m. at the Grifton EMS Station on Queen Street. Ricky Worth will speak. He is the son of the late Maj. George Worth who served on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.


Farmville’s Veterans Day observance will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Town Common. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will read the names on the veterans monument, and American Legion Post 151 will place a wreath in honor of those who have served their country.


Fountain will hold a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Wellness Center.


New plan to keep ECU students safer revealed | WNCT

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Nov 112015


By Josh Birch
November 10, 2015

To view news video at WNCT, click here.

A new plan to keep ECU students safer was revealed during a meeting with both the ECU and Greenville Police Chiefs Tuesday.

The plan is being called safe corridors, and will focus on making busy streets safer for students.

“We would put patrols specifically on 5th and 10th St. and also between certain areas based on the crime data,” said ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis.

Students said this seemed like a good idea.

“I know from just walking the grid, it is dark like they said and just having that police presence,” said ECU Senior Ashley Cooke.

The plan would also make crossing streets safer. ECU Junior Ashley Sowa said currently it can be difficult to cross the streets, particularly during rush hour.

“I wait for no cars to go, and then usually groups of people go together and actually cross the street,” Sowa said.

The new plan was just one of things discussed during the meeting. Both Lewis and Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman also discussed ways to reduce crime on campus by getting students to increase their awareness of their surroundings.

Over the last three years, robberies on and off campus have remained steady with four in 2014 and 2013, and two in 2012. Burglaries have increased slightly with 19 in 2014, 16 in 2013, and 12 in 2012.

Lewis and Holtzman said the meeting gave them an opportunity to try to break down the barrier between police and the community.

“We’d like to hear some of the people’s concerns, some of their ideas,” Lewis said.

Holtzman said if all goes well with the safe corridors plan, more improvements to safety would follow.

“From there I think we can grow a long term plan through public works, some strategic planning with lighting, safer crosswalks, and things like that,” Holtzman said.

He said Tuesday’s meeting gave them the first real feedback from students about the plan.


One of the first pathologists in Greenville reflects on unsolved cases | WNCT

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Nov 112015


By Zora Stephenson
November 9, 2015

To view news video on WNCT, click here.

Dr. Lee West is one of the first pathologists to practice in Greenville. He has performed thousands of autopsies. He says he solved most of them. Dr. West thinks technology has come a long way since he first started. He says if the handful of cases he couldn’t solve happened today, they wouldn’t be left unanswered.

“I have either performed or participated in between 3 and 4 thousand autopsies,” Dr. West said.

81-year-old Dr. Lee West, is one of the first pathologists in Pitt County. For over 50 years he’s determined the cause of death for thousands of people in Eastern North Carolina. A handful of them stay with him, and one in particular sticks out.

Dr. West said, “There was just no findings on that body that would give us any clue as to what happened.”

The body of Sheila Brown was found in the woods near Ayden in 1973. West performed the autopsy and couldn’t find a cause of death, investigators closed the case as death by natural causes. As Brown’s daughter looks at her mother’s picture she wonders what really happened.

“The not knowing what happened, is really hard, the not knowing,” Iris Brown, Sheila Brown’s daughter said.

Iris Brown has lived her whole life with what she says is an empty space in her heart.

Brown said, “I would have dreams of what it would’ve been like to have my real mother here.”

Now more than 40 years later, her mother’s case may go from cold to hot. The Pitt County Sheriff’s office re-opened it in June. Pathologists say if the technology today was available back then, a lot of the cases left undetermined, including Brown’s could’ve been solved.

“We would’ve been able for instance to look and see and find greater evidence of whether or not she had been sexually assaulted,” Pathologist Dr. William Oliver said. “If she had not been sexually assaulted we would have a much better chance of finding a genetic issue with her heart that may not show up anatomically, instead it can only show up through genetic analysis.”

Oliver says tools, microscopes, and laboratory technology have come a long way since 1973. Iris Brown says she knows nothing will bring her mother back, but finding out how she died, would bring piece of mind.

“That would make me feel wonderful, just to know what really happened,” Brown said.

Dr. West says its always frustrating to work hard on a case and come up empty handed.

“Because you put a lot of effort into the examination and all and when you don’t come up with an answer of course you’re disappointed,” Dr. West said.

Iris Brown says she hasn’t heard from the Pitt County Sheriff’s office in months. Last thing she heard, investigators were still trying to exhume her mother’s body.

Dr. West is helping with the case, but is retired from medicine.


ECU faculty wearing black to protest chancellor’s 19% pay raise | WITN

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Nov 112015


November 10, 2015

To view news video on WITN, click here.

If you’re on ECU’s campus today you might see a lot of black.

That’s because faculty members are protesting the outgoing chancellor getting a 19% pay raise, while state employees only received a $750 one-time bonus.

About 30 professors and students showed up at the Cupola holding signs that read “Faculty Forward” and “Fair Pay, Job Stability.”

On October 30th the UNC Board of Governors met behind closed doors and gave many chancellors hefty pay raises. The amount of raises wasn’t disclosed until the following Monday.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, who announced this past summer that he is leaving next summer, received one of the largest increases–an extra $62,440 per year.

The university maintains the increase brings the chancellor pay closer to the market range identified by a Board of Governor’s study released earlier this year.

Board of Governors member Henry Hinton of Greenville said, “In the case of East Carolina coming up, we certainly don’t want to go out and start looking for a new chancellor next year and say, ‘Well we only want someone who’s willing to take a pay at 40% below the national market.’ So that was my main concern.”

But faculty members say it sends out the wrong message.


New study shows death rates increasing for middle-aged whites | WNCT

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Nov 112015


By Jessica Jewell
November 10, 2015

A new study out of Princeton University shows the U.S. death rate is falling, but death rates for one group are steadily ticking up. For white people ages 45 to 54, death rates have risen half a percent every year since 1998. So we’re taking a look at this issue locally.

The research says drug overdose and alcohol abuse are the main drivers in the increase in suicide and death among middle-aged whites. They say it’s related to the increased availability of certain prescription painkillers around the late 90s. So we did some research to see how we compare here in the East.

WNCT covers 29 counties. Of those, suicide was one of the top 10 leading causes of death for 20 to 39-year-olds in all but 2 counties. From 2010 to 2014, suicide accounted for more than 12 deaths per 100,000 people in North Carolina. Pitt County falls a little behind that, at just over 10 per 100,000 people. 78 of these suicides were whites; only 9 were not. Onslow County, where we have a strong military community, saw a significantly higher rate, with more than 17 per 100,000. They reported 152 total suicides; 139 of which were whites.

WNCT sat down with local doctors to see what’s being done to combat these rising numbers. Psychotherapist Sean Pumphrey says there’s room for improvement.

“Both medical health and mental health resources are shifting dramatically here in North Carolina and also here in the East. If we do a better job with both, we will see a turn around,” Pumphrey said.

Local doctors cite unemployment, increased use of painkillers, and lack of education as contributing factors.


“No Shave November” has purpose | WNCT

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Nov 112015


By Kelly Byrne
November 8, 2015

To view news video on WNCT, click here.

No Shave November is a phenomena that many people take part in; growing out beards throughout the entire month of November. But the reason behind it has meaning in the medical world.

The purpose is to raise awareness for men’s health issues.

“One population that seems to kind of hesitate going into the professional’s office or the provider’s office are men,”said Dr. Thomas Ellis, a family doctor. “They’re not really routinely going to the medical facilities or their medical provider; they just don’t seem to come in. So it’s just awesome that you would have a month really dedicated to focus on those efforts.” So the goal is men need that reminder.”

The idea is that individuals will donate the money they typically spend on shaving and grooming, which will help educate others about cancer prevention, thus saving lives and aiding those who are sick.

Brian Parker, an ECU student, is partaking in No Shave November.

“I guess the concept comes from hair loss, and you doing the exact opposite by growing your hair out,” said Parker. “I just find it as a unique way. I know I’ve had families that had to endure cancer in the past, and I just one: like beards, and two: I want to give back as much as possible.”

Parker recently lost a family member to cancer, adding meaning to his cause of raising awareness.


ECU named best in state for military members, veterans | WITN

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Nov 102015


November 09, 2015
By: Gina DiPietro

To view news video at WITN, click here.

In its “Best Colleges for Vets 2016” listing released Monday, the Military Times ranked ECU 28th out of 125 four-year schools.

When it comes to supporting veterans and military service members, East Carolina University is earning some high marks both in the state and across the nation.

In its “Best Colleges for Vets 2016” listing released Monday, the Military Times ranked ECU 28th out of 125 four-year schools. That makes it the highest ranked among seven in-state schools.

ECU was also named a “Military Friendly School” for 2016, which recognizes the top 20% of trade schools, colleges and universities that are doing the most to embrace service members, veterans and their families.

ECU was last recognized as a military friendly school in 2010.


ECU scanning Civil War-era documents | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 102015

By Holly West

The Daily Reflector

East Carolina University is hosting an event this weekend to collect Civil War-era documents for a Fayetteville museum.

Trained volunteers will be on hand at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to scan privately owned documents from 19th century North Carolina. The documents potentially could be used in the North Carolina Civil War History Center, a museum that will focus on the antebellum period, the Civil War itself and Reconstruction.

The $65 million project will replace the Museum of the Cape Fear, a facility that celebrates the history and culture of the Sandhills region. While the new museum will have a gallery dedicated to the region, its purpose will be to give an idea of how the war affected the state as a whole. That’s why the center is asking eastern North Carolinians to contribute their documents.
“It will focus on the social history of the war, what it was like to be a North Carolinian during that time,” Leonard Lanier, a story specialist for the center, said. “We’re asking for anybody who has any kind of document related to NC in the 19th century, it can be a letter from a soldier on the war front, it can be a journal entry by a housewife, it could be bank records from a newly escaped slave who has escaped from New Bern.”

Lanier said all documents will be appreciated, but the center particularly is in need of those relating to Reconstruction, the period after the war ended.

“Reconstruction is an area that has not been studied or explained very well in the past,” he said.

The owner will keep the original document and receive a digital copy of the scan on a CD. Another copy will remain on file at the State Archives.

The project also allows submissions via a pre-printed paper form and through oral interviews. Submit stories online at www.nccivilwarcenter.org/share-a-story.

Documents are being collected in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. During the next 10 months, the center hopes to collect 10,000 stories, 100 from each county.

The North Carolina Civil War History Center is expected to open in 2020. It is being built on the former site of a United State arsenal that was destroyed during the Civil War.


ECU professor to lead discussion on offshore gas, oil exploration | Sun Journal

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Nov 102015


The monthly Carolina Nature Coalition program on Thursday will look at potential oil and gas exploration off the North Carolina coast.

The 6:30 p.m. talk and discussion will be headed by Stanley R. Riggs, research professor from the Department of Geological Sciences at East Carolina University. He will present a lecture addressing the risks associated with offshore oil and gas drilling in North Carolina.

The program is titled “North Carolina’s Offshore Oil and Gas: Our Golden Goose or Environmental Nightmare?”

It will be presented at New Bern-Craven County Library, 400 Johnson St.

“Society’s future energy potential lies in that portion of our planet that covers 71 percent of the earth — our oceans,” Riggs said in a pre-talk statement. “These water masses are incredible stores of bio-energy, fossil solar energy — oil and gas — and renewable solar energy — oceanic currents, thermal energy conversion, tides, waves, etc. Success depends on society’s willingness to understand the complex flow-paths of solar energy and our ability to tap into this system without serious negative consequences. The increasingly important role of ocean energy could be the golden goose that keeps society going if we understand it and manage it properly — or it could become an ever increasing environmental nightmare.”

Riggs is the author of “The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis & Vision for the Future,” published by The University of North Carolina Press.

The Carolina Nature Coalition is a community based whose mission is to raise public awareness of environmental issues and engage citizens in meaningful community action, and presents films and other events on the first Thursday of each month except for special presentations.

Contact Michael Schachter at 626-5100 for more information.


Tar River Park plan OK’d | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 102015


By Abbie Bennet
The Daily Reflector
Monday, November 9, 2015

Greenville’s City Council voted unanimously to approve a master plan for its next park.

The Tar River Park, a 13-acre tract of city-owned land adjacent to the Off-Leash Dog Park, was provided a strategy for development after public interest in the property prompted city attention.

Earlier this year, the Recreation and Parks Commission was approached with a proposal to establish a disc golf course on the property. As interest in the park grew, staff decided that a comprehensive approach to planning to park was necessary.

That process began with three public input sessions to establish the design and plan recommendations. Three concepts were created and the Recreation and Parks Commission approved one of the concepts to send to the council for final approval.

The master plan document will be used as a guide for phased future park development as funding becomes available.

Plan elements include: a sand volleyball court, three holes of disc golf, a kayak landing at the Tar River, a permanent rest room facility with attached water fountains, a river overlook, picnic shelters, adventure playground, and off-leash dog park expansion.

The total cost for the improvements in the plan was estimated at $672,358, according to agenda documents.

The cost for any disc golf holes will be the responsibility of the East Carolina University Student Government Association. Other elements of the plan can be developed whenever adequate funding is identified, staff said.

The council approved not only the plan, but moving forward with the disc golf course. The disc golf aspect is the only project that has funding so far.

Parks Planner Lamarco Morrison said the plan included elements with all residents of Greenville in mind.

District 3 Councilwoman Marion Blackburn said she was pleased with the plan.

“This master plan has gone through a lot of vetting … to find a plan that suited a lot of requests and needs,” she said. “I am very happy about expanding the dog park.”

District 2 Councilwoman Rose Glover said she wanted to see development of parks north of the Tar River, in areas prone to flooding which cannot be developed for other uses.

Recreation and Parks Director Gary Fenton said the Tar River Legacy Plan includes opportunities for parks in those areas.

District 4 Councilman Rick Smiley said the council also should designate the land as a city park. The land had not technically been designated as a park.

Also approved by the council at Monday’s meeting:

A resolution for Greenville Utilities Commission to abandon an electric easement on Farmington Road.
Allowing GUC to abandon and reconfigure utility easements for the Greenville Retail Center (Hobby Lobby and related development) on Memorial and Mall drives;
An agreement with the Pitt County Board of Education for a portion of the financing of the South Greenville Gymnasium improvements and addition;
Resolution to execute and deliver the installment financing agreement for the third year of a three-year plan for recycling roll-out carts;
Contract award for replacement of the Police, Fire-Rescue Headquarters emergency generator;
Budget amendment for $29,000 in contingency funds for City Hall improvements and to appropriate $15,000 in remaining contingency funds and a portion of appropriated fund balance to complete a flood certification study required before constructing platforms on the Tar River greenways;
Tools for Employment and Manufacturing Short-Term Training Program
Condemnation to acquire property of Ben Sherrod Jr., heirs for the Greenville Transportation Activity Center;
Town Creek Culvert Clean Water State Revolving Fund application amendment.

The council held a closed session at the end of its meeting to consult with its attorney and for a personnel issue.


US says Anil Potti, former Duke doctor, falsified research | News & Observer

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Nov 102015


By Jane Stancill
November 10, 2015


A notice published in the Federal Register said the government’s Office of Research Integrity had taken final action in the case against Potti, the disgraced doctor who left Duke a few years ago. The government said Potti had “engaged in research misconduct by including false research data” in a number of papers, manuscripts, grant applications and research records.

Potti’s falsified results were published in at least nine of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and Lancet Oncology. Those papers were retracted in the fallout from a scandal that brought Duke international attention.

As part of a voluntary settlement with the government, Potti agreed that he would not conduct research without government-approved supervision for the next five years. But he has not engaged in any federal research since 2010, and told the government he had no intention of doing so, according to the notice.

The agreement was struck, the notice said, “to conclude this matter without further expenditure of time, finances, or other resources.” As part of the deal, Potti neither admitted nor denied the office’s finding of research misconduct, and the settlement “is not an admission of liability” by Potti, the notice said.

In May, Duke settled lawsuits with the families of eight cancer patients who participated in clinical trials based on Potti’s phony science.

“Good God,” one of the patients, Joyce Shoffner of Raleigh, said Monday, when learning of the government’s action against Potti. “If you steal a TV you’re going to be a whole lot worse off. … I think this is pretty dreadful. Five years, what is five years? I’m absolutely disgusted.”

Shoffner, who had Stage 3 breast cancer, said she still has side effects from the wrong chemotherapy given to her in the Duke trial. Her joints were damaged, she said, and she suffered blood clots that prevent her from having knee surgery now. Of the eight patients who sued, Shoffner said, she is one of two survivors.

Potti now works at a cancer center in North Dakota. He did not return a phone call Monday.

Doug Stokke, vice president of marketing and communications at Duke, issued a statement saying the university was pleased with the finding of research misconduct against Potti.

Realistically his career as a high-profile scientific researcher is over.

Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch

“We trust this will serve to fully absolve the clinicians and researchers who were unwittingly associated with his actions,” the statement said, “and bring closure to others who were affected.”

Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, an online publication that tracks scientific misconduct, said criminal sanctions are very rare in these kinds of cases. Monday’s notice amounted to a plea bargain in which Potti admitted no wrongdoing, he said.

But, Oransky added, “Realistically his career as a high-profile scientific researcher is over.”

The government’s action may not have much teeth, but the notice does put the misconduct on record. “Certainly a lot of us were thinking this had to be misconduct – it wasn’t just carelessness – but until now, until this official finding, there hasn’t been anyone officially saying fraud,” Oransky said.

Potti’s work was once referred to as the “Holy Grail” of future cancer treatment. In 2006, Potti claimed he had identified genetic markers that would allow customized treatment for patients based on the kinds of tumors they had. It led to clinical trials for patients with lung cancer and breast cancer.

The research garnered positive attention until other scientists couldn’t replicate his results and began to raise questions. The work was halted for a time after Duke hired outside reviewers, who didn’t turn up misconduct.

He toyed with our lives, and he has gotten by with it.

Joyce Shoffner of Raleigh, former participant in clinical trial

Then, in 2010, suspicion of Potti intensified when a newsletter called Cancer Letter reported that he had falsely claimed he was a Rhodes Scholar on applications.

Duke’s handling of the entire saga was later called into question when documents in the patients’ lawsuit showed that a medical student had warned Duke administrators about Potti’s research in 2008. The student’s concerns were swept aside.

Shoffner, whose treatment at Duke began in 2008, said she’s disappointed that Potti still treats cancer patients in other states.

“He toyed with our lives,” she said, “and he has gotten by with it. This is nothing – it’s barely a tap on the wrist. I just cannot imagine that this man is allowed to have a medical license.”


University of Missouri leaders step down amid racial strife on campus | Associated Press

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Nov 102015


By Summer Ballentine and Alan Scher Zagier
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. The president of the University of Missouri system and the head of its flagship campus resigned Monday with the football team and others on campus in open revolt over what they saw as indifference to racial tensions at the school.

President Tim Wolfe, a former business executive with no previous experience in academic leadership, took “full responsibility for the frustration” students expressed and said their complaints were “clear” and “real.”

For months, black student groups had complained that Wolfe was unresponsive to racial slurs and other slights on the overwhelmingly white main campus of the state’s four-college system. The complaints came to a head two days ago, when at least 30 black football players announced that they would not play until the president left. A graduate student went on a weeklong hunger strike.

Wolfe’s announcement came at the start of what had been expected to be a lengthy closed-door meeting of the school’s governing board.

“This is not the way change comes about,” he said, alluding to recent protests, in a halting statement that was simultaneously apologetic, clumsy and defiant. “We stopped listening to each other.”

He urged students, faculty and staff to use the resignation “to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary.”

Hours later, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, announced that he would step down at the end of the year and shift to leading research efforts.

The school’s undergraduate population is 79 percent white and 8 percent black. The state is about 83 percent white and nearly 12 percent black. The Columbia campus is about 120 miles west of Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was killed last year in a fatal shooting that helped spawn the national “Black Lives Matter” movement rebuking police treatment of minorities.

In response to the race complaints, Wolfe had taken little public action and made few statements. As students leveled more grievances this fall, he was increasingly seen as aloof, out of touch and insensitive to their concerns. He soon became the protesters’ main target.

In a statement issued Sunday, Wolfe acknowledged that “change is needed” and said the university was working to draw up a plan by April to promote diversity and tolerance. But by the end of that day, a campus sit-in had grown in size, graduate student groups planned walkouts and politicians began to weigh in.

After the resignation announcement, students and teachers in Columbia hugged and chanted.

Sophomore Katelyn Brown said she wasn’t necessarily aware of chronic racism at the school, but she applauded the efforts of black student groups.

“I personally don’t see it a lot, but I’m a middle-class white girl,” she said. “I stand with the people experiencing this.” She credited social media with propelling the protests, saying it offered “a platform to unite.”

At a news conference Monday, head football coach Gary Pinkel said his players were concerned with the health of Jonathan Butler, who had not eaten for a week as part of protests against Wolfe. The coach said that’s why supported the athletes’ decision to boycott team activities until the president resigned.

After Wolfe’s announcement, Butler ended his strike. He appeared weak and unsteady as two people helped him into a sea of celebrants on campus. Many broke into dance at seeing him.

Football practice was to resume Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s game against Brigham Young University at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. Canceling the game could have cost the school more than $1 million.

Shaun Harper, executive director for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, said the black football players “understood that they have the power.”

“That is so rare,” said Harper, who authored a 2013 study on black male student-athletes and racial inequities in NCAA Division I sports. “Not in our modern history have we seen black students collectively flex their muscle in this way.”

The protests began after the student government president, who is black, said in September that people in a passing pickup truck shouted racial slurs at him. In early October, members of a black student organization said slurs were hurled at them by an apparently drunken white student.

Frustrations flared again during a homecoming parade, when black protesters blocked Wolfe’s car, and he did not get out and talk to them. They were removed by police.

Also, a swastika drawn in feces was found recently in a dormitory bathroom.

The university did take some steps to ease tensions. At Loftin’s request, the school announced plans to offer diversity training to all new students starting in January, as well as faculty and staff. On Friday, the chancellor issued an open letter decrying racism after the swastika was found.

Many of the protests have been led by an organization called Concerned Student 1950, which gets its name from the year the university accepted its first black student. Group members besieged Wolfe’s car at the parade, and they conducted a weeklong sit-in on a campus plaza.

The group demanded that Wolfe resign and “acknowledge his white male privilege.” It also sought a 10-year plan to retain more marginalized students and the hiring of more minorities at the university’s counseling center.

Also joining in the protest effort were two graduate student groups and the student government at the Columbia campus, the Missouri Students Association.

On Sunday, the association said in a letter to the system’s governing body that there had been “an increase in tension and inequality with no systemic support” since Brown’s death.

Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a white police officer during a struggle. The Justice Department later cleared officer Darren Wilson, concluding evidence backed his claim that he shot Brown in self-defense after Brown tried to grab the officer’s gun.

Wolfe, 57, is a former software executive and Missouri business school graduate whose father taught at the university. He was hired as president in 2011, succeeding another former executive with no experience in academia.

The governing board said an interim system president would be named soon.