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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

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Bags of excrement found outside Sophia Gordon

Custodians at Sophia Gordon Hall have reported finding "plastic bags filled with excrement by the West side elevator on the first floor," according to an e-mail that the Office of Residential Life and Learning sent to residents on Tuesday.


The Setonian
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Study shows many college-educated immigrants are unemployed or working low-skill jobs

    Many Americans still view immigration one-dimensionally, with catchwords like "Mexicans," "illegals" or "aliens" frequently tossed around; rarely, though, is the schism between the attained education and unemployment of the immigrant population illuminated.     According to a study released last month by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute — the first of its kind — 20 percent of college-educated immigrants in the United States are either unemployed or working an unskilled job. Statistics like these encompass a reality not delivered by anecdotes of Mexican border-hopping and glorified images of Ellis Island.     Jane Leu (LA '91) is the executive director and founder of Upwardly Global, an organization that helps immigrant professionals rebuild their careers in the States. She explained the major reasons for such high underemployment numbers. Immigrants do not have the professional networks to gain access to mainstream white-collar jobs. They possess the skills to do the job, but do not know how to find it. Also, employers don't know about the immigrant talent pool and lack the resources to evaluate foreign degrees and experience.     Sandra Plaza, a beneficiary of Upwardly Global's services, began as a successful government lawyer in Colombia before moving to the States. Once here, her degree was no longer valid and the only work she could get was babysitting. After enrolling in an English program and gaining her paralegal certification, she landed a job through Upwardly Global.     Leu stressed the adaptation of a worldview that values the assets that immigrant professionals bring — language skills, international knowledge and new and creative ideas.     Still, it is significantly harder for Hispanic and African immigrants than Europeans or Asians to come to the United States legally and obtain a job, whether skilled or unskilled.     "The most recent study released by the Migration Policy Institute last week shows that overall, college-educated immigrants from Africa and Latin America have less success in finding skilled jobs in the [United States] than do immigrants from Asia or Europe," said Laura Barrera-Vera, outreach coordinator for Upwardly Global.         "[This is because] the structure and characteristics of the educational systems in Europe and Asia are more conducive to the United States, Asians and Europeans tend to arrive in the U.S. with higher levels of English, and Europeans come to the [United States] through H, G and L visas in comparison to Latinos and Africans that come for family reunion, green card lottery programs, or as asylees or refugees," she continued.     At Tufts, where the international population is enormous, many students have first-hand experience with the plight of finding work as immigrant.      "In my family's case, it really came down to education level and the language barrier," freshman Crisitna Devia said. "My parents and my aunt and uncle are all from Colombia, but my parents didn't go to college. My mom works at Target, but cannot get a managerial position because she does not speak a lot of English, and my dad takes care of an elderly man, but his salary was docked because he is not a ‘professional.'"     Devia explained that this contrasts the ease with which other family members have transitioned into the American work force.     "My uncle studied in Japan. He speaks English and Japanese and has never had a problem getting a job that matches his education and experience level. Still, my aunt and uncle have been waiting for their green cards for 15 years."     At the same time, it is often harder for immigrants who were professionals in their countries of origin to get a decent job in the United States, according to Martin Rosas, senior and president of the Students at Tufts Acting for Immigrant Rights (STAIR) coalition.     "Immigrants come to the [United States] for all sorts of reasons, such as political asylum, refuge, et cetera, and some are highly educated and held prestigious jobs in their home country," he said. "Yet, most of these people are forced to work low-paying jobs because the [United States] makes it very hard for some of them to continue with their careers."     Rosas's individual interactions with immigrants have made clearer the difficulties faced by those coming to work in the United States.     "I've spoken with a mother who was a dentist in her home country, but would have to go through dental school all over again in order to practice in the [United States]. As a single mother, she could not afford to return to school and still provide for her children," he said.     Cynthia Golzman, a lecturer in the Spanish department, explained that without her husband, a U.S. citizen, she would not have been able to acquire a green card. But even with her husband's sponsorship, the process was still long and expensive.     Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Golzman received her undergraduate degree in Argentina and then came to the states on a student visa and received her Ph.D at Carnegie Mellon University in cultural anthropology.     Once a student visa expires, visiting students must either leave the country or participate in Optional Professional Training (OPT) in which they can receive training while looking for employment.     The catch, Golzman said, is that employers are more likely to choose an American applicant over a foreign applicant because it costs the employer money to sponsor foreign workers that are trying to acquire the correct documentation to remain in the country.     In addition to such logistical disadvantages, the country's current economic state is another obstacle immigrants must overcome.     "When the economy gets worse, xenophobia rises," Leu said.     "Studies have shown that when the economy goes well people are more willing to welcome foreigners. Their perception on immigrations tends to change when the economy goes down. People become more nationalist and protective of their space," Barrera-Vera said.


The Setonian
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Coughlin talks about 'success stories,' diversity in Muslim world

    Kathryn Coughlin yesterday detailed the diversity of Islam and its potential as a vehicle of progressive social change.     At the Goddard Chapel event, Coughlin, the president of the non-profit organization Global Research and Analysis, began by saying her lecture would not focus on topics related to Islam that are consistently in the media spotlight, such as the war on terror or the violence and instability in Iraq and Pakistan. She preferred to discuss "success stories from the Muslim world."     These include "situations where you have a successful transition to democracy" or where governments of Muslim nations expand their citizens' civil rights, Coughlin said.     She said that such stories do not receive attention from the mainstream press here because "they're not stories that will sell papers or sell media space." This often leaves people asking, "Where are the Muslim moderates?" she said.     Coughlin, speaking to a sparse but attentive audience, underscored the gap between the realities of the Muslim world and its portrayal in the media by comparing coverage of fatwahs, or religious edicts, condemning author Salman Rushdie or condoning the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to a conspicuous lack of attention given to more progressive fatwahs such as those stating that discrimination against people with AIDS is "something that would be condemned by Allah on the day of judgment."     The world's Muslim population numbers nearly 1.3 billion, inhabits six continents and is divided into dozens of sects, Coughlin said. She argued that this often forces a narrow or monolithic perception of Islam as a whole.     "Most do not have the resources to adequately promote a more tolerant and pluralistic worldview, which happens to be the worldview of most Muslims," she said.     Coughlin said that Saudi Arabia is able to leverage its considerable oil-generated wealth to fund conservative Muslim missionary activity and build schools in other Muslim nations, with the result that the strictly orthodox Wahhabi strain of Islam appears more prominent.     This has "defined the discourse for what it means to be Muslim," Coughlin said, urging those in attendance to "not confuse the loudest voice with the most authoritative or most representative."     Many of the ideas that the West associates with Islam come as outgrowths of a specific strain, according to Coughlin, who noted that the iconic veil for women is not a universal prescription but one interpretation of the Koran's ethics on modesty.     In nascent post-Soviet-era nations such as Mozambique, Bosnia and Albania, an influx of Saudi funding allowed the Saudis to dictate "what it means to be Muslim" for nations struggling to forge an identity, Coughlin said.            As a result, Wahhabi-funded mosques and madrassas, or schools, in countries that lack the resources to build such infrastructure contribute to "the global discourse … being dictated by one very narrow interpretation," Coughlin said.     Coughlin added that three events in 1979 — the overthrow of the Shah in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the seizure by Arab radicals of Saudi Arabia's sacred Grand Mosque — solidified a particular sense of Muslim identity.     "In 1979, there rises a great Muslim global consciousness and a sense of what it means to be Muslim," Coughlin said.     Later, Coughlin pointed to developments that indicate more progressive Islamic leanings.     She pointed out that in 2006, the United States ranked 69th in the world in percentage of women elected to its lower legislative chamber. Pakistan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Afghanistan all ranked higher.     She said that the UAE also swore in its first woman judge last year, a crucial step in legislating for gender equity.     "If you're going to see a shift in gender roles and empowerment, that has to start with women making laws," Coughlin said.     In an instance of Muslim women organizing across ethnic and sectarian divides, women in Iraq's parliament who were consistently marginalized walked out in response to a male representative's statement that "women make poor leaders because they're easily distracted by worries their husband might take a second wife," Coughlin said.     As a result, the legislative process ground to a halt because the body lacked enough members to reach a quorum. It could not begin again until an apology was issued.     Coughlin said that "one of the most exciting initiatives I've seen" is occurring in Indonesia, where women are establishing independent madrassas that move away from conventional Koranic interpretations.     "They're teaching Islam from what they believe is a more gender-neutral point of view," Coughlin said.     Coughlin also pointed to an AIDS prevention program in Iran that offers free anonymous testing and distributes condoms and syringes to prison inmates.     "Why is it that they would have one of the most enlightened, progressive and well-funded AIDS awareness programs not only in the Middle East, but in the whole world?" she asked.     In India, whose diversity makes it a "great microcosm of the Muslim world," Coughlin said that Islam represents a tool for reform among villagers for whom "rights are abstract" because there is no strict enforcement.     She said that NGOs will teach denizens of these more remote, rural areas about gender issues based on the Koran because it is more accessible and familiar.


The Setonian
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Panel discusses interracial couples

    The night after the country elected its first multiracial president, over 80 Tufts students came to Sophia Gordon Hall for a discussion of interracial relationships. A five-person panel explored a variety of issues and provided personal experiences with interracial dating.     Senior Greg Chambers started off the night by tying together interracial dating and LGBT relationships. He said that today's political efforts to ban gay marriage have parallels with interracial marriage bans from years ago.     "Today, a gay relationship in San Francisco is very different than a gay relationship in rural Wyoming, and the same applies for interracial relationships," Chambers said. "We should be careful to classify others as deviants just because society has labeled them."     The second panelist, Michael Richardson (LA '08), talked about his personal experience as a half-black male who has been dating an Asian-American girl for the past three years.     "Even though my opinion on interracial relationships is that they're great, they definitely have their own set of problems," Richardson said. He recounted how his girlfriend's parents reacted when they discovered that she was dating someone of a different race.     "When she told her parents, they flipped out. It was crazy," Richardson said. "They threatened to pull her out of school; we had to talk to deans, we had to talk to police officers, she had to change her room."     Richardson said that over time, things have smoothed out. "It's gotten a lot better just because I think that they've come to realize that there's nothing they can do," Richardson said. "Even though I still haven't met them, I'm making progress little by little. Yesterday, her dad asked her how I was doing, which, trust me, is a big deal."     In one of the last presentations, Sue Lambe, a half-white, half-Asian doctoral student from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, talked about her past relationship with a black man.     "I had a lot of challenges with [my ex-boyfriend's] family because I heard a lot of racist things from them about Asians," Lambe said. "It was difficult when they said things that invalidated my experience, but at the same time I understood where they were coming from.     "My view of interracial relationships is that they're wonderful and great and there's nothing wrong with them, but it's always important that people in any type of relationship be mindful of who they're dating and why," Lambe continued.     Freshman Carrie Hui was surprised by the night's stories.     "Even though I've seen many people in interracial relationships, I never would have imagined what so many of these people have been through to be with someone," Hui said. "It's really inspirational and makes me think about the stories other people have about their relationships."     The panel was organized by the Multiracial Organization of Students at Tufts.


The Setonian
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SNL's Meyers serves up laughs in Cohen

Seth Meyers last night advised university students who have constructed an elaborate drug-dealing pulley system in their dorm room to avoid soliciting marijuana customers via open windows.



The Setonian
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Commuter rail to get free Wi-Fi; cell service added in some T stations

     Omnipresent Dentyne ads and the footwear of nearby strangers are no longer the only sources of amusement for the bookless during the routine Boston commute. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has delivered and plans to expand a technological addition to MBTA commuter rail trains: free wireless Internet service. While the free Wi-Fi service is restricted to commuter rails, customers of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are currently able to get service in the Downtown Crossing, Park Street, Government Center and State Street Stations and some of the tunnels, according to an MBTA press release.     The goal of the free Wi-Fi on commuter rail trains, according to Kris Erickson, the MBTA's deputy chief of staff, is to boost ridership and draw commuters away from driving.     "The idea behind it was … passenger enhancement," Erickson said. "We're trying to compete with getting riders to take the train instead of driving in, and … giving them free Wi-Fi will obviously attract some new riders."     The MBTA piloted the Wi-Fi service on the Framingham/Worcester line in January with resoundingly positive results.     "Of all the programs that we've done for the last several years ... this has been by far and away the most well-received," Erickson said. "We still get e-mails in from the Framingham/Worcester line pilot that's been up and running on how great the service is, and riders have been very appreciative."     Erickson said that due to the success of the initial installment, the MBTA plans to expand the project to more commuter rail cars this coming winter.     "It should be substantially complete by late spring, with installations beginning in December," he said.     While the addition of wireless Internet to the commuter rails might encourage some to ride frequently, Erickson admitted that the service isn't the fastest around.      "[The service] is definitely not high speed," he said. "We have wireless routers on trains that get the cellular service, so they can turn that cellular service into Wi-Fi, so [the speed] is around one [MB]."     Erickson predicted that the main benefactors of the service would be office commuters to Boston, but many Tufts students also said they would likely use the service on a smaller scale. Still, several opt for an e-mail check-up via an Internet-capable phone on the T rather than a laptop during a long commute.     "I'd probably use my iPod Touch that has a wireless Internet in it, but I [probably wouldn't] take out my laptop to use," senior Eran Filiba said.     Some students predict that the new Wi-Fi service will encourage passengers to be on their laptops rather than interacting with other people, thus warping the social atmosphere of public transportation.     "Now people will read newspapers, but you also look at people and kind of study them because there's not that much to do," senior Danielle Damm said. "People are in their own world so much of the day already — bringing [Wi-Fi] onto the T is going to change the experience."     According to sophomore Jason Roos, the more subtle quirks of train travel could be lost.     "You wouldn't get to see as many interesting things happening," he said. "A lot of very eccentric people get on the T, and when everyone's trying to go where they're trying to go … you can see really priceless interactions between people."     Other students felt that advancements in Wi-Fi and cell phone access are already detracting from human interaction, and that strangers on the T rarely interact in the first place.     "People have been on their laptops and on their mobile devices lately so … I don't think that it will change the culture on the T," senior Eren Bucak said. "It has more to do with the age of information technology rather than the T itself."      "I don't think people interact that much anyway unless they're with you," junior Nadir Butt said.   In an age when every middle-school teeny-bopper is shackled to a cell phone and countless professionals would sooner maroon themselves on an island than survive a day without a BlackBerry, cell phone access on the T may simply be yet another move toward a wired world. "I think it gets slightly out of hand," Butt said. "Especially with people who have Blackberries, or something like that, it's not like they own the phone anymore. It's like the phone owns them."     The key to surviving the age of information may rest in moderation.     "I think it's a good thing that people are … trying to get their information quick and easy … but at the same time, I feel like sometimes it does overturn people's                      lives," Bucak said. "So [there needs to be] a happy medium, I guess — find the happy medium."



The Setonian
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Golden State voters appear to have passed Prop 8

    A California referendum known as Proposition 8 is projected to be approved, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the Golden State.     The ban is the most publicized of four similar measures that were up for a vote across the country. Arizona and Florida also banned same-sex marriage, while Arkansas now prohibits "unmarried sexual partners" from adopting children.     With 99 percent of California precincts reporting yesterday, 52 percent of voters in the relatively liberal state said yes to Proposition 8, while 48 percent voted no. The numbers in Arizona, Florida and Arkansas were not as close.     A number of gay-rights supporters filed lawsuits yesterday, arguing that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.     Members of the LGBT community see the expected passage of the proposition as a blow to equal rights progress.     "I think that it's a shame to see any type of discrimination written into state constitutions. I see these measures as taking away from people's equal rights," Tufts' LGBT Director Tom Bourdon told the Daily.     Bourdon underscored health-care access, tax benefits and child-rearing as some of the rights available to those with a legal marriage contract, which same-sex couples in California, Arizona and Florida will not be able to achieve as a result of the vote.     "For whatever reason, more than 50 percent of the voters have decided that marriage is something that should not be given to residents in those states," Bourdon said.     According to the group Equality California, an organization against Proposition 8, there remain three to four million absentee and provisional ballots that could change the outcome of the vote.     "It's possible that there's more to come on this proposition," Bourdon said, despite the fact that most major news sources have projected the referendum's passage.     As for why the proposition would be approved in what is normally a liberal state, Bourdon blames negative campaign ads.     "I think part of the reason is there are many misconceptions out there as far as how same-sex marriage would affect people who are against [it]," he said, adding that "fear tactics" and the victimization of little children in commercials may have contributed to these misconceptions.     Ryan Heman, a Tufts Community Union (TCU) senator and former LGBT community representative to the Senate, also pointed to an overwhelmingly well-funded campaign, "Yes on 8, Protect Marriage," which received extensive donations from, among other groups, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.     Heman said that those who raised money in support of Proposition 8 had "a whole lot more money" than those against it.     Bourdon echoed this sentiment. "I'm really not sure, but of course it's possible that the extensive efforts against same-sex marriage could have swayed people to vote against it who might not have initially cared one way or the other," he said.     Some political analysts have attributed the proposition's passage to high voter turnout among Obama supporters.     According to CNN's exit polls, 70 percent of black voters in California, a demographic that overwhelmingly supported Obama, supported the proposition.     Heman said he had been forewarned of this possibility.     "They've been saying it for months, that it was either Barack Obama or Proposition 8. And we got Obama," he said.     Heman remains optimistic about the future of equal rights.     "[The vote] still shows that people are increasingly coming in favor of queer rights," he said, pointing to the closeness of the results.


The Setonian
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You can vote however you like: 'Youth vote' has a new meaning

With the persistent discussion of the importance of the youth vote in this year's presidential race, the spotlight is often focused on the voting trends of the college-aged population. This time, however, the Daily chose to examine the opinions of America's youth milling around the Gantcher polling station who are too young to vote. With the rise of YouTube.com coverage showcasing children's engagement in the election (i.e. the "You Can Vote However You Like" video, featuring schoolchildren doing their own politically-charged rendition of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like"), it appears that many children may be more informed and involved than their age indicates.


The Setonian
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OBAMA WINS PRESIDENCY

Sen. Barack Obama yesterday became the first black man to be elected president of the United States, defeating Sen. John McCain in a victory that reflected the nation's economic woes and tinted the electoral map decidedly blue.


The Setonian
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Mass. goes overwhelmingly blue

Voters in Massachusetts leaned hard on the Democratic lever yesterday, supporting Sen. Barack Obama and sending back state and national incumbents with overwhelming mandates.


The Setonian
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It's not just Obama's night: States consider a variety of ballot measures

The historic nature of yesterday's presidential election has rightfully cast a shadow over every lesser race this cycle. Yet, amid the hype and hope of one of the wildest and most stunning campaigns in recent memory, voters will be affected in ways large and small by the lesser-known ballot initiatives on state election slates across the country. Here, then, is a sample of the ballot initiatives we flagged as interesting, weird or noteworthy in some way — and how they fared.



The Setonian
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Students find time between studying and work to tune into omnipresent coverage of yesterday's major

Even students swamped with midterms and locked behind the counters of their on-campus jobs found time to follow the election last night. Students in both Brown ‘n Brew and the Tower Café studied furiously before running home to tune in, while others studied with their laptops nearby streaming live coverage. The students working in both locations remained huddled in masses behind the counter with laptops open — the students at the Tower Café even had multiple tabs of news sites open, in hopes of gaining well-rounded campaign information.


The Setonian
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Mapping it out: A breakdown of the 2008 election results

Sen. Barack Obama won the election in a landslide yesterday, taking 338 electoral votes to Sen. John McCain's 163 as of press time. In comparison to 2004, when President George W. Bush won a second term in the White House by a 286 to 252 margin over Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Obama took yesterday's election in a convincing fashion reminiscent of the Nixon and Reagan years. Unlike Bush's chief strategist Karl Rove, who focused on garnering just enough votes to win the election, the Obama campaign devised a 50-state strategy that refused to discount even the reddest of states. It paid off: Obama took swing states Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, putting the Democratic Party back in the White House for the first time since the Clinton administration left office in January 2001.


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Community comes together in campus center

An eager crowd in Hotung erupted into an explosion of joyous screams and chants after counting down the seconds until the closing of West Coast polls and the official CNN projection that Sen. Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.



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The Microblog: Issues that matter

    Over the last few weeks, hundreds of out-of-state students have requested and returned absentee ballots while those from Massachusetts have patiently waited until today to cast their votes. This week, the Daily asked students which issues were most important in helping them choose between the candidates. What is the most important issue of this election?


The Setonian
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Tufts grad starts satirical Palin Web site

Popular satirical shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show" have been quick to jump on any blunders in speeches made by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin during her recent campaign, but thanks to Tufts alum Jordan Kolasinski (LA '04), Palin's fans and critics now have even more ways to entertain themselves.