November 27, 2006 – In addition to other miscellaneous housing problems that have affected residents of Tioga Hall in John Muir College this quarter, the list has now grown by one – a faulty setting on recently purchased microwaves has led to their recall after causing at least two false fire alarms in the past few weeks.

According to Muir Resident Dean Pat Danylyshyn-Adams, 20 microwaves have been removed from the building after the “popcorn” setting was found to be malfunctioning. When students used the setting and did not carefully monitor their popcorn, the machines overheated and triggered smoke alarms, forcing residents of the 11-floor building to evacuate.

Four false alarms have gone off in Tioga since the beginning of the quarter, but according to Housing and Dining Services Director Mark P. Cunningham, only two or three incidents could be conclusively linked to the microwaves.

The false alarms and lack of microwaves have posed nuisances for residents, with the most recent alarm going off in the early morning. Some students, however, have been affected more seriously.

Muir freshman Min Kyu Cho, one of the students who inadvertently set off an alarm by overcooking popcorn, said that he has been placed on housing probation until March 2007 for allegedly endangering the lives of Tioga residents.

“I do understand it was my fault for putting popcorn in for four minutes and not being with it the whole time, but I think the probation that I was given is too harsh,” Cho stated in an e-mail.

According to Danylyshyn-Adams, educating students about proper microwave use is necessary to stop further false alarms from happening.

“Education has been something that we’ve been trying to emphasize,” she said.

Even though microwaves are no longer present, a series of satirical flyers have been posted within the hall to advise students that “fire alarms are lame” and “real alarms are important.” The flyers, which feature Smokey the Bear seated in a tub of popcorn, embody a more lighthearted view that some students have adopted regarding the situation.

Second Group of Students Trapped in Miller Hall Elevator
UC Davis Aggie

November 27, 2006 – Just days after a group of students were stranded and had to be rescued from inside the Miller Hall elevator in Segundo on Oct. 31, a second group was trapped in the same elevator, which resulted in the elevator being shut down for several days.

According to Jillian Miller, a first-year student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology who was in the elevator when it broke, the elevator stalled for five minutes.

“It wasn’t registering any buttons we pushed,” she said. “We had been stuck on the first floor. It wasn’t moving up or down at all. The doors wouldn’t open and there were several people outside the elevator who got the RA on call. It sounded as if a large piece of metal was falling inside the door.”

Following the incident, Student Housing locked down the elevator and placed caution tape on its doors. The elevator reopened several days later.

The elevator in Miller Hall is one of many that display expired permits on campus. Officials from the California Department of Industrial Relations have said it is against the law to operate elevators without current permits posted inside the elevator cars.

Sheehan said the incident is not indicative of the safety of campus elevators.

“We work closely with the elevator shop on campus, which is housed within Facilities: Operations and Maintenance,” he said. “They provide the ongoing maintenance, which includes routine procedures and incident-related responses. Additionally, when we are aware of situations related to student/resident behavior involving elevator misuse, we will hold them accountable.”

A first-year student at Ohio State University was pinned to death in October after attempting to enter an overcrowded elevator in a residence hall. Authorities determined that the accident occurred as a result of the elevator’s capacity being surpassed by over 1,000 pounds.

“Tightwads” May Lose Free Football-Viewing Spot
UC Berkeley Daily Californian

November 21, 2006 – Two longtime Cal football fans Dan Sicular and Ted Hamel worry a proposed renovation of Memorial Stadium will block the bird’s-eye view from the Tightwad Hill, which has earned a privileged place in school history.

In the environmental impact report for the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects, released earlier this year, a “proposed east seating structure” is referred to multiple times, although never detailed.

Some fans say the seating structure will obstruct their line of sight. They are incensed that Tightwad Hill is not listed among a list of potential environmental concerns in the plan.

“I really think it’s an important aspect of Cal football,” Sicular said. “It’s a historical use, it’s a traditional use, and I think the university completely missed that in their report.”

Spectators began taking advantage of the hill – created in 1923 during the construction of the stadium -as early as 1924. Each game day, fans ascend through loose dirt and brush from Stadium Rim Road below, perching on folding chairs and couches often left out for the season’s duration.

To this day, a game can bring onto the hill a few hundred high school and university students, UC Berkeley alumni and city residents, who enjoy sweeping views of the bay as well as the football field.

Campus officials say no seating expansion has been officially designed yet and any possible plan would not impede the view from the hill. But they also say preserving that view would not be a priority in their design proposal.

“Tightwad Hill is not sanctioned seating space. It’s not safe … and it’s probably environmentally harmful to have people up there,” said Jennifer McDougall, UC Berkeley’s principal environmental planner.

Seeking to defend the hill’s view, Sicular, a UC Berkeley alumnus, started a petition to the UC Board of Regents.

It received 1,089 signatures before being delivered to the regents meeting in Los Angeles Nov. 14.

Study Finds Transfer Numbers Low in State
UCLA Daily Bruin

November 21, 2006 – New statistics showing low student transfer rates from California community colleges, especially among minorities, reveal what some see as another roadblock to increasing diversity in higher education.

Out of the students who initially planned on transferring to a four-year university, only 26 percent did, and within certain ethnic groups the number was lower, according to a study conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Of the 57 percent of Latino students who intended to transfer to a four-year institution after graduating high school in 1997, 17 percent did. Of the 64 percent of black students who wanted to transfer, 19 percent did.

Because the state’s 110 community college system, which serves 2.5 million students, has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, the report asserted that the success of community college students is key to adding diversity to higher education.

A study released in early November by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access also found that blacks and Latinos in particular are more likely to be encouraged to go to a community college than a four-year institution after high school, making it a prime place for institutions to recruit a more diverse student body.

Jennifer Ward, a spokeswoman for the University of California Office of the President, said one of the things the UC has worked “desperately” to improve is communication with community college students about transfer requirements.

This year, the UC received an extra $2 million to improve relations with transfer students.

“We believe that improving transfer rates is critical to our state,” Ward said. “Right now the vast majority of upper-division classes are reserved for transfers and more than 80 percent of community college applicants are admitted.”

– Compiled by Lindsey Miller