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Activists complain of weakened voting security standard

first_imgBOSTON (AP) — Election integrity activists and computer security experts are complaining that leaders of federal agency that oversees voting technology have quietly weakened a key element of standards due for a vote next week designed to improve security. The Election Assistance Commission’s leadership says the change _ removing a ban on wireless hardware _ doesn’t mean future voting systems will be less secure because they will be prohibited from running wireless software. It says the change lets voting equipment vendors continue to purchase cheaper off-the-shelf components, boosting competition in an industry dominated by a handful of privately held companies.last_img read more

Study abroad applicants receive decision letters

first_imgA world of possibilities was opened to Notre Dame sophomores Friday, as the Office of International Studies [OIS] mailed out decision letters regarding study abroad programs for the 2011-12 academic year. Sophomore Augie Bossu, who was accepted to study in Bologna, Italy, in the spring of 2012, said he was happy to hear such positive news at the same time as many of his friends. “The anticipation and hearing everyone else find out [was great],” he said. “I was getting nervous, but it was a relief and I am really excited.” Bossu said anticipation for the decision letter has been building since the application was due Nov. 15, climaxing in the week before the results were released. “[I was nervous] when I originally filled out the application back in November, but over break I almost forgot about it,” he said. “It was almost too long of a wait. This past week I was getting more nervous as people were talking about it on campus. The buzz came back.” Sophomore Jenny Lesko was accepted to be one of the first Notre Dame students to study abroad in Dakar, Senegal, in the spring of 2012. She said while she isn’t familiar with the program, she is ecstatic to be studying in Africa for the semester. “I am so excited. I called about 10 people when I got in, I was so happy,” Lesko said. “I don’t know much about the program yet. I like trying new things out.” Lesko said the destination and the freedom of the program is what she is looking forward to the most. “I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. It’s been a dream of mine,” she said. “It won’t be so structured, but that is good for me.” Bossu said the travel opportunities offered by studying in Bologna are what he is most excited for in his study abroad experience. “I definitely plan on travelling through Europe to see friends. I am just excited about all the possibilities because it is just so easy to get around everywhere in Europe,” he said. “I haven’t really planned anything yet, I just know it’s going to be so easy to go wherever you want.” Lesko said she was anticipating the cultural opportunities at her disposal in Dakar. “I am really looking forward to the field trips and staying with the host family. Apparently there is a lot of art and music,” she said. “It’s a huge city, about a million people, so there is a lot of stuff to do.” Sophomore Jackie Bacon was accepted to study in Cairo, Egypt, in the spring of 2012. She said her excitement has been tempered by the recent civil unrest in the nation. Notre Dame students who began this semester in Cairo were evacuated out of the city Jan. 30. “Everyone is excited about where they are going and who they are going with, but for me it is different,” she said. “I got in and I’m qualified, but I don’t know if I am going with all the turmoil.” Bacon, an Arabic major, said her program of study requires specific classes not available at most study abroad sites. “I have to be able to take Arabic where I go abroad to graduate in time, so I hope they can find a location where we can take Arabic,” she said. Bacon said she remains hopeful OIS will be able to find a new site in the region, or the conflict in Egypt will be settled. “I definitely would like to go somewhere in the Middle East or an Arabic-speaking nation than go to London and take Arabic classes,” she said. “Hopefully things can get settled in Cairo or they can set something up in Jordan or Morocco. As an Arabic major, I would prefer to go somewhere like there.” Sophomore Jess Fay was waitlisted for the London program. She said after talking with OIS, she remains optimistic she will be able to spend a semester in the country. “It is upsetting, it’s sad. I talked to OIS and they told me to still have hope,” she said. “I applied for summer right before because I was nervous, so I was on the right track.” Fay said at this point, there is not much else she can do besides wait and hope for good news. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything will work out in the end,” she said.last_img read more

SMC alumna visits campus to host special writing classes

first_imgNew York Times-bestselling author Adriana Trigiani, class of 1981, will come to Saint Mary’s April 26 and 27 to share her experiences in the “Golden Age of Televeision.” Trigiani will be joined by television producer, director and actor Bill Persky in two master classes for Saint Mary’s students. Trigiani said she is known for her best-selling “Big Stone Gap” series, the novel “Lucia” and her latest book, “The Shoemaker’s Wife.” Before she focused on writing books, she began her writing career in television with Persky, she said. Trigiani said she started as part of the writing staff for Persky’s television show, “Working it Out.” She also worked as a writer-producer for the “Cosby Show,” a show runner for “City Kids” and for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Trigiani said the impact Persky has had on her goes beyond working together for television. “Above and beyond that wonderful piece of luck, I became dear friends with his daughter Dana, and then [his] twins Jamie and Liza,” Trigiani said. “Through the years, he evolved from mentor to family for me. I adore him.” Trigiani has worked with Persky and Max Westler, an English professor, to make this event possible at Saint Mary’s. “Max Westler thought of it, and I asked Bill and here we are. I love a women’s college hosting a brilliant creator of comedy,” she said. “He’s a woman’s man, father of daughters, by extension dad to a few non biological daughters, and mentor to countless more.” Trigiani said holding the two master classes was actually Persky’s idea. She said Persky hosts workshops at New York University and wanted to bring the experience to Saint Mary’s. “Bill understands women, respects us and celebrates us, Trigiani said. “This is a very rare thing – and it’s perfect that a venerable women’s college is hosting a man who has long championed our struggles and joys.” The first master class will be held on Thursday, April 26, and is open to all students, she said. The second master class on Friday is open to writing majors only. At the Friday class, students are instructed to bring an idea for a sitcom for Trigiani and Persky to evaluate. “The master class is Bill’s idea – he wanted to bring a structure to the conversation that will really help you decide if you’d like to pursue this kind of work, and find your own voice in the work,” Trigiani said. Trigiani said her time at Saint Mary’s did not pass by without the impact of influential professors. Trigiani said theater professor Reg Bain, English professor Sister Jean Klene and Wrestler were among those who played a significant role in her education and career. Today, Trigiani said she focuses on writing books. When looking for inspiration she needs not much other than a closed door and silence, she said. “I love to be alone, so writing novels is also a spiritual and creative match for me,” Trigiani said. “I love the process of naming the characters and building their lives. Hearing their voices. Letting them live in the imagination.”last_img read more

Week fosters positive body image, eating habits

first_imgAt a University full of talented students, athletes and leaders, a group of psychology students are taking the initiative to remind their peers of the importance of positive body images. These students are bringing what they’ve learned in the classroom to the student body in hope of educating students about the causes and dangers of eating disorders as part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Senior Carolyn Bates, a psychology major currently studying eating disorders in an upper-level psychology class, said Notre Dame’s competitive environment can leave students susceptible to developing unhealthy body images. “We’re hoping to raise awareness of the fact that as students on this campus we’re always trying to be the best in every area of our lives, and have overly critical cultural opinions on body images,” Bates said. “We want to be sure that while trying to be the best that we still keep everything in perspective.” Bates said she and her co-organizers are bringing the message of positive body images to the student body from a number of directions. “All of us are doing things to raise awareness on campus: Some girls are doing things in the dorms, some girls will be at the dining halls with a pledge about ending negative body talk, and [senior] Suzy [Fanuele] and I wrote a Viewpoint article for [Monday’s] Observer,” Bates said. “Some girls are planning on doing some art with sidewalk chalk to get positive body messages out there … It seemed like a lot of our class wanted to focus on helping positive body affirmations reach a larger population of the students at Notre Dame.” Bates said these disorders can be difficult to distinguish from a healthy diet or exercise regimen. “We’ve been talking a lot in class about how sometimes it can be a blurry line between normal behavior, trying to live healthfully, and stepping into this zone where you’re engaging in a disordered way of living,” Bates said. “There sometimes can be a fuzzy line between doing that and having that be a supplemental way to live healthfully and having that take more control of our lives.” Bates said she hopes the Notre Dame community learns more about the resources available on and off campus for those struggling with a disorder. “The goal of these activities is that we’re doing something to get attention and to give people the opportunity to get more information to help themselves or their friends,” Bates said. “Also, a lot of these activities will have either more information from the national eating disorders awareness website or from the University Counseling Center.” Bates said she encourages any student struggling to maintain a positive body image to visit the Counseling Center. “It’s free, completely confidential, and you can go in anytime without being diagnosed with anything,” Bates said. “You can talk to someone about anxiety, stress or whatever’s bothering you … You can learn great techniques for students struggling with everyday stresses as well as students with something more serious going on in their lives.” Coordinator of Eating Disorder Services at the University Counseling Center Valerie Staples said the Counseling Center tailors its aid to fit the specific needs of students. “The Counseling Center provides individual and/or group counseling services to students struggling with eating or body image concerns … That may be experiencing disordered eating or may have a serious eating disorder,” Staples said. “For many students, these eating behaviors may be a symptom of other concerns as well that must be addressed: difficulty with emotional expression, stress, perfectionism, relationship/family issues … Therapy can help students develop healthy ways of managing these concerns and develop an improved sense of self.”last_img read more

British newspaper features doctoral candidate’s poem

first_imgEnglish doctoral candidate Ailbhe Darcy joined some esteemed company when The Guardian, a prominent U.K. newspaper, featured one of her poems as Poem of the Week the week of Sept. 24. Darcy’s selection is no small honor. The previous week, the paper showcased William Shakespeare’s “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” Darcy, a Dublin native who earned her Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Notre Dame’s creative writing program, wrote her featured poem, “Silt Whisper,” nearly a decade ago. The piece was published in 2011 as part of her first full collection of works, “Imaginary Menagerie.” Darcy said she thought “Silt Whisper” was an unexpected selection for discussion by Guardian columnist Carol Rumens. Rumens’ column showcases one poem each week in both the print newspaper and the online publication. “I had thought of ‘Silt Whisper’ as a quieter poem, like punctuation within the collection to add a bit of a pause among the noisier poems,” Darcy said. “I wouldn’t have thought of it as a poem that stuck out in terms of its content, so I was surprised she picked that one.” Darcy said “Imaginary Menagerie” contains many reflections on traveling and leaving home, including her transatlantic move from Dublin to South Bend. “I never planned to come to America, and it was a bit of an adventure because I’d never been here before we moved,” Darcy said. “But I’m studying Irish poetry at [Notre Dame’s] Keough-Naughton Institute [for Irish Studies], and my husband is studying geometry here, so we think of it as a home away from home.” Though she considers herself more of a poet than an academic, Darcy said her studies in Notre Dame’s doctoral program in English influence her creative endeavors. “My academic work definitely feeds into my writing, because I write in response to the things I’ve read,” Darcy said. “But poetry is kind of a mysterious process even to the writer. [Poems] happen so slowly, percolating away in your mind for a long time, so that it feels like working on a problem. How that happens is a bit of a mystery to the writer, I think.” Seeing her poem in print in The Guardian was a surreal experience, Darcy said, especially since she composed the poem a decade ago. “It’s a little bizarre to me that it’s gotten so much attention already,” she said. “Actually, it’s quite strange to watch people commenting about the meaning on the online page. It’s almost like sitting in the classroom, and of course I didn’t want to join in with a comment, but it was quite difficult to refrain sometimes.” Darcy said the experience, while unexpected, is “really exciting” for her and her work. Though poetry is her passion, other dimensions of her life have taken center stage lately, with the birth of her eight-week old son complicating the life of a doctoral student. “I’m definitely still getting used to the motherhood part, and I haven’t done a lot of writing in the past eight weeks,” Darcy said. “Hopefully the ideas are all percolating in there though.”last_img read more

General admission

first_imgNotre Dame’s Leprechaun Legion announced a revamped ticket distribution program Wednesday, and group leaders said their goal was to create a “mutually beneficial” situation for players and students invested in the game day experience. An email sent to the student body said the plan will make all student seating general admission by section, still sorted by class year. Students will purchase ticket booklets without assigned seats specified, so the seats will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis each game. Senior Kristen Stoutenburgh, former vice president for the Leprechaun Legion, said the group has been researching and developing this plan since last fall.  “As the Leprechaun Legion, we have been looking at making the atmosphere in each of our athletic venues better, and so we’ve done a lot of research at other schools on how they do their game-day atmosphere,” she said. “You go to other schools and their students are in the stadium, jam-packed and rowdy at least an hour before the game. “It creates this atmosphere where there’s so much buzz even before kickoff. And there’s this player and fan interaction that you can only get when [people] are there early,” Stoutenburgh said.  Junior Matthew Cunningham, who will begin his second year as Leprechaun Legion president next fall, said the group visited the University of Oregon, the University of Alabama and Ohio State University to gauge their game-day setups and observe what worked well. “The assigned seating system, from what we’ve seen, is very rare,” Cunningham said. “One part of that is the fact that these bigger schools with 40,000 kids just don’t have an assigned seat for everybody.” Stoutenburgh said they didn’t approach the research with the intention of making changes, but they evaluated their findings to see what would best meet Notre Dame’s needs. “We just wanted to observe, to see what the best practices were and whether those things would work at Notre Dame,” she said. “We did a model that fits what’s already the Notre Dame way. There are some stadiums that are completely general admissions, where class year doesn’t matter. We’re altering it a little bit to make an improvement because we didn’t see that other general admission fitting with how we are at Notre Dame.” Cunningham said fairness is another consideration the group focused on in crafting the new system. “One of the arguments [in favor of] the old system is that the random group seating is fair just because it’s random,” Cunningham said. “In that system, there might be people who want to be at the game early, who want to be rowdy, but the luck of the draw puts them in the top row. “That’s not fair to people who come to the games early and want to be invested and yell and cheer. … This new system allows people who want to be there to get close to the game, and it gets rid of the chance that they might be stuck in the top row.” The Leprechaun Legion is aware of the petition circulating in protest to the changes, Cunningham said, but they are “not considering revising the plans” in response to it. “At Notre Dame, any change is tough. When there’s a change to the atmosphere, just like when we introduced the recorded music last year, there will be people who really don’t like it,” he said. “After time, the process kind of smoothes itself out and becomes the new norm.” Stoutenburgh said the Legion board welcomes all comments and questions to help fans understand where the change is coming from and what the intentions are. “It’s important to note that in any situation where there’s change, you hear a lot more from the people who are unhappy than from those who are happy,” she said. “It’s always important to look at the big picture. Even if there’s that loud, dissenting opinion, there are always positive ones that just aren’t speaking up because they don’t have a problem with it.” Bringing fans to the stadium earlier won’t detract from the other aspects of game day, Cunningham said. Gates will open 90 minutes before kickoff, leaving time to tailgate and watch the players walk to the stadium. “At Notre Dame, game day is more than just the football,” he said. “At these other schools, the tailgating scene was awesome, and people didn’t seem to think they had to cut their tailgates short to get to the game.” Despite any backlash from the changes, Cunningham said no logistical change to the seating arrangements can destroy or diminish the game-day atmosphere.  “What makes Notre Dame unique is Notre Dame Stadium and Touchdown Jesus and the coaches and players that were here before, and that’s never going to change,” he said. “You’re never going to change the tradition of Notre Dame. “There are things you can do that will make it better, to enhance it, but no one who comes to Notre Dame wants to change anything about what Notre Dame football has been founded on.”last_img read more

Fair showcases full-time volunteer programs

first_imgThe Postgraduate Service Fair, sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), took the first steps toward achieving the University’s mission statement of “sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression” Wednesday evening in the Joyce Center, showcasing service organizations where seniors can work next year. According to the CSC website, the service fair included booths representing the Alliance for Catholic Education, the Peace Corps, Dominican Volunteers and Jesuit Volunteer Corps, among others. Some of organizations represented operate in South Bend, and send volunteers as far away as South Africa or China, according to the CSC website. Davis Sandefur, a senior studying physics and Irish, said he attended the Service Fair because he has volunteered at his church during the summer in various roles. He said he was particularly interested in the Christian Appalachian Project because he is from Kentucky. “[Service] really teaches you to be thankful for what you have … it reminds you how lucky you are to be in an opportunity to help others,” Sandefur said. According to the CSC website, about 10-percent of graduates commit to some sort of service project within a year after their graduation. Michael Hebbeler, director of student leadership and senior transitions at the CSC, said the service fair is just one of many events the CSC will host this year to inspire more students to pursue postgraduate service, including many other visits from service organizations. Hebbeler said the CSC will run a discernment seminar with direct ties to the Gospel. “[The seminar] challenges students to think critically about vocation and cultivate a way of living that responds to the Gospel demands of right relationship … in short, the path of justice,” he said.last_img read more

Worker killed by falling tree

first_imgThe St. Joseph Co. Coroner said 22-year-old Mark Ellsworth of Mishawaka was killed Thursday at about 10:40 a.m., according to the South Bend Tribune. The worker died after being struck by a tree near the intersection of Bulla Road and Twyckenham Drive, University Spokesman Dennis Brown said. “A worker with a local excavating firm suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by a tree while working on a project to clear trees for a parking lot expansion on the east side of campus,” Brown said. A University press release stated the man died at the scene, despite efforts to resuscitate him. The release said work at the construction site has been suspended. In the press release, University President Fr. John Jenkins said Notre Dame extends its condolences to the man’s family and to everyone involved in the accident. “Reminded how precious and fragile life is, we pray for strength and peace for all who are suffering as a result,” Jenkins said. Contact Meghan Thomassen at mthomass@nd.edud.last_img read more

Advocate reflects on formative years

first_img Contact Henry Gens at hgens@nd.edu. A special guest speaker headed the third and final pre-immersion class of Notre Dame’s Urban Plunge program over winter break on Sunday. Malik Nevels, executive director for the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention (ILAACP), talked Sunday night about dignity and justice for urban America, sharing his life experiences and current work. Nevels began his talk by discussing what dignity and social justice means to him, and how he’s been exposed to these ideas over the course of his life and in his career. “When we think about or talk about or begin to explore the concept of dignity and social justice I think what we’re really speaking about or thinking about is the quest, the search, for dignity and social justice, whether it be in the context of politics, race, gender or class,” Nevels said. “We are talking about a particular group’s activities to persuade their audience to value who they are or what they say as well as acknowledge certain unalienable rights to which they should have title.” This concept of dignity and social justice shaped the lens through which he views his experiences, Nevel said. “I thought about two questions in particular,” Nevels said. “One was how has this quest or search for dignity and social justice shaped or framed my personal narrative, and vice versa – how has my personal narrative shaped my quest for dignity and social justice?” Nevels then shared at length about four crucial life experiences that strongly influenced the work that he does now at the ILAACP, beginning with his mother’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. “Throughout my life, and I remember early on, my mother passing on concern for those that were from disadvantaged communities, so every month we would volunteer in some type of capacity,” Nevels said. Next, Nevels highlighted the guiding principles of Catholic social teaching that his education in Chicago Catholic schools exposed him to during his childhood. “It would be a disservice for me to ignore that Catholic social teaching to a great degree shaped how I view the work I do in dignity and social justice,” Nevels said. “There are three key things in Catholic social teaching that stood out to me: The first was the call to family, community and participation. In that sense, people have a right and a duty to participate in society. The second thing that resonated with me was rights and responsibility, that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can only be achieved if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. And last, but not least, is the option for the poor and vulnerable. Basically for a society, to a degree, how well it has done is based on how well it treats its poor and vulnerable. The third experience that Nevels talked about was a period of urban gentrification in the Lincoln Park neighborhood he lived in during the late 1970s, and how it altered and erased the demographics of the community seemingly overnight. Lastly, Nevels discussed his involvement as a Public Ally in Chicago in the mid-1990s, when Michelle Obama led the program. Nevels headed a funding program for the schools in the city, and was shocked by conditions he witnessed there. “Even though this was in ’95, some of these conditions exist today and are even worse,” Nevels said. “You’ve got kids who are learning in hallways, taking class in the summer with no air conditioning, they’re learning from textbooks that are outdated and, in some instances, they’re being taught by people who have no business teaching them. Seeing this, what I thought was an injustice, led me to the work that I do today.” The work Nevels does as the executive director at the ILAACP takes into account all of these formative experiences. The organization focuses on preventative measures against the negative outcomes associated with social and economic disparities, rather than acting as a reactionary agency, Nevels said. “What if we started making the greater investments on the front-end of life? What if we started upstream?” Nevels said. The ILAACP has efforts across a wide range of fronts, from raising public awareness about disparity to partnering with community-based programs to raise money and evaluate efficacy, Nevels said. “We help those that help others do it better,” he said. The ILAACP also does a lot of data mining to make important facts about funding available to those in need, Nevels said. “One of the things that takes place in Chicago because it’s so political is that Chicago will get a large Federal grant to, let’s say, improve the public education in Chicago, but you don’t know who got the grant,” Nevels said. “And they keep it a secret. So one of the things we’ve been able to do is get access to the information and share that with local community-based organizations.”last_img read more

Engineering professor wins research award

first_imgThe North American Membrane Society (NAMS) recently awarded assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering William A. Phillip with its Young Scientist Award, according to a College of Engineering press release.The award, which annually recognizes outstanding individuals starting their professional careers in membrane science and technology, will be presented at the 24th annual NAMS meeting at the end of May.Phillip’s recognition could be considered an auspicious start to a career that has already, in a sense, come full circle. Phillip first discovered his passion for membrane science as a chemical engineering undergraduate here at Notre Dame.“One of the things that started this interest was that I worked as an undergrad in the lab of Arvind Varma, a faculty member here at the time and who’s now the department head over at Purdue,” Phillip said. “I did membrane-related research with him starting sophomore year and that sort of catalyzed the whole thing — studying reaction engineering and transport in lab, which I enjoyed immensely.”Phillip now leads a lab of his own, named the Water Purification and Advanced Transport Engineering Research Laboratory, aptly abbreviated as WATER.“We make membranes for water purification out of advanced materials, new materials using polymer-based chemistry,” Phillip said.To that end, Phillip leverages collaborations with teams working in basic chemistry to incorporate their novel syntheses in an important engineering application.“There are very smart people out there doing innovative chemistry, and because of their efforts, a lot of it happens to be fairly modular these days,” Phillip said. “So we can collaborate with synthetic polymer chemists who come up with new materials that we then figure out how to process into useful products on larger length and mass scales relevant to society’s needs.”In particular, the research for which Phillip earned recognition from the NAMS Young Membrane Scientist Award largely involves refining current state-of-the-art membrane technology, which is a surprisingly disordered affair on the nanometer scale.“The research that I submitted as an abstract specifically for the award involves producing membranes consisting of self-assembled block polymers,” Phillip said. “Membrane filtration is used in a variety of important applications, like removing viruses and particulate matter from water and other fluids. But if you look closely at most of the membranes currently used for this, they would look like over-cooked spaghetti — just a jumbled distribution of pore sizes.”Phillip’s novel approach to this problem makes use of basic research from synthetic-polymer chemists to engineer far higher-quality filtration meshes in useful quantities.“Our approach with these self-assembled block polymers allows for us to have a single uniform pore size at a high density, 10 to the 14th pores per meter squared, which is ‘a whole lot’ in non-technical terms,” Phillip said. “We’ll also have far greater control over the pore sizes themselves, which can range from five to 100 nanometers.”Phillip said his investigation revolves around an exciting research question for which he was grateful to be recognized. He said he also especially excited to research at the place where and alongside individuals with whom he first delved into chemical engineering.“The NAMS award is an honor, and it’s cool to come back to ND and work as a colleague with some of the people that were mentors to me early on,” he said.Tags: award, engineering, professor, William A. Philliplast_img read more