Tag Archives: universities

Groups ask court for broader injunction to protect transgender people in North Carolina

LGBT rights groups challenging the North Carolina law that bans transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity this week filed their opening brief on appeal, requesting that the preliminary injunction in the case be broadened to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination.

In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit Carcaño v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

“Every day that H.B. 2 singles out transgender North Carolinians – whether at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives – is another day that the transgender community is told that they are second class,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “Though the district court recognized the serious harm to three of our clients at UNC as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to the harms that law inflicts on other transgender individuals in public buildings across North Carolina. We hope and expect that the Fourth Circuit will expand this ruling to protect all transgender people.”

The appeal filed this week argues that H.B. 2 violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it specifically targets transgender people, and that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination.

While North Carolina has argued that H.B. 2 advances interests in public safety and privacy, Lambda Legal and the ACLU argue that these interests, which can be protected in other ways, do not justify the harms H.B. 2 imposes on transgender people and that to restore the status quo, the court must grant a broader preliminary injunction while the case proceeds to trial.

“H.B. 2 makes transgender North Carolinians pariahs in their own state. Courthouses, airports, libraries, public schools, highway rest stops, police departments, state hospitals and the very halls of government itself are now unsafe for, and unwelcome to, transgender North Carolinians,” said Jon W. Davidson, National Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair at Lambda Legal. “Such unequal treatment simply cannot be squared with the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equality under the law. The Fourth Circuit should order this broader relief, pending trial.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians in addition to members of the ACLU of North Carolina.

The lawsuit, Carcaño v. McCrory, was filed days after H.B. 2 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. In it, the groups argue that H.B. 2 sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect and protections afforded to others, and that transgender individuals are expelled from public life since they are not allowed to use the restrooms and changing facilities that match who they are.

NY requiring adoptions for research cats and dogs

New York is requiring universities using cats and dogs for research to offer them for adoption through animal shelters, humane societies or private placements.

The law applies to higher education research facilities that are tax-exempt or receive public money or else collaborate with institutions getting either public benefit.

It first requires a veterinarian at the facility to determine whether an animal is healthy and suitable for adoption once the research is completed.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat and lead sponsor, says animals used in scientific, medical and product research across the state are usually euthanized, though some institutions voluntarily maintain adoption programs.

She says beagles are commonly bred for research and used because of their docility.

The Humane Society of the United States says Connecticut, California, Minnesota and Nevada have similar laws.

Wise words: Commencement season to begin

Students may be shaking spring-break sand from their flip-flops, but commencement celebrations are just weeks away for colleges and universities.

Many Wisconsin colleges and universities — public and private — plan commencement ceremonies in May and are lining up speakers.

NFL quarterback Russell Wilson will deliver the spring commencement address on May 14 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“It’s an honor to be asked to speak at any commencement ceremony, but I’m particularly excited to return to a place where I have so many great memories,” said the Super Bowl-winning Seahawk, who attended UW-Madison.

Also in Madison, former Attorney General Eric Holder will give the keynote at the University of Wisconsin Law School hooding ceremony on May 13. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to these graduates about the road ahead,” Holder said in a news release. “And I hope by sharing some of my own experiences, they see that it’s a big world just waiting for them to make a positive impact.”

On May 22, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will address the graduating class at Carthage College in Kenosha, while alumna Judith Mayotte, a TV producer and humanitarian, will deliver the keynote the same day at Marquette University.

At Ripon College on May 15, the class of 2016 will hear from soccer coach Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. women’s team to two Olympic gold medals.

Elsewhere, graduates of 2016 will hear from Vice President Joe Biden, who will deliver commencement addresses at the U.S. Military Academy, Delaware State University and Syracuse University’s College of Law.

First lady Michele Obama will address graduating seniors at Jackson State University in Mississippi, as well as City College of New York and the Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Other speakers scheduled for commencements this spring include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at Drew University, Oliver Stone at the University of Connecticut, Ryan Seacrest at the University of Georgia, Hoda Kotb at Tulane, Spike Lee at John Hopkins, Hank Azaria at Tufts, Steven Spielberg at Harvard, Matt Damon at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James Franco at Cornell, Bill Moyers at Rutgers, Ken Burns at Stanford and Seth Meyers at Northwestern.

WiG ushers in the commencement season with a look at wise words delivered to previous graduating classes.

Some favorites:

• Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s address at Harrow School in 1941: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

• President John F. Kennedy’s address at American University in 1963: “No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable.”

• Tennis legend Billie Jean King’s address at the University of Massachusetts in 2000: “The most important words that have helped me in life when things have gone right or when things have gone wrong are ‘accept responsibility.’”

• Apple founder Steve Jobs’ address at Stanford in 2005: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

• Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger’s address at the University of Southern California in 2009: “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”

• Country singer Dolly Parton’s commencement address at the University of Tennessee in 2009: “Now I usually try not to give advice. Information, yes, advice no. But what has worked for me may not work for you. Well, take for instance what has worked for me. Wigs. Tight clothes. Pushup bras.”

• President Barack Obama’s address at Arizona State University in 2009: “A relentless focus on the outward markers of success can lead to complacency. It can make you lazy.”

Commence career search

College graduates from the class of 2016 face sunnier prospects in the job market than those who graduated a year ago, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The report shows employers expect to hire 5.2 percent more new graduates than they hired in 2015.

Another report, released by an institute at Michigan State University, estimated national employers would hire 15 percent more graduates with bachelor’s degrees in 2016 than in 2015.

Additionally, about 80 percent of the employers that answered the MSU survey described the U.S. labor market for college graduates as “good” to “excellent.”

— L.N.

Israeli scholars face growing discrimination due to boycott movement

Israeli anthropologist Dan Rabinowitz is a leader in his field, heading a prestigious school of environmental studies at Tel Aviv University, authoring dozens of publications and holding visiting teaching positions over the years at leading North American universities.

But the British-educated Rabinowitz fears that his younger counterparts may not enjoy the same professional opportunities for a very personal reason: They are Israeli.

As a global boycott movement against Israeli universities gains steam, Israeli professors say they are feeling the pressure from their colleagues overseas. Although the movement ostensibly targets universities, not individuals, Israeli academics say they are often shunned at the personal level. They experience snubs at academic conferences, struggle to get recommendations and can experience difficulty publishing their work in professional journals.

“This is highly personal and personalized,” said Rabinowitz.

And yet Israeli universities are widely seen as liberal bastions, and their professors are some of the most vocal government critics. The situation is equivalent to foreign universities marginalizing American academics over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though those academics also oppose the wars.

Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion, Israel’s premier science and technology university, said the effect of such decisions has so far been minimal. Lavie is leading a battle against the boycott.

While acknowledging that Israeli government policies are open to criticism, he said that holding universities responsible for them is unfair and asked why countries with abysmal human rights records, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, have been spared.

“We have the feeling that these movements treat Israel differently than any other country in the world,” he said.

Many American Jews believe that anti-Semitism is at the heart of the discrimination leveled at Israeli academics, although many also allow that the hatred is unconscious rather than intentional. For millennia, suspicion and resentment of Jews has been so engrained into Western culture that it’s become part of the culture’s DNA.

The academic boycott is part of the broader pro-Palestinian “BDS” campaign, which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Inspired by the anti-apartheid movement, BDS organizers say they are using nonviolent means to promote the Palestinian struggle for independence.

Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and often masks a more far-reaching aim to “delegitimize” or destroy the Jewish state. But the BDS movement’s decentralized organization and language calling for universal human rights have proven difficult to counter.

The BDS website says “the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to the Israeli occupation and apartheid or at the very least have been complicit through their silence.”

Already enjoying significant support in the U.K., the academic boycott has chalked up a series of accomplishments in the United States.

In recent years, the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association have approved boycott measures.

In November, a meeting of the American Anthropological Association overwhelmingly endorsed a motion supporting a boycott of Israeli universities..

Lavie said relations between Israeli and American universities remain strong at the institutional and leadership levels, and praised this month’s decision by the Association of American Universities reaffirming its opposition to the boycott. The group, which represents 62 leading U.S. universities, said the boycott “violates academic freedom.”

Nonetheless, Lavie said the boycott movement has become a top concern for Israeli university leaders, particularly as it gains support at the “ground level” from U.S. student unions and academic associations.

“There may be a domino effect,” he said. “If we do not deal with it, it will be a major problem.”

Rabinowitz counts the November vote by the anthropological association as one of the most painful chapters of his career. He said he personally tried to alter the boycott resolution twice — only to be rejected with little or no debate. He said the rejection by his colleagues was a “defining moment” for him. In a statement, the association confirmed Rabinowitz’s account, noting that the meeting was “highly charged.”

Ed Liebow, the association’s executive director, said the organization felt “a strong commitment” to take some sort of action. “The one thing we can’t do is nothing,” he said. The measure goes to the association’s more than 10,000 members for a vote this spring.

Although the American anthropologists have never before proposed a boycott of academic institutions, the association said it commonly takes public stands against governments accused of restricting academic freedom. It recently sent a letter to leaders of Turkey, criticizing them for allegedly curbing scholars there.

Ilana Feldman, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University and a boycott supporter, said the proposal, if passed, would not impede professors “in any way” from working with Israeli scholars.

Rabinowitz, however, said it is impossible to distinguish between a person and his institution, which becomes part of one’s professional identity.

Israeli academics say such feelings are increasingly common.

Rachelle Alterman, a professor emeritus of urban planning at the Technion, said she still has strong working relationships with colleagues around the world, but the pro-boycott camp is a “rising minority” in academia. She said it is less of an issue in the hard sciences like medicine and physics, and much more palpable in more subjective social sciences. Younger academics trying to establish a reputation are especially vulnerable.

Alterman said she has begun to feel a “coldness” from some colleagues at conferences that was not there in the past. She said some colleagues refuse to attend conferences in Israel, and editors at professional journals tell her it is difficult to find people willing to review papers by Israeli academics.

“I call it the dark matter. It’s there all the time, but elusive, hard to spot,” she said.

In one recent case, a British colleague coolly rejected a request to assist one of her graduate students.

“I am afraid that as part of the institutional boycott being observed by some academics in relation to Israeli organisations I am unable to help with your request,” the British professor wrote in an email.

Rabinowitz said the boycott efforts will backfire by undermining Israeli moderates and playing into the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government.

“It is the best present they can give Netanyahu and the radical right in Israel,” he said.

Louis Weisberg contributed to this article.

Education groups opposing campus conceal-and-carry legislation

Four national groups representing college educators and trustees said on Nov. 12 they would fight a growing push in state legislatures to allow people to carry concealed guns on campuses.

The groups also called for the repeal of measures in several states that already allow for so-called campus carry, arguing that academic institutions should remain “as safe and weapon-free as possible for students, faculty, staff, parents and community members.”

“Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions,” said the statement, signed by the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

The groups said students and professors wouldn’t be comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they thought there might be a gun in the room. “College campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons,” they said.

Supporters such as the National Rifle Association argue that lawful gun owners should be allowed to carry on campuses for self-protection. They argue that having more law-abiding citizens with guns could potentially deter mass shootings or allow bystanders to intervene to limit the deadly consequences.

The statement from the four groups comes amid intensifying debate over how to prevent gun violence on campuses, following last month’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Lawmakers in Florida are considering plans to allow concealed permit owners to bring their guns onto campus, and several other states are expected to consider similar legislation next year.

Texas recently became the eighth state to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The change goes into effect next year, and colleges are considering how to implement it. The law contains a key concession for opponents, giving administrators the ability to mark off certain areas as gun-free.

Seven other states — Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin — now have laws or court rulings allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on some campuses, according to the NCSL.

The higher education groups rejected the argument that more guns could deter mass shootings. They called on colleges and universities to plan for critical incidents, and “rely on trained and equipped professional law-enforcement personnel to respond to emergency incidents.”

Students for Concealed Carry, a group that is pushing for campus carry laws in several states, said the laws don’t have as much of an impact as critics claim. Few students can qualify to carry weapons because they aren’t 21, and those who do have obtained licenses and undergone background checks, spokesman Zachary Zalneraitis said.

“The people in charge, the administrators and professors, are always resistant to it,” he said. “But after it gets passed, it just becomes a non-issue.”

Political football | Koch Industries makes play on college campuses

University of Wisconsin students cheered as the Badgers rolled over Rutgers on Oct. 31 at Camp Randall Stadium. But there also was a smattering of boos and catcalls off the field because, on one of the most liberal college campuses in America, the very un-liberal Koch Industries bought sponsorship of the game.

Koch Industries, owned and operated by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has sponsored UW football throughout this season.

“Really? There isn’t a university in Texas or Arizona that’s a better fit with Koch Industries than UW?” said Kyle Dunn, a Madison resident and UW alumnus, during halftime. He sounded like a fan outraged over a fumble. “If they are recruiting, they’re making waves in the wrong pool.”

A chorus of students and alumni have posted letters to the school, the athletic department and to Wisconsin newspaper editors noting the irony of the university benefiting financially from a conglomerate owned and operated by the billionaires behind political efforts to cut funding to public education, co-opt academic programs, influence scientific research and bust teacher’s unions.

Koch Industries first bought into college sports during the 2014–15 basketball season, with sponsorships at 15 universities. The sponsorship drive will continue into the 2015–16 basketball season, with fans seeing Koch signs and videos and hearing radio ads in college arenas.

Koch also has handed out such giveaways as sunglasses, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison-based watchdog and advocacy group that monitors right-wing activity, corruption and corporate influence.

Koch’s sponsorship at UW-Madison is through a multi-year contract between the UW Board of Regents and Badger Sports Properties, a subsidiary of Learfield Communications, Inc., according to The Capital Times, which obtained the contract through an open records request.

The Cap Times Oct. 22 report said the contract, worth more than $111 million to UW, gives Badger Sports Properties the right to sell game sponsorships and ads through 2026. The agreement gives UW officials the right to refuse sponsorships that adversely affect the school’s reputation or are contrary to university policy.

The policy, according to The Cap Times, prohibits sponsorship by tobacco companies and requires reviews of sponsorships involving alcohol and gambling.

However, the school apparently has no problem with Koch sponsorship — recruitment ads have been appearing on the Camp Randall scoreboard throughout the season.

A statement from UW-Madison’s media relations department said the school “doesn’t screen companies that sponsor our athletics program based on the political views of their owners. As a public institution, we don’t think that would be appropriate. UW Athletics draws support from a wide variety of firms.”

Rebranding and recruiting

Koch Industries is seeking to “bolster recruitment” on campuses, reshape its image and connect with “dedicated sports fans and university communities,” according to a news release from Learfield.

“Like student athletes, our 60,000 U.S. employees understand that hard work and team spirit are fundamental to winning and success,” stated Koch communications officer Steve Lombardo, who previously worked to rebrand the Philip Morris USA cigarette company. 

Learfield executive vice president Roy Seinfeld said, “There is a special passion and loyalty among the college sector that is like no other and we’re fortunate to bring this to life for Koch Industries and their many brands.”

Koch Industries is one of the largest private multinational conglomerates in the United States, with about $115 billion in annual revenues. Koch’s holdings are in asphalt, chemicals, energy, fibers, fertilizer, natural gas, plastics, petroleum, plastics, pulp and ranching — a stew of subsidiaries that environmentalists characterize as toxic.

The conglomerate is led by CEO Charles Koch and executive vice president David Koch, major funders of right-wing and libertarian politics. Their money, through a vast network of foundations, think tanks and PACs, goes to lobbying against expanded government health care, denying climate change, operating anti-government groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and backing tea party politicians like Scott Walker. 

The Kochs, for example, have ties to the Virginia-based nonprofit Generation Opportunity, described on its website as “a free-thinking, liberty-loving, national organization of young people promoting the best of Being American: opportunity, creativity and freedom.”

A review by the watchdog group OpenSecrets found that 86 percent of funding for Generation Opportunity over a three-year period came from two Koch-connected nonprofits — Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust.

GO pursues a right-wing agenda and aims to persuade young Americans to vote against Democratic candidates and oppose Democratic initiatives, most prominently the Affordable Care Act.

SourceWatch.org, a publication of the Center for Media and Democracy, tracked GO’s campaign to convince young people to “opt out” of insurance under the ACA. In September 2013, GO announced it would spend about $750,000 on the campaign against so-called “Obamacare.” There was a tour of 20 college towns and lots of free beer offered.

Today, nearly 2.5 million people “like” GO’s Facebook page, which on Oct. 30 contained new posts about job scarcity, Affordable Care Act fraud, secret cellphone monitoring by police and Mike Huckabee’s most recent debate performance.

The Koch network also buys influence over curriculum, personnel, policy and research by funneling grants with strings attached to schools. For example, a Koch foundation grant to Florida State University required veto power over candidates for professorships the grant funded. 

Unkoching education

But a counter-movement is gaining strength among college students through campaigns such as UnKoch My Campus, which called for a national day of action against the corporatization of education on Nov. 5.

In a day of action last November, demonstrations took place on about 30 campuses. This year, students on 50 campuses planned to publish op-ed pieces for campus papers, lobby administrators and faculty to take a pledge to refuse income from special interests, planned sit-ins and teach-ins and filed open records requests demanding disclosure of Koch interests in their schools.

UnKochMyCampus.org maintains a “Koch heat map” designating schools that have received Koch funding. In Wisconsin, in addition to UW-Madison, Koch-related funding has gone to UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, Lakeland, Wisconsin Lutheran, Carthage College and Beloit College.

Across the country, about 400 post-secondary schools need to be “unkoched,” according to UnKoch My Campus and Greenpeace, an environmental group that monitors Koch efforts encouraging academics to deny climate change.

Greenpeace says the number of universities receiving Koch funds has skyrocketed from just seven in 2005. A report from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization, released in late October and based partly on an analysis of IRS filings, found Koch-led charitable foundations contributed $19.3 million donated to 210 colleges in 46 states in 2013.

Koch and college football:

Koch Industries kicked off the football season on Sept. 12 with a sponsorship of the Southern Methodist University game against North Texas. On Sept. 19, Koch sponsorships included Oklahoma State against University of Texas-San Antonio, University of Arkansas against Texas Tech, University of Oklahoma against Tulsa and Texas A&M against Nevada.

Koch put its brand on games between the University of Nebraska and Southern Mississippi on Sept. 26, Iowa State and the University of Kansas on Oct. 3, University of Kansas and Baylor on Oct. 10, and University of Houston and Vanderbilt and University of Wisconsin and Rutgers on Oct. 31.

Study shines light on campus sexual violence

About 11.7 percent of students across 27 universities reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled.

The incidence of experiencing sexual assault and sexual misconduct among female undergraduate students was 23.1 percent. The rate was 5.4 percent for male undergraduates, according to the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct released by the Association of American Universities.

Twenty-seven universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, participated in the survey, which took place in the spring and involved more than 150,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

“Our universities are working to ensure their campuses are safe places for students,” said Hunter Rawlings, president of AAU, an organization of 62 private and public research universities. “The primary goal of the survey is to help them better understand the experiences and attitudes of their students with respect to this challenge.”

The survey, one of the largest to date dealing with campus sexual violence, looked at whether survivors of sexual assault and sexual misconduct reported incidents to the university or another organization, such as law enforcement. It revealed that rates of reporting were low, ranging from 5 percent to 28 percent, depending on the specific type of behavior.

Students said they did not report incidents because they felt “embarrassed, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult.” Another explanation: Students said they “did not think anything would be done about it.”

Other findings in the survey:

• Rates of sexual assault and misconduct are highest among undergraduate females and those identifying as transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming and questioning.

• The risk of the most serious types of nonconsensual sexual contact due to physical force or incapacitation decline from freshman year to senior year.

• Nonconsensual sexual contact involving drugs and alcohol constitutes a significant percentage of the incidents.

• A little fewer than half of the students surveyed witnessed a drunk person heading for a sexual encounter. Among those who reported being a witness, most did not try to intervene.

Last year, when the White House launched the “It’s on Us” campaign to keep women and men safe from sexual violence, the administration encouraged people to take a personal pledge that includes a promise “to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.”

Other elements of the pledge: to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

UW-Madison: It’s on Us

Earlier in October, UW-Madison joined the “It’s on Us” campaign, displaying its commitment to the effort at the Badger’s homecoming football game on Oct. 17.

In addition, a series of “It’s on Us” videos — featuring UW athletes Vitto Brown, Corey Clement and Sydney McKibbon, athletic director Barry Alvarez and men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves — will be played at home games at Camp Randall Stadium, the Kohl Center and LaBahn Arena.

“We are pleased to join with the campus in raising awareness of this issue,” said Alvarez. “We are constantly educating our staff and student-athletes about creating an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported, and this is a great way for us to share that message.”

More than 40 student leaders at UW-Madison, along with University Health Services, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, the UW Police Department and the Division of Student Life took the “It’s on Us” pledge.

Wisconsin schools have plans to deal with shooters

Wisconsin’s public universities and technical colleges have emergency plans that include how to respond to a campus shooting.

Each University of Wisconsin System campus has a so-called “all-hazards” plan that details how to handle crises including active shooters. The campuses share the plans with faculty and staff several ways including posting the plans online, presenting them during student orientations, text messages and campus-wide email alerts. 

UW-La Crosse’s shooter plan, for example, is available through that university’s police department website. The plan recommends that if a shooter is outside a building people inside should hide on the floor in a darkened, locked room and call police while ignoring any voice commands from outside unless they’re clearly coming from police. 

If the shooter is clearly in the same building and people can’t lock themselves in a room they should flee the structure if they can do so safely. If a shooter enters a person’s classroom, he or she should call police and keep the line open even if they can’t talk. They should try to negotiate with the shooter. Overpowering the shooter should be a last resort, according to the plan.

UW-Stevens Point has a nearly identical plan. Officials at that school sent an email to faculty, staff and students on Oct. 6, five days after a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, with links to the plan and urging people to people to review it and sign up for text alerts.

UW-Madison’s police department has a plan for an active shooter on its website as well. That plan says the best option is to run away and call police. If a person can’t flee, he or she should hide and fight only as a last resort. Marc Lovicott, a campus police spokesman, said the agency regularly conducts drills for dealing with a shooter with building occupants, distributes brochures with the shooter plan at student orientations and sends monthly bulletins to building managers covering emergency preparedness, including how to deal with a shooting. 

Each state technical college has an all-hazards plan that deals with shooters as well, said Conor Smyth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Technical College System. Leaders at each college share the plan via the Internet and email, he said. They also present the plans during new staff orientations and in-service sessions. The plans are usually available on campus telephones as well, he said.

Science of love: Getting to the heart of the heart

Birds do it. 

Bees do it.

But why do we fall in love? How do we stay in love? What do we gain from love?

To explore those questions and more, WiG poured some wine, unwrapped a box of truffles, lit a candle and delved into a year’s worth of science and health journals. 

Sex or no sex?

Jesse Hollister and colleagues at the University of Toronto were captivated by the elegant, showy evening primrose because 30 percent of the species in the genus have evolved to reproduce asexually. This made the primrose the right plant to test a theory that biologists have long promoted: Species that reproduce sexually are healthier over time than species that reproduce asexually, because they don’t accumulate harmful mutations.

The researchers, working with teams in Canada and China, examined 30 pairs of the primrose species — one in the pair reproduced asexually; the other sexually.

“What we found was exactly what we predicted based on theory,” Hollister stated. 

“This is the first genetic support for the theory that a significant cost to being asexual is an accumulation of deleterious mutations,” said University of Toronto professor Mark Johnson. “This study has allowed us to unlock part of the mystery of why sex is so common. It’s good for your health, at least if you are a plant.”

Going pitter-patter?

Falling in love really does make the heart go pitter-patter and takes one’s breath away, say scientists with the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.

Clinic co-director Pat Mumby said falling in love releases a flood of feel-good chemicals — dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine.

“This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race,” said Mumby.

Credit dopamine for that euphoric feeling.

Credit adrenaline and norepinephrine for that pitter-patter of the heart and the pre-occupation with that other person.

Not so total recall

Think you remember the details of a love at first sight?

Maybe.

Maybe not, according to research from Northwestern University that was conducted with the support of the National Institutes of Health and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers showed that fragments of the present get inserted into the past to form faulty memories. Memories get adapted and updated, reframed to fit the now, according to lead author Donna Jo Bridge, who led the research at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

For the study, people viewed object locations on a computer screen with varied backgrounds. When asked to place the objects in the original location, the participants always placed them incorrectly. Next participants were shown the objects in three locations on the original screen and asked to choose the correct location. They placed the objects in the misremembered location because they had reformed the memory.

The look of love, or lust

Researchers with the University of Chicago, working with the University of Geneva, analyzed the eye movements of test subjects studying black-and-white photographs of strangers.

They found that people tended to fixate on the face, especially when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love.

However, subjects’ eyes moved from the face to the rest of the body when images evoked sexual desire. 

Marital investment

Professors with the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, examined changing expectations of marriage and relationships — from the 18th century to the 21st.

They reported that Americans, on average, are making smaller investments of time and energy in their relationships than in the past and they have very different expectations from the couples of yesterdays. 

“In 1800, the idea of marrying for love was ludicrous,” stated psychology professor Eli Finkel, the lead author of a paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago. “That isn’t to say that people didn’t want love from their marriage; it just wasn’t the point of marriage.”

Today, according to Finkel, “Americans look to their marriages to help them ‘find themselves’ and to pursue careers and other activities that facilitate the expression of their core self.”

Table for four?

A study presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual conference in Austin, Texas, this past year suggested that double dating can help spark romance for a couple—provided the double date involves deep, revealing conversation.

Passion can decrease for a couple over time, but research shows that self-disclosure in a couple affects closeness and passion.

So what happens when two couples form a fast friendship and go beyond small talk to discuss deeper, personal topics?

“The more that the other couple responds to your self-disclosures in a validating and caring way when on a double date, the more passionate you feel about your own relationship,” said study author Keith Welker of Michigan’s Wayne State University. “Although we still need to investigate why responsiveness from other couples predicts increases in passionate love, one possibility is that having another couple respond positively to yourself and your partner may provide you with a fresh, positive view of your partner and relationship.”

A caution: Be sure that other couple is going to make you look good before you book a table for four on Valentine’s Day.

Faith-based frisky

A study from the University de Porto in Portugal published in Applied Research in Quality of Life indicates that people of faith and regular churchgoers are positive about their love lives and tend to express greater satisfaction with life and sexual relationships than the average adult.

The research involved nearly 1,300 Portuguese adults between 18 and 90 years old and used the “Satisfaction With Love Life Scale.”

Love, and loving sex

For her study on sexual pleasure, Penn State sociologist Beth Montemurro conducted a series of interviews with heterosexual women between the ages of 20 and 68.

Most women in the study said being in love made sex physically more pleasurable. Women in love said they felt less inhibited and more willing to explore.

Montemurro said the women interviewed “seemed to say you need love in sex and you need sex in marriage.”

Romance and rights

A team at Indiana University looked at attitudes toward couples and found that people generally think of loving relationships in a hierarchy: heterosexual couples being the most “in love,” followed by lesbian couples and then gay couples.

And these attitudes, the IU researchers wrote, led people to form beliefs about who should enjoy what rights and liberties — from holding hands to legally marrying.

The paper was titled “(Double) Standards for Granting Formal and Informal Privileges.” 

Matched up

Nearly all the gay and bisexual men involved in a first-of-its-kind study on love and sex said their most recent sexual event occurred with a relationship partner and that they felt “matched” in feelings of love with that partner.

The study, “Sexual Health in Gay and Bisexual Partners” was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior and conducted by Virginia’s George Mason University’s Department of Global and Community Health and Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health and Promotion.

“These findings highlight the prevalence and value of loving feelings within same-sex relationships,” Joshua G. Rosenberger, lead investigator and George Mason professor, said when releasing the research.

The study was based on an Internet survey of 25,000 men.

“Very few people had sex with someone they loved if that person didn’t love them back,” said research scientist Beth Herbenick. “This ‘matching’ aspect of love has not been well explored in previous research, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Thinking of cheating, and cheating

Cheating — is it worse to think about it than to do it?

Well, researchers of a newly published study report that heterosexual men are more likely than heterosexual women to be most upset by sexual infidelity — 54 percent of heterosexual men, 35 percent of heterosexual women.

However, heterosexual men are less likely than heterosexual women to be upset most by emotional infidelity — 46 percent of heterosexual men, 65 percent of heterosexual women.

Bisexual men and women, gays and lesbians did not differ significantly.

“Heterosexual men really stand out from all the other groups: They were the only ones who were much more likely to be upset by sexual infidelity rather than emotional infidelity,” stated lead author David Frederick, who suggested insecurity about paternity may have something to do with the emotions.

The study was conducted by Chapman University in California and involved a survey of about 64,000 people.

Couple counseling

Psychologists at the German Universities of Jena and Kassel reported last fall that a romantic relationship helps neurotic people find stability.

The researchers interviewed 245 couples several times over nine months. Using a questionnaire, the researchers gauged changing degrees of neuroticism and relationship satisfaction. Participants also were asked about fictitious everyday life situations and their possible significance for their own partnership.

“This part was crucial, because neurotic people process influences from the outside world differently,” study author Christine Finn stated, noting that neurotic people react more strongly to negative stimuli and have a tendency to interpret ambiguous situations negatively.

The researchers found that over time, neurotic tendencies decrease as a romantic relationship builds.

Finn stated, “The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality — not directly but indirectly — as at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change.” 

Revealing ‘likes’

A report in the journal PNAS indicated that computer models might know a person’s personality as well as his or her significant other. 

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University said a computer model using a person’s likes on Facebook can predict a person’s personality more accurately than most friends and family and well enough to rival the judgment of a partner.

In the study, the computer more accurately predicted a person’s personality than a work colleague based on just 10 likes, more than a friend based on 70 likes, better than a parent or sibling with 150 likes and as well as a spouse with 300 likes.

“People may choose to augment their own intuitions and judgments with this kind of data analysis when making important life decisions, such as choosing activities, career paths or even romantic partners,” said lead author Wu Youyou of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre. “Such data-driven decisions may well improve people’s lives.”

Some church-based institutions offer same-sex benefits

Universities, charities and hospitals affiliated with churches that oppose same-sex marriage are facing the thorny question of whether they have an obligation — morally or legally — to extend health care benefits to spouses of gay and lesbian employees in states where they now are allowed to marry.

Many religious-based institutions are making no changes or sitting on the sideline, perhaps waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will settle whether gay couples should be able to marry in every state. But they now face greater pressure to make a choice amid the dramatic expansion of same-sex marriage.

A few have extended benefits to the dismay of their church hierarchy and conservatives on campuses.

The University of Notre Dame almost immediately decided to offer benefits to same-sex spouses after a court ruling in October cleared the way for gay marriage in Indiana. Another Roman Catholic school, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, did the same this year, saying it was doing so to comply with state and federal laws.

The explanation offered by Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, illustrated the fine line administrators are facing at religious-based institutions.

Court decisions, he said, have altered “centuries of thought on the nature of marriage rooted not only in the Christian tradition but also in other religious traditions.” But he went on to say there was “an urgent call to welcome, support and cherish gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, who have been too often marginalized and even ostracized.”

The United Methodist Church, which opposes same-sex marriage, extended benefits last April to same-sex spouses working for national church agencies in states that recognize gay marriage. The change was made despite some complaints that it sends a confusing message on church teaching.

Some church-affiliated institutions are considering a “plus-one” plan that has been adopted in recent years by several Catholic Charities organizations and hospitals around the nation. Those benefits plans offer health care to an employee and any adult living with an employee.

The president of Creighton University, a Jesuit-affiliated school in Nebraska, said in October that the need to take care of its workers and stay competitive with other colleges and medical centers was behind his decision to offer health benefits to spouses of gay employees who were married in other states where same-sex marriage is legal.

The move was not, said Rev. Timothy Lannon, a declaration approving gay marriage.

The president of Creighton University, a Jesuit-affiliated school in Nebraska, said in October that the need to take care of its workers and stay competitive with other colleges and medical centers was behind his decision to offer health benefits to spouses of gay employees who were married in other states where same-sex marriage is legal.

The move was not, said Rev. Timothy Lannon, a declaration approving gay marriage.

But Archbishop George Lucas, of Omaha, disagreed. “This is precisely the message that the university is giving,” Lucas said in a statement.

Notre Dame’s move surprised even those who were urging it to follow the lead of other Catholic schools such as Georgetown University and Boston College, which have offered same-sex health benefits for several years.

Sociology professor Richard Williams, who wrote a letter urging Jenkins to extend benefits to same-sex spouses, said he thinks the court ruling may have forced Notre Dame’s decision.

“Maybe it was the only thing they could do,” he said. “One way or another, they did the right thing.”

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the northern Indiana diocese that includes the university said Notre Dame’s leaders need to “defend the religious liberty of our religious institutions that is threatened in potentially numerous ways by the legal redefinition of marriage.”

More needs to be known about what legal obligations Catholic institutions have and whether constitutional rights to religious freedom could stop them from being forced to extend same-sex benefits, Rhoades said.

Whether the Constitution or state laws offer such protection isn’t clear and could end up in the courts too, said Matthew Franck, director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution in Princeton, New Jersey.

The answer, Franck said, might be rooted in a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said religious workers can’t sue for job discrimination and that churches are the best judges of whether clergy and other religious employees should be fired or hired.

That narrow ruling acknowledged a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws, which says the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from protective laws when the issue involves religious employees of those institutions.

Despite the flurry of federal court decisions that have overturned state bans on gay marriage this year, changes among religious-based colleges and institutions are likely to come at a slow pace, said Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“It will take people a bit to wrap their minds around these changes and move forward,” he said. “Every state is not California.”

Many are taking a wait-and-see approach as it’s likely the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the question of gay marriage after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld laws against the practice in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky, following a string of favorable rulings for same-sex marriage.

Xavier University, a Jesuit school in Cincinnati, doesn’t offer same-sex benefits, but “thoughtful discussions are being had on campus over the issue,” said Kelly Leon, a school spokeswoman. Ultimately, the school is waiting to see what happens with Ohio’s law, she said.