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Category: Colleges and universities

UC Irvine students take study break with stress-relieving dogs

Photo: Aarin Kang, 21, a fourth year public health major, kisses Nigle, a 5-year-old poodle mix at UC Irvine Tuesday. Credit: Lauren Williams / Daily PilotPuppy love struck UC Irvine this week as dozens of students doled out tummy rubs, receiving a few licks in return.

Therapy dogs and their owners visited the university as part of a program aimed at relieving stress and jitters during final exam time.

Scott Alburn, a first-year biology student, was happy to see Molly, a 6-year-old golden retriever who bears a resemblance to his own pooch in Visalia.

"She acts the same way" too, Alburn told the Daily Pilot.

Alburn made his way to the more than half a dozen dogs during a respite between demanding exams.

"I wanted a break from studying," Alburn said.

Nearby, Sebastian, a 2-year-old boxer-Labrador mix, sat with his owner, Sasha Carranza. Carranza takes Sebastian to Community Hospital in Long Beach and Southern California schools where students struggling with reading can read aloud to him as part of the BARK program, or Beach Animals Reading with Kids.

Gracie, a 13-year-old English setter, visits libraries from San Juan Capistrano to Costa Mesa. On Tuesday, she lay near the feet of her owner, Penny Chase, outside UCI's Gateway Study Center.

Both Sebastian and Gracie have participated in the BARK program for at least five years.

Gracie's involvement is a no-brainer for Chase.

"Oh, she loves it," Chase said. "Are you kidding me? She gets attention. She gets out every day. I mean look at her. She's getting entertainment."

The rescue and former show dog specializes in drawing out kids who are trying to develop confidence and may be more shy than their classmates, Chase said.

Minerva Escobar, a first-year psychology student, petted Gracie's spotted coat. "You can't be stressed around dogs, and it's just something nice to do in the day," Escobar said.

UCI's Active Minds mental health group sponsored the event, which was geared not only toward relieving stress but also connecting students with counseling programs on campus, said co-president Celina Gore.

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Pi day: Caltech students celebrate with late-night pie party

-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: Aarin Kang, 21, a fourth year public health major, kisses Nigle, a 5-year-old poodle mix at UC Irvine Tuesday. Credit: Lauren Williams / Daily Pilot

L.A. Now Live: Monday's earthquake tested early warning system

Monday's earthquake in Riverside County offered scientists one of their first opportunities to match data from an earthquake early warning pilot program to what they could actually feel.

According to Caltech and U.S. Geological Survey seismologists, the test was a success. The Monday morning 4.7-magnitude temblor gave Caltech scientists a 30-second warning ahead of the shaking.

Though the quake didn't cause any damage, researchers say even a few seconds of notice can prove vital for shutting down utilities, slowing trains and giving people time to prepare.

Reporter Joseph Serna will join us at 9 a.m. to discuss how the pilot program works and how far away it is from being introduced to the public.

Pi Day: Caltech students celebrate with late-night pie party

Students dig into what little pie remains at Pi day at Caltech; Credit: Joseph Serna / Los Angeles Times

For most people, March 14 is just another day.

But for math fans and self-proclaimed nerds out there, the day -– or more specifically, the fact it is 3/14 -– is a day to celebrate one of the most important numbers in all of mathematics: Pi.

So what better way for Pi fans to celebrate Pi Day than with … pie?

A minute before 2 a.m. on Thursday, students at Caltech in Pasadena dug into 130 pies laid out for them outside student housing. There were 26 each of five different pies. Follow that? So on 3/14 at 1:59 a.m. there were 26 each of five kinds of pie. None is by chance. The first digits of Pi are 3.14159265.

“It’s a celebration of nerdiness,” said Christopher Perez, president of Caltech’s math club. “Pi literally shows up everywhere -- in science, in math and nature. A circle is such a fundamental concept.”

You remember Pi, right? It’s that Greek symbol that roughly looks like a lowercase “n” that math teachers told you to just punch into the calculator as 3.14. Actually, the numbers carry on much farther than that. Pi, which is used to calculate the circumference of a circle, has no end to its decimal places.

But supercomputers have so far calculated the number out to 10 trillion. That’s 10,000,000,000,000.

“This was perfect because Caltech students never sleep,” said Jeffrey Sherman, who is studying electrical engineering. Sherman’s hair was still soggy from having a cherry pie mashed in his face when the free-for-all began.

A school official estimated 500 of the university’s 800 undergrads participated in the early morning Pi party. The celebration lined up with the end of classes for Caltech students, who now prepare for finals next week.

The other pie flavors were chocolate cream, cookies and cream, blueberry and apple.

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-- Joseph Serna in Pasadena

Photo: Students dig into what little pie remains at Pi day at Caltech; Credit: Joseph Serna / Los Angeles Times

Glendale indicates it will ban gun shows

 
This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

The Glendale City Council indicated Tuesday night it will vote to ban gun shows in the city.

Citing several examples of gun violence recently –- including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner’s rampage and the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting in 2012 -– the council indicated it will vote next week to approve the ban.

The law would also ban firearms and ammunition from all city property with few exceptions, including for police officers and active military personnel.

“While government at all levels has a substantial interest in protecting the public from firearm-related harm and death, local governments have the predominant obligation to do so,” the City Council agenda reads.

Glendale hosts three gun shows annually, each netting the city between $18,000 and $19,000.

The city hosted a gun show the first weekend of March at the Glendale Civic Center, which is across the street from a community college. A clause in the city’s contract with the gun show operators allows the city to back out of its agreement without reason, according to a city staff report.

Gun manufacturers and sellers already in place in Glendale would not be affected. The city has 37 firearms dealers, including one pawnbroker, two manufacturers, 15 traditional dealers and 19 collectors.

“This gun show being banned on Glendale city property won’t make any difference on anybody’s ability to purchase a gun,” Councilwoman Laura Friedman said at Tuesday’s meeting, according to the Glendale News Press.

Councilman Ara Najarian opposed the law.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “It’s an emotional reaction.”

One gun show operator at Tuesday’s meeting threatened litigation if the ordinance was adopted. The council will vote for final approval March 19.

[For the record, March 12, 2:06 p.m.: A previous version of this post and headline stated the council had voted to ban gun shows. A vote will be held next week, but a majority of council members expressed strong support Tuesday night for the ban.]

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-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

 

Steinberg to introduce bill for online class college credit

Darrell Steinberg

State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would create a framework to allow students at California’s public colleges and universities to receive credit for some online courses.

The bill takes aim at the chronic problem of over-enrollment in core classes at the community college, CSU and UC level, according to Steinberg’s spokesman, Rhys Williams.

The issue has been exacerbated by severe budget cuts and increasing demands on the state’s higher education systems, forcing students to delay degree completion and take on even more student debt, Williams said.

Steinberg is expected to announce his sponsorship of the bill, fittingly, during an online media conference on Google Hangout.

Steinberg’s move comes as Gov. Brown pushes for more online education as a way to cut costs and widen access at state campuses.

Williams said the online course framework, if approved, would be the first of its kind in the country.

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Photo: State Sen. Darrell Steinberg in a 2012 file photo. Credit: Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee

Fresno State students to face charges in hazing death

Charges filed in Fresno State hazing death

Three Fresno State students could face up to a year in jail if they are convicted in connection with a fraternity hazing that caused the death of an 18-year-old freshman, according to authorities.

Philip Dhanens died of alcohol poisoning the night of Aug. 31 after he and 14 other fraternity pledges were locked in a room and told they could not leave until they had consumed bottles of tequila, rum and vodka, Fresno police said.

During the investigation, Theta Chi fraternity members evaded detectives' questions. Police said they feared the fraternity might hide or destroy evidence, and searched the house.

On Tuesday, the Fresno County district attorney said at a news conference that Aaron Joseph Raymond, 24, Leonard Louis Serrato, 28, and Daniel Woodard Baker, 22, will each face hazing charges and also misdemeanor charges for providing alcohol to minors.
Continue reading »

UC Irvine offers free online chemistry classes, but not for credit

Chemistry students across the nation and the world will have free and open access to videotaped, online classes from UC Irvine under an unusual initiative starting Monday.

UC Irvine’s “OpenChem” program will allow curious visitors and serious science scholars to watch 15 quarter–length undergraduate chemistry courses and some graduate-level lectures, according to a campus announcement. It is not for degree credit but is expected to help students and the public prepare for examinations, review material before taking credit courses or just explore things for knowledge’s sake.

It is a collaboration between UC Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences and the university’s OpenCourseWare program, which has been putting many classes and lectures online in various disciplines.

OpenChem will allow students “to follow a coherent and integrated pathway toward full mastery of undergraduate chemistry,” said Gary W. Matkin, UC Irvine’s dean of Continuing Education, Distance Learning and Summer Session, in a statement. “This is the first time that students and professors can find a complete undergraduate major in a consistent and high quality video format on a single website.”

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UC Riverside student Senate urges divestment from firms working in West Bank

UC Riverside’s student Senate this week passed a controversial resolution urging the university system to divest from nine companies that the students contend are violating the human rights of Palestinians and aiding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The move is part of a wave of similar measures under consideration, some successful and some not, at other UC campuses.

However, those advisory resolutions have no power over UC finances. The UC regents and other administrators have said they have no intention of any divestments focused on Israel.

Nevertheless, the UC Riverside matter passed the student Senate in an 11-5 vote, enough to avoid a veto by the undergraduate student body president, Liam Dow, who said he opposes the matter. In a letter to the campus, Dow said the divestment resolution “encourages biases instead of reconciliation, and creates counter-productive hostilities that divide the UCR campus.”

General Electric, Raytheon, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard are among the firms the resolution described as aiding the Israeli repression of Palestinians. The document said it was important for UC to promote values “of human rights, equality and dignity for all people without distinction.”

The student Senate at UC San Diego debated a similar item  this week and delayed action until next week. In November, a UC Irvine student panel approved divestment and in 2010 so did a UC Berkeley student government group, only to have it vetoed by the student president there.

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Cal Poly Pomona students warned about possible tuberculosis case

Students at Cal Poly Pomona are being notified about possible exposure to tuberculosis after a student might have become infected with the disease, school officials said.

Public health officials advised the university that a student "might have become infected with tuberculosis," Cal Poly Pomona said in a statement Thursday.

University officials are notifying about 400 students, faculty and staff who might have had "repeated contact" with the student and have offered free testing to any students concerned about exposure.

"While it has not been confirmed that the student has an active case, the university recommends that those who have had close contact with the student get a TB skin test," the statement said.

The student, whose name has not been released because of privacy concerns, did not live on campus, the university said. He took classes in physics, engineering, computer science, and ethnic and women's studies during the fall and winter quarters.

The student has withdrawn from classes for treatment and "his prognosis is good at this time," the university said.

Tuberculosis is easily transmitted by inhaling droplets from infected patients when they sneeze, cough or laugh. When left untreated, the disease can be deadly.

Public health officials are also investigating a persistent strain of the disease on downtown L.A.'s skid row. Officials believe the strain — which has killed 11 people since 2007 — is unique to Los Angeles, with only a few isolated cases reported elsewhere.

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— Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

L.A. Votes: Runoff campaigns kick off, City Hall girds for more cuts

How LA voted
The mayoral campaign entered a new phase Wednesday, as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel began positioning themselves for the May 21 runoff. The fellow Democrats fought over who can best craft an image of fiscal restraint in a cash-strapped city whose voters refused to raise taxes to maintain public services. Check out a map by the Los Angeles Times’ Data Desk to see how various parts of the city voted.Election Memo

The candidates spent the day after the election moving around the city. Garcetti, a city councilman who finished first in Tuesday's primary with 33% of the vote, sought to use Greuel's broad support among organized labor to portray her as bowing to its demands for scarce public money. He also offloaded a controversial oil lease that Greuel has tried to hammer him over. Greuel, who finished second with 29%, despite more than $2 million spent by union allies on her behalf, argued that she has fostered a coalition of business and labor support, showing that she has the ability to unite disparate interests and deal with the city’s fiscal woes.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Meanwhile, attention also was focused on the two candidates who effectively tied for third place -- Kevin James and Jan Perry. While Perry was radio silent throughout the day, James spoke to reporters, saying the campaign had been among the most memorable moments of his life and saying he was undecided about whether to endorse a candidate in the runoff. Perry and James will be closely scrutinized in coming weeks, because their supporters could help tilt the election.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales-tax increase proposal, meaning that the next mayor and city council must be prepared to consider a new round of cuts to services, including police.

Labor-backed candidates won four seats in City Council races, ensuring that city unions will retain a strong hand at City Hall. In three of the races that are headed for a runoff, a longtime council aide will face off against a well-financed candidate backed by labor.

The candidates for city attorney and city controller are wasting no time to in trying to win an advantage in the May 21 runoff.

A well-funded campaign to shape the city’s school board and to bolster Supt. John Deasy and his policies  saw mixed results. The Los Angeles Community College District will gain experience with new board members, but the direction of the agency is unlikely to change.

While the Los Angeles races drew the most attention Tuesday, 29 other cities in Los Angeles County held elections.

Despite all the money spent on the race, the blizzard of television advertising and dozens of debates, the Times examines why turnout was dismal, and columnist Steve Lopez describes the situation as “late-night TV joke territory.”

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

 

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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