Leading the way toward racial healing

first_img Read Full Story Divinity School students Melissa Bartholomew and Rachel Foran are the co-chairs of the Harvard Divinity School Racial Justice & Healing Initiative, a group of HDS students committed to cross-disciplinary dialogue, scholarship, and training in order to address personal and systemic racism.HDS communications recently caught up with Melissa and Rachel to learn more about the initiative and their efforts to ensure conversations and engagement on racial healing and justice have an enduring place at HDS.HDS: Where do things stand with regard to the status of the Racial Justice and Healing Initiative? Is the idea that the “initiative” will become a “center”?Melissa & Rachel: We registered the HDS Racial Justice and Healing Initiative as an official HDS student group in January 2015. The long-term vision is to establish a Center for Racial Justice and Healing at HDS.Dean David Hempton and his administration have demonstrated consistent support for our efforts, and they have also been clear about the challenges of a center model. Our vision for a center reflects our collective response to the urgent need to cultivate racial justice and healing in our time, as well as to provide a foundation for generations to come. We are “dreaming big” and acting now to address the pressing moral crisis of racism.The tragic events in Baltimore underscore the urgency of this work. Racial justice and healing must become a national priority.last_img read more

Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute Of Politics Announces Spring 2017 Fellows

first_imgThe Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP) has selected its spring 2017 class of Visiting and Resident Fellows. A list is available at http://bit.ly/2017SpringFellows.“This class of Fellows boasts deep insights into the rapidly evolving landscape of national and global challenges. They will bring this range of perspectives and deep subject knowledge to benefit our undergraduate students and the Harvard community this semester,” said Maggie Williams, IOP director.The six resident fellows (pictured at right) will bring their expertise in border security, foreign policy, the environment, America’s opioid crisis, and other pressing topics with them to Harvard. Three public service leaders will complement the Resident Fellows as distinguished Visiting Fellows: Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Senator (R-NH; 2011-17); Ray Mabus, U.S. Secretary of the Navy (2009-17); and Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont (D-VT; 2011-17).For 50 years, the Fellows Program has stood as an integral component of the IOP’s dual commitment to encourage student interest in public service and to increase interaction between the academic and political communities.last_img read more

Compound protects nerve cells targeted by diseases

first_imgHarvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have identified a compound that helps protect the cells destroyed by spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the most frequent fatal genetic disease in children under 2 years of age.SMA is a neurodegenerative disease targeting motor neurons, the long nerve cells that relay messages from the brain to the muscles and that are, consequently, responsible for bodily movements, including walking, swallowing, and even breathing. Patients with milder forms of SMA experience muscle wasting that may confine them to a wheelchair, while the more severe forms cause paralysis and death before the second birthday.About one in 50 people are genetic carriers of the disease.Because of a dysfunctional gene, many motor neurons in SMA patients are unable to produce adequate amounts of a protein called survival of motor neuron (SMN). The deficiency causes cellular stress and eventually cell death. Rather than fixing the gene, which has been the strategy of many labs looking to develop SMA therapies, the Harvard team has identified a compound that helps stabilize the SMN protein both in human neurons in a dish and in mouse models.The findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.“This discovery opens up new lines of drug interrogation,” said Lee Rubin, HSCI principal faculty member and the senior author on the study. Rubin’s lab, which operates out of in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) to make human models of neurological diseases.In 2015, Rubin made a variety of neuronal types from the iPS cells of SMA patients in order to determine why motor neurons in particular were targeted, and found they experienced a fatal stress response similar to motor neurons affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the late-onset neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.Additionally, some SMA-affected motor neurons were dying before others, though all of the neurons had the same genetic mutations and were experiencing the same stressful environment.“Clearly, some motor neurons were surviving, so the next question was whether this is random or if there is a molecular explanation,” Rubin said.Early on in their most recent study, the researchers found that within a single petri dish of motor neurons derived from an SMA patient, some produced up to four times as much SMN protein as their neighbors. Over time, those motor neurons with higher levels of SMN were more likely to survive after exposure to toxic environments and stressors.When the team analyzed motor neurons derived from ALS patients, they found similar results: Motor neurons with higher levels of SMN were likelier to survive than those with lower levels.“The surprise was when we looked in a control culture and also saw differences between the individual neurons,” Rubin said.“It is clear that the SMN protein is necessary for all motor neuron survival, not just motor neurons targeted by ALS or SMA,” said Natalia Rodríguez-Muela, a postdoctoral fellow in Rubin’s lab and co-first author on the paper. The results suggest that if the team could increase the amount of SMN protein in any single motor neuron, they would be able to rescue the cell.During a cell’s life span, proteins are constantly being made and degraded, made and degraded again. To interrupt the process of breaking down the SMN protein, the researchers looked at a family of proteins called Cullins, which act as a part of the cell machinery that regulates protein degradation.In 2011, the Rubin lab had determined that an enzyme called GSK3b helps control SMN stability. Nearly all proteins degraded by GSK3b are flagged for degradation by a pathway that involves a specific member of the Cullin family. Rubin said the researchers hypothesized that if they could block that Cullin-mediated process, the SMN proteins would not be flagged for degradation and would remain stable longer.The researchers, led by co-first author Nadia Litterman, then dosed human and murine motor neurons with a compound known to block the specific Cullin and found that exposure to the compound made SMN proteins more stable and more abundant. As a consequence, the compound promoted survival of all motor neurons, both in human cells in the dish and in mouse models.Additionally, mice with SMA, even the more severe forms of the disease, had some of their symptoms improve after exposure to the compound.“This process points to an unexplored therapeutic direction that could benefit patients of not one, but two separate diseases,” Rubin said.Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed a patent application on the approach.This work was supported by the SMA Foundation, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant P01 NS066888, National Institutes of Health grants NS045523 and NS075672, Massachusetts Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust, and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.last_img read more

Celebrating a decade of musical theater

first_imgShe explicitly rejects the idea that musicals are less serious than straight dramas. “Musicals can be serious entertainment,” she said. “If you look at the history of musical theater, if you look at some of the early book musicals like ‘Oklahoma,’ these are dealing with really intense topics.” In addition, “The musical is a signature American art form. And we are the American Repertory Theater.”While this production brings back the songs that audiences may remember through the years, it adds a fresh element: the seven performers (plus guests) explaining why these pieces touched them, or how they came to a particular production.,Before Matthew James Thomas, from the 2012 production of “Pippin,” performs “Corner of the Sky,” for example, he recalls resisting the song, which has become part of the musical theater canon. He had resisted despite the urging of his vocal coach — until he found himself auditioning for the part. Brandon Michael Nase, from the 2018 production of “The Black Clown,” talks about his journey from musical educator to performer. These and other returning cast members are being joined by guests who appear on limited dates, such as Gavin Creel (Nov. 27‒30), Carolee Carmello (Nov. 29), and Elizabeth Stanley (Nov. 30). The show runs through Nov. 30.The performers’ personal recollections reinforce the impact of what is already an emotional art form. “Literally, musical theater is about the moment when you can no longer speak and you have to sing,” said Paulus.While this production is, by its nature, a retrospective, Paulus sees in it the seeds of future productions. “I’ve always wanted the A.R.T. to feel like an artistic home for artists,” she said. “It’s always about creating conditions where collaborations are born. I think this reunion is going to do that. You’re going to see shows where the story is, ‘I came back to A.R.T. for that show … and that’s where the idea was born.’ ”This production is hardly meant as the last word on musicals, or the A.R.T. “Our season ends with a world premiere of a new musical [“We Live in Cairo”] about the Arab Spring,” Paulus said. “ExtraOrdinary” is “kind of looking backward,” she acknowledged, “but the last show of the season is looking forward.” Audiences know the stories of their favorite musicals. Often, as in the case of productions like “Jagged Little Pill” that tap into popular tunes, they know the songs from the radio. But in “ExtraOrdinary,” a cabaret-style retrospective at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), they not only hear songs previously performed on the Cambridge stage — in productions like “Pippin,” “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and “Waitress” — they hear the performers’ own stories too.The show, under the direction of Diane Paulus and with music directed by Lance Horne, celebrates and revisits the 10 years of musicals and music theater that Paulus has shepherded through the Harvard institution.“I’ve always been passionate about the power of musical theater because I feel it can reach audiences in a way that builds bridges,” said Paulus, the A.R.T.’s Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director.She distinguishes between classic musicals and “music theater,” in which tunes are added or integrated into a play. Both, as well as opera, have found a place at the A.R.T. under her direction, “expanding the boundaries of theater, which is our mission, through newly reimagined productions of classic musicals and creating conditions for new musicals.”Of course, what exactly music or musical theater is can be up for debate, a subject that cast members discuss and sing about in this production. “Shakespeare is music,” Paulus said, suggesting that all theater may be regarded as musical. “We’re talking about live sound,” she said, “rhythm and vibration.” “It’s always about creating conditions where collaborations are born. I think this reunion is going to do that.” — Diane Pauluslast_img read more

A promise to a friend

first_img Figuring out Law School is grueling. Being deafblind doesn’t make it easier The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Related New gene-delivery therapy restores partial hearing, balance in deaf mice  When Wei Hsi “Ariel” Yeh was an undergraduate, one of her close friends went from normal hearing to complete deafness in one month. He was 29 years old. Doctors didn’t know why then and still don’t. Frustrated and fearful for her friend, Yeh, who graduated last month with a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, dedicated her research in chemistry to solving some of the vast genetic mysteries behind hearing loss.One in eight people aged 12 years or older in the U.S. has hearing loss in both ears. Technologies like hearing aids and cochlear implants can amplify sound but can’t correct the problem. Perhaps gene editing could, scientists decided, since genetic anomalies contribute to half of all cases.Two years ago, Yeh and David R. Liu, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences and a member of the Broad Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), repaired a dominant mutation and prevented hearing loss in a mouse model for the first time. But, Liu said, “Most genetic diseases are not caused by dominant mutations. They’re caused by recessive ones, including most genetic hearing losses.”Now, Liu, Yeh, and researchers at Harvard, the Broad, and HHMI have achieved another first: They restored partial hearing to mice with a recessive mutation in the gene TMC1 that causes complete deafness, the first successful example of genome editing to fix a recessive disease-causing mutation.Dominant disease mutations, meaning those that affect just one of the body’s two copies of a gene, in some ways are easier to attack. Knock out the bad copy, and the good one can come to the rescue. “But for recessive diseases,” Liu said, “you can’t do that. By definition, the recessive allele means that you have two bad copies. So, you can’t just destroy the bad copy.” You have to fix one or both.To hear, animals rely on hair cells in the inner ear, which ripple under the pressure of sound waves and send electrical impulses to the brain. The recessive mutation to TMC1 that Liu and Yeh hoped to correct causes rapid deterioration of those hair cells, leading to profound deafness in mice at just 4 weeks of age.,Jeffrey Holt, professor of otolaryngology and neurology at the Harvard Medical School and an author of the paper, successfully treated TMC1-related deafness with gene therapy by situating cells with healthy versions of the gene among the unhealthy to counteract the disease-causing mutation. But Volha “Olga” Shubina-Aleinik, a postdoctoral fellow in the Holt lab, said gene therapy may have a limited duration. “That is why we need more advanced techniques, such as gene editing, which may last a lifetime.”Yeh spent years designing a base editor that could find and erase the disease-causing mutation and replace it with the correct DNA code. But even after she demonstrated good results in vitro, there was a problem: Base editors are too large to fit in the traditional delivery vehicle, adeno-associated virus, or AAV. To solve this problem, the team split the base editor in half, sending each piece in with its own viral vehicle. Once inside, both viruses needed to infect the same cells so the two base editor halves could rejoin and head off to find their target. Despite the labyrinthine entry, the editor proved to be efficient, causing only a minimum of undesired deletions or insertions.“We saw very little evidence of off-target editing,” Liu said. “And we noticed that the edited animals had much-preserved hair-cell morphology and signal transduction, meaning the hair cells, the critical cells that convert sound waves to neuronal signals, appeared more normal and behaved more normally.”After the treatment, Yeh performed an informal test: She clapped her hands. Mice that had previously lost all hearing ability jumped and turned to look. Formal tests revealed the base editor worked, at least in part: Treated mice had partially restored hearing and could respond to loud and even some medium sounds, Yeh said.Of course, more work needs to be done before the treatment can be used in humans. Unedited cells continued to die, causing deafness to return even after the base editor restored function to others. Study shows architecture of audition likely based on innate factors center_img Investigators caution the approach is years away from use in humans But the study also proved that the clandestine AAV delivery method works. Already, Liu is using AAV to tackle other genetic diseases, including progeria (premature aging), sickle cell anemia, and degenerative motor diseases. “We’re actually going after quite a few genetic diseases now, including some prominent ones that have caused a lot of suffering and energized pretty passionate communities of patients and patient families to do anything to find a treatment,” Liu said. “For progeria, there’s no cure. The best treatments extend a child’s average lifespan from about 14 to 14.5 years.”For Yeh, whose friend is still living with hearing loss, genetic deafness remains her primary target. “There’s still a lot to explore,” she said. “There’s so much unknown.” One L, only harder Auditory cortex nearly identical in hearing and deaf peoplelast_img read more

Voting 101: A primer

first_img With both sides wary of tampering, a government professor tries to game the game on what tactics could follow a close result Of course, none of this matters if students don’t vote. That’s why Friday is focused on what Ballen calls, “Creating a culture and a community of voting.” That can range from making calendar notations of when your ballot should arrive and when it must be mailed off, or blocking out two hours to be sure of adequate time to vote in person. (Voting itself takes only minutes; lines can vary.) It also means reaching out to family and making sure they have their plans in place. “Or texting three friends and holding them accountable to their voting plan,” said Ballen, who plans to vote by mail in Virginia.“We’re encouraging the whole community to make a plan,” said Gearan. His is to be in line at his local polling place early on the morning of Election Day. “How are you going to vote? What are the options available for early voting? For voting by mail or on Election Day? We want people to think through those deadlines and the calendar.”Summed up Ballen: “We don’t want a single barrier to get in the way of casting a ballot.” The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. COVID procedural complications, crises of voter confidence promise a rocky ride Related Faculty consider the massive logistical, political challenges facing states in November center_img Challenges mount for election officials A big election amid pandemic in a riven land How to change an election Most Americans already know for whom they will cast their ballot for president, and there is little that can happen to change their minds. But more than the presidency must be decided by Nov. 3. From choosing how to vote during the pandemic to understanding the ballot initiatives to familiarizing yourself with candidates for the many lesser races, there is plenty of work to be done in October.To help with that, Voter Education Week kicks off on Monday. Part of the Harvard Votes Challenge, a University-wide nonpartisan effort organized by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics and Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the five-day event breaks down the process into a different focus daily: on the history and importance of voting, the mechanics of casting a ballot by mail or in person, making a plan to vote, and getting to the bottom of the initiatives.Voting is a University priority from the top down. Speaking at the First-Year Convocation in September, President Larry Bacow said, “If you are eligible to vote, we expect you to register, to inform yourself of the candidates and the issues, and to cast a ballot.”The campus is well on its way. “What’s exciting is our polling at the Institute of Politics demonstrates that more and more young Americans are engaged in politics,” said Mark Gearan, its director. The numbers back this up: In the 2018 midterm elections, the voter participation rate among the eligible citizen student population more than doubled to 48.6 percent from just 23.6 percent in 2014 — surpassing the national average of 40.3 percent.There’s still a gap, however. Although 48.6 percent of eligible students voted, 75 percent were registered to vote. “The idea of this initiative is to bridge this gap, from registering to vote to actually casting a ballot,” explained Gearan. “Given the pandemic, it is a complicated process.”Harvard’s Voter Education Week — part of the National Voter Education Week project — will begin Monday with the theme #VoteReady. The goal is to help eligible voters register or check their registration status. Tuesday is #MailReady, requesting and understanding each state’s requirements for mail-in voting. Wednesday, #VotePlanReady will focus on in-person voting, which has grown more complicated as the pandemic has closed some voting places and placed restrictions on others. Thursday, #BallotReady connects voters with information and resources about issues on the ballot, many of which are state- or locale-specific. Closing out the week, Friday is #WeReady2020, empowering voters to make a plan to vote or volunteer and also engage and activate friends and family to cast ballots.,“Every single day you can count on content through our various channels, a mix of videos and stories. We want to juxtapose faculty, national leaders, and students,” said Kevin Ballen ’21, co-chair of Harvard Votes Challenge. On Tuesday, for example, CNN commentator and IOP fellow Alice Stewart will lead a study group on voting. Thursday, the IOP will host a JFK Jr. Forum, “What’s on Your Ballot?,” covering issues including voter rights restoration and ranked-choice voting. (Complete programming may be found at the Harvard Votes Challenge site.)Because more than 15 million Americans have reached voting age since the last presidential election, many of the week’s activities are geared to first-timers. But Ballen says even experienced voters may be grappling with new issues: Where do you mail your ballot? What’s a notary?Understanding the many options on the ballot is also a priority. “When you’re voting for the president, you’re voting for potentially 20 positions, everything down to the school board,” said Ballen, who worked with the national initiative this summer. In addition to explaining the importance — and potential impact on daily student life — of some of those down-ballot races, the initiative will connect with state-specific affinity groups and speakers who can address issues that voters across the country will be deciding. “We’ll dive into some of those ballot initiatives on a state-by-state basis.”last_img read more

Cameras, Computers and the Creative Process: A Conversation with Celebrity Photographer Mark Mann

first_imgMatt: You started out shooting on film, but at what point did you turn to digital photography? Mark: The first digital camera I encountered was 20 years ago, I was intrigued at how you can take a photo and play it on your TV. I started shooting on film and learned darkroom techniques etc. so I ignored digital for a long time but then I did a cover shoot using film for a magazine in NY, and the editor-in-chief said he didn’t like the styling and wanted a reshoot. The problem was that the models now were in LA, so suddenly I had this insane turnaround where I had to go to LA and deliver the pictures the day after. Thinking through the logistics, there was no way I’d be able to take the photos, process them, scan them and send them to my retoucher in time, so I decided the only way was to shoot digitally. I got a digital camera, reshot the images and retouched them on the plane ride home to give to the magazine the next day. At that time a lot of people didn’t know how to retouch digitally so for me it was learning on-the-go.Matt: What roles does technology play in art today?Mark: I see myself as an artist, and creating art is my personal passion. Nine out of 10 times, you get a brief from a client on the internet. Photography is done 99.9% of the time with a digital camera so it’s not a mystery what the image looks like. Nowadays you often have an art director and creative director standing over your shoulder. Decisions are made incredibly fast, and when you finish, they look at it and ask, “Oh, can we change this background?” That’s when we start photoshopping and doing image manipulation, so technology has a huge part to play from start to finish in the creative process today. I’ve never taken editing classes, but I’ve picked up Photoshop skills along the way.Matt: You started using Dell Precision workstations last year – how’s the experience been so far?Mark: I was taking photos with greater megapixels on the camera and found that it was taking much longer for my 3-4 year old Mac laptop to transfer and edit the files. Mac was all I had used for 15 years, but someone suggested that I look into a PC. So I reached out to Dell and they were incredibly supportive of me trying new things. I was scared because I didn’t know how to use a PC, but it had the benefits of being a faster machine; was less expensive yet performed better.Software compatibility during the switch wasn’t an issue as I mainly use Adobe Creative Cloud, mostly Photoshop and Lightroom. It was probably muscle memory with new shortcut keys that took a couple of weeks to get used to. I had used a couple of file sync applications that were developed for Mac users but it was easy to find good alternatives. There are a lot of creators that still use Macs but my Precision workstation works faster and better with Adobe Creative Cloud, suits my needs, and if I need to replace it, it’s less expensive. I remember when I got my first PC, the Precision 5530. I opened it up, and my son asked, “Can I see?” There was a photo on the screen, and he went to pinch it and it zoomed in. I hadn’t even realized it was a touchscreen – we were both so impressed!I am super happy with my workstation, and I have convinced people to start looking at it too. When VR started to take off a few years ago, I went to these VR fairs, and everyone was working on PCs. That was a big indicator to me that Apple wasn’t catering to us as creators and don’t offer enough processing power for the work that we do. Matt: What are your top 3 pieces of tech?Mark: My Leica camera is my most cherished possession. My Dell [Precision 5530] 2-in-1 – I’ll always have it, and I can’t function without it because it’s the best. Another tech gadget I can’t live without is my new 3D printer, which is so relaxing to watch. The least technical thing that I own is my 1967 Austin-Healey Sprite 2. It’s a car with no fancy features, but I truly love it.Matt: When it comes to your creative work and tech, what do you recommend investing in?Mark: Learn what you need and use that knowledge to guide your purchases. At the end of the day, the most expensive camera is not going to automatically make you a better photographer. When mastering a craft, if you learn how to do it the hard way first, when you get new tech, it becomes easier to adapt. A couple years ago, we bought the cheapest 3D printer just to learn how a 3D printer works, so when something goes wrong, we know how to deal with it. We’ll get a better one now that we’ve learned the quirks. Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 1:23Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVERemaining Time -1:23 Playback Rate1ChaptersChaptersdescriptions off, selectedDescriptionssubtitles off, selectedSubtitlescaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedCaptionsen (Main), selectedAudio TrackFullscreenThis is a modal window.Caption Settings DialogBeginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsDefaultsDoneClose Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. Portrait photographer Mark Mann has worked with an illustrious roster of clients. He’s taken some of the most iconic images of public figures ranging from former presidents to Rihanna, Stevie Wonder and Willie Nelson.As a #DellInsideCircle member, Mark uses Dell Precision mobile workstations daily in his studio and on the go. We sat down with him to hear his thoughts on the role of technology in art and how the tools of his trade allow his subjects to shine brightest. We also joined Mark on a recent photoshoot – check out the video here.last_img read more

California governor and unions clash over school openings

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An effort to reopen schools in California is foundering, stoking the frustration of parents and the governor of America’s most populous state. As the one-year anniversary of distance learning approaches, parents are grappling more than ever with the toll of isolation and intense screen time on their kids’ academic and emotional well-being. A $2 billion plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen schools next month has not been well received. The Legislature shows no sign of fast-tracking its approval. The state’s powerful teachers unions and biggest school districts say it is unworkable, raising questions about whether K-12 schools will open at all this academic year.last_img

Mississippi deputy fatally shot while responding to call

first_imgBAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — Authorities say a southern Mississippi sheriff’s deputy has been fatally shot while responding to a call of an attempted suicide. Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam told the Sun Herald that Lt. Michael Boutte was shot as he tried to get out of his vehicle Monday near a home. Adam says the suspect then fired at a second responding deputy who returned fire and injured the suspect. Boutte was airlifted to a New Orleans hospital and later pronounced dead. The unidentified suspect was also hospitalized. Boutte was an Air Force veteran who had been in law enforcement for eight years.last_img

Lawyer outlines laws, gives advice

first_imgAs part of its beND campaign in response to a recent spike in alcohol-related arrests off-campus, student government hosted a lecture Sunday evening titled “Alcohol, Parties, and the Law,” presented by attorney C.L. Lindsay. Lindsay, who left his New York law firm in 1998 after seeing the need for legal work concentrating on higher education, founded the Coalition for Student and Academic Rights (CO-STAR), which now receives 10,000 requests annually. In his lecture, Lindsay detailed the specific state and federal laws affecting students, the consequences of infractions and steps students should take to minimize their risk before, and improve the outcome after, having a legal incident. He said the reason most parties draw police attention is due to noise complaints from neighbors. “The first thing to do is make nice with your neighbors. … If you’re going to have a party, talk to them, have them call you, not the police,” Lindsay said. “Set up your party, go outside and listen. If you can hear from a distance, it’s probably too loud.” Lindsay also emphasized the importance of choosing a location unlikely to cause a nuisance and draw complaints from neighbors. “Never have a party outside, there’s just too much noise,” he said. “The basement is the best place for a party.” Lindsay clarified the laws on when students can refuse a police search and how to avoid forfeiting the right. He said posting invites for the public to see, which can include online event postings, could leave the event legally open to anyone, including police. According to Lindsay, police can enter a home when they have a warrant, receive permission from a resident, see a crime taking place in plain view or believe that waiting to enter would result in a loss of evidence. To minimize hosts’ liability for underage drinkers at a party, Lindsay suggested posting two signs, one stating that the party is private, and another reminding minors not to drink. He also advised party throwers to have two designated, sober hosts. “If the police do show up, you need one to talk to them … the other to be a witness,” he said. “If you’re alone, it’s your word against two officers’. … If you send two people out it changes the dynamic.” While the hosts should be aware and take advantage of their rights, they should also be cooperative, and avoid arguing with officers, as it reduces the likelihood of leniency. “The time you argue your case is in front of a judge, not a police officer,” he said. Lindsay also warned against charging partygoers for alcohol. “It’s illegal to charge for liquor, period,” he said. While encouraging voluntary donations is legal, charging for cups, requiring “mandatory donations” and claiming the money is for a different part of the party unrelated to alcohol, such as a band, does not change the legality, he said. Lindsay touched on other alcohol-related issues relevant to students, including the use of fake identification, which has an extremely general definition in the law, that provides police with wide discretion when issuing citations. There is not a legal difference between using a manufactured fake ID or using someone else’s legitimate license. In addition to giving students advice on dealing with existing laws, students can and should take a more proactive role in changing the laws they disagree with. “The US has the most paternalistic drinking laws in the world,” he said. “The best way to change the laws isn’t to go behind closed doors and break them.”last_img read more