Earth Day Fair in D.C. Draws Students, Celebrities

WASHINGTON, April 24 – Thousands gathered on the National Mall Saturday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth Day with the help of environmentally friendly celebrities, national leaders and activists.

Chevy Chase, Edward James Olmos, Melanie Griffith and Ted Danson made appearances at the festivities with music by Carole King, James Taylor, Keb’ Mo’, Monica and Third Eye Blind. The event was highlighted by keynote speeches by Leonardo DiCaprio and Vice President Al Gore.

DiCaprio, billed extensively as the event’s honorary chair, was on stage for about two minutes at the start of EarthFair. Controversy arose over DiCaprio’s selection as chair after it was reported that his latest movie, The Beach, damaged a shoreline in Thailand during filming.

Bill Nye, the host of a children’s television show, Bill Nye, the Science Guy told reporters, “college kids are old enough to make their own decisions. They should know that those big, cool SUVs are gas-guzzlers. Get in the habit to buy smart from a young age, and the environment will definately be a little cleaner.” He emphasized college students’ responsibility to shape environmental policy through voting.

EarthFair 2000 brought college students from the Washington, D.C., area and cities throughout the East Coast.

Hundreds of AU students came to the Mall to show support for environmental issues as well.

Corporations, organizations and others informed and educated attendants in a series of specified tents that lined the Mall.

In the Air Tent, exhibitors addressed problems with air pollution and global warming while the Earth Tent concentrated on wilderness conservation and energy friendly alternatives for daily living.

– By Andrew Martel & Simone Weichselbaum, The Eagle

Labor Unions Benefit Graduate Students

AUSTIN, Texas, April 24 – Momentum is gathering behind movements nationwide to organize graduate students’ labor unions, including recent actions at Yale University, the University of California system and, most recently, at New York University.

At the University of Texas-Austin, graduate students can join the Instructional Workers union, which, as part of the Texas State Employees Union, commands a membership of about 10,000, including about 400 from the university.

The members are drawn from agency, university, staff and instructional workers, teaching assistants and some faculty, said Caroline O’Connor, a Texas State Employees Union organizer.

O’Connor said the issues facing the graduate union members at the university are securing a tuition waiver and combating the 99-hour rule, which could require graduate students who exceed 99 hours before graduating to pay expensive out-of-state tuition rates.

O’Connor said the administration has approved a measure to go into effect in Fall 2000 that falls short of an actual waiver. Graduate students must first pay their tuition, and if they are employed as a teaching assistant for 20 hours per week, they will receive the tuition back, less taxes, several months later.

-By Kathryn A. Wolfe, Daily Texan

Supreme Court Hears Boy Scout Case

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., April 26 – Oral arguments will be presented before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Boy Scouts of America v. Dale case Wednesday.

In 1990, Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance at Rutgers University co-president James Dale attended a Newark conference on the struggles faced by homosexual adolescents. It attracted coverage in The Star-Ledger. Shortly thereafter, Dale received a letter from the Monmouth County chapter of the Boy Scouts of America telling him he was expelled from the organization in which he had spent 11 years of his life.

Confused over the lack of reasons the Boy Scouts provided for kicking him out, the assistant scoutmaster wrote back for answers. He received another letter, the substance of which is the basis for a lawsuit, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.

Dale was expelled because the Boy Scouts considered his homosexual lifestyle in contradiction to the organization’s values, which promise boys entering the group that they will be under “morally straight” influences.

The Boy Scouts claim that, as a private organization, decisions over their criteria for membership are protected under the First Amendment. In order to be found guilty of discrimination, the Court must decide that the Boy Scouts qualify as a public accommodation, which many feel is an expansion of the legal sphere of government.

“I think it would enlarge and clarify what exactly a public accommodation is,” said Isaiah Beard, a Rutgers College senior and Dale’s successor as BiGLARU co-president. “People are quick to define public space, but with globalization those borders are pretty much blurred.”

Professor of library and information studies James Anderson was advisor to BiGLARU during Dale’s tenure. The two have remained friends since Dale’s graduation and throughout his legal trouble. He described Dale as an outgoing man, a great leader and a person who has remained close to the University.

“Scouting was essential, an enormous part of his life growing up,” Anderson said. “It was a place where he could excel as he tried to figure out what it meant to be gay before he came out. We had the benefits of his leadership in the gay arena.”

-By Spencer Ackerman, Daily Targum

Syracuse Students Request WRC Involvement

SYRACUSE, N.Y., April 25 – During the last three months, Syracuse University students have streaked across the campus Quad topless and have spent the nights there in tents. They held candle-lit vigils and stormed the chancellor’s office, all in the name of the Workers’ Rights Consortium.

Sam Brown, executive director of the Fair Labor Association, calls the recent criticism of his organization a “diversion” from the real issue – sweatshops.

But WRC supporter Marika Wissink said the issue is the FLA and its allegiances.

But Brown contests the criticisms of the FLA, calling them unfounded. He added that his organization began in September and has not had adequate time to begin monitoring.

At the WRC’s first founder’s meeting April 6, members discussed definite policies for the organization. But the consortium does not monitor the facilities and instead employs non-governmental organizations.

SU’s Trademark Licensing Advisory Board investigated the FLA before deciding to join and is now looking into the WRC, said Peter Webber, the board’s chairman.

The board, however, was not established to deal with the issue of sweatshops and began as a mechanism to review companies producing SU apparel, Webber said.

SU’s licensing board asked the FLA to target women’s issues in the workforce – such as birth control and pregnancy testing – and to disclose the locations of SU apparel factories, Webber said.

“We want to be produced ina safe, fair, humane environment.” Webber said, As the battle continues between the two organizations, SU students said they vow to help the fight against the FLA.

-By Ashleigh Graf, Daily Orange

State Bill Abolishes Board of Regents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 20 – The Florida Board of Regents would be abolished under a bill passed Wednesday by the House, leaving University of Florida officials saying the plan needs more discussion before it is approved.

The measure, which passed on an 81-29 vote, would create a new board of education responsible for overseeing all levels of education. The bill also would create local governing boards at each university.

Critics of the changes argued the new system would end up pitting the state’s 10 public universities against each other. The State University System is now under the auspices of Chancellor Adam Herbert and the Regents.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the proposal would not go into effect until 2003 at the earliest.

The measure could come up for a floor vote in the Senate as early as next week, where many officials believe its passage is more or less assured. Kevin Mayeux, executive director of the Florida Students Association, said the reorganization is “a done deal.”

-By Jenny L. Allen & Matt Avery, Independent Florida Alligator

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