Spring Break Tragedy Hits Bowling Green State U.

(U-WIRE) BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Usually when students return to school after spring break, they are excited about seeing friends they haven’t seen in more than a week and are anxious to get the last half of the semester over; however, those feelings were replaced Sunday by sadness and shock when students returned to Bowling Green State University and learned six of their fellow students had died in an automobile accident Friday about 20 miles south of Cincinnati.

Michelle Saunders and Ryan Leigh Foss, both of Huron, Ohio; Sara Jean McCarthy, of Brook Park, Ohio; Andrea A. Bakker, of Strongsville, Ohio; Jacqueline E. Ahlers, of Vandalia, Ohio; and Jessica R. Hedlund, of Perrysburg, Ohio, were in a van on their way home from a Spring Break trip in Panama City, Fla., when heavy wind and rain caused the northbound vehicle on Interstate 71 to slide over the median and into the southbound lanes. A tractor-trailer truck collided with the van, killing the girls on impact. The six young ladies were all residents of Founders Quadrangle.

University students expressed feelings of shock when they heard the news of the crash over the weekend or as they returned to campus.

“A loss like this is one that will certainly be difficult to overcome, and we will always question why this happened to such a wonderful group of people,” junior Jay Atamanec said.

The Counseling Center had staff members present in the residence hall all day Sunday to console friends and acquaintances of the six girls.

Craig Vickio, director of the Counseling Center, said his department always tries to be on the scene of a tragic occurrence such as this.

“Whenever there is a tragedy on campus, we try to make our staff available, particularly if it is affecting a large group of students,” he said.

The main goals of Counseling Center staff are to act as listeners and help students and faculty discover ways they best can cope with an incident of this nature, Vickio said.

“Students are going to have widely different reactions to this,” he said. “For a lot of students, they’re going to struggle to come to grips with the reality of this happening, and others will be more numb to it.”

Vickio said one thing that is good for getting through the grieving process is to realize the important things in life and do things to recognize them.

“One of the things I see students doing is they want to reach out to other people,” he said. “There’s this wanting to do something important such as planning a memorial or vigil of some kind.”

According to Debbie Novak, hall director of Founders, students in the residence hall will be doing this by helping to plan a memorial service for the girls.

U. Michigan Committee To End Naked Mile Tradition

(U-WIRE) ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Although winter term typically has concluded with the running of the Naked Mile, a committee organized to coordinate University of Michigan’s response to the run hopes to curb participation in the event, which it sees as a safety hazard.

“Many involved in planning have had a growing sense of discomfort and concern for those involved,” university spokeswoman Julie Peterson said, who cited assaults and other violations in the crowd, including weapons violations in past years.

The event traditionally occurs on the last day of classes, which falls on April 17 this year.

The committee, which began meeting last month, plans to take a similar approach as they did to the event last year – a publicity campaign to advertise the dangers associated with the event and to coordinate the enforcement of indecent exposure and alcohol laws.

“We have pulled together a committee for the past three to four years that represents campus,” Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said. “This is also the group that addresses the event itself and how to manage it. About four years ago the university decided to try to ratchet up the response to eliminate the event.”

This year marks the first time students were invited to join the committee. A representative from the Michigan Student Assembly attended the March 5 meeting and will attend the next meeting in early April.

“They’re going to have a lot of police officers at the event – more than at any other event,” said Edgar Zapata, sophomore and co-chairman of MSA’s campus safety commission. “They’re working really hard to make sure things go their way.”

The committee also included a representative from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to advise on legal matters and to coordinate the prosecution of indecent exposure arrests.

“Since the committee started up several years ago there has been more of an effort in enforcement,” Washtenaw County Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steve Miller said.

“We definitely prosecuted individuals for indecent exposure last year,” Miller said.

He declined to estimate how many individuals were charged.

Last year only a handful of runners completed the run after many AAPD and DPS officers were present along the run’s traditional route. The university also sent e-mails to students and printed large posters for the residence halls describing the event as potentially dangerous for participants in hopes of discouraging them from running.

The university committee plans to pursue a similar campaign this year.

DEA Considers Banning Controversial Hemp Foods

(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – Hemp food products are popular in health stores across the nation, but recent scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Administration has sparked national debate over the controversial plant.

The DEA declared in October that because hemp foods contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the pyschoactive ingredient in marijuana, they violate federal drug laws.

The DEA mandated that retailers remove all hemp food products from store shelves by March 18, but a court appeal by the hemp food industry earlier this month has temporarily stopped the DEA ban from taking effect.

The hemp industry expects to permanently defeat the proposed ban in a court hearing next month, said David Bronner, chair of the Food and Oil Committee of the Hemp Industry Association.

Hemp, which is harvested from the same plant as marijuana, is increasingly being used in health foods because its seeds are high in essential fatty acids, protein and vitamins.

Everything from energy bars to pretzels to ice cream has been manufactured with hemp.

Hemp foods account for $5 million in retail sales each year and are the fastest growing segment of the hemp industry.

Hemp, however, is not the only source of such nutrients.

“Essential fatty acids are important, but you can get the vast majority in a regular diet,” said Blake Rasmussen, assistant professor of kinesiology.

If the DEA ban goes into effect, hemp will be classified as a “Schedule I controlled substance,” the category that includes drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

DEA supporters say the government’s failure to enact the ban will send a pro-marijuana message.

But hemp advocates say that comparing hemp to marijuana shows a lack of understanding.

“It’s the same thing as (comparing) beer and bread – both are derived from wheat and grain,” said Gerrit Cain, a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Syracuse University.

Consuming hemp foods cannot make a person high, and even if an individual were to smoke hemp, it would not have the same effect as smoking marijuana, Bronner said.

Furthermore, consuming hemp foods will not show up in a standard workplace drug test, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

Fake-ID Users To Be Sued

(U-WIRE) COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In some states, liquor distributors are armed with the ability to sue fake-ID users, whose false representations can hit the businesses with fines. Maryland alcohol providers cannot take such actions, but feel lawsuits of this kind are unnecessary.

A New Hampshire liquor store sued University of New Hampshire student Jeremy Reny in February for penalties incurred after selling the underage customer alcohol. Reny used false identification to obtain alcohol at the Durham Marketplace, which resulted in the liquor store being fined $250.

Could this happen to underage alcohol purchasers in Maryland? According to the Prince George’s County Board of License, there is no law that allows alcohol distributors to sue patrons for misrepresenting themselves. In addition, Maryland liquor stores cannot buy insurance to help alleviate fines they may encounter in an alcohol violation. For selling to minors, stores can face a $100 to $5,000 fine and a possible liquor license suspension or revocation.

Sgt. Jacques Croom guessed that half of underage high school and college students have fake IDs.

To supplement skilled bouncers, local bars have begun using ID scanners on random nights to prevent minors from entering.

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