Syracuse Discusses Effectiveness of Tracking Student Visas

By Justin Young

The Daily Orange

(U-WIRE) SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Mohammed Atta, who U.S. authorities believe was the ringleader of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was in the United States on a student visa when he flew a plane into the World Trade Center.

It is because of this and the intense scrutiny that has been paid to the Immigration and Naturalization Service since the attacks that has led to increased concern over these visas at universities across the country. The INS is the government department that regulates student visas.

Patricia Burak, director of the Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services at Syracuse University, said there are currently more than 2,000 students who are in the United States on visas to attend SU.

Burak also said government efforts, specifically those by the INS, to crack down on student visas are somewhat misguided.

“Most foreign students are better at following the rules than most Americans are at renewing their driving insurance,” Burak said.

“Where our government needs to tighten up is allowing visas or letting into the country those who do not seek full-time education. Once they get past the port of entry, it is nearly impossible to locate people.”

Burak said although the current system in place to track foreign students is already very sophisticated, a more rigid system, the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System, or SEVIS, was fast-tracked after Sept. 11. It is slated for full operation in January 2003, she said.

She said although the details of the system still are being worked out, it will include an increased role for universities in continuing to provide information such as addresses while also seeking new information such as class attendance.

So far, Burak said, her department has not been contacted by INS, although one student did request she sit with them while they were interviewed by representatives of the department.

Goodwin Cooke, an international relations professor, said while the Sept. 11 attacks brought to light several flaws in the current system, a separation needs to be made between the law-breaking foreign students and law-abiding foreign students.

“Even though some were using their visas to go to flight school and learn how to fly airplanes into buildings, we should discriminate between those educations and educations at responsible universities,” Cooke said.

One current holder of a student visa at SU, Fahad Khawaja, said he has not been contacted by the INS since Sept. 11, but he understands there is a possibility he could be questioned.

Florida U. Students Hooked on Dance Simulation Games

By Lauren Whetstone

The Independent Florida Alligator

(U-WIRE) GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The flashing neon lights and blaring techno-pop music resemble a club scene, but many University of Florida students are finding an arcade game in the Reitz Union more entertaining than dance clubs – or any other arcade games for that matter.

Dance Dance Revolution is a dance simulation game created by Konami Inc. Japan in 1998, but since DDR’s arrival in Gainesville in July 2001, its growing popularity has infected the Reitz Union Game Room.

The DDR Gators team at UF can attest to the engrossing and addicting aspects of the game.

“The first time I saw the game, I thought it looked dumb, but when I tried it, I realized how fun it was,” DDR President Jason Jiovani said.

DDR features a platform on which players press four buttons with their feet as arrows scroll from the bottom of the screen. The game pulses with lights that flicker with the beat of the music as players attempt to correspond their feet with the direction of the arrows.

Jiovani, a UF freshman, started DDR Gators with fellow game fans in October 2001.

DDR draws fans because it is unique compared to other arcade games, said David Klosowski, a recent UF graduate.

“I like most typical arcade games, but they are just a little button pushing,” Klosowski said. “DDR is a more mesmerizing experience because you use your whole body.”

DDR becomes more fun and gratifying as you practice and improve, Jiovani said.

“Once you get good, it’s a little more about showing off.”

Animated characters demonstrate the moves on the screen as players pass levels that intensify with difficulty.

DDR Mix 5 replaced the third version in the game room in January.

Since the upgrade, DDR has increased in popularity, bringing in a weekly average of $802 instead of the $700 it made weekly with its third version, game room manager Charlotte Thompson said.

“Usually there’s a big crowd around the machine,” Thompson said. “I even have staff members who will come to watch on their breaks.”

Membership in DDR Gators also has increased since the upgrade, attracting seven new people, Jiovani said.

Although DDR Gators is not a registered DDR club, Jiovani said the group of friends that meets on Friday nights constitutes a club.

DDR Gators traveled to Orlando and Miami this year to compete against players from across nation.

Playboy Photographer Accustomed to Baylor Campus Dissent

By Brandi Dean

The Lariat

(U-WIRE) WACO, Texas – About 15 Baylor women have called in to set up appointments for the interviews and photographs necessary to be considered for one of the models in Playboy’s “Women of the Big 12 Conference” spread, according to the Playboy photographer in town.

David Rams, a photographer for Playboy, spent Thursday morning doing various media promotions and did not start actual interviews until after 1 p.m., but during the morning he said the phone was ringing off the hook with questions about the process and requests for appointments.

Rams said the questions mainly dealt with issues of confidentiality, which he attributes in part to Baylor’s stance on students posing for Playboy.

“I see [the administration’s] right in having their opinion on what they feel is right,” he said. “They have a right not to like it, just as a father has a right not to like his 19-year-old daughter posing for Playboy. But if that’s what she wants to do, they shouldn’t expel her for it.”

Although the administration has not said students would be expelled or suspended, it has said both would be within the range of punishments, which has been a factor in at least one girl’s decision not to pose for them. After hearing both Playboy and the 2003: Budweiser Women of the Big 12 Conference Swimsuit Calendar were looking for models from Baylor, Dawn Eminson called both publications but decided against posing for either.

“The [possibility of] censorship I was sort of worried about,” said Eminson, a freshman, “but I was very concerned about being suspended or expelled. It played a role in my decision.”

It was not, however, the only issue. Eminson said she would have considered posing for the clothed group shot, but the pay did not make it worth it, and she wasn’t interested in posing nude.

The religious issues that posing nude raises, such as whether it would be an appropriate expression of Baylor’s Christian ideals, were not what persuaded Eminson against it, she said, and Rams said it was not one that had been raised by other students who called.

Because of the school’s position on the magazine and because students are concerned with confidentiality, the location of the interviews was told only to women who called for an appointment. In other cities, Rams said he has seen many people protest the magazine’s presence, but he doesn’t mind.

“There are protesters at a lot of schools,” he said, “and I always get along with them. I’ve taken them out to dinner before. I became really good friends with the protesters at one of the other schools. It was really funny because at the end of the day, when I was finished casting and they were finished protesting, they were coming up to the room and hanging out. They were from a church, and one of the guys gave me a Bible, and they baked us a cake and gave us some CDs, and we took them out to dinner.”

Rams said unlike that of the protesters, the most common concern of women posing for Playboy is what people will think.

“Usually they’re wondering about how their family is going to see this.”

Vacation Ads Promote Binge Drinking

By Jeremy Hsieh

The Diamondback

(U-WIRE) COLLEGE PARK, Md. – “Over 50 hours of free drinks!”

Sound appealing? Unscrupulous tour operators are using claims like this, which promote binge drinking, to lure college students into buying packaged spring break trips, said Michael Palmer, executive director of the Student Youth Travel Association, a nonprofit that acts as a voice for the student travel industry.

The American Medical Association’s “A Matter of Degree” program is working with SYTA to curb advertising that promotes binge drinking in travel ads that target spring breakers.

“[Spring break] is not just a nice break from academics anymore. It can be dangerous. We want to raise awareness of these egregious marketing practices,” said Lisa Erk, spokesperson for the program. “People should not be dying during spring break. That’s insane. Their lives shouldn’t be in jeopardy.”

“Spring break travel is primarily a college phenomenon,” Palmer said. “About 85 percent of student travel during spring break is college students.”

For junior computer engineering major Jeff Chrisler, spring break is synonymous with binge drinking.

“Spring break is a break from all the [crap] that happens during the semester. You can blow it all off in one fell swoop,” he said. “The whole idea is to go out and blow off steam and drink.”

The legal drinking age is 18 in Mexico and in much of the Caribbean. Easy access to alcohol is a seductive lure for spring breakers.

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