Tufts Graduate Student Detained in Ethiopia

By Adam Pulver Tufts Daily (Tufts U.)

(U-WIRE) MEDFORD, Mass. – When Ethiopian-born Solomon ezgebu arrived at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Aug. 26, he expected to fly back to the United States to continue his studies as a doctoral student at Tufts University’s School of Nutrition Science and Policy. But immigration officials confiscated the 38-year-old’s American passport and told him he could not board the plane.

Three weeks later, on Sept. 13, government security agents took ezgebu to the Maekllawi Prison, which the government designates for “prisoners of conscience.” He remained imprisoned for four days before being released on bail. He is not allowed to leave the town in which he lived, according to Friends of Solomon, a group advocating for his release. Group leaders will not give their names.

Little information is available about Mezgebu’s current situation, since he is not allowed to leave the small town of ekelle. Though Tufts and the U.S. State Department acknowledge his detainment, Friends of Solomon has provided most details surrounding his arrest. There is no Internet access in Mekelle, and Friends of Solomon members say the telephone line in his mother’s house in Ethiopia was deliberately cut.

According to Friends of Solomon, Mezgebu’s arrest stemmed from his involvement with the Tigray Development Association. TDA is an international non-governmental organization that strives to develop the economy of the Tigray region in Northern Ethiopia. ezgebu was charged with failing to remain in Addis Ababa for the “complete organizational audit” of TDA. Among the association’s activities are vocational training and the development of a clean water supply.

Friends of Solomon said that Mezgebu put his Tufts studies on hold in the spring of 2000 to join the TDA as its chairman in Ethiopia.

He accepted the position because he thought he would be able to effect the extensive poverty in the Tigray region.

Mezgebu left Boston against the wishes of many close friends and family members in the area, including his wife, Hirut Mulugeta, who works as a medical technician at Boston University Medical Center and lives in Medford.

“His own willingness to sacrifice material benefit and to go beyond the call of duty was a continual example to people who knew him closely,” Friends of Solomon wrote in a press release.

New York U. Feels Costs of Student Aid After Attacks

By Jennifer C. Smith Washington Square News (New York U.)

(U-WIRE) NEW YORK – New York University has offered myriad services to university members who have been affected by the World Trade Center disaster, resulting in huge expenses for the university.

Lynne P. Brown, vice president of student affairs, said the costs to NYU ran into millions of dollars, although final figures have not been tallied.

Students who were forced to evacuate their dorms on Sept. 11 received a stipend of $200 to cover clothing and other expenses. NYU Bookstores donated a second set of textbooks so students wouldn’t fall behind in their classes; they also were given a free 10-meal plan while they were removed from their kitchens.

Free phone cards worth $10 also were distributed to displaced students, and phone banks were established in the Violet Cafe and Bobst Library. Staples provided free notebooks, pens and calculators to students. Also, Information Technology Services has created a “Loaner” program, negotiating with computer companies to loan computers to students until Jan. 21.

These services did not come free for the university, however.

“Money for the stipend, hotel, etc., came through the normal University budgeting process and regular cash flow,” university spokesman John Beckman said.

Beckman also said money was being drawn from various other sources, although he declined to further explain what those sources were.

“We are also seeking reimbursement through our insurance, emergency government aid and other sources of revenue,” he said.

A limited supply of free linens were distributed to those students who were placed in empty spaces in uptown residence halls like Weinstein. Many of the displaced students, however, were placed in hotels such as the Sheraton New York, the Park Central and the Dumont.

“We are in discussion with the hotels to receive a rebate, as they were not used for the full amount of time that was expected,” Brown said.

She said reservations for stays in the hotels varied; the general period discussed ranged from two to four weeks, with options for renewal.

Another expense for NYU was the hiring of private asbestos abasement contractors and environmental consultants to test the environmental safety of the evacuated dorms.

NYU continues to incur costs, even after most students have returned to their homes.

The university also has provided free-of-charge cell phones for student use, as students are still without phone service.

Federal Officials Given Free Reign in Student Searches

By Erin McLaughlin Daily Californian (U. California-Berkeley)

(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. – Federal agents have been searching college students’ records without notifying them, according to a preliminary national survey of university registrars.

Law enforcement officials have had “virtually unfettered” access to any student records from colleges and universities since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Federal authorities have not requested any personal student records from UC Berkeley as of Tuesday.

“In a large number of instances, institutions have not notified the students whose records were released, according to preliminary data,” Nassirian said Tuesday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft proposed anti-terrorism legislation last week that would allow nearly unrestricted access for federal officials to access private student records-including grades, social security numbers, medical and parking records, and notes by professors about specific students.

Colleges nationwide have so far readily cooperated with federal requests to access private records without notifying students. But Ashcroft’s bill would allow federal agents to take student records even if a college refuses to cooperate.

“There was some concern that it would have a chilling effect on what goes on in the classroom,” Nassirian said.

But lawmakers are now voicing worries about the amount of room federal authorities would have in reviewing private student data.

Despite the rush to enact anti-terrorist legislation, the student record portion of Ashcroft’s mammoth bill was dropped and sent to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for further review, said House Judiciary Committee spokesperson Terry Shawn.

“It is an unnecessarily wide leeway to give the attorney general,” said Corye Barbour, legislative director of the U.S. Student Association, a national student lobbying group. “We think that there is perfectly sufficient access now to student records. It’s a pretty egregious breach of student liberties.”

Meanwhile, universities nationwide have been voluntarily handing over private student information in name of security without notifying the student – a violation of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in most cases.

Universities must legally notify students that their records are being searched unless federal authorities specifically request otherwise.

The college must also agree that there is a potential danger to the health and safety of the student or others if the student is notified of the search.

U. Hawaii Drug Use Increases

By Jaclynn Hall & Jennifer Christensen Ka Leo O Hawaii (U. Hawaii)

(U-WIRE) HONOLULU – There were two reports of alcohol-related emergencies last weekend, which sent two University of Hawaii students to the hospital.

On Sept. 21, a male student was found unconscious in the public restrooms at Johnson Hall. The student was reportedly intoxicated and was taken to Queen’s Hospital. On Sept. 23, a female student, also intoxicated, was reported vomiting blood in the Hale Noelani dorms. Police were called.

The incidents follow a trend of increasing alcohol and drug violations at the University of Hawaii.

Disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations were up from 92 in 1999 to 258 in 2000 while drug-related violations were up from 13 in 1999 to 41 in 2000. These numbers were on-campus totals.

Within dormitories and other residential facilities, liquor law violations increased from 92 in 1999 to 251 in 2000 and drug related violations increased from 13 in 1999 to 35 in 2000.

Arrests made relating to liquor law violations also increased. In 1999, there were no arrests made, in 2000, there were five.

The following excerpts are from the UH Campus Security logs from Thursday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 23. The names and identities of all individuals involved have been withheld for security purposes.

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