News Briefsn

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PSU graduate student makes violent threats

Portland State students are advised to notify the authorities if they notice a man on campus who has made violent threats against the university.

Henry Liu, a PSU graduate student, recently made death threats about a faculty member to another student, which caused Liu’s suspension from PSU and exclusion from campus and all campus activities. Liu has been in touch with PSU medical staff members and mental health officials, and he is being closely monitored. “In this case, many resources, including the CARE team, mental health professionals, the Portland Police Bureau, and others, were devoted to ensuring the safety of the community, as well as the well being of the student,” said Phil Zerzan, director of public safety, “Numerous steps were taken to mitigate the risk, and that included letting the community know that the student is not permitted on campus.”

“University Administration, the Portland Police Bureau and Campus Public Safety are continuing to monitor the situation and do not believe that the normal operations of the university should be interrupted at this time. Additional information and updates about Mr. Liu will be available on the PSU Campus Public Safety website,” said the Campus Public Safety Office in an official statement.

Potential law would allow government to access private user information

The heavily maligned Stop Online Privacy Act bill ended up not being passed by the United States government, but a new bill with many of the same characteristics could be on its way to becoming a law.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would give the U.S. government the ability to view user history and files in the case of a potential threat to national security. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives on April 26, but the next day President Barack Obama announced a threat to veto the bill.

“As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back. We encourage the Senate to let this horrible bill fade into obscurity,” said Michelle Richardson, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement released upon passage of the bill in the House.

Governor Kitzhaber passes bill encouraging environmentally friendly chemistry

The Oregon state government passed a bill last week with the purpose of limiting damage to the environment resulting from scientific practices.

On April 27, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber passed an order that forced companies to use the least toxic chemicals possible in their experiments, as well as ones that used the least amount of energy and the most amount of renewable materials. The order also called for the Department of Environmental Quality to partner with the Department of Administrative Services to create a viable plan to achieve these various goals by July 1, 2013.

“By applying green chemistry, Oregon will be able to address some of our most significant sustainability-related challenges head on. In doing so, we will be supporting the health and well-being of our citizens and protecting the resiliency of the ecosystems we depend upon,” Kitzhaber said as part of the executive order.

Online petition prompts KeyBank to forgive debt incurred by deceased student

In just over a week, more than 75,000 people signed an online petition on change.org, asking for KeyBank to forgive thousands of dollars worth of loan payments owed by a tragedy-stricken family. As a result of the petition, the bank agreed to forgive the debt and will explore the policies and procedures that govern such circumstances.

The family of Christopher Bryski has paid $20,000 in loans since 2006, when Christopher passed away. On April 20, Christopher’s older brother Ryan started an online petition to discharge the rest of the $30,000 the family had in debt, most of which was put toward academic institutions that Christopher never had a chance to access. Ryan cited the fact that the federal government is supposed to automatically discharge guaranteed loans upon proof of death in a statement.

“My family tried for years to get KeyBank to forgive my brother Christopher’s loans after he died, and for years they ignored us,” Bryski said, according to a press release issued by change.org. “Thankfully, they couldn’t ignore the 75,000 people who signed our petition on change.org. It’s sad that it took so much to finally get a response, but my family and I are just so grateful that it worked.”

Obama to protect veterans from manipulative universities

In response to reports that United States universities are targeting army veterans and their loved ones for university enrollment due to financial benefits, Congress is stepping forward to ensure that the universities will not engage in deceptive strategies.

Obama announced an executive order on Friday that will provide enrolled veterans with complete information about their financial situations, eliminate fraudulent clauses and loans, increase the power of the complaint system for the Defense and Veterans Affairs Department and restrict university access to military installations for recruiting purposes. The order aimed to limit the amount of funds taken by for-profit colleges from military veterans, which totaled about $1.6 billion over the last three years from just the Post-9/11 GI Bill alone.

“According to the Senate HELP Committee, of the 10 educational institutions collecting the most Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits between 2009 and 2011, eight were for-profit schools. Six of these schools had bachelor student withdrawal rates above 50 percent,” said the White House’s Office of the Press secretary in an official statement regarding the bill.

ASPSU senate votes on constitution changes

Associated Students of Portland State University voted on their finalized draft on the ASPSU Constitution this weekend, wrapping up “hundreds of hours of work” according to ASPSU President Adam Rahmlow. The Constitution changes some fundamental structures of the current system, most notably combining together the Elections Board and the Judicial Board into one new entity, the Judicial Review Board.

One heavily debated change was the policies regarding the appointment or election of members of the Student Fee Committee. Under the current Constitution, seven of the eight members are elected, with one member being nominated by the ASPSU president and confirmed by a vote of the senate. Senator Marlon Holmes lead the movement toward the change in policy, stating that by not electing all of the members, the appointed position could potentially be “a freebie card to install a lackey” of the president. Other members, such as Senator Thomas Howell, felt that the choice would be more democratic.

Rahmlow and seven of the senators opposed this motion, but the policy change was passed in a close nine to seven vote. Only one senator abstained from the voting.

After clearing up some unclear wording in the Constitution and removing and reorganizing other aspects, the senators who were present then voted to approve the new Constitution. The decision passed in a 16-1 vote, with only one senator opposing the changes to the new document.

The senate then voted to apply the rules of the new Constitution to the current election. Now, students who qualify to run under the new rules are able to do so. The Constitution still needs to be approved by the student body, who will vote on the document next week. If the new Constitution is not approved by the student community, any candidates who would otherwise not qualify under the old rules will be disqualified from the race.

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