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Today's word on journalism

February 17, 2009

Why I miss my hate mail:

"It's an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be."

--Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09)

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USU president announces task force in connection with death of student

By USU Media Relations and Marketing

January 13, 2009 | Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht announced the formation of a task force to review university policy relating to the operation of student organizations at all of its campuses. This decision was made on the heels of charges filed Friday by the Cache County Attorney's Office in connection with the alcohol-related death of USU student Michael Starks.

"President Albrecht and the entire USU community are deeply troubled by the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of one of our students," said Provost Raymond T. Coward. "It has been heart-wrenching and devastating for all of us, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that such a tragedy is not repeated."

Coward said the university rightfully waited to take further actions until the police and county attorney's office had reached its conclusion and issued charges.

"The president considered it one of the first orders of business to convene a meeting with top university officials on the first business day of the school year to discuss the appropriate next steps that we would take," Coward said. "The actions we are taking are based on new information that has emerged from the criminal investigations."

At that meeting, three decisions were reached, including the formation of a task force. In addition, as announced Monday, the university will continue to strictly adhere to university policies that deal with infractions of its Student Code. It also launched an official university investigation into the actions of the fraternities and sororities involved in the tragic death. If deemed appropriate, the university will take additional actions as a result of those investigations.

"The task force will assume an important role in helping the university to examine its policies relating to the operation of student clubs and organizations," Coward said. "The task force will be charged to make a careful and thorough review of the current procedures and make recommendations to the president in terms of where it can bolster university safeguards."

In addition to the university's Greek chapters, USU has hundreds of academic, social, recreational, service and other student groups. All of these organizations are required to comply with the university's Student Code, which includes the prohibition of hazing and underage drinking.

"Our interest is to ensure that we are doing all that is within our power to keep our students safe," Coward said. "The death of one of our students is more than reason for us to review and examine every aspect of our policies. If there are steps we can take to help us better ensure that we are doing all we can to prevent future tragic losses, we will steadfastly pursue those actions."


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