BBC: San Diego State University suspends fraternities after student dies

Dylan Hernandez smiling at the cameraThe death of Dylan Hernandez was confirmed on Monday evening

San Diego State University has suspended 14 fraternities following the death of a 19-year-old student who had allegedly attended a fraternity event.

Dylan Hernandez was taken to hospital on Thursday morning, the day after the event, and died over the weekend.

Six Interfraternity Council (IFC) groups were already suspended and four under investigation prior to the latest incident, the university said.

San Diego State University police have opened an investigation into the death.

A fundraiser organised in memory of Dylan Hernandez has already raised more than $25,000 (£19,490).

The page says Dylan was “an outgoing, light-hearted and goofy person who had so much love to give to everyone he met. He never failed to make everyone in the room smile and his laugh was infectious”.

The San Diego medical examiner said Mr Hernandez was found without pulse and not breathing by his roommate in their dorm room on Thursday morning.

It listed the date of death as Friday, but the university said he had died with his family by his side on Sunday.

Six of the university’s fraternities were already under suspension, which occurs when there is a “perceived concern for the health and safety of a member”, according to the university.

A statement from the university said the investigation by university police had “uncovered information which alleges that a fraternity was involved in possible misconduct”.

Fraternities in the US have come under much scrutiny in recent years, most recently in the case of Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old student who died after a fraternity event at Penn State University in 2017.

He suffered internal injuries after falling down stairs during a fraternity initiation.

During the process of trying to join a fraternity, students are often put into activities or situations designed to cause embarrassment, ridicule or risk of harm, which is called hazing.

Hazing rituals are often harmless, but in some cases can turn into extreme bullying, physical violence and sexual abuse.

At least one hazing death has been reported every year in the US since 1959.

Since 2000, there have been at least 70 student deaths attributed to hazing.

Hazing and initiation ceremonies are widely banned, but continue to be prevalent in universities across the US.

The Tim Piazza case: People “have to see the damage” of hazing

What is a fraternity?

A fraternity is a social organisation at a college or university, founded on a set of principles that members must abide by and mostly designated by a grouping of Greek letters.

A fraternity usually means male members, and a sorority female, although many women’s and mixed organisations also use the term fraternity.

Undergraduates “rush” the fraternity they want to join by going to fraternity events and getting to know members. If the fraternity approves, they will give them a “bid” – an invite to the next stage.

Potential members then go through a “pledging” process to prove their value, through challenges based around loyalty and trust – a process that can also include hazing.

If the individual completes the pledge process, they become active members of the fraternity for life.

Maine: Veteran bus driver, Richard Tanguay, carrying Biddeford field hockey team charged with OUI (DWI)

A state trooper pulled the school bus over after he observed it speeding and driving erratically, according to Maine State Police.

State Trooper Patrick Hall, who was on routine patrol, stopped the school bus around 8 p.m. on the Maine Turnpike southbound in Scarborough after he observed it speeding in a construction zone, failing to signal lane changes, and failing to stay in one lane.

According to a news release posted Sunday on the state police Facebook page, Hall stopped the bus for erratic operation and speeding. Once he had pulled the bus driver over, Hall said he observed signs of impairment. Hall proceeded to conduct a field sobriety test on the driver, Richard Tanguay, 68, of Biddeford, before transporting him to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

At the jail, state police said that Tanguay was given an Intoxilyzer breath test and an exam by drug recognition experts from the Freeport Police Department. Tanguay was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, driving to endanger and endangering the welfare of a child, state police said.

Tanguay posted $500 bail and was released from the jail. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 9 in Portland District Court.

Attempts to reach Tanguay at his Biddeford home were unsuccessful Sunday night.

School officials said the bus was carrying about 30 coaches and student athletes from the Biddeford High School girls’ field hockey team, which had traveled to Oakland for the state Class A championship game. Biddeford lost the game, 3-0, to Skowhegan High School, snapping its 35-game unbeaten streak.

According to Biddeford School Superintendent Jeremy Ray, the school department’s designated spokesman on the incident, Tanguay has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation by the school department and by state police.

“We are cooperating with the authorities,” Ray said in a statement posted Sunday on Facebook. “Authorities do not believe alcohol was a factor, but are still investigating what caused the driver’s condition. We are not able to discuss additional details as this is a personnel matter. The police may elect to share additional information with the public when the time comes, but all parties are currently working to ferret out the facts.”

“We will continue to gather the facts and interview the employee before making any conclusions about this unfortunate development,” Ray said. “But, be clear. We have zero tolerance for any behavior that imperils students.”

Contacted by phone Sunday night, Ray described Tanguay as a full-time, veteran bus driver with more than 30 years of experience. Ray said the charges filed against Tanguay are not alcohol-related.

“What we do know for sure is that this man did not take a sip of alcohol,” said Ray.

Ray said that all school bus drivers must complete an annual Maine Department of Transportation physical exam and medications screen test to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Biddeford’s bus drivers underwent the physical exam in August, but Ray said the school department does not receive any details due to health privacy laws. All the school department gets is whether the doctor conducting the exam passed or failed the driver.

During their annual commercial driver’s license exam, drivers are required to disclose prescription medications. Doctors must determine if the drugs a driver has been prescribed will interfere with his or her ability to operate a bus, Ray said.

In addition to the annual screening tests, any employee who operates a vehicle for the Biddeford School Department is subject to random drug testing administered by a third party.

Ray said that no one on the bus Tanguay was driving reported noticing anything out of the ordinary during the ride back from Oakland.

Ray said that students texted or called their parents during the police stop, keeping them informed of what was happening. He said the field hockey coach, Caitlin Trembert, kept him informed as well. Ray in turn kept in communication with parents. He said a substitute bus driver was notified and drove the students’ bus back to Biddeford.

Saturday night’s incident was not the first one involving a school bus driver from York County accused of impaired driving. In 2010, a Saco school bus driver pleaded guilty to one count of drunken driving and two counts of endangering a child’s welfare. In December 2009, the driver was arrested after being removed from a bus as she was about to drive dozens of Saco Middle School students home. She was charged with drunken driving again after authorities learned that she had driven herself home from the police station after telling police she had arranged a ride.

Top U.S. Student Loan Official Quits, Calling for Massive Debt Forgiveness!

OCT 25, 2019

H15 top us student loan official quits calling massive debt forgiveness education department betsy devos contempt of court corinthian colleges

Image Credit: Twitter: @johnsonsenate

The Trump administration’s top student loan official said Thursday he will resign his position at the Education Department and will work for the cancellation of nearly $1 trillion in federally-administered student loan debt. A. Wayne Johnson says he’ll promote a plan that would forgive up to $50,000 for anyone with federal student loans, worth about $925 billion. He told the Wall Street Journal, “We run through the process of putting this debt burden on somebody … but it rides on their credit files — it rides on their back — for decades. The time has come for us to end and stop the insanity.”

His high-profile resignation came as a federal judge on Thursday held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court for violating an order to stop collecting student debt for people who were defrauded by the for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. The court ruled DeVos ignored the rights of more than 60,000 former students who were granted relief from the federal government after Corinthian Colleges collapsed in 2014 amid government scrutiny of its fraud and predatory lending. Under Thursday’s contempt of court ruling, DeVos will face no jail time and her Education Department will be fined $100,000.

Moveon: Sign the petition re: Alabama

Sign the petition telling the Supreme Court to protect Roe v. Wade and defend our rights.

Dear MoveOn member,

I’m Helmi Henkin, an organizer with the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, which helps people access safe abortions. I started a petition after our state passed an abortion ban which gives the government control over pregnant people’s bodies—even in cases of rape or incest.

As similar extreme bills continue making their way through state legislatures, it’s vital that we send a clear message to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other members of the Supreme Court of the United States that we will not tolerate these attacks on our protected human rights.

Add your name to our petition to the Supreme Court in defense of the right to a safe and legal abortion.

Don’t overturn Roe v. Wade. Protect abortion rights. End the attacks on reproductive rights and pregnant people’s health. We won’t go back!

Alabama’s extreme bill gives the state control over pregnant people’s bodies and increases the already tremendous barriers that people seeking abortion care in Alabama face in accessing their procedures. Access was already a problem in Alabama, which is why the Yellowhammer Fund exists.

The government’s control and politicization of our bodies is unacceptable. Families in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and communities across the nation are under attack as part of a publicly stated, coordinated effort to have the Supreme Court overturn its own legal precedent set by Roe v. Wade.1

This is truly concerning, because some members of the Supreme Court are already signaling a willingness to overturn legal precedent on other cases.2

Sign the petition telling Chief Justice John G. Roberts and the Supreme Court justices to end these extreme policies which deny families the right to determine whether, when, and how to create a family. 

People espousing “pro-life” politics frequently talk about how much they love pregnant people and babies. However, their political agenda does not extend to ensuring that pregnancy and birth are safe for pregnant people or that parents, children, and families can access the health care they need to live healthy lives. In Alabama, for example, this means that a large number of pregnant people are going without the prenatal, birth, and postnatal care needed to ensure healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes. Maternal and infant mortality rates are high.3

We will work with trusted partner organizations such as MoveOn to ensure the support of this petition is used to further pressure key decision-makers, keep the story in the media, and give everyone opportunities to stay engaged! MoveOn members have already raised more than $30,000 for our work in Alabama, and we’re seeing generosity across the country—but we also need to make sure the Supreme Court respects the fundamental right to access an abortion, so we need to act now.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends and family.

Thank you for your support during such an important moment for this movement.

–Helmi Henkin, The Yellowhammer Fund

Sources:

1. “Alabama Governor Signs Abortion Ban Into Law,” NPR, May 14, 2019
https://act.moveon.org/go/65594?t=7&akid=234356%2E40420145%2Efz5dC6

2. “Supreme Court’s Breyer, mentioning abortion case, warns about overturning precedent,” NBC News, May 13, 2019
https://act.moveon.org/go/65593?t=9&akid=234356%2E40420145%2Efz5dC6

3. “States with the worst anti-abortion laws also have the worst infant mortality rates,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019
https://act.moveon.org/go/65595?t=11&akid=234356%2E40420145%2Efz5dC6

US arrests ‘member of border militia’ in New Mexico

A member of Constitutional Patriots New Mexico Border Ops Team militia is pictured on patrol at the US-Mexico borderMembers of the United Constitutional Patriots have been seen patrolling with weapons

US authorities have arrested an alleged member of a militia that has been stopping migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was detained in New Mexico as a felon in possession of a weapon.

It comes just days after a video emerged of militia members detaining dozens of migrants in the desert.

The group, United Constitutional Patriots, has been condemned by civil rights groups and local officials.

“This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes.”

While his statement said Mr Hopkins had been arrested as a felon, it did not specify what the underlying conviction had been.

The alleged militia member is expected to appear in court on Monday.

United Constitutional Patriots, a small volunteer group, argues it is helping US Border Patrol to deal with a surge in migrants crossing America’s southern border. It is one of several militias operating in the region.

As details of this week’s latest video emerged, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter that “menacing or threatening migrant families and asylum seekers is absolutely unacceptable and must cease”.

US Customs and Border Protection have previously said they are opposed to civilians patrolling the border in search of illegal crossers.

NYC Commission on Human Rights bans hair discrimination

Earlier this week, the New York City Commission on Human Rights instituted a law that bans discrimination by employers, schools and other public places, based upon hairstyle.

Banning certain hairstyles, whether in the workplace or at a school, is now considered a form of racial discrimination in New York.

Guidelines released by the city’s Commission on Human Rights apply to everyone, but are particularly geared towards protecting the rights of black people.

Violators can be fined up to $250,000, although proving the discrimination may still be difficult.

Maine: State Legislature could crack down on childhood vaccinations, making it illegal for families to opt-out

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A new bill aims to remove exemptions, based on religious or philosophical beliefs, from immunization requirements for students of all ages, as well as employees of nursery schools and health care facilities.

PORTLAND, Maine — As Maine law stands now, families can refuse certain immunizations, based on religious or philosophical beliefs — but one Maine lawmaker is looking to change that.

(not gonna name the “one Maine Lawmaker?”)

The bill, LD 798, would remove those exemptions for students of all ages, as well as employees of nursery schools and health care facilities.

According to the bill’s summary, those who are currently not immunized but are covered by an individualized education plan would be grandfathered, as long as they have written proof from a medical professional that “the medical professional has provided information on the risks and benefits associated with the choice to immunize.”

No public hearing or work session has been scheduled for the bill.

This story will be updated.

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