Buff Briefs | UCB halts study abroad in Mexico



UCB halts study abroad in Mexico

The University of Colorado at Boulder has temporarily suspended all campus study abroad programs as well as one undergraduate academic program in Mexico due to continuing safety concerns in the country.

CU sponsors study abroad programs in Mexico in Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Oaxaca and Monterrey. CU’s International and National Voluntary Service Training, or INVST, a community studies program, also canceled a field experience in Mexico. INVST is a service-learning program at CU-Boulder.

Two students were planning to attend a study abroad program in Guadalajara, one for summer and one for fall, and two students were planning to study in Guanajuato for the fall semester, according to Mary Dando, CU-Boulder’s director of study abroad programs. No students were planning to study in Monterrey or Oaxaca this summer or fall. The Office of International Education will work with students planning to go to Mexico this fall to find alternate locations for a study abroad experience.

“This is a very difficult decision that was not made lightly,” said interim Provost Russell Moore. “After reviewing the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning for Mexico, the July 9 Overseas Security Advisory Council report on escalating violence in Mexico, the June 29 Warden Report for Guadalajara warning of the deteriorating security environment there, and news reports on rising drug cartel violence within Mexico, we concluded that it is currently not safe for our study abroad or INVST students to remain in Mexico.”

Race plays role in death sentences, study says

A new study examining death sentences in North Carolina over a 28-year period ending in 2007 shows that among similar homicides, the odds of a death sentence for those who are suspected of killing whites are approximately three times higher than the odds of a death sentence for those suspected of killing blacks.

The study, to be published in The North Carolina Law Review next year, was conducted by Michael Radelet, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Glenn Pierce, a research scientist in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston. It is the most comprehensive study of the modern administration of the death penalty in North Carolina to date.

Radelet and Pierce examined 15,281 homicides in North Carolina between 1980 and 2007, of which 368 resulted in death sentences for those convicted. Using Supplemental Homicide Reports from the FBI, as well as other records from the North Carolina Department of Correction and the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the authors obtained information on all death row cases in which the victim was either black or white.

The authors also looked for any additional factors — such as multiple victims or homicides accompanied by an additional felony, such as rape or robbery — that might explain the disparity in death penalty sentencing. These additional factors partially explained death penalty decisions, but even after statistically controlling for their effect, race remained an important predictor of who was sentenced to death.

CU to examine gulf oil cleanup

Environmental engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado at Boulder are launching a study this month to determine the environmental fate of chemical dispersants being used in the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

Professor and water treatment expert Karl Linden will lead the oneyear study, which is funded by an $82,319 RAPID-response grant from the National Science Foundation. Linden will work with Assistant Professor Fernando Rosario-Ortiz, who specializes in environmental chemistry and oxidation processes.

“Dispersants are designed to break up large globules of oil into smaller droplets that enhance biodegradation,” Linden said. “However, the use of dispersants is being carried out in ways never envisioned.”

Dispersants are being sprayed onto the ocean in larger quantities than ever before and injected deep under water at the source of the oil leak, a new practice with unknown consequences, according to Linden.

The investigations will focus on Corexit, a proprietary chemical being used by BP, and on photochemical degradation — driven by sunlight — which is believed to be an important mechanism in the breakdown of the dispersant.

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