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Face time

At least 60 Cornell students have committed to leave their phones at home, ignore social media, engage in face-to-face interaction and reevaluate their relationship with technology, April 10-12.

They are taking part in CU [dis]connect, a student-run “social experiment” intended to combat the detachment from others technology use can foster. Student groups will host events in collaboration with CU [dis]connect, enabling students to gather as a community.

“I was frustrated with some of the behavior I observed in my peers,” said Rudy Gerson ’15, a College Scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences who organized the event. “I would be mid-conversation with a friend, and he’d check his phone. At a bar, it was strange to see people checking Facebook or texting, when there were so many new faces to engage with right there around them. In class too, I even felt the urge to check my phone, which essentially tuned me out completely from the professor and the material. I hope people will come to realize that they can be happier and liberated without constant connectivity.”

CU [dis]connect events will include an “Ask Big Questions” group dialogue, a screening of “Connected, the Film” and a barbecue for participants. Sign up at the above link.

Kyle Dake grapples with greatness

Senior Kyle Dake is vying for his fourth NCAA Division I wrestling title in an unprecedented fourth weight class. Seven Big Red wrestlers are competing in the tournament March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. Go Big Red!

There be dragons

Dragon Day 2013 will live on in infamy on the website for Olin and Uris Libraries.

Three library staff members — Carla DeMello, Lance Heidig and Susette Newberry — took photographs of the festivities with the library buildings in the background and used them as backgrounds for the website.

Hit “refresh” to see all eight images — and, while you’re visiting the site, sign up for a workshop, request new materials and check out the constantly updated number of available laptops.

24/7 tutorials

Have you ever wished for a personal IT helpdesk, standing at the ready any time you had a question about using Outlook or Dreamweaver?

You’re in luck: Through the library’s website, Cornell students, faculty and staff can watch tutorials from Books24x7. The streaming videos are usually between three and five minutes long. Look under “Browse Topics” on the right side of the page.

They cover topics in frequently used software, including Microsoft Office applications, Adobe programs, mobile devices, operating systems, browsers, apps and more. And the topics get very granular, with tutorials on such subjects as configuring email on an iPhone, handling calculations in Excel and sorting bookmarks in Firefox.

The apples of her art

Inspired by science journalist Michael Pollan’s description of rare, odd apples from the Noah’s Ark of apples in his book “The Botany of Desire, artist Jessica Rath twice visited Cornell’s Plant Genetics Resource Unit in Geneva, N.Y.

Writes The Atlantic: “… America’s apple archivist, Philip Forsline, has assembled and tended a vast Noah’s Ark of more than 2,500 apple varieties: two clones of each, in order to preserve the fruit’s genetic biodiversity. Meanwhile, on the same Cornell/USDA Agricultural Experiment Station, Susan Brown, one of the country’s three commercial apple breeders, develops new clones by cultivating wildly different seed sisters.”

Rath went on to create nine sculptures based on PGRU apple varieties, such as the cluster above, made of high-fire glazed porcelain and bronze. Her exhibition “take me to the apple breeder” is on display at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

SHARE the word

Early this semester, Cornell launched the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE) website. It’s an information resource for all members of the Cornell community about issues related to sexual violence and other sexual misconduct. The SHARE site was developed to provide a one-stop access to services that offer support for victims and survivors, facilitate reporting, increase awareness, promote safety, and highlight prevention, compliance and advocacy initiatives. A collaboration between the divisions of Human Resources and Safety Services, Student and Academic Services and University Communications, the site reflects input from individuals and organizations who stepped forward to address issues raised by campus events during 2012.

A source of MDs

In a Huffington Post blog post, President David Skorton writers about a way to alleviate the United States’ physician shortage:

“The U.S. already employs a substantial proportion of physicians (about a quarter) and other health workers (about a fifth) who were educated or trained overseas, and we could easily employ more of them without taking jobs away from Americans. In fact, as the nation ages and more previously uninsured individuals seek treatment under the Affordable Care Act, the health of millions of Americans may depend on the availability of more physicians and other health workers from abroad.”

How to achieve this?

Skorton writes: “Granting more H-1B visas to international medical graduates who have already completed U.S. residencies in high-demand specialties, including primary care, and who agree to practice for a prescribed length of time in underserved areas, would meet a pressing national need while ensuring that these physicians augment their prior medical training with additional training and practice in the U.S. This experience would serve them well, whether they ultimately obtain a green card and stay here or decide to return home after their service in the U.S. is complete.”

C. Everett Koop dies

As Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general 1981-89, C. Everett Koop, M.D., became a household name. Koop, who was among the first public health officials to speak plainly about AIDS and was a crusader against smoking, died in Hanover, N.H., Feb. 25 at age 96.

A 1941 graduate of the Cornell Medical College, Koop joined the Reagan administration in 1981 following a career as a pediatric surgeon and professor.

‘Amazing but overlooked’

The Daily Beast, in its listing of 25 schools and programs “that offer unique benefits that can be overlooked when the numbers are crunched,” cites Cornell for emotional health:

“Mental health has become an increasingly important issue on college campuses, especially as high-profile suicides have attracted national attention. Cornell is no stranger to the unfortunate attention; for years it has been dubbed the ‘suicide school’ thanks to very public incidences involving the campuses’ gorges. But for more than a decade the school has been working toward creating and implementing a model for student mental-health care. Dubbed Cornell Minds Matter, the program aims to destigmatize mental-health issues, raise awareness and educate students through weekly events and presentations.

“‘One of the major results is that students are much more sensitive to other students’ needs,’” says Casey Carr, assistant dean of students. Carr says the university’s faculty and staff handbook for dealing with students in distress has served as a framework for other universities. Cornell also refined its approach to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to allow administrators and campus officials to warn parents of mental-health problems in some instances without student consent.”

Guns on the quad?

In their latest Forbes blog post, President David Skorton and American studies professor Glenn Altschuler look at guns on campus:

“Given a sense of urgency by the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun control debate rages on across the nation. Less well known is that this year many state legislatures will consider whether to require public colleges and universities to allow guns on campus. We oppose legislation that will prevent colleges from setting their own gun policies — and will make students, staff and faculty less safe.

After reviewing various state laws and politics issues surrounding the issue, they conclude:

“By all means, let’s get on with the national and state-level debate about how best to balance second-amendment rights with public safety. We applaud President Obama’s directive to scale up federally funded research on gun violence — research that for decades has been squelched by the political muscle of gun rights advocates. More research means better-informed choices.

“But meanwhile, let our colleges and universities set their own policies. We believe that the great majority will continue to prohibit guns, and our campus communities will be all the safer.”



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