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Tech Briefs

Penn State Officials Respond to
Racist E-mails
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Even though the racist e-mails that were circulating through Penn State last month only reached a relatively small number of students, the entire Pennsylvania State University community may feel its impact, according to a report in the Daily Collegian, the campus newspaper.
To help deal with the situation, the university recently developed a Web site, located at efforts/, that includes updates on the e-mail investigation as well as links to news releases about hate e-mail distributed at other universities, says Bill Mahon, Penn State’s director of public information.
The Web page includes statements from Penn State’s president, Dr. Graham Spanier; Terrell Jones, vice provost for educational equity; and Black Caucus President Joseph Dawkins, Mahon says.
Jones says about 66 students received the original racist e-mail. However, copies of the e-mail spread rapidly because a few student groups forwarded the message via their list servers, Jones says.
“They made a mistake in that they didn’t include a disclaimer at the top [of the e-mail],” Jones said.
The racist e-mail messages began appearing earlier this month. A person using the alias “The Patriot” signed the messages, which were traced to a computer lab at Temple University in Philadelphia. Another 48 minority students received a second e-mail about a week later.
Since the original message was sent, many things have surfaced from the ordeal, Jones says.
“It has become an issue for parents who want to ensure their daughter or son’s safety, and for students who want to know who did it and find out the investigative techniques,” he says.
Brandi Patton-Thompas, co-president of SMART, the Student Minority Advisement and Recruitment Team, says the constant media attention the messages have attracted has probably made people more aware of the specific issues concerning racism. On the other hand, she says the hateful messages will not fully affect people until they realize racism is a community issue.
Centre County CrimeStoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the hate mail. To report any possible leads, call (800) 352-7463. Caller will remain anonymous.

Tour an HBCU from Comforts of
Home or High School
CINCINNATI — NAFEO, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and Hobsons, a global provider of higher education information, have formed a partnership to promote the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, it was announced last month.  
The fruit of that partnership is an interactive CD-ROM publication — The Guide to HBCUs — that “provides detailed information and search criteria through which users can identify colleges and universities that best meet their educational goals,” according to the announcement.
Students can take “virtual tours” of selected colleges and universities, getting a glimpse of campus life, academics and social activities. Hobsons then facilitates student requests for information on the HBCUs through a custom Web response form and over 250,000 printed response cards.
According to Hobsons officials, more than  200 students a day have requested admissions information from one or more of the participating colleges and universities since the publication was released in early October to 2,000 high schools across the country.
“We knew we had a lot of support for the HBCU guide, but we were not expecting the wave of responses we received just a little over a week after the publication’s debut,” says Craig Heldman, a vice president at Hobsons, which also publishes the CD-ROMs CollegeView and CareerView.
For more information, contact Clay Bond at Hobsons at (800) 927-8439.

Y2K Vigilance Needed
WASHINGTON — More colleges are solving their year 2000 technology problems, but some may cut it close this December.
A new U.S. Department of Education survey says 61 percent of institutions have Y2K-compliant systems, up from 30 percent who had achieved that status last summer. However, with only a few weeks before Jan. 1, agency officials caution some colleges still have work to do. Waiting until the last minute leaves little room to test systems, U.S. Sec. of Education Richard W. Riley says.
The year 2000 technology problem generally refers to the inability of computers to distinguish the year 2000 from 1900. In most cases, these computers used only a two-date field to represent the year, such as “99” for 1999. The department has extensive Y2K resources for schools and colleges on the Internet at             

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