Berkeley schools reconsider gun safety
Like many school districts across the nation, concerns about school safety after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary have prompted the Berkeley Unified School District to reassess and improve safety measures at its 20 schools.
The district will hire consultants to review and examine the safety and security protocol, paying special attention to potential acts of violence.
“Although we have practices and procedures in place, we want the assistance of trained professionals to help us review both exterior and interior as well as safety plans and procedures to make our schools even safer,” said district Director of Student Services Susan Craig.
The new safety audit plans will review procedures not only for potential violent acts but also for natural and man-made disasters like earthquakes and chemical spills, Craig said.
According to School Board Director Karen Hemphill, some of the safety procedures consultants might consider include examining the emergency exits, pathways and lockable doors from inside the classroom.
Student pleads guilty in exotic bird case
Eric Cuellar, a UC Berkeley School of Law student, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge against him for his role in the decapitation an exotic bird at a Las Vegas casino in October.
He was sentenced to 48 hours of community service and an alcohol counseling class. He is also required to pay a $200 fine and $150 to the casino resort.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has also charged 24-year-old Justin Teixeira with felony killing and felony torturing of an animal.
The two were caught on video surveillance chasing a 14-year-old helmeted guineafowl into a group of trees at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. A witness then allegedly saw the two men emerging from the trees and carrying the bird’s body and severed head, according to a statement by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
If convicted, Teixeira faces up to four years in prison with the possibility of parole.
Teixeira is currently free on bail and expected to return to Las Vegas for his Feb. 11 arraignment, according to Executive Assistant to the District Attorney Tess Driver.
UC suspends use of redesigned logo
The University of California announced in December that it decided to suspend use of its redesigned logo.
According to Jason Simon, director of marketing communications at the UC Office of the President, the university has no immediate plans to introduce any new logos and will gradually phase out the current redesign, which has already been removed from social media websites.
“While I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it also is important that we listen to and respect what has been a significant negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community,” UC Senior Vice President for External Relations Daniel Dooley said in a statement in December.
The move follows public outcry over the logo, which erupted after the Oakland Tribune published a story about the redesign. A petition calling for the logo’s removal collected more than 50,000 signatures before the university’s announcement of suspension.
The redesigned logo was developed by an in-house team last year in an attempt to rebrand the university.
Critics complained that the new logo seemed too “corporate” and that it failed to capture the elegance of the old seal.
Judge approves pepper-spray settlement
A federal judge approved a settlement resolving the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of demonstrators who were pepper-sprayed at UC Davis in 2011.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez gave the final approval for the $1 million settlement, initially filed in September.
As part of the settlement, the university has agreed to pay $30,000 to each of the 21 plaintiffs, a total of $250,000 to their attorneys and a total of $100,000 to 15 other claimants.
The settlement also stipulates that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issue a formal written apology to the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed. It also calls for the university to develop new policies regarding student demonstrations and use of force.
Images from the Nov. 18, 2011, incident depicting campus police officers pepper-spraying seated protesters generated public outrage and led to criticism of the UC system’s police protest response procedures.
UC Davis and the UC system have since implemented administrative reforms following the release of reports investigating the incidents.
One-stop student center to open in spring
A new student services center opening in the spring will offer students a convenient location to complete essential administrative transactions.
Located in 120 Sproul Hall, Cal Student Central will consolidate a number of essential services provided by the Office the Registrar, Billing and Payment Services, and the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. This means that students with inquiries about financial aid or enrollment could save a 15-minute trek across campus by visiting the new center.
In an effort to improve service quality, the center will also implement a ticketing system to track the progress of longer inquiries from start to finish.
The Operational Excellence Executive Committee approved Cal Student Central as an Operational Excellence project in December 2011 after student representatives expressed the need for a “one-stop shop” for student business transactions.
According to the project summary, the business center has cost $1 million to implement and is expected to provide the campus with $208,000 in annual savings.
Cal Student Central is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.