Around the Nation

Graduate students push to unionize

Graduate teaching assistants in four major Ivy League schools are struggling to form labor unions despite resistance from their respective administrations.

Teaching assistants from Yale, Columbia, Cornell and Harvard universities have all announced plans to organize a vote to determine if a union is needed on campus.

Students at Brown and New York universities waged a similar battle last year – prompting a nationwide debate over TAs’ right to unionize.

A group of 2,200 graduate assistants at Cornell recently announced that they will make their decision to apply for a federally recognized union by the end of October.

In a similar fashion, Columbia TAs applied for union representation from
The National Labor Relations Board last March, but because of unfilled vacancies within the organization, their request has remained unanswered.

Student loan rates jump for first time in a decade

Students will have to hand over more money to pay off their college loans this year as interest rates jumped to 5.9 percent, the Department of Education announced last week.

This increase in interest rates is the first time since 1990, when the rates were posted as 22.4 percent. Despite this year’s increase, Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige said in a recent statement that the rates are still at a “historically low level.”

In 2000, Alaska posted the default rate at 9.5 percent and New Hampshire took up the rear with a rate of 2.4 percent.

The DOE attributed the latest increase to the economic slowdown in the American economy.

Pledge of allegiance opponent speaks at Berkely

The man who filed the lawsuit that led to banning the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools spoke to a crowd at the University of California, Berkeley last week about the dangers of conformity.

Michael Newdow, who claimed that the “under God” portion of the pledge was unconstitutional, encouraged the crowd to examine all ideas and beliefs held as “societal norms” and proposed new ideas for the future.

Among those ideas is a gender-neutral pronoun that he would like added to the English language as a way of erasing the line between men and women. Newdow offered the suggestion of “ree, rees and erms” for he, his, she, her and hers.

Newdow concluded the event with a five-song set of original works about the hypocrisy of American politics.

HIV vaccine may be near

A vaccine that would prevent the HIV virus from infecting healthy cells may be available within the relatively near future, according to a report in the John Hopkins News-Letter.

The study indicated that a team of scientists from the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore have successfully created the first animal vaccine that has neutralizing effects on the disease that kills anywhere from 60 to 80 million people per year.

HIV is a retrovirus, which means that it binds to a protein on the surface of a normal cell, enters that cell and converts single-stranded RNA molecules into the virus’s DNA. The process repeats until no healthy cells are left in the body.

The latest research focuses on the connection between the surface protein and the cell, allowing human antibodies to recognize the disease before the RNA molecules are transferred to the human cell.

Clinical trials on human beings are set to begin within the next two years

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.