Nation in brief

Bush against legacy factor in college admissions

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – President Bush said last month that he opposes the consideration of a student’s “legacy” status as a factor in college admissions.

Bush’s comments came during a session on college admissions and diversity with journalists at the 2004 Unity Conference, which was held in D.C. The conference brought together thousands of journalists to discuss fairness, accuracy and diversity in newsrooms around the country.

Until the conference, Bush, himself a Yale legacy, had not taken a public stance on using legacy status in the college admissions process – a practice that gives an advantage to applicants whose parents or siblings have previously attended the school.

Bush told the crowd he is against using quotas to implement affirmative action programs but supports increasing diversity at campuses, a position he took last summer when the Supreme Court was debating affirmative action.

“I think it ought to be based on merit,” Bush said during a question-and-answer session with minority journalists.

He added, “I support colleges affirmatively taking action to get minorities in their schools.”

Alcohol ads now OK in PA

(U-WIRE) PITTSBURGH – After a five-year battle in federal court, University-affiliated publications will be allowed to publish paid alcoholic beverage advertisements in Pennsylvania.

The ruling overturned an amendment to Pennsylvania’s Liquor Code passed in 1996. The law prohibited University-affiliated media from running ads for alcoholic beverages. The Pitt News, a publication at the University of Pittsburgh, brought suit after having to remove ads from its issues to comply with the law.

The three judges said in their written opinion that “the First Amendment precludes the enforcement of the law in question against advertisers in The Pitt News.”

“Even if Pitt students do not see alcoholic beverage ads in The Pitt News, they will still be exposed to a torrent of beer ads on television and the radio, and they will still see alcoholic beverage ads in other publications,” judge Samuel A. Alito said in the decision.

New Mexico Democrats object to Nader petitioners

(U-WIRE) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – Democrats at the University of New Mexico criticized a recent petition drive held at the school to help put independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the state’s ballot.

The Nader campaign hired Florida-based JSM, Inc., a marketing firm, to collect the required signatures needed to allow Nader to face President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry in the November election.

Earlier this month, JSM registered voters and gathered petition signatures at a table with a sign reading “Put the independent on the ballot.”

Melissa Corrigan, a member of the UNM College Democrats, said she believed JSM employees misrepresented themselves as Nader organizers. She handed out flyers to passersby about JSM.

“The Democrats want people to know these aren’t grass-roots activists,” Corrigan said. “These are paid employees.”

Denise Lamb, the state’s election director, said signature gatherers are not required to disclose who they work for and are only required to print the candidate’s name at the top of the petition. She did, however, describe the practice as “highly unusual.”

“This has never been an issue before,” she said. “Usually candidates and parties do their own collection.”

The company has until Sept. 7 to gather 14,527 signatures.

Matt Farranto, a Democratic spokesman, called the signature gathering a “Republican effort.”

But Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said it was not unusual to use signature gatherers and that his campaign, not Republicans, hired JSM.

“Signature-gathering firms have been used in politics around the country by all sorts of issue-oriented efforts,” he said.

-compiled by Ryan Holeywell and Vanessa Maltin

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