The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 16, 1995 - 11
Calif. student's expulsion over e-mail use raises concerns
Lai Angeles Times
f In a controversial decision that has polarized
the campus at California Institute of Technol-
ogy, a.promising doctoral candidate was ex-
pel led from the prestigious Pasadena University
last month for allegedly sexually harassing an-
-6ther student - largely via e-mail.
The unusual action has raised new concerns
over the nature of harassment in a digital age,
and the credibility of e-mail records at a time
when the use of the medium is steeply increas-
jng, both on campus and off.
Jinsong Hu, 26, who spent six months in jail
before being acquitted by a Los Angeles Su-
perior Court jury in June of stalking, insists he
-dad not send some of the e-mail in question
'and that parts of the mail he did send were
Jiajun Wen, Hu's former girlfriend, also ac-
cused him of verbal and written harassment. But
the bulk of the evidence examined in court and
in the university's disciplinary hearings was
Complaints of e-mail harassment at many
U.S. universities have risen sharply over the last
18 months as students, faculty and staff have
gained increased accessto electronic communi-
Given the ease and relative anonymity with
which e-mail can be sent, university officials
worry that it's an especially potent tool for
harassment. But at the same time, it's often
possible for e-mail to be manipulated or
"spoofed"-made to look as though it has been
sent by someone else - and thus many schools
are treating e-mail evidence with considerable
In the Hu case, for example, one of the appar-
ently harassing e-mails that Wen originally told
campus authorities had come from Hu was later
found to have been a joke sent by a friend of
Wen's new boyfriend from Salt Lake City.
"Forging e-mail is notoriously easy," said
Gary Jackson, director of academic computing
at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "If
you get a piece of ordinary e-mail from me, you
have absolutely no way of establishing that I
The Caltech case comes at a time when policy-
makers at the national and state level are wres-
tling with an assortment of questions about how
to govern cyberspace. A congressional commit-
tee is debating several bills that would regulate
the distribution of "indecent" material over the
Intemet-and sexually oriented or harassing e-
mail could fit that definition. Connecticut re-
cently passed the nation's first anti-computer
But important precedents may well be set on
university campuses, where most students get a
free Internet account and daily tasks are migrat-
ing to cyberspace more quickly than anywhere
else. Many schools have wired their residence
halls to the global computer network, and stu-
dents are doing homework on-line and attend-
ing "virtual office hours."
Caltech is thought to be the first academic
institution to expel a student for harassment
primarily based on electronic mail records. Hu's
appeal to Caltech Vice President Gary Lourden
was rejected last month.
While a university computer expert testified
that she traced the offending e-mail back to Hu's
account, Hu's defenders argue that Wen had his
password, that others had access to his computer
- which was often left logged on - and that e-
mail is easily edited once it is received.
Because of the difficulties involved in au-
thenticating e-mail - and because the social
and legal protocols defining electronic harass-
ment have not yet been fully worked out -
many university administrators advise recipi-
ents of unwanted e-mail simply to ask the sus-
pected sender to stop. Many schools, including
Caltech, also prohibit students from sharing
Most common, though, is e-mail harassment
stemming from romantic troubles.
"I'm amazed with the amount of sexual ha-
rassment among students and the use of e-mail
to express it," McMahon said.
"When relationships go bad, instead of stalk-
ing the student they send 10 e-mail messages
saying 'l can't believe you won't go out with
The Washington Post
t In a cavern near China's Yangtze
.iver, scientists have identified fossil
,remains and primitive stone tools of
1what could be the first human ancestor
kown to have left Africa.
The discovery in Longgupo (Dragon
Bone Cave) suggests that primitive
,.humans migrated from Africa to sub-
;tiropical Asia at least 1.9 million years
ago ' about 100,000 years earlier
Than previously thought - "with the
aid of a very simple stone tool kit,"
:Russell Ciochon, a University of Iowa
>paleoanthropologist, said in a tele-
';.hone interview. He led the intena-
!iAional field team that analyzed the
bones and artifacts.
The fossil fragments are scanty -
only a part of the left side of an adult
*lbwer jaw and an upper incisor tooth
-but they are enough to indicate that
these earliest migrants belonged to a
eimore primitive species than expected,
the researchers report in a cover story
in today's issue of the journal Nature.
?The new hominid (the family of pri-
mates that includes humans) "is so
- early, so primitive and so unexpected
that it may well overturn a number of
theories about human evolution in
,,Asia," Ciochon said.
The fragments indicate that the new
.hominid resembles two species beliexed
,to have made some of the earliest known
stone tools: Homo habilis (handy pan)
and Homo ergaster (work man). Until
;now, both species had been known to
exist only in East Africa just mod than
2 million years ago.
"This discovery is the first toemon-
strate a direct link between Asia and the
well-known early human sitei of east-
ern Africa," Ciochon said.
The two stones, or "tools" found at
Longgupo resemble those cf two types
Tfirst identified at the famos East Afri-
can fossil site ofOlduvai Gorge in Tan-
*izania. That is, they wee chosen by
"someone to "fit within tie hand," the
researchers said. They a; river "cobble-
' stones" of tough voletnic rock. One
'was used simply as a lammer and the
::ther was flaked to prvide a cutting or
The first primates appear in the fossil
record about 65 milion years ago. Re-
search done in the 1960s (comparing
"the molecular strucure ofmodern Afri-
can apes and humans) indicated that the
-ape and human evolutionary lines di-
verged about 4 million to 6 million
years ago. Sciertists now generally ac-
s:ept the theorythat the earliest human-
,like creatures evolved in Africa. But
r'there has been less agreement about
,,when their dscendants began to mi-
At least tvo recent findings suggested
. that the large-brained species known as
Homo erettus migrated out of Africa
just under 2 million years ago - or
J'about a hilf million years earlier than
many pa'eoanthropologists had previ-
ously thought. (Homo erectus immedi-
, ately prcededtoday'shumans- Homo
sapiens - on the evolutionary family
tree.) A jaw found in the former Soviet
republic of Georgia indicated that this
ancestor left Africa at least 1.6 million
to 1.9 million years ago.
Out of this world
The Russlap space station Mir is seen from the space shuttle Atlantis before docking procedures early yesterday. This was
the second time Atlantis docked with Mir this year.
As mae viewers turaway
Official fear lack
of vaccmes puts
Russians at risk
Los Angeles Times entirely preventable disease. Some vic-
DMITROVGRAD, Russia - This tims were never vaccinated against po-
pleasant, tree-lined city had a nasty lio, a scourge that was all but wiped out
visitor recently: a dysentery outbreak in the West after the development of the
that sickened almost 1,900 people and Salk vaccine in the 1950s. Other chil-
left residents wondering whether they dren were injected but probably re-
can ever trust their tap water again. ceived vaccine rendered impotent by
It is a problem that no longer is a improper handling and storage.
rarity. With basic sanitation and water "We have one 16-year-old girl who
treatment facilities deteriorating in cit- didn't feel well on a Saturday. She
ies across Russia, the incidence of dys- woke up the next day and couldn't
entery, which is spread by fecal con- move her leg," said Ailsa Denney, a
tamination in water or food, is up 26 nurse with the London-based medical
percent over the past year. In the first relief group Merlin, which is helping
halfof 1995, 17 people died in Moscow the Chechen Health Ministry conduct
alone of this easily curable malady. an emergency immunization program.
As the underfunded public health sys- "She was vaccinated seven times."
tem here slips A vast nation
into critical con- that was consid-
dition, infectious ered to have an
diseasesthat had inder the effective- albeit
been nearly ex- rugged - system
tinguishedby the totalitarian of public health
now-defunct So- yW five years ago,
viet Union have sy t m we Russiaisiowslip
returned with a a e",awd ,people pni rntsofthe
vengeance, siicky rans of the
Measles, ru- to get Third World.
bellaand whoop- Between 1991
ing cough are vaccinated.' and 1994, the
now ravaging death rate from
Russia, and van- - Yuri M. Fyodorov infectious and
quished plagues Health Ministry official parasiticediseases
such as cholera jumped 67 per-
have reignited. cent. That means
Malaria has reappeared in areas where 11,700 more Russians died last year
mosquito extermination programs have than three years earlier from diseases
been abandoned as too costly. Tubercu- that can be easily prevented by rudi-
losis is endemic-andis 17timesmore mentary water and sewage treatment,
likely to prove fatal than in the United basic hygiene and systematic vacci-
States. Mass food poisonings have be- nations.
come routine. The incidence ofscabies, Unlike residents of underdeveloped
a skin disease caused by a burrowing countries, Russians are still far more
mite whose presence is usually associ- likely to die from cardiovascular dis-
ated with poor hygiene, is up threefold ease, cancer, accidents and other haz-
since 1985. ards of industrialized society than from
A diphtheria epidemic across the communicable diseases. But the abrupt
former Soviet Union has prompted resurgence of so many infectious dis-
the World Health Organization to de- eases, together with an unprecedented
clare an international health emer- decline in life expectancy, is a wor-
gency. Because of the risk of the epi- some indicator of how far public health
demic spreading further, Western doc- standards in Russia have fallen.
tors are now being urged to ensure For millions, private treatment or a
that adults from the United States and bribe to ensure that they are cared for
Europe who travel in the region re- decently is an unaffordable luxury.
ceive booster vaccinations that have By the government's own count, 27
often been ignored. percent of Russians live below the offi-
In a particularly horrifying develop- cial poverty line, earning less than $67
ment, 137 children in the southern Rus- a month. Critics put that figure even
sian republic of Chechnya have con- higher. A sharp decline in living stan-
tracted polio since March. Seven have dards for the majority of Russians has
died; the other victims, most of them meantthatmorepeoplearepoorlynour-
younger than 2, may end up paralyzed ished and, hence, more vulnerable to
or permanently disabled because of an disease.
The Washington Post
Forty years ago, Robert Young
epitomized the family patriarch as the
star of "Father Knows Best." Nowa-
days, TV families are just as likely to
be headed by the likes of Brett Butler's
wisecracking single mom on "Grace
Similarly, you won't find many Mar-
shal Matt Dillons in prime time any-
more. Instead, the last remaining west-
ern series on the broadcast networks
revolves around a beautiful frontier
woman on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine
Grace and Dr. Quinn surely reflect
the diversity of real women in Ameri-
can society. But they also reflect some-
thing about the way real people are
watching television these days. With
men turning away from the traditional
broadcast networks in recent years, the
networks have responded by creating
more shows for and about their most
loyal viewers: women.
The result is what might be called the
"feminization" of prime time. Women
are the central focus - in fact, they
provide the titles- ofmany of the most
popular programs on the air:
"Roseanne," "Ellen," "Cybill,"
"Murphy Brown," "Grace Under Fire,"
"Caroline in the City," "Sisters," "The
What's more, prime-time soaps such
as "Melrose Place,""Central Park West"
and "Beverly Hills 90210" revolve
around their female leads.
Even programs in such traditionally
testosterone-driven genres as medical
drama ("Chicago Hope" and "ER"),
and science fiction ("Star Trek: Voy-
ager") now star women. And for the
first time in his storied career, Super-
man, the ultimate guy, is sharing top
billing with his favorite co-worker on
"Lois & Clark."
For network TV producers, tailoring
programming to women is a simple bet
on the numbers.
Male viewers are in the minority dur-
ing prime time, and when they do watch
For an entertainment program to
work (on the networks' schedules)
today, it always needs more women
viewers than men."
ABC's top program planning executive
are more likely than women to watch
cable TV with its heavy dose of sports and
news. Some data also suggest that the
personal-computerrevolution has affected
TV viewing patterns as men, more than
women, spend their time on-line.
The upshot: "For an entertainment
program to work (on the networks' sched-
ules) today, it always needs more women
viewers than men," says Alan Sternfeld,
ABC's top program planning executive.
"We all hope to attract a little of every-
one, but we depend on women."
Programs with strong appeal to men,
such as "Monday Night Football" and
"NYPD Blue," haven't disappeared
from network schedules, of course.
But series centered on traditionally
male roles - lawyers, cops, doctors,
cowboys, soldiers and spies, for ex-
ample - have been in gradual de-
cline for a number of years on CBS,
ABC and NBC, said George Gerbner,
director of the Cultural Indicators
Project, a TV-monitoring organiza-
tion affiliated with the University of
A recent University of California-Los
Angeles study of TV violence concluded
that of the 121 entertainment series that
aired last season on the three networks
and Fox, only 10 raised "frequent con-
cerns" about violence.
Although the researchers did not com-
pare their findings to earlier TV sea-
sons, Jeff Cole, the project's director,
said he believes that in general TV
series are less violent these days.
Whatever the cause, many applaud
these trends as socially responsible and
long overdue. "We've always had
'Lucy' on TV, but what's new in the
past five or 10 years is that programs
have come to reflect more of the reality
of women in this society," said televi-
sion consultant Marcella Rosen, the
former head of the Network Television
Association, a trade organization
formed by ABC, NBC and CBS that
was recently disbanded.
Added Rosen, "It's now OK to show
a single mother on TV. It's now OK to
show two womenliving together. It used
to be just the (all-male) 'Odd Couple.'
Now it can go in any direction."
According to Nielsen Media Re-
search, there are more adult women in
the United States than men - about
98.7 million over the age of 18, com-
pared with 90.2 million men over 18.
Of even greater importance to the TV
industry is that a higher percentage of
women watch television - and prime-
time TV--than men. On average, 43.5
percent of women are watching broad-
cast or cable TV between 8 and 1I each
night, compared with 40.5 percent of
In real numbers, that means there are
about 6.5 million more women than
men in the audience each night. With so
large a base, women "are your first and
most natural target audience for any
program," said David Poltrack, CBS's
chief audience researcher.
Poltrack and others say this is consis-
tent with the needs of the majority of
prime-time advertisers, such as packaged-
goods companies, that perceive women
as their primary customers. Men,he said,
can be targeted more effectively by ad-
vertisers during weekend sports telecasts.
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