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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | Last updated: 9:52pm

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FIJI fraternity house being converted into residence hall



The FIJI fraternity house located on First Street previously occupied by the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity is being converted into a residence hall that will be known as Rawls/Eller Lodge, and will house 64 UA students beginning the upcoming fall semester.

Jennifer Hiatt, executive director of UA Residence Life, said that Residence Life has been in talks with FIJI for the past few weeks about converting the house into residence hall after the fraternity was placed under interim suspension. Hiatt said the on-going investigation is related to the fraternity’s choice to leave campus.

Though there was no available on-campus housing, Residence Life did reach out to the members of FIJI and offered them help finding a place to live, Hiatt said. The members of FIJI who were living in the house have had no trouble quickly finding off-campus housing, she said.

Residence Life has sent out an email to all students waiting on on-campus housing, informing them of the new space, Hiatt said. All students have an equal opportunity to apply to live in the space, she said.

UA officials placed FIJI under interim suspension following allegations from the University of Arizona Police Department’s investigation into the death of Michael Anderson, 19, fell to his death in April while intoxicated.

Following his death, UAPD investigated the fraternity to see if Anderson was in attendance of an unregistered party at the house the night before his death. During this investigation, UAPD found evidence of alcohol being served to minors, drug use in the house and attempts to interfere with the police investigation. The Dean of Students Office determined that FIJI posed a “substantial risk to the university community.”

Kendal Washington White, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, previously said she expects DOS to make a decision on the status of FIJI’s recognition before the beginning of the fall semester.

Check back for more updates.


UA adds paid parental leave



The UA has changed it parental leave policy and will now be offering paid parental leave for up to six weeks to its employees.

Employees could previously get up to 12 weeks off for parental leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, though the time would be unpaid. About 160 people every year applied for leave under FMLA for the birth or adoption of a child, said Allison Vaillancourt, vice president for institutional effectiveness and human resources.

“We decided [paid parental leave] would be good for our U of A families,” Vaillancourt said.

The new policy came about through the Campaign for Common Sense, according to Vaillancourt. The campaign, which was started about a year ago, takes suggestions from the UA community about the UA’s policies, practices and organizational structures and what improvements can be made, she said.

“It’s an effort to improve the way we do things at the UA,” she said.


UAPD officer charged with DUI no longer employed at UA



A University of Arizona Police Department officer who was arrested for driving under the influence in February is no longer employed by the UA, sources confirmed Tuesday.

Andrea Smiley, associate vice president of university relations and communications, confirmed that Sgt. John McGrath does not work for the UA anymore, but said that she could not comment on whether it was related to his DUI arrest earlier in the year.

McGrath was arrested on charges of a super-extreme DUI on Feb. 1 after crashing a UAPD department vehicle into a wall on Speedway Boulevard at 76 miles per hour, according to police reports.

Tucson Police Department responded to the scene of the accident. TPD reported McGrath’s blood alcohol level tested .308 on a breathalyzer test, more than three times the legal limit. McGrath refused to perform multiple standard field sobriety tests.

McGrath was placed on paid administrative suspension during UAPD’s investigation. UAPD declined to comment on the reasons for McGrath’s departure from the UA or if it was related to his arrest, but Tucson News Now reported that McGrath was fired.

McGrath faces criminal charges related to the accident.


Board of Regents to host meeting on student safety



The Arizona Board of Regents will hear updates from the Statewide Student Safety Task Force on Monday morning at Arizona State University.

At the meeting, the UA, ASU and Northern Arizona University will separately present to the regents on their local task forces. Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, will present on behalf of the UA. Vito led a public meeting of the local task force at the UA in late April.

The task force was created in the fall of 2013 to promote student safety issues at the state universities, according to the regents’ website.

The meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. and a live stream of the meeting can be viewed here.

Vito is scheduled to begin her presentation at about 10:10 a.m., according to the meeting’s agenda.


Campus Watch: Carjacking in UA parking lot



Today at approximately 4:59 p.m., a University of Arizona student was carjacked in a university parking lot on 7th and Fremont.

The victim was approached by a man with a knife. She surrendered her vehicle and the suspect left the area. No one was injured.

The victim’s car was later recovered outside of the Tucson area and a possible suspect was apprehended.

UAPD’s investigation of the carjacking is ongoing.


Humanities Week kicks off with evening of stargazing, history



The College of Humanities kicked off its sixth annual Humanities Week on Monday with a lecture that connected the science of meteorites to everyday life.

The event, titled “The Sky is Falling: The Fascinating Science and Crazy History of Shooting Stars,” featured Christopher Cokinos, an associate professor in the department of English and author of “The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars.”

The event took place at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, where audience members were able to observe shooting stars before the presentation began.

Cokinos spoke about the history of meteors, meteorites and shooting stars, including how they form, where they come from, their meaning in everyday life and the array of meanings that they share in different cultures around the world.

Cokinos’ interest in writing on this topic was sparked after realizing a lot of people who were meteorite hunters had “these amazing lives but there was a lot of heartbreak and tragedy in them as well,” he said.

The success of his book, along with his interest in meteors and shooting stars, landed him a five week-long scientific expedition to collect meteorites in Antarctica in 2003, granted by the National Science Foundation.

The event was the first of “Revival of the Fittest,” the title of this year’s Humanities Week.

More events are planned throughout the week week that will focus specifically on engaging the Tucson community.

Monday’s event initially stemmed from Mary E. Wildner-Bassett, dean of the College of Humanities, who wanted to “come up with a way to engage the community, not just the UA community, but also the Tucson community,” said Helen Bernard, coordinator of external and alumni relations at the College of Humanities.

“We want to engage the community, and get them to understand what the value of humanities is,” Bernard added. “We want to get the word out as much as possible.”

On Tuesday, Humanities Week will continue with a lecture at 5 p.m. titled “Exploring Faraway Lands & Cultures,” which will be presented by the UA Critical Languages Program at the UA Poetry Center.


UA South now UA Sierra Vista



The University of Arizona’s south campus changed its name to UA Sierra Vista on Tuesday.

The campus, originally known as UA Sierra Vista, was an outlying satellite campus founded in 1995. The name changed to UA South in 1999, when the Arizona Board of Regents made the campus an official branch of the main University of Arizona.

The reason for the change back to its original name is because the faculty wanted the name to encompass the surrounding cities that made up and influenced the southern campus accurately.

“We want it to reflect the community we’re in,” said Jim Shockey, dean of UA Sierra Vista. “The UA South name doesn’t focus on the other locations.”

Shockey also said that because one of UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s goals is to engage more deeply in the community, he thought it necessary to change the campus name back to UA Sierra Vista.

“UA South doesn’t reflect what we do in Sierra Vista,” Shockey said.

UA Sierra Vista is intended to benefit students who want to earn a university degree without having to leave Sierra Vista. Between 900 and 1,000 students are enrolled in the Sierra Vista campus.


Q&A with Homecoming King and Queen



Following an application process that began in September, the Homecoming court was narrowed down to the final five last week and the winners were announced at Friday night’s bonfire. The newly crowned Homecoming King Sam Rowan and Queen Brigetta Barrett shared their thoughts on the process, their fellow nominees and their win.

What was your reaction to being nominated?

Brigetta Barrett: I didn’t exactly know how to feel at first. I never expected to be Homecoming queen ever in life. I just always grew up the tomboy and for most of my life I never really felt like I was that girl.

It was kind of like, “Oh, all right,” at first and then I grew to be really excited about it once it sunk in.

Sam Rowan: I was pretty surprised. I didn’t know what the time commitment was going to be, but I was kind of going into it with open thoughts and going to see what happened.

What events did you participate in throughout the week?

Barrett: On Monday night we went around the sorority houses and they announced us as the Homecoming court. We also had Club Olympics throughout the week. Friday was the coolest for me because we actually got to participate as the Homecoming court team at the tug of war.

Rowan: Throughout the week we met up pretty much every night. Me and the guys would go out to dinner and hang out, whether we were doing a philanthropy event or a mixer, just meeting with people, or introducing ourselves to sororities … we were all doing it together.

What are your thoughts on fellow nominees?

Barrett: They’re a really great and fun group of people. I knew Jill Moore already because we’re both athletes and we have this established relationship together.

It was really fun getting to know the other girls that are in sororities and that was really cool for me because I never really get to socialize with sorority girls because I’m in McKale all the time. For the most part our worlds never clash, so it was really cool to get to know them. These were a really cool bunch of people and they have such great dreams and are motivated in life.

Rowan: You know what, I’m going to be closer with those guys than I think I really expected to be, with those guys and with the Bobcats. I think I made some friends for life. The experiences we shared over that week were pretty memorable.

What was your reaction when you won?

Barrett: I was really shocked, to be honest. I just kind of stood there and they were like, “All right Brigetta, you can go get your flowers.”

I wanted to win, but for some reason half of me was not necessarily expecting it. Or maybe I kept that mindset so that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t win. It was definitely a lot of shock and then a lot of appreciation for my fellow classmates that felt that I deserved it.

Rowan: I was in shock. Austin Thompson was the incumbent king last year and I swam with him for two years now. I think very highly of him so it was an honor to be even included in conversation with him I guess.

What does being Homecoming queen or king mean to you?

Barrett: I’ve just been thinking about my college experience and the experience of going through Homecoming week and how everyone has really accepted me for me and how I didn’t have to be a certain thing in order for them to accept me.

It was cool because I felt like God was telling me I had always been enough so it didn’t matter if I won necessarily, but that it was great for me to accept myself for who I am.

Rowan: It really solidifies my place in the university, more than anything. I’m a transfer student and I think, more than anything, it just means that this is where I was supposed to be in the first place.

Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Barrett: I want to say thank you to everybody at the University of Arizona, staff, faculty, alumni, undergrads for all their support of me on and off the track.

I would also like to say thank you to Jesus Christ for just all the blessings I’ve had this far in my life.

Rowan: I would like to thank [Associate Athletics Director] Becky Bell, for thinking of me when thinking about nominations, my parents for coming down and continually supporting me, and Arizona Athletics.

I’d like to thank my coaches for letting me do this, they’ve been pretty accepting of the time commitment it takes to do the Homecoming court.


Community Chatter: Women's reproductive rights & the election



Given all the controversy regarding politicians’ remarks about rape and abortion, what role do you think women’s reproductive rights should play in the presidential election?

“I think it should play somewhat of a role. They’re important issues because they affect half the population. It seems like … men are making decisions for women even though it’s kind of like their [women’s] decision … I think everybody should have their free rights … Morals and all that religious stuff affecting people’s decision shouldn’t be. Separation of church and state. “
Kevin Foiles, history junior

“I think that women should have the right to choose but at the same time I value life, so I believe that anything should be done in order for that baby to have life. But I mean it’s the woman’s choice … I think it’s a really important issue.”
Connor Ahern, pre-business freshman

“I feel like women should make their own choices. I mean, you’re the one carrying the baby and it’s your body. You should be able to make your own choice of what you get to do with it. Discussing it [the issue] hasn’t really even helped it so, I mean, discussing it more doesn’t seem like it’ll do anything. “
Germe Poston, public health junior

“I do think it’s a major role because it’s a serious issue that nationwide we face … I definitely think that it needs to be one of the primary focuses in the election. We need to be made more aware of it.”
Max Gross, pre-business freshman


Community Chatter: Presidential debates



Have the presidential debates affected your decision for the upcoming election?

“They have not. I’ve been pretty solidified in my decision since basically the last presidency.”

— Cassidy Johnson, film and television production freshman

“I just think that what they have to say really about it doesn’t really affect who I’m going to pick. I know already. But I feel like it affects some other people’s vote.”

— Bradford Jellison, pre-education freshman

“Not really because I already know basically what I’m voting based on and whatever they say isn’t going to change my opinion necessarily.”

— Michael Montoya, environmental sciences sophomore

“I don’t think they’re going to affect my vote just because I personally like Obama and I always have … I just don’t get a good vibe from Romney. I really don’t think the debates have changed my vote.”

— Hailee Singley, pre-public health freshman

“I think maybe to an extent, maybe strengthening or weakening my opinion. I usually get most of my data from my parents and I do enjoy watching the debates. I think Obama’s done a nice job where he’s at and I look forward to seeing him and … Romney battle that a little bit more.”

— Calvin Burns, physiology senior