News in Brief(s!)

Bar Changes Dress Code Following UCI Student’s Complaint

A Costa Mesa nightclub that denied entry to a UC Irvine medical student one year ago because his turban violated the bar’s dress code has revised its policy. Sanjum Paul Singh Samagh, a 24-year-old Sikh, attempted to enter the Pierce Street Annex with a group of friends last year, only to be turned away because the black turban he wore for religious reasons violated the bar’s ‘no-hats’ policy.
‘It’s not a fashion statement I’m trying to make,’ Samagh told The Orange County Register. Samagh explained the religious significance to the bar owner, and he and friends asked for a written apology and rule change. Classmates of Samagh even organized a boycott of the East 17th Street club, arguing that the rule discriminated against not only Sikhs, but also Muslims and Jews who wear hijabs and yarmulkes, respectively.
Pierce Street Annex owner Douglas Adist apologized ‘for any inconvenience or embarrassment caused to [Samagh] for being denied entrance to [its] business’ in a letter earlier this month. Adist claimed the policy was meant for ‘crowd control,’ but was changed in April ‘in keeping with our policy to not discriminate against mandatory religious practices.’
Samagh has said he is ‘really happy’ with Pierce Street Annex’s decision to change the rule, but has not decided whether he will return or not.

School Signs 20-Year Solar Power Agreement with UPC Solar

Campus officials recently finalized a deal to build 6,500 solar panels that will then be placed in 11 campus buildings in order to provide energy in an environment-friendly manner, UC Irvine announced in a press release on Jan. 30.
According to the press release, this procedure is part of a larger plan, currently in the works in the UC system. The process was mentioned by Wendell C. Brase, vice chancellor of administrative and business services, in the press release as helping ‘the UC system reach its goal of providing 10 megawatts of local renewable power by 2014.’
UPC Solar, a Chicago-based company with whom the university has signed a 20-year contract, will assist UCI in the use of solar power. As part of the agreement, the company will build a photovoltaic solar system on campus rooftops. The system, which is powered directly through its absorption of heat from the sun, will accumulate enough energy to power over 200 homes.

UC Irvine in Early Phases of VBLOC Therapy to Fight Obesity

Dr. Ninh Nguyen, chief of gastrointestinal surgery at the UC Irvine Medical Center, is in the early phases of a study that could result in a revolutionary way to fight obesity.
Nguyen’s work, known as the Empower Study, utilizes vagal blocking for obesity-control therapy. The vagal is a nerve located in the brain that affects such feelings as hunger, satisfaction and fullness. By implanting electrodes to block the signals sent by the vagal between the brain and the digestive system, the constant urge to eat may be reduced.
Because the project is still in its early stages, Nguyen and his colleagues are currently looking for participants in this nationwide clinical study. The test will take place over a five-year period and in five different locations throughout the United States as well as in an additional testing area in Australia.

UC Irvine Study Shows Spike in Ice Loss Due to Glaciers

A sharp increase of 75 percent in ice loss has occurred in Antarctica in the last decade as a result of glaciers, according to observations by UC Irvine and NASA scientists. Their study has indicated that this loss of ice is nearly as great as observed in Greenland.
This unique study is being led by UCI earth system science professor and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Eric Rignot, and has estimated changes in Antarctica’s ice mass between 1996 and 2006, while mapping patterns of ice loss on a glacier-by-glacier basis. The international team working on the study has discovered a jump in Antarctica’s ice loss, from enough ice to raise global sea level by 0.3 mm (.01 inches) a year in 1996, to 0.5 mm (.02 inches) a year 10 years later.
Rignot explains that the losses, largely concentrated in West Antarctica’s Pine Island Bay sector and the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, are due to the ongoing and past accelerations of glaciers into the ocean. The warmer ocean waters, which bathe the buttressing floating sections of glaciers, cause them to lose their mass or collapse, resulting in this ice loss. ‘Changes in Antarctic glacier flow are having a significant, if not dominant, impact on the mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet,’ stated Rignot.
The study’s results have been published in next month’s issue of Nature Geoscience.

UC Student Regent to Visit Campus This Week

The Office of the Dean of Students will be organizing the UC Student Regent visit this coming Wednesday, Feb. 6. The visit will include an open luncheon to discuss issues with the current Student Regents, Benjamin Allen and D’Artagnan Scorza, at noon in the Cross-Cultural Center. All students are encouraged to attend.