News In Brief

UCLA Hosts Conference Celebrating Students of Color
From Nov. 21-23, The Student of Color Conference Steering Committee hosted its 20th annual Student of Color Conference (SOCC) at UCLA.
The conference featured a film screening, cultural performances, public caucuses and workshop sessions.
This year’s theme was “Call to ACTION: Educate, Empower, & Implement!” The theme is described as a reflection of the committee’s overall purpose and goals, the most important being an action-oriented conference fighting against issues affecting UC students of color: access and affordability to health care, high incarceration rates, environmental injustices, and more.
Organizers included the five main points of education, empowerment, service, organization and activism in the conference in order to empower students with the knowledge of issues affecting the community and how UC students can actively change these conditions for the better.

UCI Committee Arranges Homeless Awareness Event
UC Irvine’s Hunger and Homeless Awareness committee arranged a one week effort to raise funds and collect food for Orange County’s homeless the week before Thanksgiving, Nov. 17-21.
Coinciding with the annual National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, (Nov. 16-22), UCI, which usually organizes similar events annually, joined this year with six other campuses to build greater solidarity and understanding in order to promote future involvement and initiate larger scale changes.
According to Orange County’s needs assessment survey, the number of homeless individuals in a given year is 35,000. Children alone make up 6,000 of that number. Around 60 to 70 percent of the aggregate homeless population consists of families with children.
Events at UCI included a food drive, a reuse-a-shoe drive, a hunger awareness banquet, a charity poker game and a visit from a Peace Corps representative. Furthermore, anyone who brought three cans of food received free admission to the UCI men’s basketball game last Wednesday.
This collaborative venture with UCI, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton College, Chapman University, Irvine Valley College, Santiago Canyon College, Laguna College of Art and Design and Sage Hill School is expected to become an annual effort at UCI.

Scientists Find Stress Reshapes the Human Brain
Scientists have discovered how stress can physically reshape the brain, causing extensive and long-lasting harm to both the human and animal brain. Researchers have found that stress causes brain cells to either shrink or grow, leaving victims of serious stress with big changes to their nervous systems.
One of the largest times of change is stress in early life, even stress in the womb. “Prenatal stress can change the brain forever,” said Tallie Baram, a neurologist at UC Irvine.
Baram spent time working with laboratory mice. In order to simulate increased short-term stress levels in real life situations, the mice were immobilized for five hours and subjected to loud rock music. After an MRI brain scan of the mice, Baram noticesda decrease in the number of fibers that carry signals between neurons.
Baram said that the experiment depicted “why some people are forgetful or have difficulty retaining information during stressful situations.”
While the effects of short-term stress were measured here at UCI, research on the effects of long-term, chronic stress were under way at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Fred Helmsetter, a researcher at the university, found that after laboratory rats were restrained daily for roughly three weeks, the region of their brain involving learning and memory shrank by three percent.
Whether over the long or short term, it appears that stress has become as great a threat to human brain development as drugs or alcohol. Neuroscientists hope to be able to design drugs that will assist in preventing stress-induced brain damage.

Study Finds Internet Use Improves Youth Skills
Researchers from the University of Southern California and UC Berkley released the conclusions of their three-year study of the digital media culture among youth ages 10-20 on Nov. 20. The study determined that teenagers acquire social and technical skills via Internet interactions.
Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation, one of the ten largest private philanthropies in the United States, researchers extensively interviewed more than 800 young people and their parents from 2003 to 2008, and spent over 5,000 hours observing social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.
In spite of the discontent and risks many parents associate with the wide range of possibilities that Internet access presents, this unlimited access fosters youth independence and increases literacy skills.
The study suggests that the Internet drives kids to seek out what they need on their own and develop technical skills that are indispensable in an increasingly digital world.
The research was published in an online book titled “Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media.”