Tag Archives: U of MN

U of M Drafts New Ethics Policy – and Encourages Your Input

Wow. We live in a new era indeed. The University of Minnesota, currently in the process of rewriting its ethics policy, has put a draft online for all to see and comment on. Really? Why does this surprise me so? It’s consistent with how things are done these days, but… a university? New days indeed.

Now, I wonder if they’ll truly consider public commentary.

The ethics policy is being rewritten to address concerns that outside income could influence decisions by university researchers and professors.

The policy forces most university employees to report outside income over $10,000. Rules for employees at the medical school are stricter, requiring them to report all outside income.

U of M counsel Mark Rotenberg says the university administration hopes to have the final policy in place by the end of the year.


U of M Law Library Now Has Clarence Darrow’s Letters

(via Mary Turck, News Day)

Clarence Darrow’s letters now live at the University of Minnesota law library, thanks to Darrow historian Randall Tietjen and Darrow’s granddaughters. The New York Times reports that the library released the first 473 letters last week, and they make fascinating reading. Two excerpts illustrate the variety of the letters.

To imprisoned client Nathan Leopold, Darrow wrote:

I often think of you and especially when people got a brain storm lately over the deep laid plans to procure your freedom. It is strange the satisfaction people get over tormenting someone. The rest of the animal kingdom do not indulge in these pleasing past-times which shows, of course, that man is the apex of creation. But, the apex is not very high.

To his granddaughter Jessie, he wrote a long and humorous account of his travel in England, replete with jokes, puns, and misspellings:

I feal that it is mi duty to help edgecutate you so you will be smart like me. …

There are no snakes in Ireland but there is whiskey so they don’t need snakes as they can see them even if they ain’t there.

A famed criminal defense attorney, Darrow represented clients such as union organizer Big Bill Haywood and other political figures. He may be best-known today for the Scopes Monkey trial, in which he defended John Scopes, who was charged with teaching evolution in Tennessee. From 1873 to 1936, Darrow corresponded with a range of people, from close family members to clients and public figures. The U of M Law Library’s Darrow Digital Collection is available and searchable online, along with records of trials, a timeline of his life, photographs and much more.


Authoritative Parents Encourage Family Meals

I never cease to be amazed at how many people I know did not regularly sit down for family meals in their youth… nor now. This was such an important time for my family, where ideas and chitchat were exchanged and social and table etiquette were absorbed and/or pounded in. No wonder I see so many young girls picking at their shoes in restaurants, setting them on the table even, or scraping at the soles with silverware. Egad! Do they just not know any better?

Well, if you’re wondering how important family meals are… and how many corners you might be able to cut as a parent… see Susan Perry’s recent MinnPost piece.

You’ll find studies show that “children in families who regularly sit down together for meals have what is known in sociological parlance as ‘better outcomes’.”

They’re more likely to succeed at school and less likely to be depressed. Their food habits are healthier: They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and have fewer struggles with extreme food behaviors like binging, purging and chronic dieting. Some research suggests that family meals protect kids from obesity, although those findings are inconsistent.

No wonder, then, that parenting — and nutrition — experts almost universally encourage regular family meals. Yet, according to a 2008 report [PDF] by the National Academies of Sciences’ Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), only half of American families eat together three to five times a week. (And many of those meals fall far short of “quality time.” Most family meals, notes the SRCD, last less than 20 minutes — and half are consumed with the TV on nearby.)

Wow! Sitting in front of the television together doesn’t count, people! Who does this? Yes, a lot of people, I know. But a new University of Minnesota study takes a closer look at how parenting styles tie into quality time meals.

Why do some parents find the time and energy to gather their families together at meal times (let’s hope with the TV off) and others don’t? One factor may be their parenting style. According to a University of Minnesota study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, “authoritative” parents average the greatest number of family meals — four to five — per week.

“Our findings support what we already know about parenting style,” said Jerica Berge, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of family and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, in an interview last week. Other research, she noted, has found that kids raised by authoritative parents are more likely to eat healthful foods and tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than kids raised in families with other parenting styles.

But don’t confuse “authoritative” with “authoritarian.” According to the parenting-style classification system used by Berge and her colleagues, authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive: They maintain clear boundaries and expectations, but they’re also empathic and respectful of their child’s opinions. Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, are demanding (they insist on strict discipline) but not responsive (they show little warmth toward their child).

The other two parenting styles are permissive (“empathetic and indulgent without discipline”) and neglectful (“emotionally uninvolved” with no rules or expectations).

In the U of M study, authoritarian and neglectful parents averaged the fewest number of family meals: three to four per week. Permissive parents did slightly better, three to five per week. Those numbers may all sound similar, but they are statistically different enough to be significant.


What if a Beer Could also Hydrate?

When I saw the PiPress headline “Minnesota Senate supports watered-down beer ban at TCF Bank Stadium” I honestly thought they were considering selling watered down beer at the stadium. Granted, it was rather late, and I was working on three hours of sleep, a stressful day of work, no dinner, two Strongbow, and a shot of Rumplemintz, but still…

The funny thing is that this wouldn’t seem so strange in Minnesota, where only 3.2 beer is sold in grocery stores, off-premise alcohol sales are prohibited altogether on Sundays, and no off-premise alcohol sales can be made after 10pm any day of the week. Seriously, the idea of watering down beer during a sports event just doesn’t seem that far fetched. Perhaps they should consider it.

Meanwhile, the real story is that the U of MN might sell alcohol in premium seating areas but keep the rest of its campus football stadium dry under legislation endorsed yesterday in the state Senate.