Harvard University's recent hiring of Boston Police Captain James Claiborne as a deputy chief -- the only African-American among the most senior staff in the school's 90-officer force -- may ease strained relations with segments of Harvard's black community who in the past have accused the predominantly white department of racial profiling.
Claiborne's appointment, along with that of Michael Giacoppo, a retired Cambridge officer, was the first step in a restructuring of the Harvard University Police Department meant to increase communication and develop mentoring opportunities for officers, according to university officials.
The changes come on the heels of a report, issued last spring by an independent committee headed by former Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph Martin, on how to improve the private police department's relationship with the diverse university community it patrols.
"The hiring of a black man to such a senior position will only help create an inherent realization in other individuals within the department that there's going to have to be more caution taken in their approach," said Ryan Williams, a Harvard senior and member of the Black Men's Forum who is concerned about police treatment of black students and faculty. "It's definitely a positive thing to have somebody who may bring a different perspective to the table, but don't think it's going to be utopia over night."
Claiborne will start his new job Nov. 10 after 30 years on the Boston police force, where he rose through the ranks from patrolman to superintendent in charge of field services and was once a candidate for police commissioner.
In addition to Claiborne, who is one of six members of Chief Francis Riley's senior staff, the department has just one other black officer, a sergeant, in its upper ranks.
Northeastern department loses rank
Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice has just been demoted.
To the chagrin of many of its students, faculty and alumni, the college will now be known as a school within the new College of Social Sciences and Humanities as part of a university-wide restructuring effort that critics believe was engineered largely to cut costs and boost Northeastern's reputation.
Though it's largely a symbolic change for the 41-year-old criminal justice program, some feel the university has robbed them of their identity and say the move represents a divestment in the program.
But Provost Stephen Director told the student newspaper, "The Huntington News," that what matters is graduates will obtain a degree in criminal justice from Northeastern. "We're not eliminating any degree programs. We're not closing the department down. We're reorganizing things," he said.
The university is splitting its College of Arts and Sciences into three pieces: a College of Science, a College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and a College of Arts, Media and Design. The change will be effective July 1.
This is not the first time a college at Northeastern has been subjected to a status change. In 1997, the College of Nursing was integrated as a school into the Bouve College of Health Sciences.
Homesickness 101: Survival tips
For many college students living away from home for the first time, homesickness creeps in during these first months. The Globe asked Harlan Cohen, author of the best-seller "The Naked Roommate, and 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College" (Sourcebooks), for advice on dealing with homesickness.
Q. What are some coping skills for homesick freshmen?
A. Recognize that getting homesick is totally normal. Like a bad breakup, it passes over time. The cure to homesickness isn't at home. The most common mistake is that parents tend to rescue students from homesickness or students run home every weekend to be rescued. Things like being active in campus life, being patient, shifting expectations, working slowly to make friends, reaching out to professors and res life staff, focusing on a date to visit home, staying active, and allowing oneself to feel it ALL help.
Q. What signs should parents look for that normal homesickness has turned into something dangerous?
A. Any of the common signs of depression: not being able to sleep, sleeping too much, skipping classes, not eating, eating too much, not doing things a student loves to do, expressing thoughts about hurting oneself, changes in behavior, drinking to get drunk, etc. If a parent, roommate, or friends suspects a student is in trouble, that person should reach out to the residence life staff and mental health experts on campus.
Q. I-chats, Facebook, and Twitter -- do they help ease homesickness, or make it harder for college students to cut the cord?
A. Everything in moderation. It's easier than ever for students to be physically on campus and emotionally in a totally different place. Facebook, texting, and chatting can keep a student too dependent on a parent, friends, and significant others. I always suggest that students cut in half the time they communicate with people they know from home. Use that time to connect with new people on campus. If a student is depressed, mom or dad should direct the student to talk to experts on campus. It's these experts who can help a student put together a plan of action and use the resources, support services, activities, and orgs unique to the campus to make connections.
The Quad is a collection of doings on local campuses. For on-line updates, go to boston.com/MetroDesk and click on The Quad category. To submit tips, contact Tracy Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more