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UB faculty experts available to discuss Ground Zero mosque controversy, Chilean miners' mental health, voting technologies and preventing credit card debt among college students

Release Date: September 13, 2010

University at Buffalo faculty experts are available comment on the following current events: the stress faced by Chilean miners, the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque, the recent change to optical scan voting technology in New York State and the prevention of credit card debt among college students.

The thoughts of a handful of UB faculty members are summarized below. For more information or to search the university's Newstips blog, go to Newstips.

Stress management for Chilean miners

Michael J. Poulin, assistant professor of psychology, whose research addresses physical adjustment to stress and trauma says that it is difficult but not impossible for would be rescuers and the miners to manage the emotional distress provoked by this situation..

Poulin states that, "Laboratory and field research suggests that there are several ways to handle the crowded conditions and lack of control that these men face."

Poulin's comments focus on how to mitigate the effects of limited personal space, being cut off from the social world and what loved ones can do to help.

Poulin can be reached at by phone at 716-645-0518 or by email at Michael J. Poulin.

What can be learned from the Ground Zero mosque controversy?

Stephanie L. Phillips, professor of law, who is an expert in law and religion, says that the uproar over the building of the mosque has been unfortunate but presents a learning opportunity

Phillips states that the Constitution protects Muslim beliefs and would prohibit discrimination against the planned construction and that since those in charge of zoning and constructions standards in New York issued a building permit, this is makes it a local issue.

On the issue of the "wisdom" to locate two blocks from Ground Zero, the criticism of this choice as "insensitive" misses the mark. Phillips states, "The Muslims who are building the center do not associate themselves with the criminals who perpetrated the attacks on the World Trade Center, and, when they chose a location for their new center, there was no reason for them to assume that others would make that association or for them to defer to that mistaken association, if made."

Phillips can be reached by phone at 716-645-2201 or by email at Stephanie L. Phillips.

The necessary adjustment to optical scan voting technology for New Yorkers

Joshua Dyck, assistant professor of political science says that while there will be some confusion in NYS voting booths this fall, it's important to keep in mind a few things.

"Optical scan technology is the technology recommended by the Cal-Tech/Berkeley/Maryland study of voting machine accuracy, based on surveys of individuals allowed to try out several new technologies."

"While it has taken New York longer than any other state to become HAVA compliant, the state has done so prudently and not wasted millions of dollars on the transition."

"New Yorkers are so used to lever machines that it would be difficult for us to change to any other system, and some voters will lament the fact that they will no longer be able express their franchise with the great physical force afforded by the lever system."

Dyck can be reached by phone at 716-645-8435 or by email at Joshua Dyck.

Never mind the 'Freshman 15,' how do you prevent the 'Freshman $15,000'?

Kellie Kostek is the University at Buffalo's answer to the growing problem of student debt. Kostek is UB's financial literacy program coordinator. Her objective is to reach as many students as possible to teach the benefits of fiscal responsibility.

Kostek notes that according to a 2009 Nellie Mae (a Sallie Mae student loan company) survey:

• One third of freshmen arrive on campus with at least one credit card

• Many have more than four credit cards

• Eight-four percent of undergraduates will eventually have at least one credit card

• By graduation they will have an average credit card debt of more than $4,100.

• Almost one fifth of graduating seniors will owe more than $7,000 on credit cards alone.

Kostek also points out that future employers are now investigating credit histories and credit scores as part of a background check before hiring.

"Even landlords are asking for credit histories before renting apartments. It's a good indicator of how responsible a student is," she says.

Kostek can be reached by phone at 716-645-5683 or by email at Kellie Kostek.

Media Contact Information

Sara Saldi has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.