University of Pittsburgh
December 20, 2012

News of Note from Pitt

Contact:  412-624-4147


  •  Social Work Students Bring Toys to Guatemalan Orphanage
  •  Law Dean Argues for Constitutionality of Provision in Hate Crimes Prevention Act  
  •  Student Health Service Earns Score of 99.4 Percent

PITTSBURGH—Behind the larger stories about the University of Pittsburgh are other stories of faculty, staff, and student achievement as well as information on Pitt programs reaching new levels of success. The following is a compilation of some of those stories.

Social Work Students Bring Toys to Guatemalan Orphanage

A group of master’s degree students from Pitt’s School of Social Work has brought toys and other gifts to an orphanage in Solola, Guatemala. The students are visiting the orphanage through Dec. 23, helping to paint the facility and organize activities for the youngsters. Student Talia Hullum, who interned at the Eagle’s Nest Children’s Home during a summer study-abroad trip, arranged a toy drive for the home’s 42 children. “My internship was a life-changing experience,” said Hullum, “and I promised the children I would return.” Hullum is available to be interviewed after the trip and can be reached at or 614-596-3816. 

Law Dean Argues for Constitutionality of Provision in Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Pitt School of Law Dean and constitutional law scholar William M. Carter Jr., a leading authority on the Thirteenth Amendment, has co-authored an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief submitted to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the federal government in the case United States v. Hatch. The brief contains the argument that Congress acted according to its power under the Thirteenth Amendment when it passed a particular provision of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. The constitutionality of that one provision of the act, Section 249 (a) (1), is being considered by the Tenth Circuit, which has accepted the amicus brief. That section of the law makes it a crime to "willfully cause bodily injury to any person or,” through the use of certain instruments, “attempt to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin" of the person.

In Hatch, the defendants are three white men who assaulted a Native American man and branded him with a swastika because he is not white. As a result of their actions, the defendants were indicted for violating Section 249 (a) (1) of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. 

A key question before the appeals court is whether Congress exceeded its Thirteenth Amendment enforcement power when it enacted Section 249 (a) (1) of the Act. Carter and his coauthors argue in their amicus curiae brief that this section falls well within Congress’s Thirteenth Amendment enforcement power and is plainly constitutional. 

Student Health Service Earns Score of 99.4 Percent

Pitt’s Student Health Service has received a score of 99.4 percent from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care after an in-depth evaluation of its health care policies, processes, and practices during the fall semester. The association evaluated a total of 628 standards of patient care, from administrative and clinical operations to pharmacy and health education programs. "It was very humbling to read the many positive comments that we received in the accreditation, especially after being ranked as one of the top college health care facilities the past two years by The Princeton Review,” said Marian Vanek, who directs student health services at the University.