Loser: Florida Atlantic University ought to be ashamed. Not only did it allow student Ryan Rotela to be suspended for not following a professor's order to write the name "Jesus" on a piece of paper and then stomp on it, the school refused to apologize until after CBS News did a report on the incident. And then the apology was little more than an unconvincing affirmation that the school respects religious beliefs, without any mention of Rotela or his status at the school. We can think of a host of "What if" scenarios here. What if a professor had asked students to do a similar thing to a piece of paper with any of a host of names or secular causes held dear by many who teach at universities? We're guessing apologies and discipline would have come much faster.
Winner: Residents of a West Jordan neighborhood near the TRAX crossing at 3200 West and 8600 South know how dangerous it is. A young woman was killed when hit by a train there in June 2011. Now UTA is installing what are known as "Z-gates" at the crossing, as well as at several other intersections and TRAX stops along the red line. The gates are designed to make pedestrians turn both ways before crossing, helping alert them to oncoming trains. In several recent TRAX accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists, the victims stopped for one train but apparently didn't realize another was coming from the opposite direction. We hope the new gates work, and that impatient motorists also will learn not to try circumventing barriers when they think they have waited too long.
Loser: Every time some new, desirable high-tech gadget comes along, social costs come with it. A lot of drivers were more attentive before texting became the rage, for instance. Now, the world is anticipating Google Glass, the recently unveiled interface that comes in the form of eyeglasses. Wearers will be able to see the Internet, access apps and talk to callers on the glasses. This week several experts and lawmakers weighed in, warning about potential ethical and safety problems. A West Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill making it illegal to drive while wearing any sort of computer device with a "head mounted display." Others complained that the glasses will make it easier to surreptitiously photograph or film people, and that the glasses will further disconnect users from real human interaction. All these are valid points and concerns, but they aren't like to stop the glasses from coming.
Winner: Gov. Gary Herbert did the right thing this week by signing a bill that bans smoking in vehicles in which children are passengers. The governor hesitated a bit, wanting to discuss concerns some lawmakers had expressed, then signed the bill on Thursday. The new law is about protecting children who are innocent victims of toxic fumes that can lead to major health concerns. Utah is a better place with this law in effect.