David C. Venie had a dream when he enrolled at Howard University law school in 1996. Though he knew he would be only one of a handful of white students at the predominantly black institution, Venie wanted to follow the career paths of venerable civil rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall, Douglas Wilder, and Harris Wofford—all Howard grads. But after a few semesters at the school, Venie is practicing a different kind of civil rights protest: He is suing Howard for racial discrimination and is demanding $105 million in compensation. “There’s pervasive discrimination against nonblack students over at the law school,” claims Venie, who has transferred to the University of Virginia. Venie alleges that Howard’s racism took many forms. The financial aid office, he said, slighted him in issuing both merit- and need-based aid—a gripe commonly voiced by students of all races. He claims that a professor gave him a low grade in a legal writing class because he is white. And he says that his whiteness provoked the beating he allegedly took from several black Howard students at an intramural basketball game on campus. Howard University officials refused comment on the case.

Straphanger’s Ball Attribute it to the convergence of Friday the 13th, the full moon, and perhaps even a little divine intervention: Metro riders entering the Waterfront station last Friday night were greeted underground by the sounds of gospel music. After plugging their farecards into the brown and orange gates of heaven, they discovered that the words of the Lord were emanating from the Golden Tones, a seven-man gospel group performing a cappella on the station platform. A small congregation quickly formed on the steps and began clapping and swaying to the music. When a Green Line train pulled in to the station, the Golden Tones hypnotized the crowd like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. All boarding passengers followed them into one car, save one woman who entered an adjacent car. After the doors closed, though, she peered longingly through the glass window as the train made its way toward U Street/Cardozo. She converted to the gospel car at the next stop. When the septet finally disembarked at Gallery Place, a crowd led by a one-man paparazzi followed the group to the exit. They sang all the way up the 7th Street escalator.

Sticker Shock Joan Eisenstodt

and her husband were miffed when they discovered the corners clipped from their car’s license plates. The Capitol Hill residents concluded that the thieves found it easier to cut through the metal than to peel away the booty: D.C. vehicle registration stickers. After reporting the theft to local police, who reportedly shrugged with indifference, the couple shlepped down to the Division of Motor Vehicles to buy $5 replacement stickers. Since reporting the crime to the Internet discussion group dc.story, the Eisenstodts have heard from a number of similarly victimized District residents. “One woman told us that people are blowtorching [the stickers off] and selling them on the black market,” says Eisenstodt. Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Kenneth Bryson concedes that the Eisenstodts’ experience is not unique, but he doubts the existence of a black market for registration stickers. “I’m not aware of any big seizure where we’ve found someone who has a house full of stickers,” says Bryson.

Rubbed the Wrong Way Two weeks ago, Catholic University banned the national student magazine University Reporter (UR) from its campus, citing institutional objections to a recently published article in UR on the pleasures of female masturbation. University administrators expressed similar skittishness over a June 1996 article in UR on body piercing, which overstepped the “boundaries of good taste,” they said. The Rev. Robert M. Friday, vice president for student life, declared his distaste for the newspaper in a March 3 letter demanding that the university’s name be removed from the paper’s cover page, where participating schools are listed. UR editor-in-chief Karen Gordon, a senior at the University of Maryland, believes that the 8-year-old college magazine is being unfairly targeted by the university. She insists that the publication will continue to circulate on Catholic’s campus whether university officials like it or not. “We believe that students have the right to read it,” Gordon says.

Reporting by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Laura Lang, Karyn Robinson, and Jamal Watson.

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