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Quick Takes: Settlement for VT Families, University Bars Tibet Questions for Dalai Lama, Scientists on Drugs, Lafayette Ex-Cop Arrested for Groping Employees, Union Dispute at Wayne State, Maneuvering on GI Bill, Lessons From Mumps Outbreak

April 11, 2008
  • Many families of those killed or injured in last year's shootings at Virginia Tech have agreed to a settlement with the state that will avoid lawsuits by those involved, and provide them with new information about the university's handling of the tragedy, The Roanoke Times reported. While details were not released, the financial settlement is about $11 million. Families that don't participate in the settlement may still be planning suits.
  • Amid growing international criticism of China over its crackdowns in Tibet, Chinese students loyal to their government sought and received assurances from the University of Washington that a visit from the Dalai Lama would not be used to raise the issue. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the university has reviewed and selected in advance the questions that will be asked by students after an appearance by the Dalai Lama on Monday, and that no questions will be asked about freedom in Tibet. Many of those commenting on the newspaper's Web site are angry that the university appears to be blocking discussion of an important issue. One person wrote in: "A little thought experiment: if Nelson Mandela came to the UW back during the apartheid era, and white South African students voiced concerns about him causing 'anti-South African' sentiment, would the UW have responded the same way? I don't think so. I fail to see how the situation is in any way distinguishable from that hypothetical: both involved brutal, genocidal oppressions. And, it's interesting to note that in both instances, you also had the government and people causing the oppression trying to characterize the people being oppressed as bad actors. Nobody is buying it."
  • It's not just your undergrads who may be on Ritalin. One in five readers responding to a non-scientific poll in the journal Nature said that they had used drugs for non-medical reasons to stimulate focus, concentration or memory.
  • Ben Stauffer, a former public safety officer at Lafayette College, was arrested this week on charges that he regularly groped the breasts and buttocks of two college employees and snapped their bra straps, The Express-Times reported. Neither Stauffer, who worked at the college for 22 years, until last year, nor his lawyer would comment. A Lafayette spokesman also declined to comment on the case, except to say that Stauffer was no longer employed by the college and that Lafayette did not tolerate sexual harassment. Lehigh Valley Live reported that five college employees have filed complaints about Stauffer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that their lawyer said that the college was aware of what was going on and tolerated it. These complaints say that Stauffer was engaged for several years in unwanted groping, kissing the hands of employees and calling them into his office, where he is alleged to have shown them graphic images.
  • The union of part-time faculty members at Wayne State University is engaged in negotiations over a contract, and union officials charge that on Thursday they were threatened with arrest for passing out leaflets. The charges, by the unit of the American Federation of Teachers, are detailed here. Wayne State officials did not respond to e-mail messages seeking comment.
  • A revised version of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act -- which would drastically improve educational benefits for those who have served on active duty since September 11 -- was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday with 170 co-sponsors. A Senate version of the bill now has 54 cosponsors, including 10 Republicans, its chief champion, Senator Jim Webb (D.-Va.), said Thursday. Pressure has been rising for one prominent senator from Arizona to sign on. "Sen. John McCain served his nation with honor in Vietnam, and he is right to be proud of his service. But by hedging on whether he will support a 'GI Bill for the 21st Century,' he is casting doubt on his own commitment to the newest generation of American heroes," Wesley K. Clark and Jon Soltz wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed Thursday.
  • The current standard two-dose mumps vaccine apparently wasn't enough to prevent the unexpected outbreak of the disease on a number of college campuses in 2006. At the time, some wondered if some students had failed to get the dual vaccine. But research being published in The New England Journal of Medicine, based on an examination of the 2006 outbreak, found that most of those in the outbreak had the standard dual dose, suggesting it may not be strong enough.
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