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Quick Takes: New Backing for 'Social Norms' Education on Alcohol, Cheerleading Injuries, Meth Bust in Merced, NCAA Settlement Approved, Kennedy Plans Institute on Senate

August 12, 2008
  • Use of the "social norms" approach to curbing alcohol abuse on campus can have a dramatic, positive impact on student behaviors, according to a six-year study at the University of Virginia. The "social norms" approach involves telling students how much most students actually drink, which is less than most think. In contrast to earlier methods, which tended to use scare tactics and to focus on hugely excessive drinking, social norms has been heralded as a way to let students know that it's normal if they don't engage in constant binge drinking. The Virginia study tracked students who had been exposed to social norms messages and found that they were significantly less likely to have experienced a range of experiences associated with excessive use of alcohol, including missed classes, run-ins with police officers, and having unprotected sex. The study appears in the July-August issue of the Journal of American College Health.
  • Cheerleading accounts for 66.7 percent of all catastrophic female sports injuries at colleges, according to a new study released by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The estimate is higher than previous figures for the share of injuries attributable to cheerleading (59.4 percent at the college level). The new study includes data previously unreported.
  • Justin West, who was expected soon to be among the first Ph.D. recipients at the University of California at Merced, was arrested last week on charges that he stole university equipment and used it to cook methamphetamine, The Merced Sun-Star reported. West, who was jailed, is a doctoral student in chemistry and a teaching assistant for undergraduate chemistry courses.
  • A federal judge has approved a settlement, tentatively reached in January between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and a group of former athletes, that will provide millions of dollars in additional aid for the ex-athletes, the Associated Press reported. The NCAA denied wrongdoing, and said that it settled to minimize expenses.
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is working to build a $50 million institute at the University of Massachusetts at Boston to be devoted to research and education about the U.S. Senate, The Boston Globe reported. The institute will be near the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
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