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Quick Takes: Students Stick With Obama, GOP Plan on GI Bill, WVU Degree Questioned, UCLA Wins Expansion of Injunction, Parental Expectations, Taser Use Restricted, Filling the Ken Lay Chair, Art Professor Cleared

April 23, 2008
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Pennsylvania Democratic primary Tuesday, but exit polls pointed to continued strong student support for Sen. Barack Obama. A CNN exit poll found Obama winning 66 percent of voters aged 18-24, and 55 percent of those aged 25-29. Those numbers are likely to be heavily influenced by students, given new reports -- such as this one from MTV News -- finding that the surge in voting by those under 30 this year is almost entirely coming from college students and the college educated. At the Pennsylvania State University, The Daily Collegian reported steady streams of student voters. The Daily Pennsylvanian analyzed results in precincts at or near the University of Pennsylvania, which went strongly for Obama.
  • With pressure mounting on Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to sign on to Virginia Democrat Jim Webb's plan to dramatically enhance educational benefits for veterans, Senator McCain and two other Republican lawmakers introduced their own plan to boost the GI Bill Tuesday. The Republican plan increases monthly educational benefits for active duty servicemembers from $1,101 to $1,500 a month, allows servicemembers to use up to $6,000 per year of their benefits to repay federal student loans, and allows for the transferability of education benefits to dependents. It increases monthly benefits for National Guard and Reserve members who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, from $880 to $1,200, and creates a matching program in which the Department of Veterans Affairs would provide up to $3,000 extra per year in exchange for colleges retiring some or all of a student's debt. The plan also explicitly addresses retention - the Pentagon's key criticism of the Webb bill is that the improved educational benefits could lead to reduced retention - with education benefits increasing to $2,000 per month after 12 years of service. In contrast, the Webb bill would grant veterans who have served on active duty since September 11 payments covering tuition -- up to the cost of in-state tuition at the most expensive public college in a veteran's state -- room, board, fees, and educational costs, plus a $1,000 monthly stipend. Senator Webb's bill has 57 Senate cosponsors, including 11 Republicans.
  • An investigative panel has unanimously found that Heather Bresch, the daughter of West Virginia's governor, did not earn the M.B.A. degree that West Virginia University officials granted her retroactively in October, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article citing an anonymous source familiar with the panel's report. The newspaper has published a series of articles questioning whether Bresch had in fact earned the degree when records showed that she was 22 credits short (out of 48 total). A spokeswoman for West Virginia said Tuesday that the panel's report is currently being distributed to the Board of Governors, and that members have not yet indicated how they will respond. A redacted version of the report, excluding information that can't be shared under the Family Educational Rights and Property Act, is expected to be released after the board reviews it. An emergency board meeting is scheduled for this afternoon.
  • A judge extended and expanded a temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction against individuals and groups that have been harassing University of California at Los Angeles researchers who work with animals. The expanded injunction prohibits three groups and five individuals from coming within 50 feet of the residences of UCLA personnel involved in animal research during any demonstration; at night, the restriction increases to 150 feet. The injunction also prohibits the posting of personal information about UCLA personnel on Web sites maintained by the groups and individuals. UCLA sought legal protection for its researchers after a series of attacks on them, including a firebombing and a flooding.
  • More than 9 in 10 students in grades 6-12 have parents who expect them to attend college, and most of those students have parents who expect them to finish college, according to a new survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • The University of Florida has decided to limit its security officers' use of tasers. The Gainesville Sun reported that the university has accepted a committee's recommendations to bar the use of tasers to deal with "passive physical resistance." The new policy does not, however, bar the use of tasers in situations like the one that focused nationwide attention on the university: its tasering of a student who was moving around and flailing his arms when officers tried to stop him from continuing to question Sen. John Kerry, who was speaking on the campus.
  • The University of Missouri at Columbia had planned to attract new talent with its Kenneth L. Lay Chair in Economics, but when it was turned down by those it was trying to recruit, the university offered the chair -- named for the last Enron executive, before his downfall -- to someone already teaching at the university, the Associated Press reported.
  • A federal judge on Monday dismissed charges against a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo who was indicted four years ago on mail and wire fraud in connection with using DNA and biological materials in art projects, the Associated Press reported. Steven J. Kurtz faced the terrorism-related charges after firefighters found bacteria he kept in his home, but Kurtz and his many supporters said that the case never should have been brought. The judge Monday found the indictment "insufficient on its face."
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