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U. Chicago Sued for Radiation Problems at Tenn. Plant

By Rebecca Jarvis Chicago Maroon

CHICAGO – Residents of a small town in Tennessee are suing the University of Chicago, claiming that the University is partially responsible for radiation poisoning they have suffered since the 1940s. The town of Oak Ridge, located in northeastern Tennessee, has been the site of nuclear testing since the University of Chicago set up the first facilities there under government contract in 1943.

Following Enrico Fermi’s research on chain reactions, and the first sustained nuclear reaction, which took place under the university’s Stagg Stadium in 1942, the U.S. government commissioned the University of Chicago to operate a Tennessee plutonium plant called X-10, now known as Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In 1945, just before America dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, the university handed over its position as contract operator of X-10 to Monsanto Corporation.

Now, more than 55 years later, the people of Oak Ridge are filing two class action law suits against the university, as well as other leading corporations affiliated with the X-10 plant and the two other laboratories in the area, known as Y-12 and K-25. The residents contend that the university and other contract operators withheld information about the dangers of radioactive wastes, an omission that resulted in health hazards for workers and residents of the town.

According to George Barrett, a Tennessee attorney who represents some of the plaintiffs, the general population of Oak Ridge is suing the University of Chicago and the contractors for dispersing hazardous chemicals in their area. The black community of Oak Ridge is filing a second lawsuit against the University and the contractors for deliberately moving them to Scarboro, a segregated location in the least desirable and most hazardous location of Oak Ridge.

“That’s all wrong,” said Alvin Weinberg, a former University of Chicago scientist who worked at X-10, in response to the allegations. “To imply that there was any ulterior motive on the part of the University of Chicago is ridiculous.”

Weinberg explained that the government started the nuclear testing in an already segregated area of the south. “The government’s first concern was the war,” Weinberg said. “In 1943, the government didn’t have the ability to worry about segregation in the area where they placed their plants.”

Test Makers Respond to U. California President About SAT

By Steve Sexton Daily Californian

BERKELEY, Calif. – In recent years, the makers of the SAT have had to defend their test against opponents who claim it is racially biased or useless, but they have never faced as formidable an opponent as the president of the University of California system.

University of California President Richard Atkinson’s announcement last week that the university should do away with the SAT I exam has prompted heated debate over the embattled admissions test, which is still used by 90 percent of the nation’s colleges.

“The SAT is a white preference test and everybody kind of knows it,” said Jay Rosner, executive director of the Princeton Review Foundation.

After extensive research, Rosner said he has reached the conclusion that test makers do not select “black preference questions” to appear on the test.

He said he reviewed all 580 questions from the 1988 and 1989 SAT I tests and found that the percentage of white students who answered correctly was higher for 474 of the questions. These he called the “white preference” questions.

He found the percentage of blacks who answered correctly was higher than whites on only one question, and that the percentages were the same for five others.

He acknowledged that the scoring gaps can be attributed to a number of factors, including differences in education and wealth. He argues, however, that his explanation of a white preference “explains a big chunk of the score gap.”

Rosner said he was able to reduce the overall SAT I score gap by 40 percent when he created a test from questions with the smallest racial gap.

“That should appall anyone who thinks the tests are fair or reasonable,” he said.

The College Board, which administrates the SAT, ardently defends the test against allegations that it is biased against minority groups.

“The College Board has long maintained that the SAT is not biased against any ethnic group,” said Jeffrey Penn, a College Board spokesperson. “We take extra pain to make sure the test itself does not have an internal bias. It is our contention that those gaps are related to inequality in education, not a bias in the test.”

Penn said the College Board has a rigorous method for adding questions to the test, including a review by a diverse group of teachers. He said they also test the questions in a non-scoring part of exams before adding them to the test officially.

“If we see an odd performance for any specific question, we try to revise it or we drop it,” he said.

Students React After Napster Proposes $1 Billion Settlement

By Laura Katz Daily Pennsylvanian

PHILADELPHIA – Just a week after it was dealt a serious blow by a federal appeals court, Napster on Tuesday offered $1 billion to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit with five of the music industry’s recording giants.

The pending suit threatens to shut down the free online exchange of music provided by Napster.

In the proposed settlement, Napster would pay the five largest record labels – Sony, Warner, BMG, EMI and Universal – $150 million annually for the first five years, with $50 million going to independent labels.

“We all ought to sit down and settle this case as fast as we can,” Napster Chief Executive Officer Hank Barry said. “We’re saying this is something consumers really want. Let’s do something to keep it going.”

The offer comes a week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed a lower-court ruling that said Napster aids and abets copyright infringements.

The recent legal action has spun University of Pennsylvania students – and around 50 million other users – into a frenzy of downloading and song swapping, as many are worried they will soon lose the free service. Regardless of the legal outcome, however, Napster has said it plans to unroll a fee-based service this summer.

At Penn, rumors of the end of free downloading prompted students to spend hours on their computers before Napster starts charging fees.

“I heard it was going to shut down a week ago,” College freshman Brian Coleman said. “It concerns me. I’m going to have to download a bunch of songs really quickly.”

Coleman, who has already downloaded approximately 900 songs, said he plans to spend at least an hour a day on the site before its access is limited.

College senior Josh Jashinski is also disheartened by the possibility that Napster may soon disappear.

“I am a little depressed at the news because I have used Napster to burn many CDs,” Jashinski said.

“I am going to use it as much as I can before it shuts down,” added his friend, Wharton senior Nadav Besner.

“Because of Napster, I got to hear a lot of music I wouldn’t have heard otherwise, so now it just limits the kind of music I am going to hear,” Besner said.

But Penn officials said that increased traffic on Napster hasn’t affected the speed of Penn’s online services. Over the past year, schools across the country have banned students from using the music service, due to the strain it placed on their computer networks.

Deputy Vice President of Information Systems and Computing Robin Beck has not been concerned with any overload in the network system. “We haven’t seen a blip in bandwidth due to that kind of use.”

Not all students are as devastated by the chance Napster may be going away despite the new prospects of settlement.

Engineering sophomore Brian Flounders has amassed over 3,500 songs on his computer.

“Napster made file-sharing mainstream,” he added. “It opened up the technology to allow easier access, which other companies will catch on to.”

U. Illinois Study Shows Internet Will See Growth

By Adam Jadhav Daily Illini

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Despite the recent downfall of many e-businesses, some students and professors believe that the Internet is still prime for financial gain.

Hubert Gorniak, a freshman commerce major, said the ease of starting an Internet company appeals to many people today. Gorniak plans to start his own e-business during his remaining time at the University of Illinois.

“It’s easier to implement than anything else because you don’t need the resources that you need to start a physical one,” Gorniak said.

He did acknowledge that lately the Internet economy has taken a turn for the worse. He said that is because many companies are started by young people with concepts but no real financial, managerial or people skills.

“Your average start-up comes straight out of college,” Gorniak said. “We have the ideas, we just don’t have all the skills.”

Still, Gorniak believes that he can make an Internet company work by finding the right market. He would not reveal his own plans for his e-business because he didn’t want someone to steal his ideas.

“You’ve got to find the right market – market niche that hasn’t been explored, hasn’t been exploited,” Gorniak said.

Current e-business leaders include companies like E-Bay, an online auction Web site; Yahoo!, a search engine with shopping, news and other services.

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