Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
You fail me, I sue: A group of students have filed a suit against America's Southern Methodist University seeking damages for a computer course that they say was too difficult.

All 12 of the students failed a 1997 course which was supposed to certify them as qualified to work with Microsoft software programs.

"They were told that if you could point and click, you could handle the course. In fact, you needed more prerequisites than that," said their lawyer, Jason Crowson.

The suit is seeking to recover the cost of the five-month course and lost wages, because some students quit their jobs to take the class.

Bob Wright, a Southern Methodist University spokesman, said that the university had offered the disgruntled students a second chance at the class but they had turned it down.

"That's how it is these days," he said. "You fail the class, you sue the school."

Marijuana only: Despite the relaxed Dutch approach to smoking dope, an anti-smoking group is taking the city of Rotterdam's Erasmus University to court for failing to enforce non-smoking regulations for tobacco.

"They simply don't stick to the non-smoking rules. People are being forced to live with smoke where it is prohibited," said Alfonds Nijpels, chair of the anti-smoking association Clear Air Now (CAN).

CAN is representing students and faculty in the case, and argues that the tobacco law is being broken. If it wins, the university will be ordered to change its attitude or face hefty fines.

"They have to abide by the law just like anyone else," Nijpels added. He said the university's medical staff and students are the worst culprits, lighting up at will despite dozens of no-smoking signs in campus buildings.

The professor of boxing: University professors and researchers gathered at the American Embassy in London for the conference "Muhammad Ali: Living Mythically; the American Hero". A spokesman said the event - co-hosted by the University of Westminster and Liverpool John Moores University - was "to take a serious look at Ali's place in American culture. He is an admired figure, but that has not always been the case. He has been a figure of controversy and has played a significant role in America's development since the Sixties."