The University of Virginia will no longer offer health insurance to spouses of employees who can otherwise get coverage through their employer, Derek Quizon reports for the Daily Progress. Citing rising healthcare costs, the university will only continue to offer coverage to spouses who don’t have a job that provides them with insurance that meets a minimum federal standard. The planned change sparked angry discussion in offices, break rooms, and mailing lists across the university today.
Other changes are coming, too, as documented on the university’s website about the benefits changes. Premiums are going up by $480/year unless employees submit to a medical screening, with required tests including weight, height, BMI, and a series of blood screenings. They’re also dropping dental coverage, although they’ll allow employees to buy it back. (08/24 Update: Ricky Patterson points out that dental coverage isn’t being dropped, per se—it’s being broken out as its own thing, and everybody will get a basic plan, capped at $1,000/year in benefits, unless they pay more for an enhanced plan.) The changes take effect on January 1.
Last April, late one night, three female UVA students were walking through the darkened parking lot from Harris Teeter to their car, having bought a few things for a fundraiser, when they realized they were being followed by several people. As they got to their car, one of them drew a gun, and another person jumped on the hood of the car. The terrified girls locked the doors as the assailants demanded that they get out. They fled in the car, calling 911. Shortly after they fled, they were pulled over by a vehicle with sirens and a light. Safety.
Or not. They were pulled over by their assailants: plainclothes Alcohol Beverage Control officers who wrongly suspected they had purchased a 12-pack of beer. The driver, 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly, was arrested and jailed on charges of assaulting an officer and eluding police. As K. Burnell Evans writes in the Daily Progress, Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman—up for reelection in November—dropped the charges against Daly yesterday, but the student remains upset and confused by the whole experience. None of the agents are named in the story, and the ABC refused to discuss the case with the paper.
The story has gotten significant attention in the 12 hours since it was published, and seems like the kind of piece liable to get a great deal of national attention in the coming days. Here’s hoping that the outcome of that is that the ABC is made to answer for what in the world they were thinking, because there are so many levels on which this debacle was a terrible idea.
A year after eliminating their Friday edition, the Cavalier Daily plans to print just two issues each week, Nieman Journalism Lab reports. Beginning with the fall term, they’ll print a “newsmagazine” on Monday and Thursday. The rest of the week they’ll be online-only. While this saves the paper a huge amount of money, since their major cost is printing, it also eliminates their major source of revenue—print advertising. The shift also surely reflects the reality how UVA students expect to receive news, which is via Twitter, Facebook, websites, etc. Last year’s Dragas/Sullivan saga proved to be an ideal opportunity for the publication’s staffers to embrace digital media, and their Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website quickly became essential sources of information for the many thousands of people trying to keep up with the fast-emerging story over the course of many weeks.
The Senate of Virginia’s Privileges & Elections Committee held a vote today on whether to remove UVA Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas from the block of nominees to be confirmed, and the motion failed, on a 12–3 vote. That means that her confirmation will be bound up in the confirmations of lots of other nominees, which is to say that it’ll quite certainly pass the Senate. Although Sen. Creigh Deeds voted against Dragas and pleaded with other senators to do likewise, Albemarle’s other senator, Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), voted in support of Dragas. This same process still has to repeat itself before the House Privileges and Elections Committee. The only local legislator on House P&E is Del. Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave), who opposes Dragas’ reappointment.,
The University of Virginia’s enormous, under-construction sports practice facility on Emmett Street caught fire yesterday, every area media outlet reports, sending up an enormous column of black smoke that was visible all over town. A layer of rubber atop the roof appears to have been lit by a contractor’s errant blowtorch, starting a fire that spread over a good chunk of the roof and created a challenging situation for responding fire crews to deal with. The $13M structure was slated for completion in August of next year, though presumably that will be pushed back now.