Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wescoe cancer count climbs

Tests on KU building’s air quality not in yet

June 21, 2006


The tally of cancer cases among workers at Kansas University's reviled Wescoe Hall has climbed a notch to six.

"We're treating it the same way we're treating the other five," said Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett, KU senior vice provost.

McCluskey-Fawcett said she received word from a male faculty member in the history department with cancer. She did not know the details of his illness.

This latest case will be included in a study of whether there is something about the 33-year-old building that could be causing brain tumors.

KU earlier this month called on an in-house epidemiologist, John Neuberger of the KU School of Medicine's preventative medicine and public health department, to study the building and any potential link to reports of several brain tumors among KU faculty.

At the time, there were five reported cases of brain tumors in KU faculty who worked in the building. The oldest known case dated back about eight years.

About 400 people work in Wescoe - considered by many to be both an eyesore and a dreary, stuffy place to work.

Neuberger's study began with air quality tests, which officials said would only take a few weeks to yield results.

"We've done our first round of sampling," Neuberger said Tuesday. "We're awaiting our results."

KU spokesman Todd Cohen said KU had not received word yet on when the air quality test results would be in.

Many who work in the building are waiting, said Dorice Elliott, chair of the English Department.

"I don't think fears have quieted much yet," she said. "We've had some professors ask to teach in other buildings."

McCluskey-Fawcett said she had not received any requests for moves.

"If individual faculty feel that they don't want to be in the building, we can make accommodations for them," she said. "If somebody really has serious concerns, we wouldn't, obviously, force them to go into that building."

The study, which includes environmental tests and research into those who work in the building, is expected to take seven months.


Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

It might not be a bad idea to take a survey of the incidence rates of cancers in the other campus buildings, Summerfield Hall, for example.

Noemon 11 years, 11 months ago

You'd probably need to do it with every building, and adjust for the number of people who have spent X amount of their time in that building for Y number of years, don't you think? That way you could establish a baseline for what is normal.

nonimbyks 11 years, 11 months ago

It's all that thinking that's going on in there causing the cancer.

Ban education!

mooseamoose 11 years, 11 months ago

ninimbyks is partially right. This is a result of those sinful ideas those liberal god hating professors serve up in the classroom. I'm betting that the evolution classes are taught there? Every one knows that only sinners get cancer.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone watch "Lost"? Maybe all of these people already had brain tumors and Wescoe is their "island" where they are all destined to go for some reason.

blakus 11 years, 11 months ago

Wescoe should be torn down and replaced. The lower level is disgusting and smells of mold. It is not only the offices that are dreary and musky. The classrooms that line the fourth floor and the two main lecture halls are abysmal. My father tells me of when he tried to stop the building of Wescoe back in the 70s. He said that it was an unpopular building project among the students and that original plans called for a 10-story building. It looks to me more like a parking garage than an academic building. With the maintainance backlog that KU has, it does not suprise me that Wescoe has deteriorated as it has, possibly causing the health problems seen in some faculty.

hip_gma 11 years, 11 months ago

Way to make jokes about a serious illness. Signed, Cancer Survivor

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


Me too! That's why I can joke. What else can you do when you're in a situation where you don't know the cause and you can't do much to help yourself. You keep looking for answers and maintain a good sense of humor. I'm sorry for your cancer.

Kookamooka 11 years, 11 months ago

The interesting thing about this is...there are plans on the board to add on to Wescoe by enclosing terraces. To make MORE offices. This building was a mistake to begin with. It was designed, orginally, to be a parking garage. Before the University moves ahead on the additions it has planned, they need to consider the benefits of tearing it down completely and rebuilding from the bottom up.

Just about EVERYONE agrees Wescoe is a dump. Just knock it down and fix the mistake.

Martin Shupert 11 years, 11 months ago

I think we should tear Wescoe down, begin building a new building for classrooms and offices. Then, after a year or so of construction, convert it as best we can into a parking garage. It dawned on me the other day that it may be correct not to teach evolution in Kansas, since it obviously never happened here anyway. Perhaps we should be teaching devolution. Wescoe is exhibit A.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.