To the Editor: What we are seeing at Penn is a perfect example of a new breed of University administrators who spend too much time ingratiating themselves to the rich, powerful and politically connected, while promoting the draining of public funds in the name of community revitalization. Penn is seeking to bankroll the Sundance Theater site with state-issues Tax Increment Funding. But in order to secure these funds, the University must have 40th and Walnut streets certified as blighted. These funds are for truly blighted areas. They are not for an elite, insular Ivy League campus. The recent appointments of Judith Rodin, Gary Hack and Tom Lussenhop to key city committees is another case in point. These appointment enable them to give themselves the money they are asking for, and it is our neighborhoods that are being "sold out." This new breed of administrators has firm corporate support for their resolve not to let educational or moral scruples get in the way of business patronage. We are seeing the collapse of the academic backbone. It indeed appears that public funds are being diverted for corporate profit, and until full disclosure is made of all monies, the suspicion of impropriety and the misappropriation of public funds will remain and increase. Shouldn't the purpose of the University be to advance and disseminate knowledge in service to humanity (and without deference to established interests)? Unfortunately, University administrators are increasingly appointed because of their expertise and willingness to turn any deal for business funds, including the displacement of the indigenous citizens, and their businesses, which live and work on the ever-expanding borders of the University. This is nothing less than predatory gentrification.
Rev. Larry Falcon Pastor, Covenant Community Church
To the Editor: I applaud the efforts of various campus groups -- such as PennTalks and Campus Conversations -- in promoting real dialogue on campus about issues relevant to students. Within the Jewish community, the Jewish Renaissance Project has been working for much the same ends: creating alternative opportunities for meaningful conversations about relevant issues. We have organized discussions with faculty such as Al Filreis, Mitch Marcus, Michael Zuckerman, David Stern and many others. Probably more importantly, we create peer-led discussions that deal with the questions that students themselves are asking. Over the past three years, JRP has realized that the concept of creating communities around conversation is often much more difficult than creating conversations around communities. Trying to bring people out for a conversation proves less successful than bringing conversations to existing groups, whether they are in the College House System, in Writer's House, in a Greek house or in someone's apartment. The most important conversation for students is already taking place informally and continually. JRP strives to introduce another voice -- a voice coming from our rich and diverse Jewish heritage. See for yourself at http://www.jrp.com. I wish us all success in our various attempts to help stimulate a more vibrant intellectual life on campus.
Shamir Caplan Coordinator, Jewish Renaissance ProjectComments powered by Disqus
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