The 2014-15 academic year was a milestone for the current graduating class, but it also hosted many important events in campus life. Here is a look at some of the biggest stories of the past year:
College student Amanda Hu was found unresponsive in her off-campus apartment on Sept. 28, 2014. Hu, a 20-year-old from outside of Charlotte, N.C., was on a voluntary leave from Penn and working in a laboratory. Police ruled her death a suicide in October, marking the sixth Penn student suicide since August 2013.
End of SAC moratorium:
On Oct. 23, 2014, the Student Activities Council partially lifted a moratorium on the establishment of new student groups in place since fall 2012. All non-performing arts groups were then able to apply for recognition to receive benefits like access to spaces and funding.
Protesters from two campus groups took over President Amy Gutmann’s annual holiday party at her campus home on Dec. 9, 2014, asking the University to make payments in lieu of taxes to the city. During the event open to all students, Gutmann participated in a “die-in” where she and others lay on the ground for four-and-a-half minutes in memory of Michael Brown. Her participation sparked pushback from the Penn Police Union president who wrote a letter published by the Daily Pennsylvanian asking for an apology from Gutmann.
Protesters had stopped traffic at intersections on campus on Dec. 1, 2014 with a “die-in” in response to the grand jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Over 100 protesters joined the action organized by campus group Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation that made its way through campus and into buildings.
The RadioShack on campus was held up at gunpoint on Dec. 11, 2014. Three suspects made off with cash from the register, merchandise and an employee’s phone and wallet. The store closed for good in late March.
Sex doll controversy:
Members of Phi Delta Theta fraternity became the target of controversy over winter break. A Facebook photo showed the brothers posing in holiday attire with a black blow-up sex doll, which they later said was meant to be Beyonce. The fraternity was put on probation by its national organization and barred from social activities until they completed a sexual misconduct training.
College junior Timothy Hamlett was reported missing after being last seen by his parents on Dec. 26, 2014. The Teaneck, N.J., native and former Penn track athlete was on leave from Penn following criminal charges against him. Hamlett’s mother told The Daily Pennsylvanian that he underwent a pituitary gland analysis on the morning of his disappearance to test for a brain cyst. Although the family reportedly hired a private investigator to aid in the investigation, no information on his whereabouts has come to light since.
Tackling mental health:
The Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare released its report on Feb. 17, 2015. The eight-page report pointed to the need for cultural changes rather than structural changes, but recommended a website to list University resources and clarifying leave of absence policies to students. The task force was established by President Amy Gutmann the previous February in the wake of several student suicides.
AXO moves off-campus:
By a majority vote, the sisters of Alpha Chi Omega sorority voted against signing a document with the University which outlined the chapter’s probation in early April. The organization was found in violation of Penn’s policy following a drinking event. Leaders in the sorority looked to revoke the chapter’s charter and continue off-campus because they believed the sanctions, which included not holding any social events for two years, were too harsh. Later the same week, members were told they actually needed a unanimous vote to revoke their charter, and so more than 90 percent of members planned to resign.
Penn's newest class:
Just under 10 percent of the total applicants to Penn were granted admission for the fall of 2015. As of May 1, 66 percent of students accepted into the Class of 2019 committed to Penn — the same yield percentage as last year. At the largest rate in Penn history, Early Decision applicants make up 54.4 percent of the incoming class.
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