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College Hall on Penn's campus on Dec. 4.

Credit: Chenyao Liu

The Penn community saw controversies and clashes in 2023, from donor backlash against University leadership to dining halls' failure to comply with the Philadelphia health code. Throughout the year, The Daily Pennsylvanian analyzed data to explore topics that affect Penn students. Here are the highlights.

University finances

In January, the DP conducted an analysis of Penn's research expenditures over the past year. In 2021, Penn ranked fourth among all United States universities and first in the Ivy League for research and development spending, which supports Penn’s 182 research centers and institutions and over 5,000 research faculty members. Nearly 80% of Penn’s $1.6 billion in research expenditures went to life sciences, including biology and medicine.

In an analysis of University tax forms, the DP found that Penn has the largest pay gap in the Ivy League between graduate students who receive stipends and the University president. Penn's average Ph.D. student stipend is 1.23% of its president's salary.

Penn Athletics also saw funding gaps across a variety of sports, with men’s head coaches earning 41% more than women's head coaches on average.

An analysis of Penn's stock portfolio found consistent investments in Krispy Kreme Inc. and Light & Wonder Inc., a company specializing in gambling products. Of the nine companies across Penn's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, 30% belonged to the biotechnology industry. 

Finally, the DP examined the major alumni who have halted donations to Penn amid campus turmoil over the Israel-Hamas war and Palestine Writes Literature Festival. Many donors who withdrew financial support are Wharton alumni or have served in Penn leadership roles, including 1984 Wharton graduate Marc Rowan.

Academics and student life

In its budget for the 2023-24 school year, Penn’s Undergraduate Assembly ended funding for 30 initiatives, granting every student government branch less money than requested. Notably, the UA will no longer fund Class Board cultural events like Penn's Holi celebration.

The DP also analyzed data related to the Class of 2026 and the graduated Class of 2022. In the wake of Penn's test optional policy, about 30% of the Class of 2026 did not submit test scores. Among recent Penn graduates, 50% of full-time jobs are in finance and consulting, a rate higher than any other Ivy League university. Of Wharton students, almost 80% work in these industries four to six months after graduation, compared to 47.5% of the College of Arts and Sciences.

For Valentine's Day, the DP conducted a sex survey of the undergraduate population and found that Engineering students are the most sexually active. Around 70% of those who took the anonymous survey said they were sexually active, with the Class of 2024 ranking the highest among the grade levels.

With the rise of artificial intelligence software like ChatGPT, academic integrity violations for attaining an "unfair advantage over fellow students" increased sevenfold in 2022-23. While there was a reduction in total violations compared to 2020-21 during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more cases from having unauthorized access to old homework or others' papers, using ChatGPT, or lying about extensions.

Food and dining

In February, the DP found that two Penn dining halls were not in compliance with Philadelphia's health code, with the majority of the 12 Penn Dining locations receiving at least five health code violations. Hill House and 1920 Commons saw the highest number of food safety violations.

The DP conducted an analysis of Penn's food truck scene, as well as the cheapest Bring-Your-Own restaurants across University City and Center City. Mizu Sushi Bar offered the cheapest menu of all 24 BYOs examined in the area. Of the 45 food trucks analyzed, 41% offered Halal food, while the while the most popular cuisine offered by brick-and-mortar restaurants was American.

Check out the rest of the DP’s Year in Review content here.