David Cohen may be the most powerful man at Penn. Besides serving as Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President and being “one of the most influential lobbyists in America,” Cohen is also the Chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees, leading a group that decides everything from tuition rates to institutional policy. Cohen is the embodiment of institutional inaction as students demand major changes such as divestment from fossil fuels and Penn to pay Payments In Lieu Of Taxes, or PILOTs.
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I was wrong, thank goodness. In my previous column, I wrote that I didn’t think Penn would trust us to return to campus and respect a campus compact, so I was excited when I read the email announcing the “hybrid” fall semester. While the important words were there – “in-person,” “participating in student clubs,” “housing available” – some less-prominent decisions have stirred debate. One disappointing choice was the return to normal letter grading. While certainly understandable, this is not in the best interest of students. Penn should return to an optional pass/fail (p/f) system for the fall semester.
The Penn community is stuck on hold, waiting for more information to make substantive decisions on our futures. While Thursday’s email from the Penn administration was surprisingly transparent, it was basically a menu of options that ranged from mediocre to downright disappointing.
Hi, baby Quakers! First of all, congratulations (for the hundredth time, no doubt) on your admission to one of the most prestigious and selective Universities in the world. For roughly 70 percent of you, this is – barring a substantial change in plans – your home for the next four years. Your deposit has been paid, your place is secured, and your Penn apparel is sitting in your closet or on its way.
Alfredo Praticò | Our campus community is at the breaking point – it’s up to us to keep it together.
This was not supposed to happen.
Dear Dr. James,
For many reading this, especially underclassmen, this time is likely filled with hyper-planning for the summer. In between vacations and relaxation time you’re likely considering some form of work.
Food. Everyone needs it, much of our social life depends on it, and most cultures pride themselves on their take on it. Eating at Penn takes place in many areas, from a snack on Locust to a multi-course experience on South Street. But one of the most common places to find food is in one of Penn’s five dining halls. For the past ten years, Penn’s dining halls (and nearly all food outlets on campus) have been managed by Bon Appétit, a California company which manages over 1,000 “cafés” across the United States.
OK, Boomer. There it is, I said it. The meme that became a rallying cry for our generation has now been printed on the pages of this hallowed publication. Ours is a generation which is, by some accounts, being left a whole lot of metaphorical trash to clean up. "OK, Boomer" is our disapproving response to that.
It’s no secret many Penn students are stressed, overworked, and under an immense amount of pressure. A quick survey of what happens once classes finish for the week reveals a host of different ways we deal with that pressure, from parties to dinners to sleep. When we spend time with friends and family is in part determined by our University Council-approved Academic Calendar. This calendar mandates grade change deadlines, which days we have finals, and most importantly, when we have days off.
Breaks are an interesting time to be on Penn’s campus. Even during fall break, the exodus of students out of their dorms and away from West Philadelphia to their destinations is a sight to behold.
It’s midterm season, and as Penn students, we each have our own scars to show from it. Maybe one of the proofs was weird, maybe the essay prompt made no sense, maybe the test was totally different from what you were expecting. The point is, this season brings back bad memories, creates new ones, and is probably a part of our Penn experience we would be okay with forgetting.
As Penn students, we must break the old narrative with a new story. While we are the products of a University which forever changed a neighborhood, we are also modern-day carriers of an American city and with the luxury of a campus that usually does a pretty good job isolating its students from the millions of people living around us. It’s easy to look down Locust Walk, say “the trees look pretty!” and walk away. For many students, that would be a good approximation of the thought we give to our collective campus home during our years here.