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Police offer safety tips for holiday break

(11/27/96 10:00am)

As students head home for the Thanksgiving holiday, University Police strongly recommend several safety precautions for on- and off-campus residents. · Secure or remove all valuables, and make sure they are marked with some identifying number. Engravers are available at the Special Services Unit at 3927 Walnut Street. · Close and lock all windows, shades, drapes and blinds. Lock and bolt entrance doors to rooms or apartments. · Use timers on lights and a radio or television to give your residence the appearance of being occupied. · If you live off campus, register your residence with Public Safety for speacial checks during the break. ·ETake extra precaution when walking alone on or near campus, especially after dark. · Your answering machine or voice mail should never indicate that you are not at home. Always use plural nouns in your greeting even if you live alone. (Use "We can't come to the phone?" instead of "I am not home?") · Turn all exterior lighting on before you leave. If your exterior lights do not work or are not on a photocell, be sure to contact your landlord regarding these security devices before you leave for break. · In case of an emergency, call University Police at 511.

Police apprehend indecent exposure suspect

(07/03/96 9:00am)

May have been connected to seven incidentsMay have been connected to seven incidentsof masturbation in front of campus windows Several University students have found themselves in a particularly sticky situation while walking around campus. The University of Pennsylvania Police officers have apprehended a suspect they believe has been masturbating in front of windows, occasionally ejaculating on unsuspecting victims below. He has since been referred to the Sex Crimes Unit of the Philadelphia Police, according to Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush, who explained that this is typical procedure in indecent exposure cases. He has not been charged, she added. The district attorney is currently investigating the case. In total, there have been seven reported cases, mostly taking place in or around the McNeil Building, although the most recent incident occurred in the Stiteler Building. Rush said these incidents "appear to be related." The culprit has been described as a white male, 25 to 30 years of age, approximately 5'11", and clean-cut with a medium complexion and build, according to Rush. Most complainants have been asian-american females, she added. Rush said there is no apparent trend to the incidents, which have occurred at four o'clock in the afternoon, as well as eleven o'clock at night. "Every time he does this he changes his method," Rush said. "He's pretty good that way." She added that since the perpetrator has apparently been performing from a window, the physical threat level is low. "But it is still startling people," she said. The suspect was brought into custody Monday night when a woman ran to an emergency phone after being hit. She gave a really good description of the man and told police which way he fled, Rush said. Penn Police chased him on foot and made an arrest. Rush added that depending on the number of incidents the assailant is convicted of, he could potentially serve time in jail. But the judge and the DA ultimately determine the sentence. Summer Pennsylvanian reporter Kate Khatib contributed to this story.

Computing restructured

(06/13/96 9:00am)

Summer holds major change for ISC Information Systems and Computing will be undergoing massive restructuring starting this summer and continuing into the fall. Acting Vice Provost for ISC James O'Donnell said a University-wide task force has been analyzing all of Penn computing since the fall. The task force is sponsored by Provost Stanley Chodorow and Executive Vice President John Fry. The result is a new model for computing services across Penn, which centralizes the support and services available to the University community, according to Undergraduate English Chairperson Al Filreis, who has been working closely on the initiative. O'Donnell, a classical studies professor, said the organization will take two directions -- a "renewed emphasis on customer satisfaction as the chief measure of our effectiveness," and "greater internal cohesiveness and teamwork in the organization." The first step is to condense ISC into one organization. As a result, Data Communications and Computing Systems, University Management Information Services have been combined. Among other things, DCCS operated PennNet and its Internet gateways. It also installed departmental connections to the network. UMIS worked with University clients to "acquire, develop and maintain core business systems," according to the ISC homepage. The restructuring also yielded several internal changes (see box). The restructured ISC will focus on secondary services. For example, Penn's network will be run as a regulated public utility, incorporating telephone and video services. DCCS ran a similar, but unregulated, network. According to Filreis, the new network is superior because it will allow the schools to choose their service. "A governing board will make sure that the people who run the network will be responsive to the people who use it," he said. ISC will also be running service bureaus like Wharton Reprographics. It would be responsible for selling services to any of its interested customers, such as support-on- site, training, application development and integration services, according to a model draft. And customers will only have to pay for the services they need. "Right now the funding service is screwed up because people do not feel they are getting what they pay for," Filreis said. The restructuring also changes the University's approach to primary support -- the resources available to teach people how to use the applications. There is currently a major lack in primary support for undergraduates, Filreis said. The new system is attempting to compensate for that. "More than likely we are going to experiment with delivering primary support through the residences," he said. This fall, Van Pelt College House will be officially providing a pilot program to see if such support can be delivered. The project is funded by the provost's office through the 21st Century initiative, Filreis said. He explained that if the pilot works on-campus, it will also be able to involve off-campus residents living in collegiate communities under the proposed college house system. There are six additional pilots being tested out as well. Filreis said ISC needs to be the central unit that calls the meetings for all the businesses across campus to ensure that they all have the same standards. "It's ISC that is in the position to call all the players and say 'let's agree on these standards,' " he said. Filreis added that as an incentive for workers to increase the standards of their computer labs, O'Donnell intends to install a matching funds program through ISC. He explained that the labs in the residences have been suffering because the fixed room rents do not provide a sufficient budget to combat rising costs.

U. researcher has sperm breakthrough

(06/06/96 9:00am)

A Penn researcher has helped develop a method to transplant sperm-producing cells from one species to another. Ralph Brinster, a professor of Reproductive Physiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine was able to take spermatagonia, or "stem cells" from a rat and implant them into a mouse, creating a mouse that produced rat sperm. His findings were published last week in the journals Nature and Nature Medicine. Some of the applications of this experiment could include conserving endangered species, breeding livestock and aiding human infertility. The stem cells are able to indefinitely replenish an individual's sperm supply, making this method superior to artificial insemination. Even after an individual's death, his preserved stem cells can continue to generate sperm, creating a "biologically immortal" male, according to Time Magazine. This could also be used in the breeding of thoroughbred animals, helping to keep a champion line alive. In a 1994 study, Brinster was able to transfer stem cells from a fertile mouse to an infertile mouse, allowing the recipient to "father the genetic offspring of the donor," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He predicted at the time that in the future these techniques could be applied to people as well. He also said his discovery could be used to permanently cure genetically transmitted diseases. In the most recent development, Brinster successfully removed and froze stem cells from rat for 156 days. He then thawed them and grew them in a mouse, which proceeded to generate rat sperm. So far all of his experiments have dealt with only rats and mice, but he said he hopes to extend the technique to farm animals. In April, Brinster was awarded the annual March of Dimes Prize for Developmental Biology for his development of a transgenic mouse. During his research career, Brinster has made many other significant contributions to the world of developmental biology. He has created a giant mouse by transferring growth hormone genes from rats to mice. And he introduced a number of improvements to existing methods of culturing mouse eggs and embryos in vitro while working on his doctoral dissertation of the Veterinary School, and the system he created formed the backbone for research in this area over the next 30 years.

New comm. director, JIO are named

(05/17/96 9:00am)

Kenneth Wildes has been appointed to the position of director of University communications, University President Judith Rodin announced last Friday. He will begin his term July 1. And Provost Stanley Chodorow announced this week that Michele Goldfarb, a member of the Law School's clinical faculty who has served as acting Judicial Inquiry Officer since August 1, will now assume the position of JIO. Wildes will serve as a central spokesperson for the University and will develop and manage a University communications strategy. He will also "oversee the University's internal and external communications and public relations operations [and] enhance communication of the many contributions Penn's faculty, students and staff make to the advancement of education, research and society," according to a press release. And he will advise Rodin and other senior officials on public relations and communications issues. Goldfarb will direct the Student Dispute Resolution Center, where she will be responsible for the investigation and resolution of alleged violations of the codes of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, according to Almanac. The position of communications director has been vacant since March 1994, when Carol Farnsworth left the post after being named vice chancellor for communications at the University of Denver. Wildes, who is currently the vice president for community relations at Northwestern University, said he is coming to Penn for two reasons -- because it is an "extraordinary" institution and because of the people he will work with. "I think [Rodin] is a terrific president," he said. "I am interested in working for her staff. The people I have met have been really good people. I have gotten a really good feeling about where the education is heading." Wildes said his first order of business will be to "get to know the University better and to get to know the people better." Wildes has been in charge of communications at Northwestern for 14 years. Prior to assuming his present position, Wildes was director of newspaper promotions and public relations at Parade Publications, Inc.

Runoffs to be held today for senior board

(04/03/96 10:00am)

Engineering junior Neil Sheth was re-elected president of the Class of 1997 in this week's Senior Class Board elections, defeating College junior Dave Rosen. Sheth will begin his third term as the class's president. Sheth said last night he did not know whether he would win, explaining that he did not think the fact he was incumbent had a bearing on the election turnout. "I didn't know who this guy [Rosen] was really or how many people he knew," he said. "I just needed to get the people I needed out there to vote." Sheth added that Monday's rainy weather made this difficult because "it was hard to filter people into Houston Hall," where the voting took place. "We had as good a turnout as we could," he added. This year's voter turnout was only 16.2 percent, according to Class of 1996 President Lenny Chang. The Wharton senior added that last year's turnout was 25 to 30 percent. "This was a very disappointing year when it came to voter turnout," Chang said. Outgoing Senior Class Board member Mike Nadel, a College senior, agreed that the weather played a role in the low turnout, adding that another factor could have been that juniors "were content with Neil Sheth's leadership." "I think there was a lack of energy in the Class of '97 campaign which I hope the Class of 1998 and '99 campaigns make up for," he added. Nadel, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, also said he thought students were "turned off by the negative campaigning that was run by one of the losing candidates for president." College junior Abby Altman defeated incumbent Alex McClennan, also a College junior, for the position of senior class vice president. Engineering junior John Boyle was re-elected secretary by acclamation, as was College junior Rebecca Waranch for treasurer, Nursing representative Shari Glueo and Wharton representative Jason Sturman. The College representatives will be juniors Hayley Lattman and Stacey Caruso. All ran unopposed. There was a tie for the position of Engineering representative, between Brennan Binford and Shilpi Kansal. There will be a run-off tomorrow to determine which junior will represent the school. There will also be a run-off between College juniors Crystal Uyematsu and Jason Brenner, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, for the position of class historian. Both candidates gained more votes than the third candidate, College junior Renee Fishman. Students will be able to vote on Locust Walk from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Chang said. If it is raining, voting will take place in Houston Hall.

Locust House renovations to begin

(12/14/95 10:00am)

The University's Capital Council formally approved the construction on the new site of the Penn Women's Center yesterday, according to Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum. The building, called Locust House, is located in the former Theta Xi fraternity house. McCoullum added that it should be occupied by next fall. Engineers and other contractors have spent this semester examining the structure of Locust House and gathering the details necessary to prepare a formal proposal for construction, McCoullum said. Facilities Management officials then compiled a formal proposal to begin construction on the project, which was approved by the capital committee yesterday. The committee's membership includes University President Judith Rodin, Provost Stanley Chodorow, Executive Vice President John Fry and Vice President for Facilities Management Art Gravina. Once the renovations are complete, the Women's Center will fill the west half of the first floor and the office space on the second. The space will include a resource lounge, a conference room, offices and other counseling and support group space. The east side of the facility will include an all-University meeting room that any student, faculty or administrative group can reserve. Chodorow said the building is also being renovated for "at least one other office or center." "We have not decided yet which other office we will move to the building," he added. McCoullum announced in February 1994 that the Women's Center would move to Locust Walk. But then a year of debate, discussion and delay ensued. At the time, a small group of students expressed concern about the "political agenda" of the Women's Center, saying that many might be uncomfortable or intimidated by its new, more central location. Rodin did not make the definitive decision to move the center into Locust House until February 1995. Last April, the University community gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony to officially commemorate that decision. McCoullum said the reason the process has taken so long is because the building has many utility lines running under it, which had to be mapped out and evaluated. When the site was initially surveyed, officials discovered that the building was in worse shape than they had expected. "So it is really terrific to find out that the project is right on target," McCoullum said. "Everyone has been wonderful in moving this project forward."

UA advocates voting by Web

(12/11/95 10:00am)

The Nominations and Elections Committee is looking to change the Undergraduate Assembly election process. At last night's UA meeting, NEC Vice Chairperson and Engineering sophomore Ben Goldberger proposed the idea of running the spring UA elections through Netscape, the World Wide Web-browsing software. Under this system, any student with access to Netscape will be able to vote in the election, he said. There would also be several polling locations set up with computers, so students can vote around campus, Goldberger added. He explained that this system would have the same security as Penn InTouch. Students would have to enter their social security numbers and personal access codes into the computer before being allowed to vote. And once a student has voted, his or her name would be added to a database. But during debate, one UA member, College sophomore Josh Rockoff, expressed concern over the potential security risks of this endeavor, saying that he had seen at least one student break into Penn InTouch in the past. Goldberger said candidates for elections would not be allowed to solicit votes in computer labs around campus. UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers said Stanford University implemented a similar voting system, and it raised the voter turnout to about 80 percent. In the last UA election in March, only 13.6 percent of the student body voted. The UA body voted unanimously to support the NEC in bringing this idea to the administration. Also at last night's meeting, the body discussed space allocated in the Perelman Quadrangle for student government groups. Rogers said graduate student government, undergraduate student government and the Office of Student Life Activities and Facilities are currently slated to share what is currently the 21st Century Project office on the second floor of Houston Hall. He added that while the location sounds satisfactory, the amount of space allocated is small -- "probably the size of a closet." Rogers said that while the UA's current office is 240 square feet, the new office would only be 150 square feet. "We are looking to see if we can get more space," he said. In order to make room for a large Houston Hall lobby with a cafe, Rogers said the office now used by the UA, which is located on the first floor of Houston Hall, will be ripped out, along with all of the other offices on that level.

UA chair once backed UMC seat on Council

(12/05/95 10:00am)

Rogers criticized for his 'about face' on the issue Former Undergraduate Assembly members are accusing UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers of changing his stance based on his personal goals. Specifically, Rogers is being criticized for originally supporting the establishment of a United Minorities Council seat on University Council to further his own agenda. The UMC is currently waiting for Council's steering committee to decide whether the group should have a permanent seat. Rogers said he is not in support of the UMC seat at this point. "I do not believe the UMC should get a seat," he said. "If we give them a seat, we should give every student organization a seat." But this is not how Rogers saw the issue in the spring of 1994, when the issue was first brought before the UA. At that time, he voted to give the UMC a seat on Council. "When the vote came before the UA, the UMC had a seat on the [Council]," Rogers explained. "I didn't necessarily want to take that seat away from the UMC." Some former UA members say Rogers had a different rationale. College senior William Walton said Rogers voted in favor of a UMC seat because he wanted other members -- including Walton -- to vote in favor of a Council seat for the University's Ivy Council representative as well. Neither group had sufficient support to get its respective organization a seat. The Ivy Council is an organization made up of student leaders representing each school in the Ivy League. "[Rogers] and I agreed that we would mutually support each other's goals," Walton said. "I would cast my vote in favor of the Ivy Council representative on UC and he in turn would vote for the UMC to obtain a chair on UC." Rogers admitted that he made a deal with Walton, but he said he had been in support of the UMC seat anyway. "When [Walton] approached me?I had no reservations about doing so," he said. "To say it was a coalition or conspiracy would be making it more grandiose than it was." Both the Ivy Council and UMC gained enough UA support to gain Council seats. But the UMC seat came up for another vote at the spring 1994 Council meeting because the group's constitution only allows individuals elected by the student body to hold seats, and members of the UMC do not meet this requirement. At that meeting, Rogers voted against giving the UMC a seat. Walton pointed out that this "about-face" came after the Ivy Council had received its seat and said Rogers' actions were "wishy-washy." "This is the sort of situation which I think [former UA Chairperson and Wharton senior] Dan Debicella had in mind when Lance was elected to the chair of the UA and he was not necessarily pleased," Walton said. "He knew from years of previous experience that Lance was not the strongest of people when it came to making decisions and that he could be persuaded one way or another, depending on whether he had goals to further. "It looks to me like [Debicella] was right," Walton added. But Rogers said his change of heart occurred after he was made aware of the unconstitutionality of the issue. "After thinking about everything that went on two years ago, I realized that I was wrong in voting the way I did at the UA meeting," he said. "I changed my mind -- I think that is allowed. And I have stuck to that ever since." Former UA Vice Chairperson and College senior Tamara Dubowitz said she is not surprised that Rogers' stand on the issue has shifted. "Lance changes his mind often," she said. "[He] will probably continue to do so."

SAC groups to be allocated extra funding

(12/04/95 10:00am)

Money to come from reserve account of contingency funds The Student Activities Council will be allocating an extra $245,330 in contingency funds to student groups during the next few years, SAC Steering Chairperson and College senior Graham Robinson said. He said the funds will go to deserving projects that might have otherwise been overlooked due to lack of resources. This money is part of a $473,718 SAC reserve account which contains SAC revenue carry-over that has built up over the past few years, according to Lynn Moller, financial administrator for student activities. She said this account has grown so much because groups have not been spending all of their allocated funding. Moller added that this money will now be used for anything agreed upon by SAC and the Undergraduate Assembly treasurer. Robinson said he thinks the money should be allocated to groups over a five-year period. "This doesn't make it so long that the money loses value, but it is also a long enough period of time to be sure we are using that money in an efficient way," he explained. The University requires that $100,000 remain in a cushion account, so if one of the branches of student government goes into debt, the University does not end up paying for it. Moller said the reserve account has served this function in the past, since it typically contains more than $100,000. But she added that it has rarely been used for that purpose. Robinson said he will be discussing with the leaders of the branches of student government the best way to set up a new, separate account to serve as a cushion fund, since he feels the reserve account should no longer serve this cushion purpose. He said he thinks the UA should oversee the establishment of this new account, with each branch contributing some money. The $473,718 reserve account includes $112,207 from SAC groups' outside revenues, which will only remain in the account temporarily, Robinson said. He emphasized that the groups are still in control of their portion of these funds. And Moller estimated that there is as much as $20,000 in the account that has been factored into groups' budgets, but has not yet cleared through the University's system. Most of this money is for "general stuff that is put through at the end of the fiscal year but didn't get paid for at the time," she said. Once paperwork is completed and the money clears through the University's system, it will be subtracted from the $473,718, Moller added. Robinson said the rest of the account is filled with funds allocated to groups that were not spent. For the past few years, carry-over revenue has averaged $73,000, he said. Moller said last year was the first time she noticed that there was going to be carry-over, so she told SAC to allocate an additional $52,000 to student groups during its annual allocations. And $44,181 of the money is SAC's contingency fund from last year, which was included in last spring's allocations, Moller said. That leaves $245,330 in contingency funds sitting in the account. In the November 21 issue of The Daily Pennsylvanian, columnist Mike Nadel, a College senior, suggested that the $473,000 account was being used as a slush fund -- that groups' carry-over was used in order to pay for the debt incurred by class boards and the Student Planning and Events Committee. Moller said the fund has never been used to cover a SPEC debt. When SPEC incurred a debt last year the group paid for it out of its own reserve fund, she added. Nadel said most groups are not aware that they must fill out a form requesting their carry-over. Otherwise it gets transferred to the central account. Moller denied last week that this is the case. She said if groups neglect to fill out the form, SAC Finance contacts them about carrying over their funds. SAC Steering has recently come up with a reform proposal. Part of its plan is to eliminate the Office of Student Life Activities and Facilities carry-over request form altogether in order to streamline the system. The entire proposal will be presented at tomorrow's SAC meeting.

SAC to examine IAA's used of funding

(11/30/95 10:00am)

Armed with a report that the International Affairs Association may have misused $3,492 in Student Activities Council funds, the SAC Finance Committee has decided to reexamine the IAA's finances, SAC Steering Chairperson Graham Robinson said. According to an independent audit conducted by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the potential fund misuses include overspending for printing and duplicating, travel and personal phone calls made from the group's office. Robinson said the Finance Committee will hand out an information sheet with the results of its investigation at Tuesday's SAC meeting. But he added that the IAA's finances would not be the main subject of the meeting. He said that if the committee discovers that funds were misused, it will react accordingly. But he said a punishment will not necessarily affect the entire group. "If there is an individual in a group who blatantly abuses [his] position and that is what causes the impropriety, then that person would be removed from [his] position in the group," Robinson said. "We do it totally in terms of maintaining the mission of the group and fixing the problem," he added. "We don't want to fall in the trap of punishing the people involved in the group for something their leaders have done." Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers said the DP's audit exposed many important issues. "I think it highlights the problems with our current system and indicates that something must be done," he said. Rogers added that the report shows that the UA's own audit of IAA "may not have been off base after all." Two months ago, the UA Budget Committee conducted an audit of the IAA, finding that the group misused $1,500 in SAC funds. But SAC Finance, which performed its own audit, determined that the IAA was not at fault. Many UA members reconsidered their support of the Budget Committee's audit after SAC Finance released its findings, and subsequently voted to send a letter to the DP apologizing to the UA. The letter was never submitted, however. But not all members have changed their minds about the validity of these audits. UA Vice Chairperson Gil Beverly, a College and Wharton senior, said he is skeptical of the DP's findings. He said he wants to hear what the IAA has to say in its defense. "A lot of people, including myself, jumped to certain conclusions the first time," he said. "I don't know enough about the IAA to say if it is or is not true." Office of Student Life Activities and Facilities Director Fran Walker said the fact that groups do not spend money in the exact way it was allocated is not a major problem. "In January 1996, all groups draw up a budget to start to spend in September 1996," she said. "That means it is a completely different set of people creating the budget from the group actually spending the budget." Walker added that if students want the exact allocations to be monitored to the penny, then more workers will have to be hired. "If that is what the student body wants, then the student body has to collectively decide to buy more help," she said.

SAC Steering proposes overhaul

(11/29/95 10:00am)

The Student Activities Council Steering Committee has unanimously approved a proposal that would allow the body more flexibility in interpreting its bylaws -- including funding regulations. The proposal, which would transform SAC from a "procedural" body into a "rational" body, may mean a complete overhaul of the way SAC operates, SAC Steering Chairperson and College senior Graham Robinson said. Under the procedural system, it is easier for groups to misuse funds, Robinson explained. For example, a SAC group is allowed to spend money allocated for staplers on paper clips, since both items fall under the same category of office expenses. "Now, if SAC were a rational body, they would gut all those procedural rules that strictly define how SAC has to operate and just say what makes sense in each particular instance," Robinson said. But he said that if the system is overhauled, SAC Finance should still use the procedures as suggestions for how the body should efficiently operate. The proposal will be presented to the SAC general body at next month's meeting. Robinson said the body will vote on the changes at January's meeting, since motions to change the SAC constitution have to occur over two meetings. The proposal suggests creating a SAC Executive Committee, thereby eliminating both the SAC Steering and SAC Finance committees. The new committee will consist of nine members, one of which would be the Undergraduate Assembly treasurer. Only officers of SAC-recognized organizations would be allowed to run for this committee. The Executive Committee would decide on the recognition of SAC groups and would publish their results to the public. The main body would be able to motion to overturn the committee's decision if it does not agree. Under the current system, the entire SAC body formally reviews and votes on each individual case. The proposal also dictates that only the president or chairperson of an organization, and not the treasurer, can serve as a representative to SAC. "We think that if you get older people, people who have exhibited sufficient leadership qualities that they are able to become the president or chair of an organization in the first place, it would just be a better, more rational, body," Robinson said. Another aspect of the proposal aims to discourage representatives from missing meetings. Currently, groups lose recognition when they miss two meetings, but they regain it the next year when a new board takes over. The proposal would the lessen group's SAC grant by 10 percent when it loses recognition. The plan will also allow SAC groups to keep revenue up to 200 percent of their allocated budget without taking a cut in their SAC grants. Under the current system, if a group makes a profit one year, SAC finance will deduct the revenue from the next year's grant. "The rationale behind that is that there is an incredible amount of money out there available to student groups which they aren't taking advantage of because SAC currently discourages them raising money," Robinson said. According to the proposal, SAC would no longer have to fund a group just because it provides funds to a similar organization. Robinson explained that in some years, when SAC has more money to allocate than usual, the money ends up either not being spent or distributed equally among all SAC groups, "which is a waste, because most SAC groups don't need more money." And all groups are not equally deserving of money, he added. "Some groups are better run, some groups do what they do better, some groups' programs are more interesting than others and we really should fund those programs more than other programs," Robinson explained. The proposal allows groups to retain their outside revenues, instead of putting the funds in a central SAC account. This account currently holds $473,000, money that Robinson said should be distributed to SAC groups. The proposal also suggests that Connaissance -- an organization which brings speakers to campus and which has the largest SAC budget --become a part of the Social Planning and Events Committee instead of SAC. "[Connaissance] wants to do that, SPEC wants them and they are more of a SPEC group than a SAC group anyway," Robinson explained. SAC also recommends that the Executive Committee give special consideration to proposals it may not have otherwise funded if the proposal involves a joint effort by three or more groups -- "especially when the groups involved are groups that rarely interact," Robinson said. Robinson said the proposal is "a lot less dramatic than some people outside SAC Steering wanted," explaining that some members have suggested eliminating general body meetings altogether and putting the decision making in the hands of individual committees. If the proposal passes, the first Executive Committee will be elected in February 1996.

UA's first audit will also be last

(11/29/95 10:00am)

IAA case creates confusion When the Undergraduate Assembly's Budget Committee decided to audit the International Affairs Association two months ago, it was the first time the body had undertaken such an investigation. It was also the last time. The UA's announcement of the audit sparked a great deal of controversy. Many groups claimed it was not within the UA's constitutional rights to conduct such an audit. But the UA maintained that it was entitled to look into the IAA's use of funds, since the records in the Office of Student Life are accessible to all students. Many wondered why the Budget Committee did not simply conduct the audit in conjunction with the Student Activities Council's Finance Committee, especially since two of its three members -- UA Treasurer and Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer Steve Schorr and UA member Tom Foldesi -- are also on SAC Finance. "It doesn't make sense to me," IAA President and College senior Brendan Cahill said. "It seems to me that it is a stronger case for them to go through [SAC Finance] because they have two voices instead of the usual one." But UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers said the Budget Committee maintained an open working relationship with SAC Finance, adding that the opposition to the audit stemmed from SAC Finance itself. The Budget Committee released its findings at the end of last month, claiming that the IAA misused $1,500 in SAC funds. Less than one week later, SAC Finance released the results of its own audit -- performed with IAA's personal books -- which vindicated the IAA. This caused many members of the UA to reconsider their support of the audit, which they had pledged only two weeks before. The UA body subsequently voted to send a letter to the DP apologizing to the IAA. Although the letter was written and approved by the body, it was never submitted. And Cahill said he never received an apology. Rogers said the body changed its mind because "after the audit results became public, the numbers in the OSL started changing," giving UA members the sense that the audit was not fully comprehensive. Rogers added that the Budget Committee will be conducting any future audits in conjunction with SAC Finance, an agreement he said was reached prior to the release of SAC Finance's own audit.

SAC plagued by inefficiency, apathy

(11/28/95 10:00am)

When the Student Activities Council Finance Committee released its report vindicating the International Affairs Association of fund misuse last month, it concluded that the Undergraduate Assembly Budget Committee's inaccurate findings could be attributed to "administrative accounting errors." But the administrator in question, Financial Administrator of Student Activities Lynn Moller, denies any wrongdoing. Moller explained that checking the books of student groups is not part of her job description. She said she is in charge of screening for University concerns, not fund misuse. "It would be great if someone in this office had time to do that," she added. "But that is not generally the case." SAC Steering Chairperson and College senior Graham Robinson agreed that the blame does not rest with Moller. He said the only way the Office of Student Life could provide SAC with perfect books is if they had three more budget administrators. And the money to fund this would have to come out of students' General Fee. "To some extent, I think we should accept less than perfect oversight because it would cost so much to get perfect oversight," Robinson said. But he added that SAC could not conceivably come up with perfect books either. And there are a lot of problems inherent in the SAC structure that allow for situations in which fund misuse can occur, according to Robinson. For example, once a group gets allocated funds for a particular category, it is allowed to spend it on anything that falls in that category -- whether or not it was something for which funds had been requested. "The only thing that is basically checked is is that you bought something that fits under that category," Robinson said. "You wouldn't be reimbursed for a taxi under office expense. But other than that, there is no checking. "In fact, oftentimes groups end up running a slight deficit in a category before reimbursements stop being issued," Robinson added. "And that is sort of the nature of SAC debt." He added that groups probably know SAC is not checking up on them. "I think that groups generally have the feeling that SAC is a mess right now?so it is possible that some groups are taking advantage of it," he said. Robinson added that he thought this was what would be uncovered when the IAA audit started. He said the only way SAC could increase oversight is if they could have more office space and several work-study students, which he expects will occur with the opening of the Perelman Quadrangle. Another source of SAC inefficiency is that groups currently have to fill out a form if they want their outside revenue to be retained instead of being moved into a central account under SAC's jurisdiction. "Apparently a lot of students forget to fill out the form, and I doubt that this is because they don't want the money," Robinson said. There is currently $473,000 in this account. Robinson said SAC is trying to determine how much of this was contributed by SAC groups. Robinson said many organizations are justifiably unhappy with SAC. "They basically go in [to OSL] and say, 'I am going to get screwed no matter what I do here, I am not going to get the amount of money, but I guess I ought to try' and feel that they [should] just throw the receipts in this office and see what comes out," he said. Another problem with the SAC structure is that many groups have been alternating their SAC representatives on a frequent basis. "The biggest problem is that many groups are just transferring the SAC meeting to a different person each month which creates no continuity in the meetings," Robinson said. "And as a result of that most people have no idea what is going on at the meetings." This makes it difficult for SAC to operate because the body is constantly relearning SAC procedure each meeting, he explained. Currently, groups lose SAC recognition after missing two meetings. This puts SAC in a difficult situation because many feel it is not fair to punish the next year's board of an organization for the mistakes of the current year. Students have also complained that SAC reimbursement forms are confusing. IAA President and College senior Brendan Cahill attested to this fact, claiming that the forms led the UA Budget Committee to jump to false conclusions about the IAA. "There is confusion because the forms aren't clear, which leads to some sort of discrepancy between what you wanted to pay for and what SAC paid for," he said. Robinson said changes are currently being made to all the reimbursement forms, as a result of the confusion with the IAA case.

U. officials aim to keep campus safe over break

(11/22/95 10:00am)

Because most students will be home eating turkey and enjoying their vacation for the next four days, safety will remain a high priority at the University. As a precaution, Residential Living has sent a letter to all students living on campus encouraging them to secure their valuables and lock up sufficiently before leaving for the break. This includes locking all windows, closing all shades, drapes and blinds, and locking and bolting all doors to rooms or apartments. The letter also warns students who will be remaining on campus to take necessary safety precautions. Some suggested safety measures include not travelling alone, utilizing Penn Escort Service and being suspicious of strangers. "You have to take it seriously and beware of your surroundings," said Gordon Rickards, Residential Living assistant director for safety, security and facilities. There are also security measures being taken off campus. As part of their annual Special Checks program, University Police officers will be periodically checking the exterior property of participating faculty, staff and students. They will be looking for signs of criminal activity or security breaches. Those interested in including their residence in the program are encouraged to fill out an application at the University Police Station in Superblock or the Victim Support/Crime Prevention Office on Walnut Street prior to leaving campus. Victim Support and Special Services Director Maureen Rush said students should have nothing to worry about as long as they take the proper precautions. "[Students] certainly will be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal in peace, knowing that their residence has been secured to the best of their ability," she said. For students remaining on campus for the break, University Police suggests that they use one of the ten ATMs located inside University buildings, and that they carry only necessary credit cards and money. The police also recommend that students know the locations of the blue-light emergency phones and that they report suspicious activities. University Police can be reached in an emergency by dialing 511 from an on-campus extension, or 573-3333 from an off-campus phone. For a non-emergency, the number is 898-7297. Victim Support and Special Services can be reached at 898-6600 or 898-4481, and University Police Detectives can be reached at 898-4485.

GAPSA blasts consensual sex policy

(11/17/95 10:00am)

Graduate students feel the University is invading their privacy. A policy recently implemented by the administration prohibits any sexual relations among members of the University community who have a faculty-student relationship. This includes graduate students, who often serve as teaching assistants. But members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly are not taking the decision lying down. At Wednesday night's GAPSA meeting, the body passed a resolution opposing the new policy. GAPSA Vice Chairperson Alex Welte, who wrote the resolution, said it is unfair for the University to prohibit any relationships, regardless of whether they affect interactions in the classroom. "I think that's absolutely outrageous," he said. The resolution rejects the University's interference into consensual relationships, stating that "legislating against sex per se is a serious invasion of privacy." GAPSA Chairperson and Wharton MBA student Victor Prince said the body is hoping to influence the way the new consensual sex policy is implemented. "The policy is out there," he said. "But we just wanted to make sure [the administration] understands that there are issues they have to keep in mind while they do this." Also at the meeting, the body discussed the effects national financial aid cuts will have on graduate students. Late last month, Prince, as a member of the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students, lobbied Congress on the issue of financial aid cuts. The group opposes cuts to student loans. GAPSA voted to pass a resolution giving campus support to the nationwide lobbying effort. And Prince also received executive board support to sign a letter to President Clinton "to help him stay firm in opposing federal cuts to aid." This was also part of the national association's initiatives. GAPSA also unanimously passed a resolution expressing its appreciation to the University comptroller's office, the University payroll office and the Graduate Student Associations Council Tax Committee. According to Price, last year the city of Philadelphia decided to tax student stipends in an effort to raise more money. This 100 percent tax affected many graduate students and teaching assistants, who were "not a group that could afford to be taxed." The Office of the Comptroller and the payroll office lobbied city government, and as a result the tax was reduced to only 50 percent. "So we got half a cake, but it is better than losing the whole cake," Prince said. GAPSA also discussed the graduate school happy hours, which have been well-received by students, attracting more than 500 people on average. "They have really caught on," Prince said. "They are really the only chance for graduate students to get together in one place and know that other graduate students will be there." The next happy hour is tonight at The Gold Standard from 5 to 8 p.m.

Campus groups fight to bring '96 debate to Penn

(11/14/95 10:00am)

The Commission on Presidential Debates will be on campus November 28 to evaluate the University as a potential site for a debate between the 1996 presidential or vice-presidential candidates. And student leaders are teaming up to clinch the University's spot among the four finalists. Representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly, College Republicans and the Student Activities Council met yesterday with University Associate Secretary Sue Jacobson to increase student involvement in the effort. Last month, the University was chosen as one of 10 finalists for the events. Three institutions will host presidential debates on either Sept. 25, Oct. 2 or Oct. 16, 1996, and a fourth school will host the vice presidential candidates on Oct. 9, 1996. Jacobson said last night that students will definitely play a role in the process, although the details of their actions are yet to be determined. Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said the student groups are considering two projects -- getting a petition signed and planning for the November 28 visit of Janet Brown, executive director of the commission. But UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers said last night that the idea of a petition "has been scrapped" because there is not enough time to gather signatures due to Thanksgiving break. "We only have this week to work with and that's it," he said. "We thought we could do a better job by focusing on the actual day [Brown] will be here." At Sunday's UA meeting, the body discussed several ideas on how to impress the commission with the University's spirit. Proposals ranged from placing posters on Locust Walk to hanging flags from on-campus fraternity houses. Rogers said the groups are also considering holding a rally in the Annenberg Quadrangle to demonstrate student support for the debate. He added that they create a slogan for stickers that they will "slap on people as they walk into the Annenberg Quad." And the Penn Band might even play at the rally during Brown's visit, Rogers said. The groups will submit a budget for the rally to Scheman's office, he added. "Hopefully she can give us the money we need," Rogers said. But Scheman said she does not want to see student support get out of hand. "My attitude towards this is that it is important to let students participate, but I don't want to turn this into a real big thing," she said. Scheman added that students will have the opportunity to meet with Brown at the end of the day to ask her questions and tell her about the University. But while this "walk-through" provides an opportunity to win a debate, "the real opportunity comes after Penn wins," Scheman said. "The reason I want the debate and the reason Judith Rodin wants this debate?is because it is an enormous opportunity to get up close to a presidential campaign," she said. Scheman added that the probability of the University winning this debate is based on factors beyond the school's control. "The real thing that Janet has to care about is the pragmatic physical facilities," she said, explaining that there must be suitable accommodations both for the debate and for all of those involved. The other institutions and cities in contention for a 1996 debate are Furman University in Greenville, S.C.; George Washington University; Trinity College and the city of Hartford, Conn.; Michigan State University in East Lansing; the University of South Florida and the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.; the University of Maryland at College Park; the University of Oklahoma at Norman; the University of California at San Diego and Washington University in St. Louis.

UA no longer supports 'Project 2000' proposal

(11/09/95 10:00am)

Former Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Dan Debicella called it "the most substantial thing the UA has done this decade." But Project 2000 is not being supported by this year's UA, according to UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers. Last February, Debicella, then a Wharton junior, submitted Project 2000 to the UA body for approval after working on it for more than a semester. The body passed 21 of the 25 recommendations in Project 2000, all pertaining to specific areas of the University. Rogers said while he supported several ideas from Project 2000, he disagreed with many others. "Like the idea to clean up SEPTA stops on campus: I mean, let's be serious -- that's a joke," he said. Debicella appealed to the UA body to implement the plan at a meeting earlier this semester. While several members of the body expressed interest in Project 2000, few members attended a separate meeting called by Debicella to discuss implementation of his plan. College sophomore and UA member Wendy Mongillo, who attended the meeting, said she went because she was curious about Project 2000. But she added that Debicella has not followed up the first meeting. Debicella said his plan is still influencing some of the projects the UA body is currently working on. He added that he sees himself as playing "the senior statesman role" for this year's UA, serving in an advising capacity for many of the members. One of Debicella's recommendations was to implement a debit card system, which would allow students to put money on their Penn Cards at the beginning of the year and make purchases with it around campus. This is one of the main projects the UA's Student Life committee is working on. Wharton sophomore Alan Danzig, who is chairperson of the Student Life committee, said he has been working closely with Debicella. Danzig added that his committee is also working to improve pedestrian safety and dining services on campus. Both of these issues were addressed in Project 2000. But College senior Christian Hensley, who is chairperson of the Residential Living committee, said his group came up with its goals without consulting Project 2000. Some of the goals of the Residential Living committee include improving Residential Maintenance's response time and giving preference to upperclassmen in the Residential Living lottery system. Another issue addressed in Project 2000 was increasing the level of English fluency among teaching assistants and professors -- the main project of the academics committee. Debicella said Project 2000 has had "at least a minor impact" on several administrative issues, including opening minors in the College of Arts and Sciences to Wharton students, the creation of student advisory councils and keeping the tuition increase less than 5 percent. Rogers said that while Project 2000 did offer some tips, it was generally not useful. "We did take ideas from Project 2000, but as a whole, it is just not what this UA is focusing on," he said.

Undergraduate Assembly split on IAA audit

(11/01/95 10:00am)

Twelve Undergraduate Assembly members still support the UA Budget Committee's audit of the International Affairs Association, according to a survey conducted by The Daily Pennsylvanian last night. Six members said they do not stand behind the audit and nine were not sure. Six members were unavailable for comment. Late last month, the UA voted 17-0 with five abstentions to "give the Budget Committee the full support of the UA" in its audit of the IAA. The UA released its audit last week, concluding that the IAA misused $1,500 of Student Activities Council funds. According to members of SAC Steering, the public release of this audit breached an agreement between UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers, the IAA and SAC Steering. Rogers had promised that the UA would not release its findings until both groups were notified. At Monday's SAC meeting, the body voted to vindicate the IAA of any fund misuse, attributing many of the UA's charges to administrative accounting errors. SAC based its conclusions on its own audit, which was conducted by SAC Finance IAA liaison Lija Bentley, a College senior. In light of this recent confusion, many UA members have reconsidered their support of the UA's audit. "I honestly have no clue who to believe," UA Secretary and Nursing junior Lisa Aspinwall said last night. She added that she believes UA Treasurer and College senior Steve Schorr "really thought his numbers were in the right." Those who support the audit say they do so out of loyalty. "I stand by the audit and I stand by Lance," College junior Laurie Moldawer said. Those members not in favor of the audit say they doubt the results because they have problems with the way the UA Budget Committee conducted the audit. "My support ended on Friday when [SAC Steering Chairperson and College senior Graham Robinson] and I had a talk and he made me aware of the potential accounting errors," UA Vice Chairperson and Wharton senior Gil Beverly said. UA member and Engineering sophomore Alex Malek, who said he supports the audit, added that he did not understand how the UA and SAC audits came up with such different results. "Something to me definitely sounds fishy," he said. Regardless, several members agreed that the audit was a success because the "administrative accounting errors" were rectified -- even if this was only done to divert attention from IAA wrongdoing. Most of the members surveyed agreed that the UA had the constitutional right to conduct the audit, although several suggested that the UA and SAC devise a better method to conduct future audits. On Sunday, the UA body will vote on a motion to requesting that SAC Finance perform all future audits. Daily Pennsylvanian reporter Randi Feigenbaum contributed to this story.

SAC refutes findings of IAA audit

(10/31/95 10:00am)

The Student Activities Council passed a motion last night vindicating the International Affairs Association of any financial misuse during the 1994-95 fiscal year. This motion refutes the audit released last week by the Undergraduate Assembly Budget Committee, which found that the IAA misused $1,500 in SAC funding. SAC also voted to perform future audits through the SAC Finance Committee. At the meeting, SAC Finance Committee Chairperson David Shapiro, a College and Wharton junior, presented the committee's version of the IAA budget, which did not correspond to the UA Budget Committee's findings. According to the Finance Committee's report, "the overwhelming majority of the [UA Budget] Committee's findings can be attributed to admin- istrative accounting errors." The SAC committee also concluded that the UA's investigation was inaccurate because it did not review the IAA's books or interview IAA members. UA Treasurer and College sophomore Steve Schorr, a Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer, attributed this to the lack of cooperation on the part of the IAA. But IAA President and College senior Brendan Cahill said the UA simply did not give him enough time to respond. SAC Steering Committee Chairperson Graham Robinson, a College senior, expressed his disappointment over the way in which the audit was conducted. "We think that the UA should have made a greater effort to meet with the IAA, whether or not the IAA was pushing them back to delay release of the audit, simply because this meeting was important for assuring that the information in the released audit would be correct," Robinson said. But Schorr maintained that the UA's findings were accurate, and said that any "administrative accounting errors" were due to accurate information provided by the IAA. He added that the accounting errors -- some of which occurred more than a year ago -- would never have been noticed had it not been for this audit. SAC members also criticized Rogers and Schorr for publicizing their results before showing them to the IAA and SAC Finance -- thereby breaching an earlier agreement between the groups. "Lance Rogers and Steve Schorr have not simply pointed out questions of accounting -- they have publically accused the IAA of stealing money from students," Robinson said. A separate motion to demand that the UA impeach UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers and Schorr for their "demonstrated incompetence and blatant disregard for ethical behavior with respect to the proceedings during the investigation of the International Affairs Association" was considered but then defeated by the SAC body. Cahill said the IAA holds the entire UA body responsible for Rogers' statements in the press, adding that the IAA has been considering legal action. UA Vice Chairperson Gil Beverly, a Wharton senior, said he co-sponsored a motion at Sunday night's UA meeting that was intended to prevent individual members of the body to speak for the entire group on controversial issues, such as this audit. Had it passed at the meeting, it would have prevented the IAA audit from being considered officially supported by the entire UA body. The motion failed 11-7 with five abstentions. So when Rogers referred to the IAA as "frauds" on UTV13's "Frontline" program or as "thieves" in the DP, this would not be reflecting the opinion of the entire body, Beverly said. Beverly said he has been wary of the validity of the audit since it was released Friday. "I think it is clear that our version of the audit isn't correct -- at least all of the evidence at this time points to that," he said last night. "I think we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and the way we do things and if audits are something that we even need to be thinking about doing anymore." Beverly added that he wishes the Budget Committee had been more careful with its accusations. "It is obvious to me that this audit ended up being not as much about fact-finding as it was about personal issues in the end," he said. Also at the SAC Finance Committee meeting, Wharton sophomore Andrea Ogundele, College sophomore Dan Orr and Wharton junior Humberto Salomon were elected to the body.