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GUEST COLUMNIST: Hiring due to gender, not ability

(07/22/99 9:00am)

Brandi Chastain insists that baring her toned body through her black sports bra last week was a natural reaction. After all, she had just kicked the World Cup clinching goal for the United States women's soccer team and needed to wave something around in celebration. So her shirt came off -- and excitement poured through the veins of millions of Americans, including hordes of worshipping men, as the soccer star victoriously flexed her muscles. Chastain's goal, the U.S. team's 1-0 victory over China and the resulting soccer pandemonium that has engulfed the nation highlight the phenomenal progress women have made in the sports arena over the last several decades. Indeed, only 27 years ago, women's sports had such a backseat to their male counterparts that the federal government felt compelled to pass legislation requiring gender equity in athletics. Those Title IX measures came on top of many other equalizing efforts, like Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids employment discrimination based on race or gender. Combined, these initiatives have given opportunities to scores of Americans who otherwise might have struggled to experience the type of exhilaration Chastain felt last week. Yet, efforts to equalize the playing field can have pernicious consequences when manipulated. Case in point: the University's 1997 decision to not hire Andrew Medcalf as women's crew coach. According to a report released recently by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the University violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it passed up Medcalf in favor of a female candidate for the job. A look at the facts makes the finding irrefutable. First, Medcalf's experience is extensive. He served -- and has continued to serve -- as assistant men's crew coach since 1990. He also has six years of experience as a head coach at the University level and has racked up innumerable rowing championships. What's more, venerable men's crew coach Stan Bergman highly recommended Medcalf for the position -- the ultimate endorsement of his qualifications. And both male and female rowers publicly supported Medcalf's candidacy. Despite a virtually unparalleled resume, then-Senior Associate Athletic Director Carolyn Schlie Femovich did not even offer Medcalf an interview. To repeat, the candidate roundly supported for the job was flatly denied an interview. Puzzling, to say the least. The EEOC rightly states in its report that Medcalf's candidacy was cut short for one reason: Testosterone. The Athletic Department wanted a female women's crew coach and according to the EEOC "took extraordinary measures" to recruit only female candidates. Both Medcalf and witnesses, for example, told the EEOC that Femovich openly stated that she felt she had to hire a female coach. Of four applicants interviewed for the job, all were females. Granted, the candidate the University hired, Barb Kirch, has impeccable credentials herself -- and the Athletic Department officials point to those to justify their decision. Kirch had already been a successful women's crew coach at Dartmouth College for nine years, coached the U.S. Women's National team for two years and received her undergraduate degree at Penn. Impressive, indeed -- perhaps even enough to put Kirch above Medcalf. But certainly not enough to shut Medcalf out of an interview -- especially when Kirch hadn't even applied for the job when the Athletic Department refused Medcalf an interview. So while Penn may have "the best coach in the country in Barb Kirch," according to University spokesperson Ken Wildes, the University appears to have missed a step in reaching that point. Apparently, the University skipped over the third word in the "EEOC" acronym: "opportunity." Medcalf never got his opportunity.

COLUMN: Bag searches: a poor idea gone bad

(04/19/99 9:00am)

For all the administrative talk over the last few weeks encouraging students to "Do The Right Fling," University officials did not practice what they preached this weekend. In an effort to prevent underage students from bringing alcohol into University dorms, the administration made a fatal error: mishandling the entire process of searching students' bags as they entered. Not only did University officials fail to notify students of the searches before Fling but they also tolerated the searches being conducted in a horribly unreasonable and haphazard fashion. Police officers, who are government agents, may not, for example, search an individual without probable cause -- but Penn is not a government agent, nor any other type of public institution. Similar logic supports other private universities' policies banning alcohol in their dorms at all times. Where University President Judith Rodin, Provost Robert Barchi and other administrators are at fault, however, is in not explicitly communicating that bag searches would occur in dorms. All sorts of communication was flying around campus in the days leading up to Fling but none of that dialogue mentioned bag searches. Last Wednesday, for instance, Student Life Director Fran Walker sent an e-mail message to students highlighting several new non-alcoholic events added to Fling weekend. And College junior Bryan Grossman, one of Fling's coordinators, sent out an e-mail message emphasizing the weekend's policies -- both new and old, alcohol- and non-alcohol-related. No containers would be allowed in the Quad, he wrote, and security guards would be checking bags. But nowhere among the nine policies listed did Grossman ever alert students to the fact that bag searches would occur at other dorms. University officials themselves also failed to publicize the policy. Despite extensive press coverage of the alcohol task force's meetings last week, Barchi and Rodin never gave even the slightest indication that bag searches would occur. When the administration finally informed students of the policy via e-mail, Fling was already well underway. In an e-mail message to residents of Hamilton College House Saturday morning, House Dean Roberta Stack said she had only received an announcement regarding the policy late Friday night. The announcement Stack forwarded came from Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, the vice provost for University Life. In the message, the administration for the first time publicized the bag search policy -- despite Fling being well past half over. Given such suspicious circumstances, one can not help wondering what motivated the administration's actions. Did administrators not publicize the policy because they hoped to catch as many students off guard as possible? Or did they not have their act together for one of the most important weekends of the year? Whatever the reasoning behind the lack of communication, the University botched the bag search policy. What could have served as a preventive measure -- deterring underage students who might have tried to bring alcohol into their dorms -- became a punitive measure, busting students who did not know any better. Making such questionable communication even worse was the haphazard way in which students were confronted with the policy. While searches were occurring regularly at some dorms, such as the Quad and the three high rises, other dorms went search-free. Security guards also seemed to randomly target certain students. In what seems like some sort of alcohol profiling, many students passed through gates without a search, yet others had to open up all their belongings. Even worse, the guards conducting the searches were often blatantly rude. One female student bringing alcohol into Hamilton College House was stopped by a guard and asked for identification. The student, a senior who turned 21 in January, handed her ID to the guard, who responded, "You're barely 21." Shocked at such an absurd judgment and ridiculous logic, the student allowed the guard to see how much alcohol she had -- but she felt the guard would not let her through no matter how little alcohol she had. Finally, the guard told her, "I guess if that's all you have, it's OK." What is not OK is such treatment towards students, both on the part of security guards and on the part of administrators. If the administration hopes to work with students in devising new alcohol policies, it must work with them, not against them.

COLUMN: Take the night, but do it right

(04/12/99 9:00am)

Friday's assault -- and three other attacks in the same area within the last 20 months -- highlights the dire need for efforts like Take Back the Night. Campaigns to stop violence against women, to educate the public on sexual assault and to support victims of such attacks play a crucial role in a society in which 20 percent of women will be the victims of rape at some point in their lives. Frustratingly, however, Take Back the Night routinely falls far short of achieving its stated goals. Instead of staying focused on sexual violence, the event annually becomes mired in controversies, forcing its objectives to the periphery. Refocusing the program would eliminate those controversies and put the spotlight where it belongs -- on increasing awareness and prevention of sexual assaults. A rally that condemns violence should not project an image of virulence, militancy and exclusivity. Whether intentional or not, chants like, "We're here, we're women, we're fabulous, don't fuck with us," suggest a vicious loathing of men. Granted, hatred towards attackers -- the vast majority of whom are men -- is well-deserved. But the vast majority of men are not attackers -- a distinction that Take Back the Night participants seem to ignore with such exclamations. What's more, this year's attendees went so far as to accost University officials. "University silence perpetuates the violence," they roared throughout campus, seemingly pitting female Penn students against Penn administrators. Yet the University, through such mechanisms as the Penn Women's Center and the Student Health Service, more than adequately supports victims of sexual assault. Susan Hawkins alone, the University's point person on incidents of sexual violence, spends countless hours with victims of such crimes. Given such services, activists should emphasize the University's offerings, not condemn administrators. After all, if Take Back the Night is aimed at educating people about sexual violence, the University's programming deserves extra attention. With education and awareness the goal, Take Back the Night organizers need to also put an end to the issue of male participation. Each of the last six years, men on campus have questioned why they have been excluded from all or part of Take Back the Night. This year, the organizers discouraged men from participating in the march but permitted them to take part in the Speak-Out. Last year, organizers allowed just the opposite. In 1997, the debate over the role of men reached its peak when School of Arts and Sciences graduate student Litty Paxton exclaimed at the Speak-Out, "This is the one bloody night of the year that we ask you, as men, to shut up and listen." Discouraging men from attending the march, she added, "I don't need you to be there, OK? I don't need you to hold my hand." Such comments do more harm than good. Beyond once again pitting men against women, excluding men from Take Back the Night results in a lower level of awareness. Indeed, half the population -- the half that many feel would benefit the most from actively participating in the event -- cannot benefit from the event's whole message. Excluding men from even part of the rally has also historically garnered more attention than the event itself, again making it difficult for the evening's message to reach the public. As a result, organizers would do best to neither discourage nor encourage male participation in the rally. By putting gender aside, the spotlight can remain on the issue at hand. The inclusion of men also has the potential to spark further productive discussion. Nor are concerns about the presence of men diverting attention from the evening's appropriate focus on women well-founded. The night's focus will remain on women so long as they are, sadly, the primary target of sexual violence. Indeed, the elimination of such boundaries and of the event's militant image would go a long way to achieving the goals outlined by event organizer and College junior Erin Healy: "to give a voice to the victim-survivors and raise support and education about sexual violence."

U. to eliminate Political Science Department

(03/31/98 10:00am)

The department has been plagued by a lack of high-profile, tenured faculty in recent years. Following a year of turmoil and decline, the Political Science Department is closing its doors, School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston announced yesterday. Preston made the announcement during a meeting attended by all 20 of the department's professors, including professors Marissa Golden and Daniel Deudney, both of whom accepted jobs at other institutions earlier this semester. The decision to eliminate the department came after the University unsuccessfully attempted to recruit senior Political Science professors from other colleges. Penn's department has only half the number of professors of its peer institutions, which average 42. "The department was in poor condition for some time," Preston said. "And with the recent losses of Marissa and Dan, political science at Penn has suffered a major blow. "As a result, the University felt it was in the students' best interests to simply eliminate the department," Preston explained. "The course offerings for next semester are weak enough that it doesn't warrant keeping the doors open." The approximately 150 Political Science majors are "regrettably out of luck," Political Science Department Chairperson Ian Lustick said. He emphasized that no Political Science courses will be offered past this semester and that students will be forced to find other majors. Lustick added that the department will work with other departments to transfer Political Science credits. He noted, for example, that students will be able to easily switch to the History major. The elimination of the department caps its stormy history at the University. Fifteen years ago, it had a poor reputation among peer institutions and was marked by turmoil and conflict. But in the late 1980s, the department began to rebuild. Most recently, University efforts have focused on boosting the department's weak American politics sector, which "sucks more than an SDT sister," according to College junior and Political Science major Jessica Boar. Boar, along with dozens of frustrated Political Science majors -- who said they were already all worked up from yesterday's record-breaking heat -- stormed the department's office in Stiteler Hall when news of the closing spread. The climax of the resulting riot came when several chairs went airborne. One broken chair zipped past College senior John La Bombard's cheek before its legs landed directly in front of University President Judith Rodin. "I'm just glad it didn't hit my penis," La Bombard said as he picked himself up off the floor. Rodin, the mastermind behind the department's attempt to rebuild, took her eyes off La Bombard -- about whom she once again appeared very concerned -- to explain the University's decision to eliminate the department. "We blew it," she conceded. "We worked the entire East Coast trying to get someone to come here." Responding to the announcement, several students said they "felt a release," as if the major failed to satisfy them anyway. "I simply wasn't fulfilled," said one student, who is considering switching to the Folklore major. "I guess I may simply have to start going to Wizzard's." Meanwhile, reaction from Political Science professors following the announcement was more mixed than the drinks they have been known down before classes. Undergraduate Chairperson Henry "Loony" Teune simply looked on quizzically, prompting some to again question what exactly is inside his skull. Lustick, meanwhile, appeared in denial, wandering around the building aimlessly and muttering quietly to himself, "But we were gonna have new professors here, we were gonna have new professors here, new professors, new professors?" Alluding to the "very enticing packages" offered to prospective employees, Lustick continued to insist that the department was attracting the nation's top professors, several of whom would be on board in the fall. Rodin responded, "Ian, who are you kidding? Even when I'm in my black leather miniskirt, I can't get anybody to come up."

Perelman Pentagon to make U. a veritable military force

(03/26/97 10:00am)

This article appeared in the joke issue. Ron Perelman threatened yesterday to rescind his donation for the Perelman Quadrangle unless University administrators include College Hall as part of the project and rename it the Perelman Pentagon. Perelman, a University Trustee and alumnus who donated $20 million to fund the new student center, said the proposed Perelman Quad "does not make logistical sense" without College Hall. The current plans call for the renovation of Logan, Williams and Houston halls and Irvine Auditorium to create student offices, meeting rooms, eating and lounge areas, and rehearsal and performance space. But in a private meeting yesterday with University President Judith Rodin and Provost Stanley Chodorow in Rodin's College Hall office, Perelman said College Hall -- one of the University's most important buildings -- should naturally be included. "It's just a poor, unreasonable decision to ignore College Hall," Perelman said. "Since it is right in the middle of the project, it should become part of the Pentagon." While yesterday's meeting began peacefully, it quickly became heated when Perelman called the renovations -- one of Chodorow's pet projects -- "absurd." He then said he would not fund Perelman Quadrangle as proposed and stormed out of the building. Late last night, Perelman told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Rodin and Chodorow "have gone batty." He said the University should completely scrap the plans for the Perelman Quad and begin construction on the Perelman Pentagon. A prime focus of Perelman's new proposal would be the devotion of office space in College Hall to the ROTC. He said ROTC has gotten "an inordinate amount of flack" on campus and that the military is a crucial part of society. "The Perelman Pentagon would not only be an incredible center on campus for students, but it would also be a focal point for our country's military," Perelman said. He added that he hopes to recruit the United States Armed Forces to house their operation in College Hall and ultimately wants to have Pentagon officials move to campus. "This incredible institution has always focused on education -- which I admire," Perelman said. "But it's about time that we start giving more attention to national security. There's a lot of dangerous countries out there -- I mean really scary stuff." Perelman would not specify which countries he thinks are the greatest threat to the United States but noted that he has sold many of his homes in China, Bulgaria and even France. In addition to funding the Perelman Pentagon, Perelman said he is willing to provide funds to establish a navy on the Schuylkill River. "We have to be careful nowadays," he said. "We don't want anyone outside our borders to infiltrate Philadelphia. And maybe that navy would do something for crime on campus. We all know that Rodin and company just aren't cutting it." After meeting with Perelman, Rodin and Chodorow were heard complaining about Perelman's militant style. "That guy is the biggest buffoon," Rodin whispered into Chodorow's ear. "College Hall belongs to me. No one else should get it." And Chodorow was seen packing his bags. Destination: unknown.

Brown's med school now teaches bedside manner

(12/06/96 10:00am)

Medical students at Brown University now have to know more than just medicine -- they also have to be more patient-friendly doctors. Brown's School of Medicine has developed a new curriculum -- the "MD 2000 Program" -- that will require graduating medical students to pass nine "competency-based" skill tests, according to Stephen Smith, an associate dean. The students must prove they have learned basic clinical knowledge, using fundamental scientific concepts in the practice of medicine and diagnostic abilities. But some of the new requirements -- like effective communication, moral reasoning, ethical judgment and problem solving -- are more unusual. "In creating the new curriculum, we asked, 'What would you look for in your own personal doctor'?" said Smith, the chief architect of MD 2000. Smith said the requirements -- especially effective communication -- will force students to understand the impact they have on their patients. "You need to teach the students how to communicate better with their patients," Smith said. Brown's medical students must also demonstrate proficiency in life-long learning, self-awareness and personal growth, and knowledge of the social contexts of medicine. In crafting the new curriculum, Smith studied each medical course to determine what competency skills could be incorporated. In the introductory anatomy course, for example, students must now give a presentation about a cadaver they have dissected -- a requirement that tests how well students communicate. Smith said both students and faculty have welcomed the new curriculum. But he added that some students have expressed some "nervousness" about the new requirements. And Brown Medical School Professor Philip Gruppuso said some of his students are worried the new requirements will take away from the basic science skills they need to pass medical certification tests. He added that while the theory behind the new curriculum is good, its implementation has been difficult. "I've never liked the idea of just pouring information into an empty void," Gruppuso said. "But this is a relatively small medical school with a relatively small faculty, and instituting a curriculum like this requires a greater commitment of resources." Gruppuso, who teaches a large introductory course, said he has already implemented several of the requirements into his course.

Regional schools' students attend U.

(12/06/96 10:00am)

Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr and Haverford students take advantage of a consortium with Penn. For at least a quarter of a century, Penn students have been able to take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges. But only about 10 Penn students each year take courses at any of those schools, according to Flora Cornfield, an assistant dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. The consortium between Penn and the three suburban colleges allows University students to enroll in courses there -- and students from those schools to take courses here. According to Luise Moskowitz, who handles external affairs for the College of General Studies -- which administers the consortium -- more than 100 students from consortium schools took courses at Penn during the 1995-96 school year. Cornfield noted that Penn draws more students than the other consortium schools because of its many resources. "It's a way for students at smaller schools to explore a larger curriculum," she said. "If you're coming from Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore or Haverford, there are many departments that don't have what we might have." The origins of the consortium are unknown, Cornfield said, though she noted that the Quaker background of the four schools naturally linked them together. "We have no idea when it started," Cornfield said. "We were looking for the materials back in the late '70s." Kent Peterman, the College's assistant dean for academic affairs, explained that the consortium's administrative process is informal. To register for a course at Penn, students at the consortium schools simply need to have their deans sign a form allowing them to enroll. "There's no money exchanged," Peterman said. "The value of the relationship is more important than any money. It's a good opportunity for students in all of the schools." Several students from the suburban colleges said they have taken courses at Penn because those classes often aren't offered at their school. Bryn Mawr senior Kirin Kalia, a Political Science major, has just completed Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson's class on political communication. She said she has wanted to take a course in the Annenberg School since her sophomore year and is especially interested in the relationship between media and politics. Kalia praised the opportunity the consortium provides to students from the smaller schools. "I have friends who have taken language courses at Penn like Korean and Bengali -- there would never be enough demand to justify creating new language departments when students can get them at Penn," Kalia said. Although Kalia said she enjoyed the class as well as the change of pace and scenery, she noted that there are also some disadvantages to taking courses at Penn. She said the class -- with almost 200 students -- was the biggest one she has ever taken, and she often felt distant from the professor. "I'm not used to having TAs and I'm not used to being watched while I take an exam," Kalia said. "[At Bryn Mawr,] we have an honor code that allows for self-scheduled finals and closed-book take-home exams. Professors leave the classroom when they do give exams during regular class periods." Several students also noted that the consortium is not a two-way street, since such a disproportionate number of students come to Penn. "I don't ever hear of Penn students taking courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford," said Penn graduate student Alexa Viets. "It is a loss and weakness of the program that the interaction is limited or one-sided -- from the small schools to the large -- in this way." Viets spent three years at Bryn Mawr and will be taking all her classes at Penn for the next two years. She is pursuing her Master's degree in City Planning as part of a five-year program between Penn and Bryn Mawr. She said while there is less personal interaction with Penn faculty and administrators, the consortium has been very beneficial. Penn administrators said their students often don't need to go to the consortium schools because the University offers so many varied courses. And some Penn students have expressed frustration with the system. College junior Maureen Wentworth is currently taking a 400-level Urban Studies class at Penn that involves significant group work. Her group includes a consortium student from Haverford, which makes coordinating the project they are working on difficult, she said. "It becomes sort of a challenge because it's not easy to just run down to Van Pelt and meet," said Wentworth, who added that when she had a car, she had to drive to Haverford to work on the project. But the students who have taken advantage of the consortium expressed satisfaction with it. "I utilize it to its fullest extent," Bryn Mawr sophomore Karen Jaw said. "I have been coming to Penn for social reasons since freshman year and I have taking classes since sophomore year. In fact, I am planning on taking two next semester."

Drexel: A stone's throw from campus, but far from connected

(12/05/96 10:00am)

While administrators say the two schools will work together on security issues, they have little academic interaction. Penn and Drexel University -- the two largest businesses in West Philadelphia -- have long experienced a shaky relationship. While several administrators called the interaction between the two University City schools strong and mutually beneficial, others expressed some concern about the relationship -- especially in the wake of last month's rappelling incident, when a Drexel student fell 13 stories outside of Graduate Tower B. Drexel and Penn mostly work together through informal and individual-based interaction, according to University President Judith Rodin. "There is a great collaboration between professors," said Rodin, referring to several joint research initiatives. "There are always those kinds of projects -- but they don't come from the top down." A current joint effort between Drexel and Penn physics professors seeks to improve computer technology in the city, said Philip Terranova, Drexel's vice president for university relations. Terranova explained that Penn Physics Professor Robert Hollebeek and Drexel Physics Professor Da Hsuan Pheng have worked with the state government and the corporate community "to bring an immense supercomputing center here to Philadelphia." "It's a great example of Penn and Drexel collaborating in the name of the greater community," said Terranova, who added that the relationship between the two schools is "very good." Penn administrators said the relationship between Penn and Drexel will develop further as they deal with several non-academic issues facing University City. According to Provost Stanley Chodorow, the two universities are considering cooperating on security issues. And Rodin said future projects will require working with Drexel. "As we talk about a special services district, there will be continuing projects that really relate to our shared communities that we will work together on," she said. Despite future plans to interact on community-wide projects, the University has no intent to develop more concrete academic ties with Drexel, said Kent Peterman, the College's assistant dean for Academic Affairs. "We would be open to thinking about more interaction if it were proposed, but the College has no current plans to pursue a formal relationship at this time," Peterman said. He added that the College's substantial resources may not warrant more formal joint programs between the College and Drexel since Penn students already have many research and academic opportunities. "Are there things that they could get at Drexel that they can't get here?" Peterman said. "And are they of the same quality? These are the kinds of questions that would have to be addressed." In the past, interaction between Penn and Drexel has been both beneficial and damaging. The two universities often share facilities -- not only for academic reasons but also for students. A pilot program this fall permitted 20 Drexel students to live in Grad Tower B. When one of those students fell 13 stories while rappelling down the outside of the building in mid-November, Penn officials began to reconsider the program. At that time, VPUL Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said the administration was being neighborly by allowing Drexel students to stay in the building. She expressed outrage over the students' actions. Since the incident, administrators have decided not to expel any Drexel students from the building, causing tension between some students. College sophomore Christina Varughese called the relationship "not good" and added that the administration should do more to encourage interaction. "I personally feel a lot of hostility towards Drexel students -- and I don't know why," Varughese said. "I'm surprised we don't do a lot together considering we're only a block apart." And College sophomore Amanda Reyes said she never sees her old high school friends who attend Drexel. She added that Penn's proximity to Drexel should increase cooperation between the two schools. Yet Reyes said many Penn students have no desire to interact with Drexel students. "I know a lot of people here tend to look down on Drexel," she said. "I don't know if that's just an Ivy League thing." Varughese noted that her hostility toward Drexel students stems from what she perceives as a lack of appreciation on Drexel's behalf. She said she believes Drexel students and officials should have been more appreciative toward Penn for its efforts in arranging President Clinton's on-campus rally in early November. But Rodin said the Clinton event was a good example of how well the schools can work together. "We worked very hard to include Drexel and make them feel that it was their event too," she said. Drexel's Terranova also said the voter registration drive -- as well as the Clinton rally -- was an excellent example of the cooperation that can occur between the two schools. "There again you had a show of solidarity with the two schools' presidents together on the stage and students from both Penn and Drexel speaking," Terranova said. "There was a large number of Drexel students there and it was a great opportunity to share resources." Another political function involving the two universities was MTV's "Choose or Lose" campaign in University City in September. As preparations for the event were underway, many Penn administrators said arrangements were difficult to coordinate because of scheduling and communication problems between the two schools. And funding the event also caused tension. Rodin decided the university should not fund the event and that funding should be left up to Penn's Social Planning and Events Committee. "I think we pick and choose the events that require involvement," Rodin said. "We were asked at a rather late hour for financial assistance. I hope that we provided moral support." Rodin added that although she decided not to support the event financially, she did get involved by getting students to register on Locust Walk. SPEC Treasurer Gil Beverly, a Wharton senior, said he has had positive experiences working with Drexel students -- especially in organizing the Choose or Lose event. "Contrary to popular belief -- apparently -- we have a pretty good relationship with Drexel," Beverly said. "SPEC really enjoyed working with Drexel's Campus Activities Board and we left that event promising to work together again." Beverly added that SPEC and Drexel's Campus Activities Board will probably co-sponsor an event tied in to the Drexel vs. Penn basketball game next semester. They have also talked about jointly coordinating a concert, Beverly said.

Yale president proposes new 'selective excellence' plan

(11/26/96 10:00am)

He intends to focus on specific programs like the arts and humanities, while limiting attention on weaker departments. Yale University President Richard Levin announced his plan for "selective excellence" in the school's humanities, arts, biological sciences and medical programs -- all areas in which Yale is already an acknowledged leader. His proposal conceded that perfection in all academic programs is a near impossibility -- "We must strive for excellence in everything we do, but we cannot do everything," he said. Levin, who presented his plan for the 21st century to the Association of Yale Alumni last month, said he will also strive to develop more "interconnectedness" between Yale's 12 schools. Several other schools -- including Penn -- have recently unveiled strategic plans governing academics and overall improvement for the next few years. Although Levin emphasized that Yale will continue to support all fields of study, he noted the advancement of some departments will not be as extensive as others. Levin said other departments that have the most potential for excellence include the Law School and the library and museum collections. He added that the university is taking steps to upgrade certain campus facilities. "We have recently developed a plan for the comprehensive renovation and reconfiguration of our central campus science facilities and a similar plan will soon be developed in the School of Medicine," Levin said. Levin maintains that no departments will be eliminated under the plan. He said there will be a reduced focus on weaker departments with limited resources. But Levin's plan for selective excellence has not come without criticism. Jon Zerolnick, a 1996 Yale graduate, said under the new plan, the administration could choose between the departments it wants to improve and those it wishes to simply maintain. "Depending on the agendas of whoever is deciding what department's going to be helped and what's going to slide, this is pretty problematic," Zerolnick said, referring to Yale's Ethnic Studies Department. Zerolnick noted the administration has not supported the department in the past and could use the plan as an excuse to eliminate it altogether. But Levin cited programs in several Yale departments -- including Astronomy, Linguistics and Statistics -- that were improved in the past few years, despite the departments' limited resources. He added the university is currently working to strengthen programs in its three engineering departments. Faculty members and administrators from several departments Levin described as having less potential -- such as engineering -- refused to comment on the president's plan. Levin said he is also looking to create more interaction between Yale's 12 schools. He said academic programs and faculty appointments that span more than one school will create new areas of study and research. "The College, the Graduate School and the 10 professional schools do not stand independently," Levin said. "They are instead part of one integrated whole, lending strength and support to one another." Levin cited interaction between the graduate Schools of Art and Music and undergraduates in Yale College as a model of "inter-connectedness." And Yale spokesperson Tom Conroy said the plan will maximize interdisciplinary efforts. "Similar to Penn and Yale's peers, the number of schools Yale has provides great opportunities for students in any of those schools to be exposed to faculty and students beyond their school," Conroy said.

Yale student coalition offers petition to resulve labor dispute

(11/26/96 10:00am)

The petition requests a guaranteed 'living wage' of at least $8 per hour. Yale University's Student Labor Action Coalition presented Yale President Richard Levin with a petition signed by more than 1,500 undergraduates last week in an attempt to resolve the school's ongoing labor dispute. The petition -- which has circulated on campus since September -- asks Levin to guarantee that subcontracted employees receive a "living" wage of at least $8 per hour. The proposed minimum wage is at the poverty line for a single worker supporting a family of four. Besides the wage demand, Yale has encountered a series of obstacles in its attempt to reach contract agreements with Locals 34 and 35 of the Federation of the University Employees. The two sides have been at a standstill since negotiations broke off in September. The wage issue is part of a larger debate over the future of Yale's dining services. Union negotiators have been unwilling to accept the school's proposals to subcontract the services. "We're letting President Levin and the other corporation members know that students know what their proposals will do to the community," 1996 Yale graduate and Coalition member Jon Zerolnick said. He added that as the largest employer in New Haven, Conn., Yale could "erode the base of good jobs" in the area by subcontracting jobs at the university. The petition also calls for the university to follow the example of Baltimore Mayor and Yale Corporation member Kurt Schmoke, who guaranteed all subcontracted employees working for his city a living wage. Zerolnick added that Levin has been unresponsive to student concerns about the labor issue and only agreed to meet with Coalition representatives after they called a press conference. But Yale officials say they have acquiesced to many of the unions' demands, noting that most university employees already make more than $8 per hour. "Yale certainly pays competitive and good wages to its employees," Yale spokesperson Tom Conroy said. "Obviously, many of the employees make more than the minimum." Conroy added that the university's current minimum wage for full-time employees ranges from $8 to $11 per hour. He said the minimum wage for subcontracted and temporary workers is $6.40 per hour. But he noted that Yale's average wage for a subcontracted or temporary worker is $11 per hour. "I think the students should be recognizing Yale as a model employer rather than finding fault with its negotiating position," Conroy said. "The purpose of our proposals is to provide better services to the students and better support for the university's educational missions.

Peer schools' early decision policies may have hurt U.

(11/22/96 10:00am)

Admissions Dean Stetson said recent crimes were not the sole cause for the drop in early applications to Penn. Three of the University's main academic competitors have switched from early action plans to early decision in the past two years -- changes Admissions Dean Lee Stetson said may be partly responsible for Penn's decrease in early decision applications. Princeton, Stanford and Yale universities switched from the non-binding early action procedures to early decision plans that require applicants to enroll upon acceptance. While Stetson conceded that the recent rash of crimes near campus affected Penn's number of early decision applications, he stressed that the other schools' move to early decision might also have contributed to the decline. "The fact that there was significant publicity about [the new] early decision plans has moved students into their applicant pools," he noted. Penn's early decision applications fell 10.4 percent this year over last fall, from 2,046 to 1,832. That number, however, is still 200 higher than the 1,629 applications the University received two years ago, Stetson said. Although the competition for early decision applicants has increased, Stetson emphasized that Penn still received a very high number of applications. And Yale, using the early decision process for only the second year, has seen its early applications rise significantly over last year. Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, said early decision applications are up 13.5 percent from the 420 received last year. Shaw said when schools switch to the early decision process, the number of applicants at peer institutions often declines. He noted that early decision processes increase the competition for prospective students. "Maybe the total number of institutions going from early action to early decision could affect other institutions," Shaw said. "It's a very plausible theory." Shaw explained that nearly 18 percent of Yale's Class of 2000 was accepted early decision and added that switching to the process has allowed the school to accept more students under the regular decision plan. "We had students applying early to four or five schools and then turning most of them down," Shaw said. "We had students holding slots until May." Officials at Princeton, which is also in its second year of early decision, said the process provides for more accuracy in determining class size. Princeton spokesperson Jacquelyn Savani noted that Princeton's Class of 1999 -- the last class to apply under early action -- is significantly larger than the admissions office had anticipated. Far more students accepted early decided to attend the school, leading to a housing shortage. The admissions officers felt it necessary to switch to early decision so as to better determine class size, Savani said. "Early decision gives you a sense of how many people are coming to Princeton," she added. "There's a core to the class." Savani -- who noted that some Princeton seniors have been forced to live in trailer homes due to the housing shortage -- added that more students than ever are applying to Princeton. While both Princeton and Yale switched from early action to early decision, Stanford established an early decision process two years ago without ever having used an early action program. Stanford received more than 3,000 applications in its first year of early decision. Stanford's admission officers explained their decision in a newsletter, which stated: "There is a growing fear among students and parents that the only way to be admitted to the most highly selective colleges and universities is to apply early."

Feds: Yale broke labor laws in TA strike

(11/21/96 10:00am)

In a landmark decision, the National Labor Relations Board announced this week that Yale University has violated federal labor laws. The NLRB declared that Yale's threats to striking graduate teachers last fall -- including a ban on future teaching, academic discipline, negative letters of recommendation and expulsion -- constituted illegal acts of intimidation and coercion. The NLRB has required Yale to give back-pay to teaching assistants who lost their jobs and post "Notices to Employees" throughout campus. The signs will state that it is illegal for the university to fire, demote, expel or threaten graduate teachers engaged in strike actions. Yale administrators now have the opportunity to comply voluntarily with the NLRB's requests before facing formal proceedings, said Gordon Lafer, research director for Yale's Federation of University Employees. "Universities across the country have come to rely more and more on both teaching assistants and adjunct professors as part-time workers carrying out more and more of the teaching responsibilities," Yale Professor David Montgomery said at a press conference Tuesday. "This decision puts the protection of the law securely behind their efforts to improve their conditions, and that should improve the security of everyone in academe." Yale graduate students went on strike last fall to protest the administration's refusal to recognize them as regular university employees and to grant the Graduate Employees and Students Organization union status. The TAs withheld grades in their classes for more than a month before Yale administrators began taking disciplinary action. Faced with the administration's measures, the TAs ended the strike. The NLRB's action might now pave the way for unionization drives at other schools -- especially private universities that don't already have TA unions, Lafer said. "All the unions have been at state schools, where state law requires them," Lafer said. "But if you're at a private school, such as Penn, you're governed by the NLRB. Their action will create a national precedent for TAs at private schools to unionize." Several graduate students at Tuesday's press conference said the NLRB's action will serve as an impetus for unionization and will inevitably improve TAs' working conditions. For the past five years, Yale's GESO, which represents about 25 percent of the Yale graduate student body, has demanded higher stipends and lower health insurance costs for TAs, in addition to unionization. "Yale's threats scared many teachers last year," said Chris Cobb, an English TA who was fired for participating in last year's strike. "Now, whatever individual graduate students feel about unionization, they will be able to make this decision based on their personal conviction rather than their fear of coercion."

Racial tensions flare over graffiti incident at Northwestern University

(11/14/96 10:00am)

Racial tensions have flared at Northwestern University, where last week an unidentified person painted "Die Negroes" on "the Rock" -- a famous campus landmark. Next to that phrase, someone had drawn the word "Black," then circled it and put a slash through it. The phrases, which were discovered last Wednesday morning, come just three weeks after the words "Die Fags" appeared on the Rock. The Rock has a long tradition at Northwestern. Students paint it in the middle of the night to advertise their clubs or events, often spending the night guarding the Rock so no one will come to paint over their messages. "I can't believe that someone would have written such hateful things on it," Northwestern sophomore Liz Hjerpe said. "The fact that someone used a timeless school tradition to relay such a message is disgusting." Immediately following the incident, Northwestern President Henry Bienen issued a statement denouncing the vandals -- who have not yet been apprehended. School officials are now holding forums and meetings to discuss race relations on campus. Before this incident, the university had already established a task force to focus on campus minority issues. The university has also planned a rally for this Friday at the Rock. "When we see derogatory comments written anywhere, about anyone, we're deeply distressed," said Mary Desler, Northwestern's assistant vice president for student affairs. "We find such incidents abhorrent, but we realize that we don't live in a utopia." Desler, who has served at Northwestern for nearly three months, said she has seen a strong commitment to diversity at the school. But outraged students claim Northwestern has a long history of racial tensions. "It's most evident in the cafeteria, where black and white students voluntarily sit at separate tables," junior Christine Bielinski said. "Black students I've talked to say they encounter racism every day on this campus, whether it's in class or at lunch." Bielinski added that minorities at Northwestern separate themselves out of necessity -- enhancing the race problems. "The university loves to preach about diversity on paper, but anyone on campus will tell you it's not happening," Bielinski said.

Berkeley students protest Prop. 209

(11/13/96 10:00am)

Students throughout the University of California system have led virulent protests against Proposition 209, a California referendum that banned affirmative action in all state agencies. The law, which received 54 percent of the vote in last Tuesday's election, prohibits public colleges from using preferences in admissions, financial aid awards, hiring and contracting. At the University of California at Berkeley, students fought the law's implementation throughout last week -- and more protests may erupt this week on the politically active campus. Among the demands -- mostly made by minority students -- was a call for the resignation of the chairperson of the UC system's Board of Regents. Ironically, the chairperson has denounced Proposition 209. Citing that example, Tilbury called some of the demands "quite ridiculous." On Wednesday night, the protesters occupied Berkeley's bell tower -- the Campanile -- where about a half-dozen students spent the night chained to the wrought iron at the top of the tower. Nearly 100 more students spent the night at the bottom of the tower before campus police dispersed the crowd Thursday morning, making 23 arrests. "We try to balance the necessity for free speech and the protection of property and individuals," said Terry Colvin, the California system's spokesperson. In a separate incident, protesters at Berkeley stole 22,000 copies of the campus's free student newspaper last Tuesday. The issue contained an editorial supporting Proposition 209. Although California's nine chancellors have vocally opposed Proposition 209, Colvin said the schools have begun complying with the requirements. The schools were already in the process of eliminating racial preferences in admissions and financial aid, in accordance with a regulation passed by California's Board of Regents in July 1995. But because Proposition 209 takes effect immediately, school officials will not be able to implement several other admissions guidelines that would support minorities indirectly. There are currently two appeals in the California courts attempting to stop Proposition 209. Tilbury, who said he would not be surprised to see further protests this week, noted that Proposition 209 will have the greatest impact on Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles, which currently accept the greatest number of minorities. "Studies have been done projecting that the student body at these campuses will become 60 percent white, 40 percent Asian, with a few other minorities," said Tilbury, who voted against 209 but has not vocally protested its passage. Although protesters at Berkeley have not emerged in large numbers, they have been both visible and vocal on campus. Tilbury said though the demonstrators are "really tense" about the passage of 209, many students have remained lethargic. Similarly, most students at the Los Angeles campus were relatively quiet following last Tuesday's elections, but a protest did erupt Monday. Although Monday's outbreak was the first post-election protest at the Los Angeles campus, UCLA junior Rosy Le noted that several protests occurred before the elections. "I'm sorry that it passed," Le said. "I believe in affirmative action, and I believe that we have a long way to go here in America." Le added that she recently heard on a radio show that 95 percent of corporate executives are white males -- a statistic she said explains why affirmative action is necessary. In other incidents reacting to the passage of 209, students at the Santa Cruz and Riverside campuses occupied main administrative buildings. At the Riverside campus Monday, students took over a campus building -- and were still there as of Tuesday night. And more than 100 Santa Cruz students blocked entry to the school's student center last week. Administrators successfully negotiated with the protesters to leave the building without making any arrests.

Minnesota drafts tenure agreement

(11/11/96 10:00am)

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents took several steps last week toward resolution of the school's tenure dispute situation. After the most outspoken Regent announced last Friday that she plans to resign from the Board, the group adopted a new tenure code that is a compromise between the Regents' initial proposal and the revisions the Faculty Senate proposed. Regent Jean Keffeler, who announced she will resign by December 1, garnered national attention for the drastic tenure changes she advocates, which include more stringent review processes and flexibility in firing tenured faculty. Keffeler, who was reelected last year to her second six-year term on the Board, said in her resignation letter that she has been totally committed to Minnesota. "Unfortunately, the values I hold as an individual and the beliefs I hold about responsible governance are inconsistent with the situation that has developed at the University, a situation of which the current tenure crisis is symptomatic," Keffeler wrote. The code the Regents adopted Thursday allows tenured professors to stay on the payroll when their programs are cut, if they accept reassignment. The Board's previous proposal made no such provision. But if the university is hit by a "financial stringency," and the Faculty Senate agrees, the Regents could decide on an across-the-board pay cut for tenured faculty. Professors will also undergo periodic post-tenure reviews that can result in pay cuts if performance is poor. Thursday's action technically only affects the Law School, but Minnesota officials believe the new code will eventually apply to all of the university's schools. Minnesota spokesperson Michael Nelson predicted the implementation of a two-year moratorium on all tenure revisions. Although the Board provided for a revisitation of the layoff issue, the new code is much closer to the revisions proposed by Minnesota's faculty. Minnesota Political Science Professor Ed Fogelman, chairperson of the school's Faculty Senate Judicial Committee, said the faculty is willing to allow layoffs, but only under specific guidelines. "Tenure is not an irrevocable grant of employment," Fogelman said. But he added that the reform Keffeler advocates is too vague. After examining all four of Minnesota's proposed tenure reform packages, Fogelman said Keffeler's resignation might have been the first step in the Board's willingness to back off the "radical" revisions she advocated. The nation's academic community has focused on Minnesota throughout the school's struggle to resolve the situation. In a letter to the chairperson of Minnesota's Board of Regents, Penn Faculty Senate Chairperson Peter Kuriloff said the Regents' proposals "would effectively destroy tenure," adding that the tenure process maintains the academic freedom unique to the United States. "Without such unfettered freedom, it is impossible to imagine many people taking the kinds of intellectual risks that are required to maintain our competitive advantage in research and scholarship," Kuriloff said.

3rd District reelects Borski for eighth term

(11/06/96 10:00am)

and Becca Iverson U.S. Rep. Robert Borski is known for repeatedly putting his constituents first. Last night, the residents of Pennsylvania's 3rd District -- which encompasses Northeast Philadelphia -- returned the favor, reelecting the Democrat to his eighth consecutive term. When a 3rd District resident accidentally stopped receiving her Social Security checks, Borski himself handled the situation, district committee member Mike Schrage said at last night's victory party. When the resident visited the congressman's office, Borski immediately made several phone calls to resolve the matter. In an overwhelming victory in the moderately conservative, working-class district, Borski defeated Republican challenger Joseph McColgan, 71 to 29 percent, with 51 percent of precincts reporting. Borski arrived at the victory party amidst thunderous applause but little suspense. The several hundred people in the crowd -- who shared old memories while waiting for the congressman -- anticipated an easy win. "It looks like it's the highest percentage vote we've ever received," Borski told The Daily Pennsylvanian. "For that I am very grateful to the people in the district." During Borski's 14-year tenure, he has actively protected the interests of senior citizens, who make up one-third of his district and attended yesterday's victory party in full force. Borski has fought for health care reform and Social Security, and he said his "top priority" for this term is Medicare. Closer to home, Borski has successfully argued for increased funding for SEPTA and saved many local jobs by preventing the closure of Philadelphia's Navy depot. "He's good for the neighborhood," said resident Harry Searl, a Borski supporter and close friend. "He'll be around for a long time." In 1990, McColgan's first attempt to unseat Borski , the Republican fell short by more than 20 points. He has been an outspoken opponent of big government and high taxes. Surrounded by his wife and five children during his acceptance speech, Borski thanked his supporters profusely, saying "there is no greater honor" than to receive the backing of so many of his constituents. One of Borski's closest supporters, his daughter Jill, voted for her father for the first time yesterday. "I'm glad I got to vote for him this time," she said, adding that her 18th birthday was two days ago. "He's my dad -- and I agree with his views."

Microsoft execs. give Harvard $25M

(10/31/96 10:00am)

Bill Gates, Harvard University's most famous dropout, has donated $25 million to the university, Harvard officials announced Tuesday. Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, and Steven Ballmer, executive vice president of Microsoft, donated the gift to be used for the school's Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments. Harvard will use $20 million of the gift to construct a state-of-the-art facility for research and teaching and $5 million to endow a faculty chair and support research in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. "Universities have played a major role in the development of the Internet and many other important technologies," Gates said in a statement. "Steve and I are excited to help Harvard advance this program in ways that will contribute directly to the phenomenal innovation underway today in the information technology field and to the close examination of its impact on society," he added. Gates, who dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year, has been deemed the wealthiest man in America by Forbes magazine. At age 40, he is worth $18.5 billion. Ballmer graduated from Harvard in 1977. The new facility, to be named Maxwell Dworkin in honor of the donors' mothers, will include classrooms, seminar rooms, offices and laboratory space. According to Harvard spokesperson Alex Huppe, the building will house the two departments and promote an interdisciplinary approach to the studies. Huppe said no timetable has been set for the construction of the facility but added that "it will be swift." "We're currently bursting at the seams," he said. "We don't have enough room for our faculty and this space will allow us to meet current needs -- and to expand the faculty. And of course there's a lot of student demand." Harvard administrators have been working for five years to create a stronger presence in the fields targeted by the donation, Huppe said. In addition to expanding teaching and research capabilities, the university will use the gift to conduct more intensive studies of the effects technology has on society. "We're delighted by this gift. It allows Harvard to move forward with our plans," Huppe said. "This is an opportunity to really quicken those efforts." The $25 million gift comes in the midst of a five-year, $2.1 billion campaign at Harvard. Gifts as of the end of September total $1.32 billion -- 63 percent of the goal.

Calif. man arrested for standardized test cheating scam

(10/30/96 10:00am)

Federal prosecutors charged George Kobayashi with helping graduate students cheat on GMAT, GRE and TOEFL exams. Federal prosecutors arrested a California man Saturday on charges that he operated an elaborate scheme to help prospective graduate school students cheat on standardized admissions tests. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York announced the charges Monday against George Kobayashi, who allegedly ran his self-described "unique" method of cheating since 1993. If convicted, Kobayashi faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $500,000 fine. According to the federal complaint, Kobayashi hired experts to take the graduate exams in New York and then telephone the correct answers to Kobayashi's office in Los Angeles. Taking advantage of the three-hour time difference between New York and L.A., employees in L.A. quickly coded the answers onto pencils, which they gave to their clients. Most of the students who cheated were based in New York, but flew to L.A. to take the exams under the circumstances Kobayashi provided. Kobayashi charged from $3,000 to $6,000 for the service. Officials broke the Kobayashi case when a federal investigator witnessed the alleged scam at a Graduate Management Admissions Test given October 19 in Los Angeles. Kobayashi also allegedly provided answers for the Graduate Record Exam and the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The Educational Testing Service, which administers the three exams Kobayashi's clients cheated on, helped investigators solve the case. But ETS spokesperson Kevin Gonzalez said cheating usually occurs only on an individual basis. "This is pretty rare," he said. "In 1993, there was an impersonation ring. And the reason we know about it is that they were caught." Several years ago, some Penn students unknowingly were involved in a scandal with a Medical College Admission Test preparation course, according to Gail Glicksman, assistant director for pre-health and pre-graduate advising for Career Planning and Placement Service. In that scheme, the company paid people to take the test and report the questions back so they could be used as preparation material for the course. "My advice to students who are considering test preparation aids is that they need to be intelligent, discerning consumers," Glicksman said. "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Gonzalez said ETS is in the midst of re-evaluating its administration procedures, but added that inherent problems lie in the process. "Obviously, we can't give tests all at the same time or we'd have people in California taking tests at six in the morning," said Gonzalez, adding that the current measures to prevent cheating have been effective. "We have a system in place that works at catching people who try such scams," he said. "Because it is as involved as it is, Mr. Kobayashi and company were caught." While Kobayashi faces criminal charges, Gonzalez said the real victims are the "honest students." He added that competition to get into graduate programs is the driving force behind cheating. "These are high-stakes tests," Gonzalez said. "If somebody's willing to pay $6,000, that shows how serious they think the tests are."

Colleges struggle to restrain costs

(10/29/96 10:00am)

Even this year's relatively smallEven this year's relatively smallaverage tuition increase wasEven this year's relatively smallaverage tuition increase wastwice the reate of inflation. The cost of a college education rose this year by one of the smallest amounts in the past 15 years. According to the College Board's annual tuition survey, 1996-97 tuition and fees rose 5 percent over last year's price tag -- due in part to university administrators' efforts to cut costs. Despite the smaller growth in tuition this year, the increase in college costs is still nearly double the rate of inflation -- 2.9 percent for the 12 months ending in August. Penn's tuition and fees for the 1996-97 school year -- $21,130, according to figures collected by the College Board -- rose 5.8 percent over last year's $19,898 figure, the second largest increase in the Ivy League. While four Ivy League schools kept their tuition increases under 5 percent, Harvard University's tuition rose 6.7 percent, from $20,444 to $21,901. University President Judith Rodin said Penn administrators strive to keep the cost of attending the university affordable. "Penn's tuition increase last year reflected an increase in the technology fee," Rodin said. "That raised the apparent percentage to that point. If we take out the rise in the technology fee, Penn's tuition increase is lower than five percent." Rodin noted that the cost of room and board remained the same as last year's cost. "Penn was the only institution in its peer group that kept room and board at a zero increase for the second year in a row," Rodin said. "So Penn's overall increase was actually lower than most of its peer group." Princeton University administrators have also taken several steps to keep Princeton's tuition increases low -- and their efforts have paid off. This year's increase, at 4.7 percent, is one of the lowest in the Ivy League. To help keep a Princeton education affordable, the university's president, Howard Shapiro, required department heads to cut their budgets and attempt to eliminate positions that became vacant, Princeton spokesperson Justin Harmon said. "The issue of sticker-shock is a matter of some concern to the public," Harmon said. "We've tried to be responsive to that." Princeton's communications office cut its operating budget by 7.5 percent this year -- a decrease typical of many of the school's departments, Harmon said. According to Harmon, when adjusted for inflation, Princeton's administrative budgets have shrunk over the last three years. Harmon added that the university's attempts to keep tuition increases low will "continue to be a high priority" -- to the delight of Princeton students. "Princeton's efforts to keep our tuition low are great," Princeton sophomore Jane Shin said. "The deans do a good job with financial aid, so Princeton is able to bring in a lot of money through tuition, which helps keep it lower." As financial support from federal and state governments continues to dwindle and the cost of educational services rise, many other schools have also begun to question how they spend their own money. At the College of New Jersey, administrators have cut unnecessary programs and courses in order to keep its tuition low. The university's recently defined core mission -- to provide a quality education for about $10,000 a year -- landed it in the fifth spot of this year's Money magazine best college values list. And the nine schools that comprise the University of California system have not increased their 1996-97 tuition at all. This year's in-state tuition and fees at the University of California at Berkeley total $4,355 -- exactly the same as last year. Whether the trend of lower tuition increases will continue is uncertain, according to David Merkowitz, spokesperson for the American Council on Education, who cited cuts in government spending as reasons for concern but said he is optimistic. "The question is whether states are going to shift their funding elsewhere," said Merkowitz, adding that private universities will be more likely to keep their tuition increases lower than public universities because the former rely less on government assistance. Merkowitz also said next year's reauthorization of the Higher Education Act -- which allocates funds for college and university programs -- will determine how much schools raise their tuition to compensate for reductions in government funding. Despite the uncertainty of federal and state assistance, Merkowitz said schools are making important steps toward keeping education affordable.

Princeton honors 250th anniv.

(10/25/96 9:00am)

Princeton University will celebrate its 250th anniversary with formal events with festivities throughout the weekend. Nobel laureate and Princeton English Professor Toni Morrison will deliver the keynote address at a convocation to be held today, Princeton spokesperson Jacquelyn Savani said. "The convocation is serious -- then we start partying," she said. The highlight of the weekend's celebration will be a performance by Grammy-winning musician Sheryl Crow. Other highlights include the illumination of Nassau Hall, Princeton's historic central administrative building. For four months during the Revolutionary War, Nassau Hall served as the capital of the Continental Congress when the congress had to flee Philadelphia. According to Savani, more than 150 windows in the building will be lit with electric candles, and observers on the green outside the hall will each receive a flashlight to light up the sky. "It's going to be a dazzling celebration," she added. In addition to Morrison's speech, Harvard President Neil Rudenstine and Yale President Richard Levin will deliver comments. And Penn Secretary Barbara Stevens will represent Penn in the processional that will lead into the convocation. Savani said the formal aspects of the anniversary -- including the processional and convocation -- will be steeped in tradition, but the Princeton community is especially looking forward to the festivities. "This is a huge party," Savani said. "It's got entertainment for all. You can see why the students are so excited." Princeton sophomore Amber Mettler echoed Savani's sentiments, noting that it is not too often that universities throw such a celebration. "I think it's a great thing," she said. "It's a big deal. Sheryl Crow is going to be singing right outside our window." Saturday's football game between Princeton and Harvard and fireworks tonight will round out the festivities. Princeton's past anniversary celebrations included former U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson, in 1896, and Harry Truman, in 1946. A century after Princeton's founding, Wilson, a Princeton Political Science professor at the time, coined Princeton's unofficial motto -- "Princeton in the nation's service." "That set the tone for the interests of the university in the 20th century," Savani said. According to Savani, Princeton will dedicate a commemorative stone stating, "Princeton in the nation's service, and in the service of all nations." The stone honors the contributions of Princeton alumni, Savani explained.