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Vigil call sfor an end to hate crimes

(10/14/98 9:00am)

Over 150 Penn students rallied to express disgust at the savage murder of a gay college student. Although none of them knew Matthew Shepard, something about the way he died struck a chord with the hundreds of students who gathered for a vigil in his honor last night on College Green. In a ceremony that was rife with anger, sadness and fear, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance held a candlelight vigil to remember Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was found beaten and pistol whipped outside Laramie, Wyo., last week. Although police say the main motive behind the crime was robbery, the two perpetrators allegedly targeted Shepard because he flirted with one of them in a bar. On Monday, Shepard died in a Fort Collins, Colo., hospital. Many students at the event said they were surprised and disturbed by the savage nature of the crime, with several saying the attack forced them to worry about the safety of gay students, both at Penn and across the country. "It hits me in the sense that I have fear now," said third-year Medical student Chris Nguyen, who is gay. "It brings an element of fear that I thought I had exorcised." Other students stressed the fact that Penn is not safe from gay-bashing. "I have sat at gay coffeehouses and had epithets hurled at me from passersby," said second-year MBA student Mark Kehoe, a member of Wharton Out for Business, a club which aims to spread awareness about homosexuality. "The three places I have lived, I can recall hate crimes and acts of violence." Shepard's death has spurred a national debate over the issue of hate-crime legislation. Earlier this week, President Clinton came out in favor of such a law, saying that "Congress needs to pass our tough hate-crimes legislation." Current federal laws do not call for added penalties for the perpetrators of attacks based on the victim's sexual-orientation. Penn students at the event were divided over the need for such legislation. "I think for any discrimination there should be hate crime legislation," College and Wharton junior Michael Rogan said. "It prevents people from venting their prejudices." But others disagreed, saying assaults and other crimes are already illegal. "Crime is crime whether it's hate or not," Wharton sophomore Peter Margetis said. "I don't think we need separate legislation for it." The vigil began with several speakers, including City Councilman Angel Ortiz, Bob Schoenberg, the director of Penn's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Center and Penn Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush. An open-mic speak-out followed the speeches. During his speech, Ortiz discussed the struggles to pass domestic-partnership laws in Philadelphia, and the necessity of passing hate-crime legislation. Last spring, after a decade of debate, City Council passed legislation extending benefits to allow gay partners to enjoy certain city benefits. It was passed over the objection of religious leaders. Ortiz encouraged the crowd to channel their reactions to Shepard's death into a refusal to accept hate crimes. "Do not react," he exhorted the crowd. "Get angry and say 'No More'." In addition, Rush gave a speech encouraging students to contact the police whenever incidents such as hate crimes occur.

Students mark Nat'l Coming Out Days

(10/13/98 9:00am)

The yearly event is intended to raise awareness of and show support for gays and lesbians on campus. Gay and lesbian groups across the country are trying to get across the message this week that it's OK to be gay. At Penn, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance is celebrating the 11th annual "National Coming Out Days." The celebration is intended to raise awareness about gays and lesbians on campus and to show support for people who are coming "out of the closet." Events scheduled include a candlelight vigil, a movie screening and a session where students and others may share their "coming out" stories. "Gay people are somewhat of a hidden minority," said second-year Wharton MBA student Mark Kehoe, a member of the group Wharton Out for Business. "That makes our situation different than other minority groups. People don't know who we are until we come out, and that is the purpose of coming out days." The celebration is also intended to lend support to fellow gays and lesbians who haven't revealed their true sexual orientation, according to LGBA member Andrew Byala, a College junior. "This is an opportunity for people who are in the closet, that whatever stage they're in coming out, to see that we're here to support them," Byala said. As part of the celebration, Wharton Out for Business, the gay, lesbian and bisexual association for Wharton School students, placed "National Coming Out Day" stickers in Wharton student mail folders on Sunday. All faculty and students at Wharton received a flier describing the history of the event and the importance of supporting gay or lesbian colleagues. According to second-year Wharton MBA student and Wharton Out for Business director Troy Senter, awareness of gays and lesbians in the workplace is very important. "Gay and lesbian employees that perceive an unfriendly environment at a company aren't going to be happy and they're going to leave, and that affects the bottom line," he explained. He added that although there is some intolerance in the workplace, the situation is getting better. "When I talk to gay and lesbian alumni from a few years ago, I get the impression that it's become more accepting than it was," he said. In addition, a candlelight vigil will be held tomorrow at 9 p.m. on College Green in memory of Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who died yesterday from injuries sustained in a beating last week. Some students emphasized that this should not cast a shadow over the week. "I think it's not something to brush aside," Byala said. "But we have much to be thankful for, and that's what the point of coming out week is." In addition to the candlelight vigil, a screening of the film Out of the Past will be shown tomorrow, along with a talk from Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay Straight Education Network. On Thursday at 7:30 p.m., students are invited to share their coming out stories at the LGBA office in the Rotunda at 4012 Walnut Street.

Latino groups seek to get voices heard

(10/02/98 9:00am)

They may be out, but they aren't down. Even though La Asociacion Cultural de Estudiantes Latino Americanos and El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan pulled out of the United Minorities Council last semester, they are still fighting to have their voice heard on important issues affecting Latino students on Penn's campus. The split with the UMC, an umbrella organization of minority groups, occurred last April during a UMC meeting on the same day the organization was to vote on whether to make its agenda more political. All of the Latino members of the UMC walked out of the meeting, and then-Vice Chairperson Tania Castro, now a College senior, resigned her newly elected seat. According to the Latino Coalition, which consists of ACELA and MeChA, this split took place because the UMC was not political enough and the University did not take the groups seriously. Although the UMC will not represent Latino interests, it will continue to support the Latino groups, according to its leaders. "We are all still in the battle, we're all still in the fight," said UMC Chairperson Charles Howard, a College junior. In fact, Howard said the split had a positive impact on the University by serving as "a wake-up call" to the needs of its Latino members. Although MeChA and ACELA still have the UMC's support, they are struggling to have their demands met while having to deal with problems of their own, such as low membership. Among these demands are more extensive and effective recruitment for Latino students and faculty. Latino students currently make up about 3 percent of Penn's undergraduates. According to MeChA President and College junior Milady Nazir, the University doesn't do enough of the recruiting itself, and groups like MeChA are forced to sponsor recruitment efforts using their own resources. "We want to get to the point where that's not necessary, where we ourselves don't just have to rely on our own resources as students to go out and recruit," said ACELA President David Villafana, an Engineering senior. Admissions officials, however, say they have stepped up minority recruitment over the past few years as part of University President Judith Rodin's Minority Permanence Plan, which calls for increased recruitment and retention of minority students and faculty. Rodin, meanwhile, said she would not comment on any of the Latino groups' specific complaints because they have not yet brought them to her. And recruiting Latino students isn't the only problem; making sure they graduate is another. Latino students still face low graduation rates because of financial and academic problems, Latino leaders say. According to Nazir, a Latino resource center -- which was one of the demands MeChA made -- would be one way of addressing the problem. "If we have teachers be more accessible to us, have like a one-on-one mentoring program, that would be really beneficial," she said. Meanwhile, these groups are facing their own set of internal problems, which include low membership and a lack of funding for events. For example, MeChA currently has only 10 members, two of whom are Medical School students. According to Nazir, this has partly to do with a lack of funding for events. "I think that if we don't have activities? then it's difficult to attract members, because people just don't want to go to meetings; they want to get something out of it," she explained. Some Latinos don't want to focus exclusively on their ethnic group in a diverse setting like Penn. For example, Nursing senior Jimmy Rodriguez said he came from a highly concentrated area of Mexican-Americans and went to Penn "for the diversity." Despite these problems, the groups have won greater recognition from the University. According to Nazir, administrators are more accessible to them now since their split from the UMC and are taking them more seriously. "I think they're sincerely trying to attempt to meet our goals," Villafana said. "I don't think they're attempting hard either, but they're doing something."

Women's Studies marks 25 years

(09/25/98 9:00am)

Though the program has faced challenges, it continues to grow. As the Women's Studies Program prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary today, students and faculty will commemorate a program which has fought for acceptance while struggling to cope with changing times. The battle for acceptance has been a difficult one, but one that many Women's Studies faculty say has largely been won. Faculty and organizers cite the popularity of the program as an example. Currently, the program offers more than 50 courses a year with a total enrollment of 1,600. That figure, though, does not make note of the fact that many Women's Studies majors take more than one of the program's classes per semesters, likely reducing the total number of individual students in the program. "The [Women's Studies] Program is just another indicator of how timely and important women's studies are," Women's Studies Program Co-Director Demie Kurz said. And according to many professors and administrators, the future looks even brighter. "I think personally, there will be for a long time a place for Women's Studies along with Gender Studies," said the program's Acting Director Ann Matter, a Religious Studies Professor. Several Women's Studies majors, meanwhile, said they find the program to be of significant academic value. "We learn critical thinking, and I think those skills are second to none in the job markets and in one's personal life," said College senior Melissa Holsinger. But the program is not without its share of controversy. Some women's studies majors, for example, say they are still forced to defend their course of study. "People generally raise their eyebrows, not in a negative way, just in surprise," Holsinger said, adding that a friend once sarcastically remarked, "'Oh you're a Women's Studies major? Would you like fries with that?'" Other students say they are reluctant to take the classes because they believe they would feature an overly feminist agenda. "I think it would be a little biased," said David Franklin Smith, a Wharton graduate student. "People in the class would want to have that [feminist] bias." Engineering senior Wade Bennett added that a Women's Studies class "would probably be pretty feminist. It would probably be a great place to meet girls." The program has also had to adapt to changing interests and changing times. One major change in the program has been a shift to an examination of issues facing men, as well as Third World cultures. According to History Professor Kathleen Brown, who is currently teaching a course cross-listed with the Women's Studies Program, such a transformation was a matter of course. "I think one reason is that if you treat women as if they're the only ones with gender, you kind of lost the story, so people have realized that men have gender too," she said. Kurz stressed that while the program's name hasn't changed, the scope of its study has. "Gender issues are what is studied now? for the time being, the name of our program is Women's Studies, but it is the study of gender," she said. But while the program may still have more work to do before it gains the acceptance of the entire Penn community, program organizers say it has come along way since students first fought to establish a Women's Studies program a quarter of a century ago. In the spring of 1972, two undergraduate members of Women for Equal Opportunity at the University of Pennsylvania, an early campus feminist group, sent a proposal to then-President Martin Meyerson asking for the creation of a Department of Female Studies. Meyerson responded to the proposal by urging the petitioners to undertake survey of Women's Studies work being done elsewhere in the country. A subgroup of WEOUP, known as the Penn Women's Studies Planners, wrote the report Meyerson had requested that summer. The report, now hailed as a classic by Women's Studies scholars across the country, claimed that under traditional curricula, women were not being taught necessary information about other women. Such a deficiency deterred women from seeking advanced training in the work place, the report noted. Then, after a rash of campus rapes, WEOUP staged a sit-in at College Hall in April 1973 to protest the University's inaction. Although the creation of a Women's Studies program wasn't included in their demands, it ultimately was a direct outgrowth of the protests. According to Executive Director of Women's Law Project Carol Tracy, "It wasn't a direct demand, but it was an outcome to be sure." Shortly thereafter, PWSP organized a dozen undergraduate seminars through the College of Thematic Studies focusing on the study of women. "It was a revelation, because we had never really talked about this stuff," said History Professor Drew Faust, who sat in on the first women's history seminar. Later that fall, PWSP convinced the College for Women to set up a Women's Studies Governing board and to fund two full-time positions devoted entirely to Women's Studies. That same year, PWSP and the Penn administration elected Elsa Greene as the program's first director. During her tenure, Greene created new courses and enabled undergraduates to earn a degree in the field. By 1977, Women's Studies had over 40 distinct courses as part of the program. Despite these advances, it took time for the established academic community in the U.S. to take Women's Studies seriously. "Scholarly fields had their established ways of looking at things? that tends to happen when new information comes into a field.? Some embraced it, and some rejected it," Kurz said. In 1976, the Women's Studies program received a year-long grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant allowed the program to design interdisciplinary undergraduate concentrations linking the study of women in the humanities with preparation for non-academic careers in medicine, law, communications and government. This grant also funded workshops for faculty, graduate students and community members. In addition, the money allowed for the creation of an experimental one-semester visiting professorship in Women's Studies. During this period, the Women's Studies Program sought to reach out into the surrounding community. In conjunction with the College of General Studies and the Graduate School of Education, a summer institute for high school teachers was founded. The institute helped the teachers to present the latest Women's Studies material to their students. By the close of the 1970s, the Women's Studies Program had an established place in the University. The next decade brought several significant changes to the structure, scope and mission of the Women's Studies Program. The rapid growth of the program led to a split in two distinct areas, curriculum and research. It was then decided that the director of the program would focus on research, while the associate director would concentrate on curricular issues. As a result, the Alice Paul Research Center was established in 1984 to encourage scholarship on how society affects the lives of men and women. During the 1983-1984 academic year, the Individualized Major committees decided that the Women's Studies Program could supervise its own majors. Although the program has changed over time, many said its importance has not diminished. "I feel that we should keep it around. It's hard to argue with success," Brown said.

Asian Pacific Student Assoc. host volunteer fair, info session

(09/14/98 9:00am)

The event was intended to introduce students to Penn's Asian American resources. While some freshmen watched TV or went out to parties Friday night, others studied topics ranging from campus rape to tutoring at an event sponsored by the Asian Pacific community. The annual Asian Pacific Community Fair, sponsored by the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, is intended to encourage volunteerism among Asian American freshmen and to introduce them to the clubs and resources available to Asian Americans on campus. About 150 people attended the event, which was held in Logan Hall. During the fair, Asian American sororities and fraternities like Lambda Phi Epsilon and Alpha Kappa Delta presented information to freshmen about what they have to offer. "I think it's a good opportunity to see the clubs and find out what they're about," Lambda Phi Epsilon President and Engineering Junior Thomas Peng said, noting that freshmen frequently sign up for activities without first finding out what they are. The fair also included information about community service opportunities available to students. Organizations such as Philadelphia's Women Organized Against Rape and AIDS Service in Asian Communities encouraged freshmen to join. According to Hai Cao, a member of the AIDS group, Asian Americans face special challenges in preventing the often sexually transmitted disease. "There is a cultural and generational barrier between parents and their offspring, and this barrier prevents them from talking about sex and safe sex in general," he said. Mai Huynh, an organizer of the rape organization, stressed the importance of her group, which provides counseling and support to rape victims. "They should be aware of the services we provide, and they should be aware that there is help out there and they don't have to deal with it alone," she said. The event also served as a forum to introduce the students to various community service programs, a priority for College sophomore and APSC Vice Chairperson of Community Affairs Hoa Duong. Duong explained that Penn students have an obligation to reach out to the surrounding community. "I want Penn students to realize that we are living in West Philly and we should give back to the community and leave it a little better than how we found it," she said. Some groups, such as the Chinese Students Association, offered opportunities for freshmen to tutor Asian immigrants in Philadelphia. College sophomore Nancy King explained that since Penn's Asian American students have already learned to fit into American society, they could serve as ideal role models for new Asian immigrants. "I feel that we should? help with the assimilation process, since we are assimilated," she said. Freshmen were also told of opportunities to study Asian-American culture. Members of the Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board gave out information on how freshmen could integrate Asian American studies into their schedules. "It's important to know about your culture," said Wharton sophomore Stephanie Hwang, who distributed the information. "It's important to know that there is an Asian American culture that is not fully Asian or American but both." Event organizers termed the program a success. "Historically, it's been very effective," said APSC President and College senior Seung Lee. "It shows that there are many facets to the Asian American experience." Lee added that the event is popular because it capitalizes on the Asian Pacific Student Coalition's ability to bring together all of the different Asian ethnic groups on campus. Students reacted positively to the event, which they felt helped introduce them to both new activities and new people. "It's a good way to find out about things here on campus," said College sophomore Christine Chang. "It's a good way to meet people and to reunite with friends I haven't seen yet."

Noted poet Koch speaks at U.

(04/16/98 9:00am)

College Senior David Salarskey loved Kenneth Koch's poetry so much that he did more than just write a term paper about him -- he brought him to Penn. Salarskey, a member of the Kelly Writers House planning committee, organized Koch's poetry reading at the house last night. More than 30 students and poetry enthusiasts attended the event. Salarskey chose Koch, 73, because he "occupies a pivotal position in post-war American poetry." "I think his work is something that people can relate to on an everyday level while maintaining an artistic integrity," Salarskey explained. Koch -- a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia -- is the author of more than 15 books of poetry, including One Train, Seasons on Earth and Days and Nights. In addition to poetry, Koch has also written works of fiction, essays and plays. Koch is known for having founded the so-called New York school of poets, a movement which tried to rid poetry of its dullness and pompousness. He was influenced by such poets as Shelley and the surrealists. In 1995, Koch won Yale University's Bollingen Prize in poetry. The $25,000 award -- given to the best poetry collection in the previous two years, or in recognition of one's lifetime achievement -- is considered one of the nation's most prestigious literary honors. Besides writing poetry, the New York City resident has also taught it in nursing homes and public schools. Koch explained that he sees himself as an advocate for presenting poetry to a wider audience. "I think people should enjoy and understand life as much as possible, and poetry is a way of enjoying it," he said. Koch began the presentation with selections from Straits, a new collection of poems and songs that will soon be published. The poems cover themes ranging from history to politics. In addition to poetry, Koch also read some songs he had written, including "This Dancing Man was Once the Pope," a satirical piece about the pontiff. His works occasionally aroused chuckles and bursts of laughter from the audience. Koch concluded the presentation with readings from some of his plays, many of which are unusually short. "The problem with short plays is that no one wants to get dressed up, take a taxi to the theater and pay $10 to see a one-minute play," he joked. After the reading, the audience had the opportunity to question the poet about his works. When asked about why he decided to become a poet, Koch said, "I loved doing it, I got praised for it and I couldn't think of anything else to do." As to the role of poetry in academia, Koch expressed a concern that many English departments put too much of an emphasis on literary theory and not appreciation of the craft itself. Several members of the audience said they enjoyed the presentation. "I think he is very funny and very smart," Kelly Writers House coordinator Kerry Sherrin said. "It's like I can hear the whole literary tradition in English, and yet he speaks casually and uses colloquial language."

'Diaries' author discusses drugs

(04/09/98 9:00am)

Jim Carroll, author of 'The Basketball Diaries,' read poetry and other writings. He's nothing like Leonardo DiCaprio, who played him in the movie version of his autobiographical novel, The Basketball Diaries, but at least Jim Carroll's clean and sober. Carroll -- a noted author, poet and musician -- gave a spoken word presentation Tuesday night at Meyerson Hall as part of Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week. The week -- which is sponsored by the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team, Connaissance and the Kelly Writers House -- is designed to draw attention to the issues of drug and alcohol abuse on campus. Health educator Kate Ward-Gaus, who serves as DART's adviser, said she chose Carroll to speak because he "is a person who talks about his own experiences in a very honest, graphic way." Carroll, a resident of New York City, is best known for his autobiographical work, The Basketball Diaries, which describe his experiences with heroin addiction as a teenager in 1963. The book was made into a movie starring DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg in 1995. Carroll began his presentation to the crowd of over 100 people with selections from another autobiographical work, Forced Entries, which detail his struggles with drug addiction during his early 20s. He also read selections from his new book of poems, entitled Void of Course. The poems deal with various topics, ranging from sex to drug abuse. Carroll noted that this new collection has no central theme. "It's hard to say what a book of poetry is about," he said. "I try to make the poems abstract enough so different people can interpret them in different ways." He also read a poem entitled "Eight Fragments for Curt Cobain," which he wrote in honor of the deceased lead singer of the band Nirvana. Carroll has been a rock star himself. During the 1980s he performed with his rock group called the Jim Carroll Band. According to Carroll, drugs -- especially cocaine -- were prevalent in the music industry at that time. "[Cocaine] is a good musician's drug," he said. "It keeps you going." "But the crash isn't worth the high," he added. "Of all the drugs I did, cocaine was the most demonic." Although he has struggled with drug problems in the past, Carroll said he has beaten the addiction. "I'd like to smoke weed, but the pace of New York is so speedy, you know, and you have to do pot at your own pace," he said. Following the presentation, students had the opportunity to attend a book signing and talk more intimately with the author. Carroll's works -- which were at times interspersed with humorous anecdotes -- were received with bursts of laughter from the students. At one point, Carroll told a story in which he went to a poetry reading with a live cockroach, only to kill the bug with a spritz of Raid moments later before a surprised but delighted audience. Several students said they found Carroll's reading impressive. "His presentation didn't have the focus that I wanted, but I thought his poems were very intriguing," College senior Jordie Hannum said of the presentation.

Jamieson speaks on women in the media

(04/06/98 9:00am)

Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson, one of the country's leading media experts, is living proof that is possible to overcome the pitfalls that threaten women's success. More than 150 Penn students and media representatives were present to hear Jamieson address the role of women in media Thursday night in Meyerson Hall. The speech was part of the Women in Leadership Series, a lecture series featuring successful women in a variety of leadership positions designed to promote awareness of women's difficulty in acquiring such roles. The series is sponsored by the Spring Conference of the Trustees Council of Penn Women, a national network of Penn alumnae who attempt to promote the advancement of women's issues within the University. Jamieson, a political commentator who often appears on CNN and PBS' Newshour with Jim Lehrer, began her speech with a video analysis of the media's coverage of the Clinton sex scandals. She displayed a CNN segment entitled "Media Madness?" -- which she helped to edit -- that highlighted the ambiguity of sources surrounding the Monica Lewinsky matter and the changing relationship between the media and presidential privacy over the decades. The segment also illuminated the "echo effect" of rumors that spread throughout the media, Jamieson said. She also used the segment to stress the importance of using accurate sources. "The problem with these patterns of disclosure is that the sources are often unreliable and this information is filtered into the media," she said. "The media has not carried on its responsibility in the last 71 days.? It has replaced substance with sex." In addition, Jamieson -- a distinguished author whose works include Beyond the Double Bind: Women and Leadership -- discussed the bias in media reporting with regard to the Paula Jones scandal. She showed an MSNBC segment which dwelled on the dismissal of Jones' case rather than an important speech Clinton gave in Africa. After the presentation, Jamieson fielded questions from Penn students and reporters, including one from the Washington Post. When asked how to create a disincentive for the media to be controlled by profit motives, Jamieson advocated the use of the "V-chip" so that viewers can block out unwanted programs. The event was followed by a dinner at La Terrasse with Jamieson and 12 undergraduates selected on the basis of their diverse interests. Jamieson's speech elicited a positive response from many students. "I think it was fantastic," College sophomore Sara Shenkan said. "It really helped me to understand the media better." College sophomore Debra Kurshan, a founder of the lecture series, added that there is much to be done regarding the public portrayal of women. "I think that it's going to take a lot of work to change the media's portrayal of women," she said. "It will take an overhaul of the public's attitudes toward women." Some students were doubtful, however, of the prospects of ever achieving true gender equality. "I think the University works to provide everyone with equal opportunities," College freshman Leigh Miseils said. "But when we graduate, society doesn't work to provide everyone with equal opportunities."

Researcher speaks on Swiss 'neutrality' during Holocaust

(03/25/98 10:00am)

Miriam Kleiman doesn't think anything is neutral about Switzerland. A senior researcher at the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and Toll in Washington, D.C., Kleiman was the first person dispatched to Washington's National Archives to research the controversial issue of Jewish money held by Swiss banks during World War II -- money which many accuse the Swiss of failing to return to families of Holocaust survivors. "If money is the root of all evil, then Hitler was the greatest evil, and Swiss banks were the root," Kleiman noted during a speech, "Shattering the Neutrality Myth: The Inside Story of the Swiss Banks Investigation," at the Annenberg School for Communication last Thursday. More than 30 people attended the address, which was sponsored by the University's Holocaust Education Committee. Kleiman began her speech by discussing the history of Swiss involvement with Nazi Germany. During the war, Germany gave Jewish loot to Swiss banks in return for currency to finance the war. In her speech, Kleiman passed around copies of documents she uncovered, which she said revealed the extent of Swiss involvement in the war. According to Kleiman, Swiss cooperation included funds funneled directly to the Nazi war-machine. In addition, the Swiss government returned some Jewish refugees to the Nazis. Documents uncovered at the National Archives in Washington also revealed that Swiss bankers knew the real sources of Nazi loot. It is estimated that more than $6 billion -- not including the value of personal possessions taken from Holocaust victims -- was funneled into Swiss banks during the war. Kleiman also discussed the difficulty of going through the National Archives records. The records are not computerized and can't be scanned into a computer system, she said, describing the process as "tedious." Despite pressure from Congress and various Jewish organizations, Kleiman said the Swiss have actually done little to return the lost funds of Holocaust survivors. "It's tokenism," said Kleiman. "It's almost offensive." Kleiman also stressed the importance of Holocaust education. She urged members of the audience to talk to Holocaust survivors about their experiences. Engineering senior Shira Neustein described Kleiman's speech as "incredible." "I never knew something so small could turn into something so big," Neustein said. Kleiman concluded by expressing doubts as to whether the issue would ever fully be resolved to both sides' satisfaction. "The Holocaust survivors are getting older? it's a closing window of opportunity," she said. "I hope something is done. "It's not about money, its about justice," Kleiman added.

U. lauds African culture

(02/23/98 10:00am)

While some Penn students did their chemistry and English homework this weekend, hundreds of other people learned about Youruban tribal cosmology and an African game called Mancala at the University Museum Saturday afternoon. The ninth annual celebration of African cultures featured dancing, storytelling and children's workshops in an effort to educate the public about the lifestyles and beliefs of West African tribes. One of the main attractions of the event was the Women's Sekere Ensemble, which performed traditional Nigerian music in the Museum's Pepper Gallery. "The performance is intended to keep the preservation of African music alive," said Valerie Sims, a member of the ensemble. "African music isn't written down like European music. It has to be heard and felt." She described the crowd's reaction to the performance as "excellent." Other events included a workshop in which children learned how to create 18th century Nigerian masks. It was directed by Jean Wilson, an artist who works with children's multicultural programs throughout the city. "My table is usually the most crowded table," Wilson said. "The kids love the workshop so much they want to continue even after closing time." To teach the public more about the diversity of African cultures, a tour was held in the Museum's African Gallery which focused on the everyday life of an African village. Esther Gushner, a volunteer guide and 1959 College for Women graduate, noted that it "is important to acquaint people with their history and teach them respect for cultural diversity. "We must understand the cultural contributions of Africa to American culture, such as blues and rap [music]," she said. In the Egyptian Gallery, the Fair Hill dance club performed traditional dances from Ghana. They were accompanied by Van Williams, a veteran artist and dancer from the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble. "Audience participation is an important part of the presentation," Williams said. "The audience was very open and responsive." Darryl Pierce, who attended the event, called the dances "beautiful." "I'm learning things I never knew about [the dances]," he said. Fifth-year College senior Shweta Parmer said that "the demonstration was a nice getaway from campus events." "At campus events, it's mostly Penn students, but here there were a lot of people from the community," she said. In the morning, Shawnnea Lance gave a lecture on Youruban deities. Karen Abdul-Malik, co-founder and director of Duinsity Storytelling, introduced people to African and African American folk tales. To top off the celebration, dance troupe Children of Shango gave a demonstration of African dance. It featured traditional dances from Mali, Senegal and Guinea. "It is always fun [dancing] here at the the Museum," troupe director Hodari Banks said. "We always get a really good crowd."

Pledges attend 'Greek Life 101'

(02/10/98 10:00am)

Filling Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge to full capacity, hundreds of new fraternity and sorority pledges attended the University's second annual "Greek Life 101" program Saturday. Started last year as an educational forum for the InterFraternity and Panhellenic councils' pledges, "Greek Life 101" featured speakers such as Dave Westol, executive director of the Theta Chi fraternity, and Arlene Stevens, founder of CHUCK -- the Committee to Halt Useless College Killings. The event, which was mandatory for all pledges, began with a speech by Stevens, whose son Chuck died during a hazing-related incident in 1978. She founded CHUCK and has given hundreds of speeches across the country in an effort to stop fraternities and sororities from hazing new pledges. Stevens recalled the horrifying experience of her son's death and warned students about the dangers of hazing. She praised the University for its strong Greek support system, but urged students not to let hazing tarnish the University's reputation. Next to speak was Westol, who covered the legal aspects of hazing. Although he admitted hazing is a problem on college campuses, he gave examples of students who resisted participating in such activities. "You are the future of the fraternities and sororities," he told the pledges. "You are the change agents." After the speeches, Westol conducted a mock trial emphasizing the legal measures that can be taken against fraternities or sororities who haze members. OFSA Assistant Director Tom Carroll noted that the presentation was "a wonderful opportunity to teach the students about hazing. "The only complaint I have is about the facilities," he added, referring to the lack of space for the event. "Last year we had about 300 pledges attend, but this year it's over 460." This year's program differed slightly from the one offered last year. Time-management seminars for new Greek members offered last year were dropped from the program because the number of students attending made them impractical. Overall, there was optimism about the program's efficacy. "I'm impressed with the fact that the programs are becoming stronger," Stevens said. "I think that people are fed up with hazing." OFSA Director Scott Reikofski said the program "really gets new members looking at hazing and mistreatment in a new way."