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Campus crime drops over break

(03/20/01 10:00am)

Crime during spring break dropped in comparison to the same period last year, with only one serious incident, a short list of minor thefts and one count of indecent exposure. Ten criminal incidents were reported to University Police between March 9 and March 19, down from the 12 incidents that were reported during spring break last year. Interim Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush attributed the low spring break crime rates to a free service the Penn Police Department offers over vacation periods. Students living off campus can let the police know they will be gone over a break, and have officers on every shift perform special checks on their residences. "We think this is a great idea," Rush said. "Criminals know when people are away. This program, it's like having an insurance policy." She said that on average, only one to two crimes occur during vacations in areas that are under police surveillance. "The success rate has been clear," Rush said. The most serious incident reported over break was a robbery that occurred on March 10 on the 4000 block of Walnut Street. University Police picked up a report called in to the Philadelphia Police that a man was robbed at knifepoint and stabbed at about 9 p.m. that night. The victim, who is not affiliated with the University, was found near 39th and Warren streets and taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was treated for three stab wounds, none of which were fatal. The alleged assailants were described as three African-American males, each roughly six feet tall, and wearing dark hooded sweatshirts and dark clothes. The three men took the victim's leather jacket and $20 in cash. In another incident, a female University student reported that a man attempted to grab her purse while she was walking near 39th and Chestnut streets on March 15 at about 4:20 p.m. The man failed in his attempt to take the purse and was later stopped by police near 36th and Chestnut streets. The woman identified William McNeil, 19, in connection with the crime, and he was arrested. An incident of indecent exposure was reported by a woman who is unaffiliated with the University. The woman reported that around noon on March 9, she was walking on 32nd Street when a man stepped out from behind a parked truck and dropped his pants. The man was described as a white male in his 20s, 6'2" and weighing about 200 pounds. The March 9 incident is one of several reports of indecent exposure this semester, all occurring in the same area. An employee at a Penn-owned parking garage located at 3665 Market Street reported that on March 10, four white men driving a tan 1998 Toyota Camry refused to pay the parking fee and then drove through the gate. There was one theft from a vehicle parked in a lot at 3335 Chestnut Street, two minor thefts from University buildings and three bicycle thefts also reported over the break. Police officials said crime has been down in general, not just during spring break. Deputy Chief of Investigations Bill Danks noted that in December of 1999, 148 incidents were reported compared to 59 in December of 2000. And in January of 2001, only 64 incidents were reported -- down from 98 in January of 2000. "It's a combination of efforts between the UPPD, the Philadelphia Police Department and the University City District," Danks said. "There's a trend showing that something is working."

Robbery part of 'mini-spree'

(03/01/01 10:00am)

Two University graduate students were allegedly robbed at gunpoint early yesterday morning on the 4200 block of Locust Street. According to police, the two students -- one male and one female -- were walking on Locust at about 12:30 a.m., when two men exited a nearby parked car. One of the men was allegedly carrying a single-barrel shotgun. He reportedly told the two students to get on the ground and give him their money. The female student gave the men the $10 she had, but the male student told the alleged assailants that he had no cash on him. The men then went back to the car, which was driven by a third person, and drove south on 42nd Street. The two students sustained no injuries. The car was described as an older four-door vehicle, perhaps made by Dodge. The man who carried the shotgun was described as an African American, between 17 and 22 years of age, 5'8" tall with a medium build. His companion was also described as an African-American male between 17 and 22 years old, but slightly taller. Both men allegedly wore dark, hooded sweatshirts with the hoods pulled around their faces. Police officials said that the same men were probably responsible for two other incidents that night -- one occurring before the incident at Penn, and one after. The first incident occured on 49th Street, and was extremely similar to the one that took place on 42nd Street. After the incident at Penn, the car was allegedly seen crossing the South Street Bridge, and another robbery took place shortly thereafter at 19th and Catherine streets. University Police Detective Supervisor Frank DeMeo said the department has "reason to believe this was a sort of mini-spree." The Penn Police are working with the Philadelphia Police Department's Southwest Detectives Unit on this investigation.

Brown abandons non-binding early action

(03/01/01 10:00am)

Starting with the class of 2006, Brown University's early action will be replaced by early decision, leaving Harvard as the only Ivy League school to offer early action admission. Early action is non-binding, which means applicants are not obligated to attend if admitted. The early decision option is a binding agreement, and students may only apply early decision to one school. According to Brown spokesman Mark Nickel, the change was prompted by an increasing number of early applicants who were not all necessarily considering Brown as their first choice. "[The early action application process] became less of a step that a student would take if Brown was the place for them," Nickel said. "It was a testing of the waters for students." Applicants who apply by November 1 find out if they have been accepted, rejected or waitlisted by mid-December. In return, students who receive an offer of admission must accept it by January 1. Under early action, however, students still find out if they have been accepted by early December, but have until May 1 to respond, allowing them to weigh Brown against other schools. "It used to be that students who applied early action could not apply early action anywhere else," Nickels said. "That had the effect of attracting students who were qualified. "The university was able to develop a good pool of very attractive and very dedicated applicants," he added. But two years ago, after the National Association of College Admissions Counseling ruled that early action must be non-binding, applications to Brown skyrocketed. "In two years, the number [of applicants] rose by about 65 percent, being that early action was non-binding," Nickel said. "It was clear that a lot of the materials Brown was reviewing and analyzing were from people who didn't have any particular commitment to Brown." "By going to early decision, this returns more towards our original rationale [about admissions]," he said. Now that Brown has made the switch, Harvard is the only remaining Ivy to offer applicants the choice of early action. It appears that Harvard has no intention of changing its early action policy, opting not to rush high school students into making a premature decision about college. But Brown is not worried about the effects this decision will have on their applicant pool. "People in admissions say it will decrease the size of the pool, but there's never been a problem with attracting a very talented pool and that will continue," Nickels said. Over the past several years, most Ivies have seen a consistent rise in the number of early applicants over the past few years. Penn and Brown are both schools to see such a rise in recent years.

Workers dig up human remains

(02/27/01 10:00am)

Construction crews working near the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discovered several human bones and a human skull while digging Friday afternoon. Police were called to the scene to investigate the human remains, and the Philadelphia Police Department confirmed that the remains were turned over to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner. Detectives in PPD's homicide division said they do not know the cause of death as the medical examiner has not yet filed a report. Officials from the medical examiner's office confirmed that the bones have been brought to their office, and that some bones are still being excavated from the site. However, the medical examiner's office is unable to release any information about the remains -- such as how long the body has been buried at the site, as well as the age and sex of the deceased -- at this time. Excavators have yet to see if the site will produce an entire skeleton, and no other physical remains besides the bones have been found. Workers from A.P. Construction, Inc., -- the firm hired to elevate a parking lot on University Avenue and Civic Center Boulevard -- were digging through the existing underground parking lot at the site on Friday afternoon. It was during this digging that workers spotted the remains. "During one of our bulk excavations, we came across bones, and they happened to be human," said Dario Petrongolo, one of the workers. "There were quite a few different bones out there." Excavation was halted immediately, and Petrongolo then called his general contractor, who alerted authorities to the discovery. While bones are still being uncovered, Petrongolo said construction at the site has continued.

Campus crime report

(02/26/01 10:00am)

Aggravated Assault * February 25 -- At about 3:50 a.m., a woman unaffiliated with the University reported that a man attacked her and bit out part of her left cheek outside of a nightclub on the 4000 block of Filbert Street. A 24-year-old man named Lewis Stratton, also unaffiliated with the University, was arrested at the scene. The woman refused medical treatment.

Con artists use new version of old trick

(02/22/01 10:00am)

Area residents should be on alert for a new kind of con artist operating in the area, according to University Police. This new breed consists of people who claim to be stranded -- sometimes with children -- and are in need of money for gas or car repairs in order to get home. Although Penn Police receive few reports concerning panhandling, Interim Deputy Chief of Investigation William Danks said flim-flam scams are becoming a trend in urban areas such as Philadelphia. "It's a pretty common scam, and there are variations of it... but it's been going on for years in big cities," Danks said. "It works because it preys on people's sympathies." "It's panhandling with a theme," he added. "It's becoming a little more difficult for folks to just straight-out panhandle. Now you're talking about someone who is dressed a little nicer than your average panhandler, who speaks a little better." In the case of the more advanced con artists, Homeless Outreach Services Coordinator Jenny O'Donnell recommended offering one's own services as a test. "I would offer to take them to a gas station if the car is there in sight. Money is not going to do any good if they can't get the car to the station," she said. Danks said individuals out to pull off a scam will refuse all offers of aid besides money. He added that people should test the validity of a story before giving money. "One of the things to say is 'Wait here, I'll call the police and they'll come and help you get where you want to go.' If the person is legitimate, they will say 'thank you' and they'll wait for the police," he said. "You'll know if they drive off into the sunset that, one, they aren't out of gas, and two, that they weren't the real deal," Danks added. While a car that is broken down or out of gas is a common story, sometimes children are added to the mix. Some con artists have their car in sight, with several children sitting inside. "It's more convincing. You see the kids and you can't help yourself. Everyone wants to help out someone's kids," Danks said. Interim University Police Chief Michael Fink noted that, at this "higher level" of panhandling, the majority of con artists are out to support an alcohol or drug habit. For this reason, outreach programs for the homeless stress that people should never give money to panhandlers. O'Donnell said that people approached by a homeless person should always call a shelter and inform volunteers of a homeless person's location. She added that even if a panhandler or con artist does not appear to be homeless, he or she may very well be. "There are a lot of people in the city living in cars," O'Donnell said. First-year linguistics graduate student Stephanie Winters was recently approached by a woman she suspects was a con artist. Winters commutes to the University from her home in Haverford, and one Sunday morning she was flagged down by a woman while stopped at a red light. "The woman told me she was from Newark and that her car had broken down," Winters said. "I would have given her a ride," Winters said, but the woman refused any offers of aid besides money. Winters later posted her experience on the newsgroup, where several other students replied saying they had been approached by a woman with the exact same story. One student claimed that she was approached by the same woman twice in one week.

Search for Public Safety head goes on

(02/20/01 10:00am)

University officials hope to select a new vice president for Public Safety by the end of March, according to Executive Vice President John Fry. Fry said yesterday that five finalists have been selected for the position, and each will be interviewed over the next month by three University selection committees. The finalists, who Fry declined to name, are the only ones left after two rounds of interviews. Penn received close to 70 applicants for the position. The only internal applicant was University Police Chief Maureen Rush. Rush is acting as the interim vice president until the position is filled permanently. "Maureen has done a terrific job as the person who's been running the place in interim," Fry said, but he would not comment on whether or not Rush is still being considered for the job. The five finalists will meet with the tri-chairs of the Faculty Senate, the University Council Committee on Safety and a committee of students, faculty, staff and community members headed by School of Social Work Dean Ira Schwartz. The search for a new Vice President -- who oversees the University Police, Special Services and Fire and Occupational Safety departments -- began in October, when then-Vice President Thomas Seamon stepped down to become the chief executive officer of TrainLogic, Inc., a security and consulting firm. Originally, 66 applicants submitted resumes. That number was then narrowed to nine, which was reduced to five after a series of interviews. After a final choice is selected, that person will be interviewed by University President Judith Rodin. Fry said the opening drew a large number of applicants for several reasons, including the position's high salary and Public Safety's recent growth. "It's an extremely attractive job," Fry said. "For serious people, it looks like a good opportunity." Rush could not comment on the selection process, which has taken longer than was originally expected. In December, Fry announced that the University hoped to have made a decision by the end of February. "There are multiple people in each of the particular groups that [the administration] is trying to set up [for interviews]," Rush said. "It's just a matter now of getting calendars worked out." If Rush does receive the job, the search for a new police chief -- the department's top position -- will begin, with many of the applicants presumably coming from the Penn Police Department itself. Fry said that because the department has many qualified people, a search for a new chief would not take very long. Last fall, Seamon's departure prompted a substantive job shuffle in the department. Deputy Chief of Operations Mike Fink, who would be an obvious candidate for chief, has moved into Rush's old office and is acting as the interim chief in her absence. Former Deputy Chief of Investigations Tom King also stepped down in December. His departure led Det. Supervisor William Danks to serve as deputy chief on an interim basis.

Police tracking Psych imposter

(02/09/01 10:00am)

A con artist has been plaguing Psychology students over the last few months by calling and asking them to participate in a psychological study in return for money. College students were alerted to the scheme by an e-mail sent yesterday afternoon from the College of Arts and Sciences. According to the e-mail statement, a man -- who claims to be a Penn graduate student -- has been calling mostly Psychology graduate and undergraduate students to ask if they will help with an IQ research project called the Mind Quotient. The man claims he is doing this research with Psychology Professor John Crawford. If a student helps out with the study, the caller -- who sometimes identifies himself as "Tom Stewart" -- goes on to say that they will receive payment from Random House. Penn Police Interim Detective Supervisor Bill Danks said that the Psychology department has also sent out a letter to inform students about the caller. While the College's e-mail said the phone calls ask for personal information that can be "inappropriate," Danks said most of the questions seem valid. "The questions are mostly all psychological type questions, and most people respond," Danks said. "There's nothing threatening in these [calls]." Danks says the University Police Department -- which has taken charge of the investigation -- has already received numerous reports from students about the caller. One report claimed that the caller asked the student to "'go to your friends, tell them you're smarter than they are, see how they react and then call us back," Danks said. The student would then be given a phone number, always fake, to call later. "This caller is an imposter," the College's e-mail warned. "Dr. Crawford does not know [the caller], and neither Dr. Crawford nor any other faculty or graduate students in the Psychology department are engaged in such research." Crawford could not be reached for comment last night. Danks said that although the University Police have no idea what is motivating this mystery caller, he is probably someone who has easy access to the names of Psychology students and professors. "We're trying to find any pattern to [the calls] where we might be able to identify [the caller]," Danks said.

Campus Crime Report

(02/08/01 10:00am)

Assault * February 4 -- A male University student reported that, on the night of February 4, he was punched in the face by two men and one woman while at a party on the 4000 block of Pine Street. He did not know the alleged assailants. He was treated for a black eye and abrasions to the face.

Commerce Bank robbed again

(02/05/01 10:00am)

An armed man robbed the Commerce Bank Saturday afternoon, marking the third time the bank has been been hit since October. Two University Police officers arrested 42-year-old Dennis Jones for the robbery after they saw him running from the scene. Witnesses later identified Jones. Jones allegedly entered the bank, located at 3731 Walnut Street, shortly after 1 p.m. College of General Studies student Joseph Berger was standing in line next to Jones when he approached a bank teller. "He said 'Put the money in the bag. I'm serious, put the money in the bag,'" Berger said. Berger was surprised that Jones entered the bank without any kind of face covering. "I can't believe the guy was so blatant about it," Berger said. "How did he expect not to get caught? The guy must have been really desperate." According to police and eyewitnesses, one of the bank's tellers handed Jones the money, placing a dye bomb in the bag, as bank procedure dictates employees should do during a robbery. The dye stains the money and renders it useless. Jones then fled the bank, running west on Walnut Street. University Police picked him up near 40th Street. One of the bank's tellers chased Jones as he left the bank. Once Jones realized the bag contained a dye bomb, he allegedly threw the bag at the teller, setting off the bomb. Berger also claims that during the chase, Jones reached in his pocket, appearing to take out a gun. Jones was armed, and the gun's clip was discharged outside of the bank, but no one was injured, police said. The teller who chased Jones was not allowed to comment on the incident according to company policy, and Commerce Bank representatives were unavailable for comment. Commerce Bank was last robbed on December 7, 2000, when a man entered the bank and handed the teller a note demanding money. The suspect fled west on Walnut Street towards 38th Street, taking $2,000 in cash with him. The man was caught on both the bank's surveillance cameras, and Penn Police surveillance cameras outside the bank but was not arrested. On October 21, 2000, a man came into the bank wielding a simulated weapon and fled the bank with $700 in cash. The man was later arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for another bank robbery in southern New Jersey. He admitted to the Commerce Bank robbery, but the trial is pending and his name has not been released. Saturday's robbery also marks the sixth time Commerce Bank has been robbed in the past five years, with robberies in March 1996, March 1997 and July 1999.

Area resident allegedly raped at corner of 45th and Pine

(02/05/01 10:00am)

A female University City resident was allegedly raped in broad daylight Friday near her residence on the 400 block of South 45th Street, according to the Philadelphia Police Department. The PPD's Special Victims Unit reported that at around 11 a.m., a man grabbed the 19-year-old woman, pulled her into an alleyway near the rear driveway of her home and allegedly raped her at knife-point. The victim, who is unaffiliated with the University, was able to give a detailed description of her assailant, and police are optimistic that they will locate him. "This guy will be behind bars," PPD's 18th District Community Relations Officer Ed Ryals said. The rapist was described as an African-American male, about 40 years old, between 5'7" and 5'10" and weighing between 160 and 170 pounds. He was further described as muscular, with a bald, clean-shaven head and a pock-marked face. The PPD's Special Victims Unit is handling the investigation. At this time, officials at the PPD could not confirm the extent of the woman's injuries, but said she reportedly was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for treatment. Officials at the hospital, however, could not confirm that the woman was admitted. Patricia Brennan, director of the University's Special Services Department, said that she met with the woman's boyfriend at the hospital to offer victim support services. She said that the couple refused any counseling or victim support services. Ryals added that, no matter where women are or what time of day it is, women should always keep their guard up in order to avoid a dangerous situation. "Be aware of your surroundings, use your eyes and your instincts," he said. "Treat each situation as if it's a threat because it may possibly be." The most highly publicized incident of rape to hit the Penn community involved Wharton Graduate student Shannon Schieber, who was raped and murdered in her Center City apartment in May 1998. Schieber's attacker was later identified as the "Center City Rapist" who was linked with several other sexual assaults that happened throughout the downtown area. The Center City Rapist remains at large. In May 1999, Marvin Johnson was brought to trial for the April 1999 rape of a then-Penn junior after he was allegedly found using the victim's credit cards in a neighboring convenience store. And in 1998, a female University sophomore was assaulted in a bathroom in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall by a knife-wielding 16-year-old boy. The boy, Steven Woodson, was later charged with attempted rape, attempted murder, aggravated assault and robbery. Woodson was convicted of aggravated assault and robbery and sentenced to 7 to 15 years in prison.

National campus crime rises

(02/02/01 10:00am)

Showing a slight rise in overall incidents in 1999, the U.S. Department of Education has released its second annual report of nationwide crime statistics for colleges and universities. The report found an overall increase of one percent in campus crime incidents. Although the number of murders and aggravated assaults was down in 1999 from 1998, there was an increase in four other major categories. The number of reported forcible sex offenses, robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts all rose. Arson statistics were collected for the first time. Liquor law violations comprised the single largest number of offenses, with 25,933 arrests and 108,846 student disciplinary referrals. Bill Danks, interim deputy chief of investigations at the University Police Department, said that because Penn will be reviewing the DOE reports on Monday, he cannot comment on the statistics until then. "Until then, we cannot make an intelligent comment on that report," Danks said. The Clery family -- whose daughter Jeanne was sexually assaulted and murdered by another student on Lehigh University's campus in 1986 -- helped persuade Congress in 1990 to pass a law requiring colleges to make their crime statistics public. An amendment was added to the law in 1998, requiring schools to submit their crime reports to the Department of Education. The Clery family also set up Security on Campus, Inc. -- a non-profit watchdog organization -- to make sure schools were more forthcoming with crime statistics. Daniel Carter, vice-president of Security on Campus, said the increased number of total crimes was due to better reporting by both victims and schools. "I think that the alcohol incidents in the [report] are probably due in large part to an increase in enforcement... and increased arrests," Carter said. "The amount of alcohol consumption has not changed as significantly as the statistics might indicate." Carter also noted that many on-campus crimes can be linked to alcohol. Carter said that urban and rural schools have similar crime statistics. "Most campus violence is student on student, so it's really irrelevant of the outside environment," he said. However, this report was the first to require crime statistics for both campuses and their surrounding areas. In the past, schools including Penn had used loopholes in reporting regulations to distinguish between "on-campus" incidents and those in areas that were not technically on campus property. "Penn had a situation where armed robberies adjacent to campus were being excluded [from reports] but were being handled by campus police," Carter claimed. "Part of your increase [in reported incidents] is due to situations like that." Although Carter said that high campus crime rates worry the parents of prospective students, University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman said Penn's crime rates don't seem to be deterring many students from matriculating. "The University's number of applications seems to go up, and the number of people who want to go to Penn seems to go up every year... and that kind of speaks for itself," Holtzman said.

Officer assaulted during arrest

(02/01/01 10:00am)

A University Police officer was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Tuesday night after being injured during an arrest at the 7-Eleven on 38th and Chestnut streets. The officer, whose name was not released, noticed a homeless man panhandling in the convenience store at around 11:45 p.m. While escorting the man out of the store, the man pushed the officer into one of the store's windows, shattering the window and injuring one of the officer's hands. Lt. Gerald Leddy of the Penn Police Department said that the officer was treated for "soft tissue injuries to the left hand." The officer was released from HUP Wednesday morning at around 9:30 a.m. Leddy said the officer should be back at work shortly, after undergoing a follow-up evaluation of his injuries. The alleged assailant -- whose name cannot be released due to his possession of three different aliases -- was taken into custody at the scene after other officers arrived. Officials at HUP would not confirm the extent of the officer's injuries, but said that he was not taken to the trauma unit and did not suffer severe injuries. The 7-Eleven clerk on duty Tuesday night said he did not see the incident. In March 1999, a University police officer was assaulted while making an arrest outside of Blockley Hall. University employee Kenneth Ray, was arrested for the attack, but the charges against him were later dropped. November 1998 saw a high-profile incident in which four University Police officers were allegedly assaulted by a University student and two other men.

Helping to bridge the `Digital Divide'

(01/25/01 10:00am)

As part of the University's ongoing celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., activists are working to bring the civil rights movement into the Digital Age. At the Greenfield Intercultural Center yesterday, five members of the Penn community spoke candidly in a panel discussion about the technological gap between poor rural and inner city areas and more affluent regions called "Bridging the Digital Divide." And according to the panelists, this gap is widening each day. "Martin Luther King wanted to bring the whole world together," said Pam Robinson, who is registrar for the Annenberg School of Communication and organizer of the event. "Can we really realize his dream when we have technology that is creating a schism between the haves and the have-nots?" "It's a question that has been confronting the African-American community for quite some time," Robinson said. Penntrex employee and event organizer Chris Cook agreed. "In many ways, the more interesting questions concern the lost opportunities for using these technologies for community organizing and social change," Cook said. Panelist and Communications Professor Oscar Gandy pointed out that "something has to explain the disparities [in available technology] besides income." And despite all other factors, that something, according to many in attendance, is an educational system in need of reform. "I see the digital divide as just another aspect of the educational divide," said Information Systems and Computing employee Steve Thompson. Panelist and ISC staff member James Gist noted that all public schools need to accept the fact that reading, writing and arithmetic need to be supplemented with technology. Panelists pointed to the difficulty that exists for most inner city and low-income families when it comes to buying a computer. "You won't see a Gateway store, or a CompUSA, or a Best Buy smack dab in the middle of an urban area," Engineering senior David Park said. He also noted that many organizations -- including Penn -- have storage rooms filled with older computers that are still technologically advanced enough for use by smaller community centers and schools. "[An old computer] has economic value that can be reused and recycled," Park said. While many inner city kids have cell phones and video games, Celeste Stewart said buying a cell phone and buying a computer are two very different things. "It's easier for me to buy a cell phone than it is... to walk in with $2,000... and buy a computer," she said. In addition, the kinds of relationships many e-mail users have just do not exist in certain areas where the majority of residents do not know anyone outside their own neighborhoods. "When you look at what kinds of relationships can be classified as information relationships, and how many people have those kinds of relationships, a lot of people drop off the list," Gandy said. Audience member and area resident Isabele Mappe remained optimistic, though, that once kids get exposed to computers, they will be hooked. "Once [kids] discover their peers are online... they'll find their way," she said.

Law student hit by car on Spruce St.

(01/23/01 10:00am)

A male University student was hit by a car last night while crossing the street outside of the Quadrangle. Third-year Law School student Jorge Salva was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was treated for either a broken wrist or a broken arm, according to conflicting police reports. According to Sgt. Leonard Harrison of the University Police Department, Salva was jaywalking when a vehicle hit him. "[Salva] attempted to cross while the light was red, and he got hit." Harrison said. University Police were called to the Quad, located at 3700 Spruce Street, around 7:50 p.m. to investigate. Harrison did not provide the name of the vehicle's driver or the make of the vehicle, but he said no arrest was made and no charges were filed. "It was just a simple motor vehicle accident," Harrison said. A nurse at HUP's emergency room last night would not give details of Salva's injuries, but confirmed that he was in stable condition and would probably be released from the hospital before this morning. Penn has not seen a serious pedestrian accident in several years. In the fall of 1999, two bicyclists were struck by cars and killed, in separate incidents. In October, 70-year-old Benjamin Tencer was hit by a car while biking through the intersection of 34th and Walnut streets. Tencer, who was taking classes at the University, died three days after the accident. Less than a week after Tencer's death, Wharton freshman Michael Yang was hit by a truck while biking on 33rd and Spruce streets. Yang was pronounced dead at HUP a few hours after the accident. Also in October of 1999, a male University freshman was struck by a car outside the upper Quad gate while crossing Spruce Street. The student was treated at HUP for minor injuries and released the same day. And in November of 1999, an 85-year-old man taking classes at the University was struck by a car while crossing 33rd Street between Spruce and Walnut streets. He sustained minor injuries to his forehand and hand.

City Council may pass bill to stop smoking in restaurants

(12/14/00 10:00am)

City Council members will be voting today on a controversial bill that would ban smoking in most Philadelphia restaurants. The bill, which was written by Councilman Michael Nutter, has already received preliminary Council approval. Mayor John Street said he would sign the bill if it gets the Council's full approval. Some local restaurant and bar owners fear their business will decrease if the bill passes. "We feel [a ban] would be unreasonable and unwarranted and would certainly affect our business since many of our clients are smokers," Mad 4 Mex manager David Drachman said. Nine out of the 17 Council members must ratify the bill in order for it to pass. Nutter originally proposed the smoking ban in May, but he agreed to postpone the final vote until health advocates could review the bill. In a press conference held last week, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Walter Tsou talked about the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke and the effect it has on businesses. Tsou noted the harmfulness of secondhand smoke and pointed to a study that showed business increased in bars and restaurants in California after the state passed a similar bill. Nutter was forced to tone down his original version of the bill -- which endeavored to ban smoking within 20 feet of an establishment -- after area restaurant and bar owners voiced their displeasure with the proposal. "It's a violation of our civil liberties to deny something that's perfectly legal to our clients," Drachman said. Flo Mayes, the manager of Nan Restaurant said that "it's usually businesses that serve alcohol" that are more concerned with catering to smokers. She feels dry establishments like Nan will not be affected by a smoking ban. In its current form, the bill allows smoking in restaurants that have fully enclosed smoking lounges or bars, those with clearly separated smoking and nonsmoking sections and outdoor cafes. Smoking would also be allowed in bars, which are defined under the bill as establishments in which alcohol accounts for more than 60 percent of sales. David Bonsick, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, said Nutter's changes have "not made [the bill] more palatable," to his organization, which represents the interests of Pennsylvania restaurant owners. "We fear the economic impact [the bill] will have on our restaurants," he said. Bonsick pointed to an Auburn University study of the smoking ban in Boston that -- unlike the study Tsou quoted -- showed that restaurants actually lost over $40 million in sales after the ban. "We believe we're certainly stringent enough" about enforcing regulations, Bonsick said. "Our livelihood is providing restaurant patrons with good service, service that suits their need, and they should have the opportunity to smoke, with some restrictions -- but those that we've been abiding by."