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Victim in '98 Wharton attack settles lawsuit against Penn

(09/07/00 9:00am)

A lawsuit filed against the University by a former female student who was attacked in the bathroom of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall by a knife-wielding youth was settled out of court last month. The student sued the University last November for failing to keep her attacker -- a West Philadelphia youth who was unaffiliated with Penn -- out of the building. The student, a sophomore at the time of the incident, had demanded in excess of $50,000 in the lawsuit, which was filed on the same day that her attacker, 17-year-old Steven Woodson, was sentenced to seven to 15 years in jail for the assault. "The issue is resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties," said Edward McDaid, the student's attorney. He would would not comment further on the settlement. Associate General Counsel Brenda Fraser could not be reached for comment on behalf of the University yesterday. In the early morning hours of November 8, 1998, while studying in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, the plaintiff was attacked by a knife-wielding man in one of the building's downstairs bathrooms. At the time of the assault, the victim claimed that she pressed one of the bathroom's panic alarms, which didn't work. She continued to struggle with her attacker until she managed to hit a second alarm, prompting Woodson to hide in a stall and allowing her to escape. In the aftermath of the attack, many of the victim's friends claimed that police officials mishandled the initial call for help and that the first panic alarm she pressed did not work. They also claimed that the Spectaguard security guard who responded to the second panic alarm took too long to come to the student's aid. But University Police claimed and a witness later confirmed that the alarm did work and that the security guard responded as quickly as possible. In the aftermath, University officials increased security in the 24-hour Wharton building and implemented a policy requiring all students to prominently display their PennCards while in several campus buildings late at night. Woodson, who was tried as an adult because of the severity of the charges against him, was convicted of aggravated assault and robbery. He was also charged with attempted murder, but was acquitted on that count


Man alleges police brutality at HUP

(08/31/00 9:00am)

A volunteer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has accused two Penn security officers of physical assault and false imprisonment. Allan Lane of Germantown, Pa., filed a lawsuit on August 1 against the two officers, the Penn Police Department, Vice President for Public Safety Thomas Seamon and the University and the school's Trustees. Lane is asking for in excess of $100,000 in punitive damages. According to the lawsuit, Lane -- a hospital volunteer carrying the proper identification and parking permits -- was assisting Gianna Volpe, another HUP employee, carry items to her car last January. As he was doing so, the suit alleges, Penn security officer Michael Petetti approached them and began to make rude comments to both Lane and Volpe. As Lane, who is black, returned to his car, the suit claims, Petetti followed Lane and continued to harass him. Another security officer, Thomas Mulvhill, then joined in. According to the lawsuit, both officers proceeded to assault Lane as other security and police officers joined them in the attack. The lawsuit further alleges that the officers arrested Lane on false charges, placed him in a holding cell and verbally assaulted him throughout his stay in custody. According to the suit, the officers involved in the assault were all white. Lane's criminal trial was scheduled on three separate occasions, the suit claims, but all charges were dismissed after Petetti and Mulvhill failed to appear in court. "We feel strongly that Mr. Lane's civil rights were severely violated," said William Fox, Lane's attorney. "We're going to fight hard." The Penn Police Department would not comment on the litigation, and attorneys for the defendants were unable to be reached for comment as of last night. Lane's civil suit against Penn and the Board of Trustees includes counts of emotional distress and negligence. Seamon and the University Police as a whole are cited in the suit for unreasonable arrest, search and seizure, warrantless arrest, excessive bail and unreasonable force by police. Against the two officers, Lane alleges assault and battery, false imprisonment and arrest and abuse of process


Forum focuses on China's e-biz

(04/28/00 9:00am)

Exhibits of Ancient Egypt may not come to mind as the ideal location to discuss the Internet, but to the Wharton School it seemed practically perfect. On Wednesday afternoon in the University Museum's Harrison Auditorium, the Global Chinese Business Initiative held the second forum discussion in its "East-West.Com Series." The program, entitled "The eRevolution in Greater China Business" brought together nine panelists from various Internet firms on both sides of the Pacific. Ming-Jer Chen, the founding director of the GCBI, also introduced and took part in the panels. The first of the three panels, "View From the Top: The Challenges Facing the DotCom CEO," took a look at issues from the more general -- like attracting talented employees and earning and maintaining revenue -- to the more specific, like what it takes to run a dot-com in Greater China and the relationship between companies in China and the United States. Alan Choi, managing director of the Greater China offices for Korn/Ferry International, moderated the six-member panel. Participants included Andrew Miller, the vice president for the North America office of Chinadotcom Corporation, and Doug Woodring, an executive vice president of Rebound.com, a marketplace for businesses to sell consumer goods. The panelists fielded questions from Choi and the audience for 45 minutes. In the fast-paced marketplace that is the Internet, one panelist said, maintaining profits is a concern. "When you start a company, you have to sprint to make revenue," said Michael Robinson, CEO of Renren.com. "Once that is achieved, though, your business needs to be run more like a marathon." His company is the first multi-lingual provider of Internet services to citizens of China. The kind of talent needed to run such a marathon is just as important. "The competition comes from people themselves who want to start up their own companies," added Hurst Lin, whose company, Sina.com, offers online news to Chinese communities. Particularly relevant to the relationship between Internet business between the United States and Asia, the panelists agreed, is time. "Anyone who has insomnia has an advantage," Miller said, referring to the difficulties of operating in a trade that is not confined to business hours or time zones. To finish the first panel, the group offered advice to students about what they can do to prepare themselves to enter such a competitive field. Although none of the panelists could give a set formula for success, they agreed on two things that every aspiring CEO should have: intelligence and accountability. Many students took the time after the presentation to talk to the panelists and try to make some useful connections. Being able to meet with the panelists provided a wonderful opportunity to gain references," College sophomore Shirley Yu said. "It was also reassuring to note that all of the panelists were very young." After a short break, those assembled broke into two groups to discuss the topic further. One panel gathered in the Upper Egypt Gallery of the museum to look at establishing a business-to-business presence in China. The moderator of the panel was China Online Managing Editor John Thomson, who brought Wang and Woodring together with Peter Oelbaum of Sparkice.com. The other panel stayed in the Harrison Auditorium to discuss investment strategies and trends in the Greater China region.


U. Police's Class of 2000

(04/20/00 9:00am)

The Penn Public Safety Institute's inaugural class graduated from the program last night. It isn't very often that 20 members of the University City community visit the Penn police station on their own accord. But last night, a group of Penn students and West Philadelphia residents gathered at the station at 40th and Chestnut streets for the purposes of celebrating, rather than facing, the law. In a 30-minute ceremony, the Penn Public Safety Institute, a program that allows citizens to learn about the lives of fully-trained police officers for several months, graduated its first class of students and residents. The program held its first class in late January. Over the course of 12 weeks, participants spent two hours each Wednesday night getting a first hand look at what really goes on in the University's police department, the largest private police force in Pennsylvania. After this successful start, the Division of Public Safety will run the program each fall and spring semester, with the next set of classes scheduled to start in early October. "It is a way for the people to walk in the shoes of the cop," said University Police Chief Maureen Rush, who led the program. Throughout the course, students learned about the criminal justice system, victimization and what it takes to monitor the area in and around the University through classroom-style instruction. Students did have several opportunities for hands-on work, though, including rides in police cars and instruction on a firearms simulator. All of this, of course, after each passed a criminal background check. "We wouldn't want all of our secrets to get into the wrong hands," Rush said. Of the graduating class, only about five members are Penn undergraduates while the rest are University employees and area residents. Although their graduation marked the end of any official relationship with the police department, both instructors -- all officers in the department -- and students said they hope the working relationship that has been established will continue to grow. Rush summed up the role of the graduates when she told them, "We know that we have your friendship in going forward, and you know that you have ours." After Rush's opening remarks, Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Fink took over to give the graduates their certificates of participation and offer congratulations. The class members also donned T-shirts, given to them as graduation gifts, bearing the name of the program. Once the class had taken care of official business, both the instructors and graduates took some time to reflect on what was good and what could be changed about the program. Rush invited all in attendance -- including the 15 or so guests of the graduates -- to join in a roundtable discussion. Among participants, reactions tended to be positive. "I had a blast," said College sophomore Meredith Chiaccio of her experience. "The interactive parts of the course -- the ride along, the fire arms -- made it a lot of fun." But she was quick to point out that her experience also gave her a personal appreciation for the police. "Getting to spend time with the officers, I found they were nice people under the tough exterior," she said. A University City resident since 1963, Jacqueline Waiters came away with knowledge she hopes she can share with her community. Waiters, who is president of her town watch, said, "I thought that anything I got from the course I could take back." The most useful part of the course for her was a seminar on ethics, a sentiment echoed by many of her fellow graduates. "The class taught you how to make split-second decisions under pressure, ones you can live with."


Orchestra treats students to the classics

(04/14/00 9:00am)

A cultural treat was in store for classical music amateurs and aficionados alike when some of Penn's finest musicians took the stage on Wednesday night with the University Symphony Orchestra. Irvine Auditorium had a nearly packed house of students, parents and classical musical lovers for the performance. Under the direction of conductor Ricardo Averbach, who is in his fifth year as the music director of the orchestra, the University Symphony played four selections from notable classical works. Their pieces included Mozart's Violin Concerto no. 5 in A major, which set violinist Daniel Cohen, a College freshman, against the rest of the orchestra. College junior Talitha West-Katz, William Lai and Tony Park fronted the orchestra in violin and viola for the Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, also by Mozart. The "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture" by Tchaikovsky concluded the performance. The highlight of the evening, though, was a performance of Peter and the Wolf, a well-known musical story composed by Prokofiev. Serving as narrator for the piece was none other than College of Arts and Sciences Dean Richard Beeman. At ease on the Irvine stage, he joked,"Our wolf is so terrifying, it will be represented by six horns instead of the usual three." Wednesday's concert was the last of the year for the orchestra, which marked its return to the newly-renovated Irvine last semester with a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It was a momentous occasion for the orchestra, as the performance marked the Philadelphia premiere of the Urtext edition of the piece. The University Orchestra, which just celebrated its 122nd anniversary, has reached a broad and diverse audience under the direction of Averbach. Over the past three years, all of the orchestra's concerts have been sold out, and recordings of the performances can be heard in over 50 countries thanks to Art in the States, a program produced by WGBH Radio in Boston. The group has been a part of numerous exchanges with ensembles such as the Columbia University Orchestra, the Haverford College Orchestra and Orchestra 2001, and in 1998 toured France. Averbach himself is a noted music director worldwide. A native of Bulgaria, he will be returning to the National Opera of Sofia this June for their production of Mozart's opera Le Nozze di Figaro. His latest CD was recorded with the Sofia Symphony Orchestra and has sold more than 500,000 copies. None of this, though, compares to his most recently released project -- the Penn Wind Ensemble's first CD, narrated by University President Judith Rodin. With such a following, one might think there would be no problem attracting students to performances, but the number of students attending isn't as high as audience members say it could be. "I think students are aware that there are performances, but on-campus interest isn't very big," College sophomore Adrienne Moore said. "It's mostly family and friends."


Sex talk ends Jesus Week

(04/07/00 9:00am)

Sex: an unlikely subject to round out this year's Jesus Week. Last night, with topics ranging from sexual addiction to reform programs for homosexuals, sex topped the agenda in a 90-minute discussion with Theresa Latini, the executive director of One-by-One -- an organization that counsels homosexuals in conflict with their religious beliefs. Latini, whose talk marked the culmination of Jesus Week 2000, addressed about 40 students in Stiteler Hall. Latini, a self-described "former" homosexual, discussed religion as it pertains to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. She stressed the idea of "sexual brokenness" -- which she defined as "anything about our sexuality that falls outside of God's plan" -- as the basis for whatever problems Christians encounter. In fact, for Latini, homosexuality is "not primarily a sexual issue." "This is not a fundamental part of who [homosexuals] were created to be," she said. "Perhaps homosexuality is meeting legitimate needs in illegitimate ways." Heterosexuals, she argued, often use "illegitimate" means to fulfill a greater need as well. In one of the more controversial parts of her talk, Latini said such behavior -- which includes "lust, compulsive masturbation, voyeurism and promiscuity" -- is a "destructive consequence of sin" that plays into the idea of "sexual brokenness." Now, on the other hand, she said the pendulum has swung to celebrating homosexuality, which is not necessarily the answer either. Latini offered her controversial opinion about the causes of homosexuality. She said she saw little biological basis, but rather pointed toward experiences in early childhood, such as the "breakdown in the relationship with the same-sex parent." Latini grew up with a "homosexual orientation" and found difficulties when trying to reconcile her feelings with those of the ministry. But through a combination of support groups and one-on-one talks with a counselor, she said that she and others like her "began to experience significant change, not only in our identities, but also in our orientation." Latini then took questions from the audience, and she found herself challenged on many points. Most students found flaws in the environmental basis of homosexuality in which Latini believes. About Latini's talk, many students were somewhat critical, but by no means offended. "You can't be offended if she wants to share a change in her life," College freshman Jessica Rodriguez said. "I think everyone reacted with a willingness to listen at least." Perhaps, as College junior Nina Harris pointed out, the response was less charged because the discussion "wasn't really focused on homosexuality, but rather 'sexual brokenness.'"


Sam Katz still committed to helping Phila.

(03/29/00 10:00am)

the former mayoral candidate spoke to Penn students yesterday as part of the Fox Leadership program. The Philadelphia mayoral race may have ended months ago, but Sam Katz is still campaigning for a better city. Katz, the Republican who posed an unexpectedly strong challenge to eventual winner John Street last November, discussed his views on the financial future of the city before nearly 30 politically oriented students yesterday as part of the Robert Fox Lessons in Leadership program. The 49-year-old Katz, a Philadelphia native, was an investment banker and financial advisor, and is currently the president and founder of EnterSports Capital Advisors, Inc. He is certainly best known, though, as the Republican mayoral candidate who lost by a narrow one-point margin and, in doing so, came as close to winning as any Republican since 1952. In his hour-long talk, Katz discussed problems that he believes have resulted from a consolidation of the city and county of Philadelphia into one legal entity. This consolidation, which means that the city and county share municipalities and hold a joint court system, has been an "albatross" around the neck of the city for the last 100 years, Katz said. Katz also reiterated his criticism of Philadelphia's wage tax, which he called a "killer." The wage tax became a focal part of his campaign when he released an 83-page plan that outlined his goal to cut the tax from 4.6 percent to 4 percent over four years. He said the tax has prevented the kind of growth the city needs to establish itself in this technological age. Katz cited SAP America, a Germany-based software firm that had hoped to move to Center City but decided on a neighboring county instead because the prospect of re-adjusting close to 7,000 salaries in accordance with the wage tax was unappealing. "Philadelphia could be the center of the technological revolution," Katz said, if the tax could be eliminated or at least lowered. Katz's speech was also not without its criticisms of Street and his performance in City Hall to date. "I don't see in the first 100 days of this administration what I would like to have seen," Katz said. Katz also offered several possible reasons for why he lost the election, including last year's presidential impeachment proceedings, which he said created a lingering bitterness toward the Republican party. He ended the talk by fielding questions about topics ranging from school choice vouchers to the new baseball stadium. Katz's own campaign had a three-pronged focus on decreasing the crime rate, improving education and lowering taxes. Some of those who came to hear Katz speak, like Spruce College House Dean Christine Brisson, were simply "curious to hear Katz speak" so that they could "be able to compare him to John Street." Mike Janson, a graduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences, said, "I wanted to find out what he thinks about poverty in the city, what he thinks can be done about poverty in the city and where he thinks that poverty comes from." At the beginning of the talk, Katz joked, "I don't feel this speech is a matter of life or death. If I do well, I won't be mayor, and if I do bad, I still won't be mayor."


Jabbing their way through Philadelphia

(03/22/00 10:00am)

Art Casciato knows his fair share of Philadelphia boxers, ranging from the Joe Fraziers to the Rocky Balboas and all the contenders and pretenders in between. Hoping to expose some of the city's storied boxing history to Penn students, the Harrison College House dean organized a trip for seven residents to visit the gymnasiums where many of Philadelphia's famed boxers got their start. The program was part of the house's "Finding Philly" series, which takes students to some of the less traditional but perhaps more fascinating places in the city. And yesterday, in between the sweat, punching bags and headgear, students got to see a side of Philadelphia far away from Locust Walk. The mood was set the moment local boxing instructor Ron Aurit arrived in the Harrison lobby to join Casciato and the students. Aurit, who led the tour of the gyms, offered hearty greetings of, "Where are you from?" to each of the students. No matter the city, Aurit replied with a five-minute anecdote about anything from a championship fight that took place in the particular town to a favorite hotel bar located there. En route to the first stop -- the Front Street Gym -- the stories flew like punches from Aurit's past. Aurit told the students that he is actually the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question, "Who is the only Jewish boxer to have fought Sugar Ray Leonard?" The self-proclaimed "Yid Kid" laughed as he recalled taunting the former champion, "Is that all you got, Sugar?" when he was unable to knock him out. At the Front Street Gym, the entrance is an unmarked door that opens to a narrow staircase and leads up to a boxer's haven, complete with a trainer named Angel, walls plastered in posters of previous fights and an obstacle course of punching bags. "The gym is so different from what you picture it as being," said College senior Ada Stein, referring to the fact that the gym seemed to lack the glitz and glamour so often seen on television. The next stop was the Joe Frazier Gym. The limousine parked out front seemed to indicate that the owner and namesake of the place -- the former heavyweight slugger -- was in. His son Marvis greeted the group and stuck around to sign autographs. In Frazier's office hung what Aurit described as "the best photo ever taken" of Frazier knocking out none other than Muhammad Ali. The final stop was Champs, a North Philadelphia gym. Located right across from Bill Cosby's former elementary school, the gym is touted as the home of some of Philadelphia's finest boxers. Currently training at the gym is middleweight champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins and welterweight champion Tony Martin. Champs also claims John Prin, Penn's own boxing club president. Finally, the knockout tour of Philadelphia's boxing world was complete with a visit to Nick's sandwich shop in South Philadelphia. Aurit, who has been teaching boxing skills to Penn students since 1976, then took the opportunity to pass out flyers for those interested in his boxing scholarships. He said part of his mission is to help adolescents make it to college, and he touts the benefits of boxing for many kids who might otherwise be left to the streets. "We all agreed we learned about the sport, and the people and culture of boxing," Casciato said. "The tour Ron gave wasn't sugar-coated."


Politics brings students together

(03/06/00 10:00am)

Maybe nothing brings Penn students together like the promise of free food and the opportunity to participate in political discussions. Last Tuesday evening, both the College Republicans and the Penn College Democrats held informal meetings open to anyone interested in the upcoming presidential and senatorial races. The College Republicans met in the main lounge of Harnwell College House for their bi-weekly "Pizza and Politics" function, which coincided with the GOP primaries in Virginia, Washington and North Dakota -- all of which were won by the frontrunner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Still, watching the returns of the primaries on television was not the only thing on the agenda. Instead, the question of the hour for the divided College Republicans was whether to support Bush or Arizona Sen. John McCain, who received an added boost two weeks ago when he won the Arizona and Michigan primaries on the same day. Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, with 13 states -- including New York, California and Ohio -- holding their primaries. College senior Dahlia Morrone, who is not a registered Republican but came to the meeting because she is "interested in the presidential race," said she believed McCain "appeals to college students and a more diverse group." Vice Chairwoman of the College Republicans Marion Huie, a College senior, said many may side with McCain because "he's an underdog." She said she feels some perceive that, "Bush stands for the Republican machine." For the most part, though, there was excitement over finally having a heated race for the Republican nomination. "Who could have imagined back in August that we would have a race now?" Wharton sophomore Adrian Jones asked. "We've never had two candidates who were so viable," he added. Toward the other end of campus at the Quadrangle's McClelland Hall, the Penn College Democrats offered not food but an actual candidate in the upcoming senatorial primaries in Pennsylvania. Bob Rovner, former state senator and Bucks County lawyer, joined seven students for an informal discussion of his campaign. Rovner is hoping to do well in the April 4 primary election against several other Democrats vying for the chance to face off with freshman Sen. Rick Santorum. The issues he stressed included women's rights and abortion. In terms of the presidential race, Rovner said he supports Vice President Al Gore, but feels a ticket featuring both Gore and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley would be very strong. "I see a lot of good people working for Bradley," he said. The Penn College Democrats have been hosting many candidates from the upcoming primaries, but club officer Max Cantor, a College freshman, said that the group is "100 percent impartial." "Apathy is going down amongst Penn students," Cantor said, pointing specifically to the recent sit-in of University President Judith Rodin's office by Penn Students Against Sweatshops. Though there were not many substantive issues that the two political groups could have agreed upon Wednesday evening, Cantor said he thinks the two organizations succeeded in unifying for the purpose of voter awareness.