The stench may soon lift in Community House. According to Assistant Dean of Residence for Community House Diana Koros, "There has most assuredly been attention paid" to the ventilation deficiency in her section of the Quadrangle. This attention is in response to complaints made by students, she said. Earlier this week a former resident advisor and several Quad residents -- past and present -- said the bathrooms were full of "dirt, dust, hair and urine" due to a lack of ventilation. Director of Residential Maintenance Lynn Horner said the poor ventilation in some Quad bathrooms was only brought to her attention last week. No problems were found when the system was checked before move-in, she added. Horner said the problem will be addressed now that it has been brought to her attention. Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone said Physical Plant has been checking the ventilation systems in all bathrooms in Community House. She added that she believes the McIlhenny bathroom system has been repaired at this point. Horner confirmed that there were repairs done yesterday. She said Physical Plant workers cleaned out the louver -- ceiling vents -- and added that the system seems to be working now. This could be the root of the problem, Horner said, because Physical Plant failed to check the vents last year during their routine inspection. If the problem persists the workers will check to make sure the ventilation stack is open and not clogged with dust, Horner said. She added that the stacks have to be cleaned every five years, and that this cleaning has not been done for awhile. If that doesn't work, the University will bring in an engineer to see that the fan has been sized correctly to properly exhaust the area, Horner said. During their inspection this week, the workers also discovered a mechanical problem with the exhaust system in Ward-Warwick, Horner said. She assured students that the motor in the fan will be replaced. Some McIlhenny residents said they were not impressed by the repairs, though. "It's slightly better, but I think that's only because it's 30 degrees cooler outside," said College freshman Lindsay Gray. College freshman Amy Gross agreed. "It's better than it was, but that doesn't say much," she said. And students in Ward-Warwick expressed hope that repair to their bathroom will be prompt. "It smells so bad [in the bathroom] that I pee in my sink, just to avoid going in there," said College freshman Roger Stumacher. "They better fix it soon because I have to brush my teeth in that sink," he added. Koros described the bathroom situation as a "chronic maintenance problem." But she said she appreciates the effort made by Physical Plant. "I am very pleased that there are maintenance people trying to resolve the problem," she said. "I will be very happy when the problem is resolved."
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Something stinks in Community House. And while this creates an unsavory living environment for many residents, it also may be against the law. According to former Community House resident advisor Jeremy Chiapetta, several bathrooms in the Quadrangle lack proper ventilation and cleanliness. He added that this has been a recurring problem during the last two years. "There would be a film of dirt, dust, hair and urine which would cover the wall, mirror, floor, toilet seat and wash basins," the College senior said. Several University officials confirmed yesterday that bathrooms in the Thomas Penn, Warwick and McIlheny sections of the Quadrangle lack a working ventilation system. And Philadelphia Plumbing Supervisor Joseph Sabatino said yesterday that the conditions may violate a city ordinance, which requires that there be a window or air shaft in bathrooms that opens to the outside air. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, Chiapetta said he filled out numerous maintenance cards and complained to Judith Hillard, former assistant dean of residence for Community House, on many occasions. Although he was given repeated assurances, Chiapetta said the problem has not been fixed. Assistant Dean of Residence for Community House Diana Koros expressed her disapproval over the situation. "There is no reason why our residents should live that way," she said. "I don't live that way, and there is no reason they should either." Koros said she discussed the problem with officials as recently as yesterday morning. Although Koros could not estimate when the ventilation problem will be alleviated in the bathrooms, she said she is paying close attention to it. "My style is to start with the appropriate channels and give them time, then increase my requests with increased frequency and volume," Koros said. "It will be fixed," she said. "One way or another, it will be fixed." Assistant Director of Facilities and Residential Operations Gordon Rickards confirmed that Residential Maintenance is aware of the problem, but said that "student rooms are higher on their priority list." He could not comment on why the problem was not addressed last year. The most poignant issue among current Quad residents is the smell emanating from the unventilated bathrooms. "The guys' bathroom smells bad," said College freshman Sarina Berger. "I can smell it all the way down the hall." "It smells like a possum exploded in there," College freshman Daniel Schwartz said. "It's a really nasty, stinky place where you just don't feel like taking care of business," College freshman Andrew Delemos said. And several students who lived in the dorm last year recall the situation with unpleasant memories. "You would walk in and the ceilings would drip on you [it was] so wet," said College sophomore Erin Crowley. "You felt like you were in a tropical rain forrest." Tom McNally, a city spokesperson contacted yesterday, would not say whether any complaints have been made to the Licenses and Inspections Department. He added, though, that the department responds to complaints it receives promptly.
The fate of Smith Hall and the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology remains in the hands of the U.S. Air Force. Air Force officials are still conducting a historical and environmental impact study on Smith Hall to determine whether the site is an appropriate location for the IAST, according to Vice Provost for Research Barry Cooperman. The study began over two years ago in the midst of a heated controversy over whether to demolish the 100-year-old campus building to make room for the institute. In 1991, the University was selected by the federal government as the site for the IAST. The project was then turned over to the Department of Defense and subsequently to the Air Force. If built, the IAST is slated to house space for the Chemistry Department, additional Chemical Engineering labs and research space for the Bioengineering Department. Cooperman said he hopes to hear from the Air Force in the next two months. "I am anxious to have this project move forward," he said. Air Force spokesperson Jane Knowlton confirmed that the military was reviewing the historical and environmental impact studies, but refused to reveal when those studies would be completed. But, University officials are optimistic. Art Gravina, vice president for Facilities Management, said he thinks the demolition of Smith Hall could come as soon as this fall. "We feel that the Air Force will move forward with this project," Gravina said. If the Air Force gives its approval, Gravina said, the University would receive $35 million from the Defense Department for its completion of the IAST.This grant would cover approximately half of the cost, according to Cooperman. The University has already begun fundraising efforts to produce the other half, he said, but this will be made easier once the Air Force reviews are complete. Cooperman said that while he expects corporate sponsorship of the project, the University may need to take on a debt to fund the new building. Funding will not be the only issue officials are facing when the Air Force issues its decision. The University must still obtain a demolition permit from the city to tear down Smith Hall. The Philadelphia Historical Commission approved such a permit three years ago, Cooperman said, but the University must have financial commitments lined up before the actual permit will be issued. Cooperman expressed regret about having to demolish Smith Hall. "It is an unhappy thing to tear it down, but the problematic needs for our new building make it necessary," he said. Once Smith Hall is torn down, phase one -- construction of the new building -- will begin, Cooperman said. Phase two consists of remodeling the Morgan Building and the Music Building and constructing a new wing that will connect the two buildings from the rear. The third phase will be expensive and may take a long time to construct, Cooperman said. At this stage, the University will construct an engineering-science library in Hayden Hall. The fourth and final phase of the project is the retro-renovating of space in both the engineering and chemical complexes. Because phase four is routine renovation work, its budget can be cut if the project gets too expensive. Gravina estimated that the entire project will take two years to complete.
The Book Store is not just for books anymore. Vice President for Business Services Steven Murray confirmed this week that a branch store of My Favorite Muffin will be opening at the University's book store this fall. Right now, The Book Store is in the final operations of designing the space to be operated by My Favorite Muffin, he said. "If everything goes right, we'd love to open this venture this fall," Murray added. The My Favorite Muffin store at 224 S. 40th Street will remain at its current location. Since the beginning of the semester, My Favorite Muffin has been operating a stand on Locust Walk across from The Book Store, offering a small sampling of muffins and coffee. This temporary location will stay open as long as the weather cooperates, Murray said. The My Favorite Muffin branch store in The Book Store will offer a broader spectrum of food, including bagels, cappuccino and six different kinds of coffee. Murray said the idea is to create an environment like Borders Book Store, where people can have coffee and read books. "We feel this is a nice addition," he said. Once the opening is official, The Book Store will extend its hours on a trial basis, staying open until 8 p.m., Murray said. But the store will have two entrances, so that My Favorite Muffin can operate even when The Book Store is closed, he added. Murray also revealed plans for the opening of another refreshment center in the 1920 Commons as a late-night gathering place. This will be a University-operated facility, and is expected to house, among other things, a coffee shop and a Taco Bell. Many students said the addition of a My Favorite Muffin branch store to The Book Store is a positive move. "I think it's good because I usually like to drink coffee or have a small snack while I read books," College senior Mauricio Velasco said. College sophomore Kathleen Lester agreed. "I think it's a great idea," she said. "It will probably make them a lot of money." College sophomore Melissa Shingles said the move will allow her and other students to pick up muffins during the day. "It's a convenient place for you to pick up food on your way to or from class," she said. Some students said the idea is not all that it is cracked up to be. "It's kind of cheesy," College sophomore Melissa Lattin said. "It's just another way for them to suck us in to make money." My Favorite Muffin referred all questions about their new branch store to University officials.
While stores around campus appear to be closing at a near-frantic pace, the problem may not be as severe as it may seem. University Associate Treasurer Chris Mason said several new businesses, such as convenience and music stores, are due to open in different campus locations soon. But none of these new businesses will replace the two campus movie theaters, which are closing due to competition from larger theaters in the area. Mason said the University is actively trying to fill the space of the AMC Walnut Theater. The future of the Eric Campus, at 40th and Locust, is yet to be determined, however, Mason said. "We are doing a feasibility study for its use, but there is no immediate plan to replace it as a theater," he said. Among new stores opening in the area, a Convenience Food Store began business this week on Walnut Street, between 39th and 40th streets, replacing the WaWa Convenience Store that closed down last spring. Classical Choice, formerly located in Houston Hall, also moved three weeks ago into the University Plaza at 38th and Walnut streets. Discovery Discs in Houston Hall used Classical Choice's vacant space to open a branch store called The Hole, which sells rare compact discs and posters. Another compact disc store called Vibes is set to open at 38th and Walnut streets, replacing Campus Copy Center. The copy center will move across the street into a garage, which is still under construction. Jim Wilson, manager of Classical Choice, said he has no problem with competition between his store and Vibes because the two stores will not be stocking the same music. Vibes will carry an assortment of popular music, while Classical Choice stocks mostly jazz and classical favorites. Wilson said neighboring stores such as Vibes and the Campus Copy Center, should have a positive effect on business. "We're looking forward to the garage and other stores opening because the extra street traffic and walking traffic should be good for business," he added. Several other store managers in the area said they feel the same way. "I hope that it brings more people to the area," said Hong Park, owner of The Seed, a store that sells health food and supplies at 3732 Walnut Street. "As long as they are different stores." Stella Mitoulis, cashier and co-manager of Fiesta Pizza Jr. and Restaurant at 207 S. 38th Street, agreed. "As long as there is no food, it doesn't bother us," she said. Mason also said that Joseph Anthony Hairstyling, a barber shop in the University Plaza, will be expanding. Its second store will be located in the garage. Thrift Drug and Mail Boxes Etc. will also be opening up in the garage, he added.
For the first time in more than forty years, the basement of Butcher is not full of freshmen. Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone said the bottom level of the Quadrangle dormitory building is closed because of problems created by water leaks. Simeone denied claims that the hall has been condemned, though. According to Simeone, the rooms were not assigned to students because of the flooding problems caused last year by the "particularly severe winter weather." Last winter, the University shut down for three days because of heavy snow and ice and subzero temperatures. Simeone said the exact cause of the problem is very complicated, but she assured students that her department will look at the situation very closely during the course of this year. At this point, however, she said she has no estimate about how much the repairs will cost or what they will entail. Several students who experienced the floods last winter said they feel that Simeone's action did not come soon enough. Although many students filed complaints about the flooding problems, they said the water never cleared up to their satisfaction. "We called the health department and Physical Plant, but they never fixed the problem," said Nursing sophomore Kelly Hauth, a former Butcher resident. Other students complained that the flooding was potentially toxic, and cited health problems to back up their claims. "It seemed as if people were sick more than they should have been just from breathing that stuff," said former Butcher resident Kristen Dang, a College sophomore. Residents of the Speakman section of the Quad had similar complaints. "I don't understand why they even had people living down there because it's really a health hazard," said College sophomore Samantha Smithson, a former Speakman resident . Unlike Butcher, students are living in the Speakman basement this year. Hauth agreed with Smithson. "I don't think anyone should have to live in that situation," she said. Several former residents said the Speakman basement should have been closed down as well. According to former Speakman resident Amy Richards, there was a continual flood in the "moat area" between the two halls. The College sophomore said that there was more flooding in the Speakman basement than in the Butcher basement. "It doesn't make sense how they closed down the Butcher basement and not the Speakman basement," Richards said. Simeone would not comment about why Speakman had not been closed down.
The University spent more than $1 million this summer transforming the University into a more comfortable living environment. Much of the money spent by the University was part of the normal spending cycle of dormitory repair, according to Residential Maintenance Director Lynn Horner. The additional resources were used to renovate Houston Hall and beautify several residences. The high rise lobbies, as well as lounges in Mayer, Nichols and Van Pelt dormitories received new furniture and carpeting. New artwork, furniture and a large screen TV were also added to the W.E.B. DuBois College House. The renovations were based on suggestions from students, faculty and staff. According to Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone, the changes were an attempt to make the residences feel "homey" so students would want to use the lounges. "We were looking for high visibility aesthetic changes that students would appreciate," she said. According to Horner, approximately $600,000 worth of showcasing money was spent on the repainting, recarpeting and refurnishing of High Rise North, Kings Court and English House. This showcasing was part of a five-year cycle in which several dorms are renovated each year, she added. The amount spent this year is consistent with previous years. In addition to the dormitory repairs, Houston Hall underwent extensive renovation. The floor was retiled, the furniture was reupholstered and new chairs have been added. Director of Student Life Activities and Facilities Fran Walker is pleased with the results. "We're very happy with the way the building looks now," she said. Blow-ups of archived University photos -- from 34th Street in the early 1900's to graduating classes -- were also mounted at key locations throughout the university. Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said these murals share the unifying theme of reclaiming tradition. The locations for these pictures were chosen strategically, she added. "We tried to choose areas in which students' lives are centered in order for their lives to be enriched by the culture," said McCoullum. Some of the money for the additional improvements was contributed to the project by former interim President Claire Fagin's office, in order to celebrate President Judith Rodin's arrival. Before leaving her post, Fagin transferred $227,000 to the VPUL office to advance the sense of community on campus. The VPUL contributed additional funding as did the office of Art Gravina, vice president for Facilities, for the Houston Hall renovations.
Thirty years ago a psychologist named Edward Ziegler wanted to give children from poor families a better chance in life. So, three decades ago, he decided to co-found Head Start, a preschool program designed to enable kids from poor families to get ready for school. It offers classes, health services and family support to children nationwide. Ziegler, currently a Yale psychology professor, spoke to an audience of 85 Tuesday night in Stiteler Hall. He was introduced as one of the half dozen greatest psychologists of this century by Associate Professor of Education Joan Goodman. Ziegler's speech, sponsored by the Graduate School of Education, provided a history of Head Start from its creation as part of President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" campaign to its expansion today under President Bill Clinton's Administration. Ziegler said the program's thoroughness is what makes it so unique. "[Head Start represents] a joining together of empirical knowledge and social intervention," he said. He added that Head Start started as a summer program, which didn't provide enough time to have an effect. "Did they really think they could take a child out of [poverty] and in six or eight weeks do something valuable with him?" he asked the audience members. Ziegler said the program changes the cognitive state of the children. "Poor children are smarter than they appear to be," he said. "We just have to work on improving their motivation structure, trust of others and self-esteem." He added that the main criticism of the program is its lack of long-term effects. But he said he does not believe the program should be blamed for this. "[Children] go to school and there is fade out," he said. "That's the school's fault. Why is that our fault?" Ziegler said that Head Start's goal changed when they discovered that even though the program did lead to improvement, poor children were still achieving less than middle-class children. "Our goal is no longer to raise the IQ of the children," he said. "It is now to create everyday social competence." He said the program suffered a "diminution of quality" during the Ronald Reagan and George Bush Administrations, but added that things should improve under the Clinton Administration. Ziegler is now serving on President Clinton's Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion. He briefly discussed his plans for the future. He said planning is in progress to include a program for children under three. He concluded his speech on an optimistic note. "It's time for us to all roll up our sleeves and make Head Start a successful program for the next 30 years," he said. First year GSE student Beth Berman said she thinks the speech was enlightening, but added that it did not focus enough on the present. "The speech raised many issues, but it didn't give many answers," she said.
Pennsylvania Six-5000 is celebrating their 100th anniversary today. The a cappella group will be performing their show, Lighten Up, in Irvine Auditorium tonight. They will be joined on stage by two other a cappella groups -- the University's own Inspirations and the University of Vermont's the Cat's Meow. Pennsylvania Six-5000 will perform 12 new songs tonight, none of which have ever been previously sung on campus. They are hoping to use live tracks from this concert on their next album, which should be released next fall. "We encourage a lively audience," said College sophomore David Hitchens. The show will contain "delicious parodies and a noted absence of Michael Bolton," promised College senior Thomas Ward. Ward quipped that "contrary to all popular rumors, we were not able to get the Daihatsu on stage." He added that there will be "no visual aides, although other aides are to be expected." This concert marks the last all-male performance of the group, which plans to go co-ed next year. The group will be selling their newly released album, Jacket Off at the show. It is the second-ranked all-male a cappella album in the nation. Due to problems they have had in the past, the group requests that audience members, "leave all completely and totally empty alcoholic beverages at the door." Lighten Up will begin at 8 p.m. tonight in Irvine Auditorium. Tickets are being sold on Locust Walk for $5, and can also be purchased at the door, which will open at 7:30 p.m.
After three months of hard work and preparation, the Arts House Theater production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying finally hit the stage last night. The 17 cast members performed the musical comedy for an audience of 40 last night in the Houston Hall Auditorium. The play tells the story of J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer, played by College senior Tom McManus, and his attempt to climb the corporate ladder with the aid of a "how-to book." But this is not the typical interpretation of the play. The group has made a few changes to the classic. According to the show's director, Grace Esteban, this version parodies the business world of the 1980s, as opposed to the original, which takes place in the 50s. "We have invested some of our own history into [the show] in order to make it more modern," said the College senior. Esteban said she feels this adaptation of the play makes it easy for everyone at the University to relate to it. Another difference in this version is the addition of the character called Book Voice, played by Engineering sophomore Justin Parkhurst, as a stage personality. This character is an off-stage voice in the original. The music has also undergone a major transformation. Big hits from the 80s and 90s have been injected into the show's background music. "The music is going to have a touch of nostalgia to it," said musical director and College senior Crae Morton. "[It] works well with the themes of the show." The show also features a nostalgic make-up style. "This is the first time frosted lipstick and big hair have been seen on stage since 1985," noted College freshman Ian O'Donnell, who plays Bud Frump. "It will be interesting to see what people who know the show will think of all our changes," Parkhurst said. The show's producer, College sophomore Heather Gimbel, said Arts House Theater chose to perform this play because it is a light and fun comedy. "The main message of the show is to live life, have fun and not to take it all so seriously," she said. "You leave the theater feeling good." There was an apparent chemistry among the theater group. "It was fun to work with such a tight-knit cast," said College freshman Brett Lovins, who plays Bret Bratt. "We were all like one big family." Cast members and audience members felt the show went really well. "I think the audience enjoyed it," said College senior Richard Leit, who played Mr. Twimble and Wally Womper. "It's a show everyone at Penn can relate to. "This is the first Penn musical I've been, and I was really surprised by how good it was," commented College freshman Shira Sokal. How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will be playing in the Houston Hall Auditorium tonight, as well as April 8 and 9. Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets are being sold on Locust Walk for $5 each. A rate of $4 each is available for groups of 10 or more.
Celebrating their tenth anniversary last night, members of Chord on Blues joined other University performing arts groups in an all-out spectacle of talent and comedy. Joined by improv comedy troupe Without a Net, dancing group Arts House Dance, and an a cappella group from the University of Maryland, called Maryland Faux Paz, Chord on Blues sang a collection of mostly alternative and rock songs. According to the group's president, Dave Ragsdale, this anniversary show is giving members of the group the opportunity to meet alumni of the group, many of whom are coming to see tomorrow night's performance. "It's cool to talk to the people who started the group 10 years ago and to meet these Chord on Blues legends," the College senior said. For one member of the group, College sophomore Raphael Lee, this show is particularly special because he is also a member of Arts House Dance. "This lineup provides me with a rare opportunity to showcase my two favorite activities under one roof," he said. Without a Net opened the show, and was very popular with the audience. "Our act gives the audience the chance to kick back, relax, and laugh," said Without a Net member and College freshman Paul Alvarez. When the members of Chord on Blues took the stage, they were dressed in outrageous outfits, ranging from dresses to habits. "All my life I've been waiting for the opportunity to dress like a nun, and now Chord on Blues is giving me the chance," said Engineering freshman Dave Lurie. The group sang many popular songs, including "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms and "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel. After a few songs, the group took a break while Arts House Dance dazzled the audience with their dancing. Then Maryland Faux Paz sang a few songs. Chord on Blues used this show as an opportunity to plug their new CD, "Rip Chord," which is being sold after the show for $12. The show was very well-received by the audience. "This is the best I've ever heard them," Wharton senior Juliana Herde said. "They've grown to be a very top notch singing group." "At one point, I got the shivers," Nursing freshman Karen Henrichs said. The show will be on stage again tomorrow night at 8 p.m. in Harrison Auditorium. Tickets are on sale on Locust Walk for $5, and can also be purchased at the door.
Students fighting for points on graduate admissions exams is a common occurrence. But, now, the test preparation companies are doing some fighting of their own. Earlier this month, The Princeton Review filed suit in Federal Court against Kaplan Educational Centers, claiming that the score improvements advertised in Kaplan's new ads are not supported by valid documentation. The Princeton Review alleges that Kaplan's ads show a high score in bold print, but explain in small print that the score mentioned should not be taken as an indication of actual improvement, said Kristen Boldon, The Princeton Review's executive director of its Philadelphia Office. Jonathon Grayer, Chief Operating Officer at Kaplan,said he thinks The Princeton Review assumes their customers are not capable of reading the ads carefully enough to see the explanation. "They are assuming that our customers are unintelligent and are not going to be discerning readers," Grayer said. In its suit, The Princeton Review said this ad campaign, which was set to appear in this month's issue of U.S. News and World Report, violates the agreement the two companies had not to make any claims about average score improvements in their ads without the proper documentation. But Grayer said Kaplan feels its campaign has nothing to do with average score improvements. He said the ad tells students they can take a free refresher course if they do not improve as much as the ad promises. As for the lack of proper documentation, Grayer said Price Waterhouse, a well-renowned accounting firm, is currently researching the score improvements. The firm will announce its results as soon as it has the numbers. John Katzman, president of The Princeton Review, said he thinks this campaign illustrates the difference between the two organizations. "Rather than admitting that its courses are far less effective than ours, Kaplan simply misleads the students," he said. Katzman said that as a result of the lawsuit, Kaplan promised to alter its ads before they appear in the magazine, and agreed to pull their new campaign. According to Grayer, the only change made was the addition of the words "No one can guarantee a particular score," on the top of each ad, which the company had no problem with doing. "This program has nothing to do with average score claims," he said. "Just giving the customer the best course for the best value." The two companies will meet in court April 25.
For anyone in the mood to celebrate, the Penn Newman Center was the place to be last night. Almost 50 students and faculty members came together to take part in the Center's first Saint Patrick's Day Happy Hour. And as can be expected, the Center was appropriately decorated with green streamers and shamrocks, and there was plenty of food and drink for everyone. The Newman Center sponsors many events of this sort throughout the year, according to its director Father Tom McGann. McGann said he hopes that by opening its doors to members of the University community, the Center will lose its reputation of being solely a religiously-affiliated organization. "Hopefully this will break down the stereotype people have of the place," he said. "I want to encourage all students to use [this] place." College junior Jeremy Chiappetta, president of the Newman Council, explained that his group wants the Center to function like a student center does. "Our goal is to foster community," he said. The goal of the evening was to provide a relaxing environment in which students and faculty could get to know each other a little better, Chiappetta said. The Center was successful in getting faculty members to take part in the festivities. Some saw the Happy Hour as a great opportunity to meet students. "As an alumnus of the Newman Club and as a member of the administration, I like to show my support," said Executive Secretary of the General Alumni Society Mike Huber. "It's also a way for me to meet students." Andrea Caroll, coordinator of the Matching Gifts Program, agreed, adding that, "we need to participate in what the students are participating in to find out what they are doing." Many who attended said they think the evening was a success. "It's great that so many faculty showed up," Nursing junior Joy Lowe said. "I'm really impressed." College sophomore Larry Bozzelli agreed. "It's really nice that all these people could come together in a relaxed environment," Bozzelli said.
Two speakers tried to send a valuable message Monday night in the Rooftop Lounge of High Rise North. The panelists were in good spirits and their discussion was very informative. The two are also HIV-positive. Last night eight students gathered to listen to the two representatives from Positive Voices, an organization affiliated with We The People, to discuss what it is like to be living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. One of the representatives, Rhonda Dennis, has been infected with the virus for eight years. She warned students that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome can effect anyone. "If you want to know what an [infected] person looks like, just look in the mirror at yourself because it could just as well be you," she told the group. The other representative, Sammy Hill, has been HIV-positive for the last thirteen years. Like Rhonda, he contracted the virus through unprotected sex. Both Dennis and Hill have extremely positive attitudes, which they said have helped keep them strong. They said they do not let the virus get to them. "I think our attitudes have a lot to do with our health," said Dennis. "If I dwelled on how I would look next year because of this virus, I would kill myself." They said they are both concerned about teenagers neglecting to use condoms during sex. "The virus is spreading so fast among teenagers and college students because they don't realize the need for condoms," Hill said. "In 1994 teenagers feel they're indestructible," added Dennis. To prove their points, the two panelists told students about a Red Cross blood drive in two high schools in West Philadelphia. They said one-third of the students were HIV-positive. They added that many of the students tested do not even know they have the virus, and some may be spreading it through unprotected sex. Dennis and Hill, along with the other people in the Positive Voices organization, have dedicated their time to visiting high schools and colleges in order to educate students about the AIDS epidemic. Both speakers said they hope that by shocking college and high school students, they might be able to scare the teenagers into being more careful. Both said they are always willing to come and talk to any group in order to spread their message. Several of the students in the audience said they think the organization is a great idea. "I think the best way to educate people is first-hand," said College senior and co-organizer Jody Sheimbaum. "I think this program was especially appropriate during AIDS Awareness Month and release of [the movie] Philadelphia." "It was very powerful to see how real it is," stated Wharton senior Juliana Herde, the other co-organizer. "Telling teenagers what it is like and shocking them might be the only way to get the message across."
Superblock was quite the place to be Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. All sorts of entertainers blanketed the area, including jugglers, bands and even a unicycle rider. The entertainers were gathered to take part in a parade to celebrate Purim, a festive Jewish holiday, which began Thursday evening. The parade was led by a Mummer's Band, which consisted of about 15 men and women dressed in colorful sequined outfits. They played a variety of music, ranging from "Mr. Sandman" to "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem." A brass band followed shortly behind, contributing to the festive mood. The two jugglers and the unicyclist were from the performing group Give and Take Jugglers. Dave Gillis, who juggled fire as he marched along, is a University alumnus. "This is what a masters in liberal arts is used for," he quipped. The parade started in Superblock, travelled across the 38th Street footbridge and continued on Locust Walk. The marchers cut onto Spruce Street near the Quadrangle and then back onto Locust Walk. They ended their travels at Houston Hall. Afterward the crowd gathered in Bodek Lounge, and the band played "Happy Days are Here Again" while students mingled and took advantage of the free champagne and hamantashen. Then everyone sat down and Mask & Wig took the stage. They performed two skits and sang two songs from their current show. The performance was followed by a reading of the Megillah, the story of Purim. And the festivities concluded with a few songs by the a cappella group Pennsylvania 6-5000. The evening was sponsored and organized by the Steinhardt Jewish Heritage Program, whose goal is to appeal to the mainstream Jewish population at the University. Many students said they feel the organization has been successful. "I really think it's good that they're doing things to promote Jewish identity on Penn's campus," said Wharton freshman Michelle Bornstein. Engineering freshman Graeme Lemmer summed up the evening. "Nothing beats the spirit of Purim," he said.
In honor of Black History Month, Ekuejo, a local African American culture, drum and dance company, performed their show African Rhythms for University students on Wednesday. The group, led by Oriyomi Isha Imani and consisting of three percussionists and three dancers, opened up with a dance known as Fanga, which honors the four elements of the universe. They also performed the Lamba, which depicts the cycles of life. In between the dances, Imani talked about African culture and attempted to refute some commonly held stereotypes about Africa. "We're here to let you know that Africa is very much a part of you," she said. "African American History is not just a month -- it's 365 days a year," she added later. Following the cultural dances, group drummers described their instruments to the audience. The percussionists then took turns demonstrating their individual instruments, which included the djembe, conga and agogo bells. The group also taught the audience the Nigerian game kye kye kole. The performers did the Manjani, a "challenge" dance. The purpose of such a dance is to show your joy and appreciation of life and all it has to offer, Imani said. By the end of the song, almost the entire audience had joined the dancers on the stage. The show was organized by the Student National Medical Association. Committee members said they are pleased with the way it turned out. "We hope to sponsor more events like this," said first year medical student and co-chairperson of SNMA David Hurtado. This is the first time the medical school has done something for Black History Month, said second year medical student Niko Louis. "It's great that we finally got to do something, but it's kind of sad that it took so long for them to acknowledge Black History Month," remarked Louis, SNMA co-chairperson. Many audience members agreed that the show was excellent. "In the spirit of Black History Month, I thought it was very appropriate," said College freshman Canra Wooten. "The dancers were great -- there should be more performances like this." "I'm a first year medical student and seeing what was shown today makes me proud to be apart of this medical school," said Kathy Tsapos. "I hope it becomes a tradition."