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Penn sweatshop sit-in has nationwide impact

(02/18/00 10:00am)

An increase in college activism for workers' rights was seen after penn's nine-day protest. The sleeping bags are rolled up, the colored signs have been moved away and College Hall no longer echoes with the sound of bongo drums. But although Penn Students Against Sweatshops has left the building, its impact lingers both on campus and across the nation. After launching the first successful sit-in at Penn in decades, PSAS has managed to attract attention from numerous media organizations from The Philadelphia Daily News to MTV. And members have found support on many other college campuses. Anti-sweatshop groups at other schools fasted in sympathy with PSAS this week and many are holding similar protests for the cause. "The Penn sit-in turned up the heat," said Yale Students Against Sweatshops member Amanda Bell, a senior. The protesters, who had camped out in University President Judith Rodin's office for nine straight days, scored a victory on Monday when the University agreed to pull out of the Fair Labor Association. "We're generally pretty happy with the outcome of the sit-in," PSAS member and College sophomore Roopa Gona said. "We think it's a good first step, but it's definitely not the end." PSAS still hopes to convince the University to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an organization it feels is better able to monitor labor conditions. It hopes to achieve this through the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshops, which is looking into the issue and will make a recommendation to Rodin. College freshman Anna Roberts said the PSAS sit-in helped jump-start similar demonstrations at other colleges and universities. "We really feel like Penn had an effect on how fast these other universities reacted," she said. Although sweatshop protests have occurred at numerous institutions over the past year, this month has seen a resurgence of interest in the issue, especially with regards to factory monitoring organizations --Ewith many other student groups joining PSAS in demanding that their school join the WRC. Oberlin College joined the WRC on Monday, and discussions over the WRC are ongoing at Yale, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Temple University. Following in Penn's footsteps, students at Yale set a March 27 deadline for the school to pull out of the FLA and join the WRC. Yale students held a "knit-in" last spring in front of President Richard Levin's office to urge the administration to pull out of the FLA, after which students and administrators met several times to discuss the school's labor code. The University of Wisconsin at Madison agreed to pull out of the FLA Wednesday evening after more than 70 students held a rally outside Chancellor David Ward's office. Although pleased that the school withdrew from the FLA, the students are not prepared to rest and have been sitting outside Ward's office since Wednesday. They are demanding that the university sign onto the WRC and require the full public disclosure of sweatshops in its code of conduct. According to Wisconsin Alliance for Democracy member Brendan O'Sullivan, a senior, Ward said he would negotiate with the student protesters on Monday. "We will be here until we get our demands back," O'Sullivan said. "We will wait until at least Monday. O'Sullivan said the protesters at Penn have had a positive impact on student activists at Wisconsin. "I think its a great thing, it sparked ideas," he said. "This is the time schools should be taking similar actions." Meanwhile, students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are currently holding a "sweat-in" in the office of their dean of liberal arts. The students are sewing T-shirts and paying themselves 30 cents an hour as a symbolic protest, which they are also broadcasting over the Internet. Discussions came to a halt in October, but a meeting is scheduled for next week. And Temple announced this week that it might withdraw from the FLA by March 15 if it fails to prove its effectiveness in ensuring fair working conditions in sweatshops.

Penn's sweatshop protest not novel phenomenon

(02/16/00 10:00am)

While the students protesting Penn's sweatshop policies may have been in the media spotlight for the past week during their nine-day College Hall sit-in, a number of colleges and universities across the country have already had their share of the limelight. About a year ago, students at Cornell, Princeton, Harvard and Yale universities all held highly publicized sit-ins demanding workers' rights for school-logo apparel. Duke and Georgetown universities also staged similar protests at this time last year. As a result of those demonstrations, many schools have been forced to release information about factory locations and to examine labor conditions. But while the protests have definitely raised awareness of the issue, students at the schools say they are still fighting to ensure that their schools develop acceptable labor codes and join appropriate monitoring organizations. Penn Students Against Sweatshops ended its sit-in at College Hall yesterday when it reached a deal with University President Judith Rodin under which Penn agreed to withdraw from the Fair Labor Association. PSAS has continually asserted that the FLA is biased and inaccessible and instead favors the Worker Rights Consortium. Although not all students across the country hold the same specific beliefs as PSAS, all share the same goal --Eensuring better working conditions in clothing factories that manufacture their schools' apparel. About 300 Princeton students held a rally last February calling for full public disclosure of factory locations and fair wages for sweatshop workers. As a result, the university passed a resolution calling for disclosure of factory locations and safer working conditions. "I think there's been agreement on all sides that the university does not want its name on anything produced under sweatshop conditions," said Robert Durkee, vice president of public affairs at Princeton. Students at Brown also rallied this fall in support of the Worker Rights Consortium. Eventually, Brown agreed to join the WRC, but it has also remained a member of the FLA. Brown Student Labor Alliance member Nicholas Reville, a junior, said the students are now working to convince the Brown administration to drop the FLA. Reville praised the effort Penn students made this week. "Brown is really inspired by the sit-in at Penn? and it will catalyze a lot of action across the country," Reville said, noting that Brown students held a rally last week to support the efforts of Penn's anti-sweatshop group. Last March, at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 30 students staged a 51-hour sit-in to urge the school to release a code of conduct for licensees that would help guarantee fair conditions for sweatshop workers. Due to their action, Michigan President Lee Bollinger issued an Anti-Sweatshop/Human Rights Policy requiring all of its licensees to disclose their manufacturing sites by January 1, 2000. "It seems from my perspective that the student action did kind of move the process along," Michigan spokesman Joel Seguine said. "The president made it very clear at the time of the sit-in that he respected [the students'] views." But some Michigan students have expressed their dissatisfaction with the speed of the deliberation and plan to hold a rally today. "We're going to pressure the university to join the WRC," Students Organized for Labor and Economic Equality representative Peter Romer-Friedman said. "Like Penn, we have a very strong labor community," the Michigan junior added. "We have support from workers, politicians and city councilpeople."

African-style food right off campus

(02/16/00 10:00am)

It's rare that one restaurant -- just through its very atmosphere -- conjures up feelings of warmth, community and friendship. And rarer, even, is an establishment that combines such a welcoming aura with cuisine and service of a truly outstanding caliber. The restaurant is Dahlak. Located at 4708 Baltimore Avenue, Dahlak specializes in the tantalizing dishes of Ethiopia and Eritrea -- African nations whose exotic, flavorful dishes are not often recognized in the realm of haute cuisine. At Dahlak, though, such notions can be checked at the door. Guests are welcomed into a surprisingly cozy yet spacious dining area by the affable host and owner, Amare Solomon, who takes great pleasure in introducing the unaccustomed to the flavors of his native land. Solomon, who also manages the Quadrangle's McClelland Hall dining facility, opened Dahlak in 1983 with his wife Neghisti, who adds her own style to each dish as the restaurant's head chef. The main dining area features a wide array of colorful adornments and photos from Eastern Africa. And whether seated at a western-style table or at one of the more traditional African mesops -- small wicker basins surrounded by leather stools -- you're guaranteed to share in the Ethiopian dining experience from the moment you sit down. At first, you may be alarmed to notice the absence of cutlery, but don't fret. All dishes are served with injera, a traditional crepe-like bread that is used to pick up small pieces of the various meats and vegetables that fill your table's communal plate. It's that style of eating -- in part -- that gives Dahlak its unique character. Gursha -- the act of placing food into the mouth of your companion -- is considered a sign of friendship, and it's a practice you may want to try just to supplement the experience of the food. The menu features a surprisingly broad spectrum of beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp and vegetable dishes -- all prepared in a stew-like fashion, though with differing spices and accompaniments. Forty-three entrees await your selection, from the sumptuous yedoro ataiklt ($7.25) -- chicken cooked with peppers, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic and ginger -- to the smooth, rich shrimp alicha ($6.75) -- baby shrimp prepared in a spicy garlic sour cream sauce. Of the dishes we sampled, special mention must be made for the dahlak tibs ($7.00) -- a delicious blend of beef cubes, peppers, onions and special spices -- as well as kik watt ($5.50), a hearty medley of yellow split peas and the restaurant's signature berbere sauce. Add a pitcher of mango juice or a bottle of birz -- an Ethiopian drink made from honey -- to give your meal a truly distinctive touch. And for those with different tastes, try a selection from Dahlak's newly established bar. Dessert will follow, but only if you have room to continue. Dahlak features a small but reliable list of tasty finishing touches -- including baklava, carrot cake and vanilla ice cream -- all priced at $2. The adventuresome might also want to indulge in a cup of the restaurant's special coffee -- flavored with spices to give it a distinctive flair. All in all, the Dahlak experience is one not to be missed. Reasonably priced dishes, a warm and inviting atmosphere and truly outstanding food provide more than enough incentive to venture west just a few blocks. You'll be glad you did.

Learning on the 'Net: Drexel offers online MBA program

(02/11/00 10:00am)

While Drexel Business students may have a long commute to their offices, the distance they have to travel for class will soon be non-existent. Drexel's Bennett S. LeBow College of Business introduced this week what it calls the country's first "techno-MBA" program, in which all classes will be taught online. The new degree, MBA Online: Drexel's Technology Management Program -- which will begin offering courses to a group of 20 students in April -- is designed for professionals who do not have time to attend classes at the campus full-time. "This is a very exciting program that has the potential to make the MBA available to a whole new type of client who previously did not have the opportunity to get an MBA," said Thomas Wieckowski, director of masters programs at Drexel. Wieckowski, who began designing MBA Online about two years ago, said the program is different from other online courses because it integrates academic content and current theory in business specialities, including e-commerce management and the management of information systems. "It's an interesting marriage of technology content and technology delivery," said LeBow Dean Pamela. The program is being launched with support from, a Denver-based company that helps colleges and universities offer courses via the Internet. The company is providing Drexel with a $235,000 grant, software and other services for the delivery of the MBA program's 13 online courses, which will be delivered over seven academic terms. Students also have the option of enrolling in a two-year program that would require them to attend three four-day seminars on campus. The techno-MBA program is the advanced level of Drexel's online MBA program. Over a year ago, Drexel launched accredited foundation courses online for the MBA degree. Lewis said many prospective students inquire about the quality of the online programs. "There are other online programs but not of the quality [of techno-MBA]," she said, adding that all of the courses are developed and taught by full-time Drexel faculty. And in relation to the traditional, in-class MBA program, the admissions criteria for the new online program is at least as stringent, Lewis added. Students must have a minimum of five years of working experience in order to enter into the techno-MBA program. Also, like non-online classes, there are plenty of opportunities for professors and students to get to know one another. "Just because it's online doesn't mean there's no interaction," Wieckowski said. "It is not self-study? and interaction is not just face to face." In fact, according to Lewis, 85 percent of the approximately 250 students who were enrolled in the original online program -- which offers only base-level MBA courses -- last year said they felt they had more interaction with professors in the online course that they had in traditional classes. And 70 percent of those students said they felt they had greater interaction with their peers. Lewis said the more introverted students, who often hesitate to take part in regular classroom discussions, are likely to participate in an online environment, in which they have more time to formulate their thoughts. Tuition for the techno-MBA program will be about $26,000 -- the same as for Drexel's traditional MBA program -- plus a 5 percent technology fee.

Brown president suddenly resigns to take Vanderbilt job

(02/10/00 10:00am)

After serving only two years as president of Brown University, E. Gordon Gee unexpectedly resigned this week to become chancellor of Vanderbilt University. The school's trustees named Sheila Blumstein, chairwoman of the cognitive and linguistic sciences department, interim president of Brown yesterday afternoon. Gee's abrupt resignation shocked and angered the Brown community and the school's peer institutions. "[The announcement] is one of great surprise," said Brown spokesman Mark Nickel said. "It's fair to say there's a lot of disappointment." During his time as president, Gee raised the single-most amount of money in the history of Brown in one year, Brown Student Council President Seth Andrew said. But his tenure is the shortest in Brown history, and he never fully gelled with the small school's faculty and students. In an interview with The New York Times, Gee said he decided to leave because he thought he could make a greater difference at Vanderbilt -- a research university in Nashville, Tenn. -- than at the Providence, R.I., school, known for its strong undergraduate liberal arts programs. "Two years is just too short, and I admit that up front," Gee told the Times. "But every once in a while, the issue of fit, and the issue of passion and the issue of making a difference has to be calibrated into it." There has been speculation, though, that financial matters may have influenced Gee's decision. He will be paid nearly on par with his Vanderbilt predecessor, who received more than $500,000 in salary and benefits. Gee currently earns about $300,000 at Brown. They also offered his wife a tenured professor position. But Gee told the Brown Daily Herald on Sunday that his motives were not financial and that he never sought out the top job at Vanderbilt. Instead, he said, the school offered him the job three times before he finally accepted it after much soul-searching. Gee said he will remain at Brown until April 15, but with Blumstein's appointment and the animosity many at Brown now feel towards him, he may leave earlier. His term as chancellor of Vanderbilt will take effect on August 1. According to Nickel, the majority of administrators, faculty and students supported Gee's initiatives as president. "He has done amazing things for the university," Andrew said, noting that Gee put Brown at the forefront of the nationwide battle against sweatshops by joining the Worker Rights Consortium. Andrew added that Gee's resignation left students with a feeling of sadness but also a sense of betrayal and distrust. "He said two years ago there's no question that it would be his last university presidency, and I expected him to be here eight to 10 years," Andrew said. Nickel said Gee's departure will not affect the strength of the university. "I don't think Brown as an institution will even pause much?. It has a strong internal momentum," Nickel added.

Teachers get help catching plagiarists

(02/07/00 10:00am)

A computer program can identify plagiarists using a screening test. For more than a decade, Barbara Glatt, a former University of Illinois writing professor, has been catching plagiarists worldwide with minimal effort. Thanks to the help of her three computer software programs, teachers around the world have been better able to identify and deter cheaters. Glatt said she created the programs after noticing that many professors often had difficulty locating the original sources students cited in their papers and that many students did not understand what constituted plagiarism. "While teachers are often right [in suspecting plagiarists], the student is often defenseless in proving his or her innocence," Glatt said. But the screening program lessens the need for debate. The test removes every fifth word of a suspected student's paper and replaces the words with blanks. The student then is asked to supply the missing words. The number of correct responses and the amount of time intervening are considered in assessing the plagiarism probability score. Glatt said the results from the screening are very accurate. "No one has ever been falsely accused, ever," Glatt said. Glatt has also made a teaching program for students to use. It's designed to instruct students about the differences between plagiarizing and paraphrasing, when and how to provide attribution of sources and how to express ideas in their own words. And a self-detection test provides students with immediate feedback regarding possible plagiarism trouble spots within their writing. Teachers and students at hundreds of colleges, universities and high schools in the U.S. and other countries -- including Canada, England and Korea -- are using the programs, which cost $300 apiece. According to Glatt, plagiarism has always been a problem in high schools, colleges and universities, but it is becoming more and more prevalent. "There is a market in plagiarism because of the advent of the Internet," Glatt said, noting that students are able to purchase papers quickly and easily from Web sites. Rikki Tanenbaum, chairwoman of the University Honor Council, said she thinks the programs would not only save time for professors but would also benefit students. "There's a lot of confusion as to what constitutes plagiarism," the College junior said. "What's most common is not willfully deceitful plagiarism." In a survey conducted last year by the Honor Council, 63 percent of the 600 students polled claimed to have cheated, with only 4 percent admitting specifically to plagiarism. "I'm quite sure it is an under-representation of the numbers," Tanenbaum said, adding that cheating is not more of a problem at Penn than at other schools. According to Tanenbaum, the survey did not poll a proportionate percentage of students from the four undergraduate schools. For example, 63 percent of the responses were from students in the College of Arts and Sciences, while only 2 percent were from undergraduates in the Nursing School. In addition, she said she doubts many of the respondents fully understood the meaning of plagiarism. "We want to spell out a lot of the ambiguities about [plagiarism]," Tanenbaum said. She said the Honor Council will unveil a new Web-based survey on cheating in about two weeks.

Choosing too soon?

(02/02/00 10:00am)

Students being forced into early decision Maybe it's peer pressure. Perhaps it's media hype. Or maybe it's simply a matter of preparedness. Whatever the cause, one thing is clear: More high school seniors are applying to college early, either through the binding early decision process or the non-binding early action program, than ever before. Admissions deans at many top colleges and universities say the growth in early applications stems from a shared belief among many high school seniors that applying early heightens their chances of getting into highly competitive schools. But many parents and high school guidance counselors criticize the early application policies, claiming that students now feel forced into applying early because they fear that they will be locked out of top schools by the time April comes around. Guidance counselors also argue that early decision can place middle- and lower-income students at an unfair disadvantage because many schools offer fewer financial aid packages during early decision, and students lose the opportunity to compare different financial aid offers. The early application process has continued to gain popularity, especially in the last few years. At Penn, for example, the number of early decision applicants has increased a whopping 40 percent in just three years, on top of other double digit increases earlier in the 1990s. And the percentages of classes being filled by early applicants have also continued to grow, making applying early to schools almost a necessity for students. Penn accepted 25 percent more students for the Class of 2004 early than they did for the Class of 2001. "People feel that they have to apply early decision or early action or their chances are nil," Williams College Acting Director of Admissions Richard Nesbitt said. Penn, Columbia and Yale universities and Dartmouth College have already filled more than 40 percent of their classes of 2004 with early decision applicants. Before 1998, Penn typically accepted only 30 percent of each class early. A step ahead Many admissions deans and high school guidance counselors say the message circulating around high schools is that colleges and universities give early decision and early action applicants an admissions edge. "Students feel that if they don't get in then, they won't get in at all," said Linda Miller, associate dean of admissions at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Adds Nesbitt, "You look at the stats, and in a way, [the students are] right." Many schools, he noted, admit as much as 60 to 65 percent of their classes early decision or early action. However, Linda Mallett, interim director of admissions at Cornell University, said the mentality that applying early carries an advantage is only partially responsible for the growing popularity of early application programs. "Students want to wrap the whole process up at an earlier point," Mallett added. "I'm not sure it's any more complicated than that." She argued that high school students are starting their searches earlier now because information is easily accessible on the Internet, enabling them to be ready to apply to schools in October of their senior year. But Stephen Singer, a guidance counselor at the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y., said that although students may be starting to gather information about schools earlier, they might not be doing so in very calm or rational ways. "Because there is so much media hype [about applying early]? more students are applying early than are ready to do so," Singer said. "There's a lot more energy and emotion expended, but not thought." Unfairly advantaged? Karen Kristof, associate director of Admission at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. -- which offers an early decision plan -- said early decision is a wonderful option for the student who has fallen in love with his or her first-choice college or university. She said, however, that applying early is often not an option for economically challenged students, who cannot take the risk of agreeing to attend a school without knowing in advance if they will receive enough financial aid. "It's just another way that poor or underrepresented students can be at an unfair disadvantage in the application process," Kristof said. Pat Tamborello, a college counselor at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, P.A., agreed, saying that the early decision process often seems to work against middle-class students. "If you are a low-income student, you might be reassured by someone that you'll get a good package," Tamborello said. "If you are an upper-income student, your parents might reassure you that they can afford the tuition." She said one of her students had planned this past fall to apply early decision to Princeton University -- his top choice -- but decided to apply regular decision due to concerns about tuition. "I tell students upfront to consider tuition," Tamborello added, noting that she offers to determine financial aid estimates for her students and their families. According to Nesbitt, some schools -- including Williams -- will release students from their early decision commitments if they are accepted but cannot afford the tuition. "The percentage of students who are receiving financial aid early decision is inevitably going to be lower than students applying later on," Nesbitt said, adding that about 43 percent of students admitted regular decision receive aid, as opposed to 30 percent of those accepted under the early decision plan. "Some schools offer aid to only 25 percent [of the early decision group]," Nesbitt added. Another option While many schools are experiencing an increase in early applications, some -- Williams and the University of Virginia, for instance -- are not seeing their early application totals rise. In fact, Nesbitt said, Williams reported a 20 percent decrease this year in early decision applications. He said the decline might stem from the amended early action policies of overlap schools like Harvard, Brown and Georgetown. The current non-binding early action policies at these institutions allow students to apply early to multiple schools with early action programs. Previously, the schools let students apply early to only one school. "[These schools] diverted a lot of the applications away from places like Williams and Amherst," Nesbitt said, explaining that students feel like they have nothing to lose if they apply early action. "People say I'll throw my hat in and apply to a few early-action schools? maybe I'll get into my top choice or my back-up," he added. John Thurston, associate director of Admission at Brown University -- which saw a 66 percent increase in early action applications after changing its policy this year -- admitted that some seniors take advantage of the early action policy, applying early to many schools, including back-ups -- and taking places away from regular decision applicants. "For a number of people, it's becoming a strategy, an end itself rather than a means to an end," agreed Cigus Vanni, a guidance counselor at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, N.J. Nancy Siegel, a guidance counselor at Millburn High School in Millburn, N.J., said high school counselors are dissatisfied especially with the early action program. "Too many students use early action not as a choice, but as an alternative," Siegel added. A continuing trend Overwhelmingly, admissions deans and guidance counselors agree that the trend in increasing early decision and early action applicants numbers will continue throughout the next several years. But according to Miller, the trend has already begun to reverse itself. She said many students have started to realize that there often is no great advantage to applying early. For example, at the University of Virginia, Miller said, the number of early applicants peaked about three years ago, and since has remained steady. Singer, a New York high school guidance counselor, said the early application numbers will continue to grow until around 2008 when the children of baby boomers -- the so-called "echo-boom" -- finish college.

Survey: Many colleges do not have sprinklers in all dorms

(02/02/00 10:00am)

In response to the fatal dormitory fire at Seton Hall University two weeks ago, an independent marketing firm reported that 67 percent of the college campuses surveyed over a two-day period have at least one dormitory without a sprinkler system. Overall, the facilities administrators in the survey said 43 percent of their campuses' dormitories are not equipped with sprinkler systems. And 37 percent of those surveyed reported that false alarms are a problem on their campuses. The schools, which ranged from small private schools to large state universities, average 3.2 false alarms per month, with responses ranging from zero false alarms to as many as 27 each month. The fire at Seton Hall, which killed three students and injured 62 others, prompted a flurry of media inquiries about campus fire safety, leading the New Jersey school to ask the firm to survey schools about the prevalence of sprinkler systems in residence halls and the frequency and severity of false fire alarms on college campuses. The telephone poll, conducted by the Chicago-based marketing communications firm Lipman Hearne, surveyed 57 facilities administrators chosen randomly from schools in eight states. While the reactions to the incident have been focused on the families and friends of the victims, Seton Hall spokeswoman Lisa Grider said it is still important to look at the school's fire protection policies. "There continues to be a sense of profound sadness and grief," Grider said. Boland Hall, the dorm where the fire occurred, was built in the early 1950s and houses 600 students. It had not held any fire drills during the current academic year, even though two drills per year are required by the state fire code. The school has reported 18 false fire alarms since September, however. At Penn, officials say, fire safety is always a concern. John Cook, a safety specialist at the University, said every residential building has a sprinkler system or an equivalent variation. Also, every living space is equipped with a hard-wire smoke detector. In addition, a fire drill is held twice each semester in every residence hall. Cook added that while false alarms -- defined as an intentional, malicious activation of an alarm system when no danger exists -- are not a major problem, compliance with evacuation procedures often is an issue. "By nature, when a person hears an alarm in a building, for some reason, [he] is reluctant to leave immediately," Cook said. Assistant Vice Provost for University Life Juana Lewis agreed with Cook that adherence to building evacuation procedures is an issue that deserves more attention. "I empathize with the frustrations students feel when they are needlessly disturbed by false alarms?. But there are no other wise alternatives," Lewis said. The Seton Hall fire could lead to New Jersey laws requiring sprinklers in all college dormitories in the state, revising a 1991 building code amendment that requires sprinkler systems in only new high-rise buildings.

Clinton promises tax cut, gun laws

(01/28/00 10:00am)

In his last State of the Union, the president outlined an ambitious legislative agenda for the year. With just under a year left in his presidency -- and with his vice president embroiled in a hotly contested Democratic primary race to assume his job -- President Clinton delivered his eighth and final State of the Union address last night before a joint session of Congress, as well an assembly of guests and dignitaries representing all walks of American life. Clinton -- whose past two State of the Union addresses have fallen under the shadow created by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his ensuing impeachment -- used the lengthy 90-minute oration to highlight the successes of his two terms in office and to push for a slew of new government programs in the months ahead. "The state of our union is the strongest it has ever been," Clinton told the audience assembled per custom in the House chamber. Most of Clinton's proposals -- including a massive $350 billion tax cut, stricter gun licensing regulations and greater funding of college tuition assistance and Head Start programs -- received a generally warm reception from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers assembled on Capitol Hill. Many observers noted that Clinton, who has planned an ambitious agenda for his final year in office, sounded more like a president in the middle of his term rather than one whose years at the top are nearing an end, as he insisted on maintaining his viability as a chief executive throughout the next year. In past years, several Penn College Republicans and College Democrats have convened on the night of the State of the Union to watch the speech and engage in casual debate regarding the president's proposals. This year, however, only the Republicans planned a get-together. According to College Democrat Max Cantor, a College freshman, the Democrats did not plan to view Clinton's address together because many of them had gathered the night before to watch the final debate before the New Hampshire primary between Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, the two Democratic presidential candidates. Five members of the College Republicans did attend a planned 8 p.m. viewing of the speech, though they ended up watching Clinton not from a Williams Hall classroom as planned, but from a Hamilton College House lounge an hour later. They trekked to the new location once they discovered the television in Williams was not working. During Clinton's speech, the Republicans and one self-professed Democrat freely voiced their opinions. "Clinton's promised everything to just about everyone, which seems to be his style," said College Republican Treasurer Adrian Jones, a Wharton junior. "And I'm sure he'll blame the Congress when things don't go right." Jones added, though, that he was glad Clinton vowed to support free trade and continue welfare reform -- issues traditionally considered Republican domain. Republican and College freshman Brett Tompkins agreed with Jones' criticism, referring to Clinton's address as "a legacy speech" and a "wish list." And Wharton sophomore David Burd, a Democrat, said, "Basically, [Clinton] tells America what Congress hasn't done, takes credit for things Congress has done and makes a lot of spending proposals that probably won't take place during his presidency." In spite of the low Democratic turnout, there was plenty of debate. Republicans even argued briefly regarding their differing views on gun control. "One of the things we got out of coming together was to show how much diversity of opinion there is, even within parties," said College Republicans Chairwoman Lisa Marshall, a College senior.

Snowballs fly as Penn closes

(01/26/00 10:00am)

Students found different ways to spend the day, from sledding to sleeping to watching TV. When College sophomore David Hittinger opened the front door of his fraternity house yesterday morning, he was shocked to see an empty Locust Walk. Wharton senior John Leong had a similar experience. "I went outside and found everything was closed -- it was so quiet at 7 a.m.," he said. After returning to their rooms, both students found out that classes had been canceled due to the snowstorm the night before, which left almost a foot of powdery snow on the ground. But the early morning quiet did not last for long. Later in the morning, hundreds of students -- bundled up in ski parkas, scarves, gloves and hats -- filled the courtyards of upper and lower Quad as they pelted one another with snowballs. Students could also be found romping on the lawns in front of the high rises and on College Green. "I was frolicking in the snow because I'm from Florida," Engineering senior Jill Korschgen said. "I don't get to do this very much." Some students used the Quad's Junior Balcony as a fort, hurling snowballs at those who dared pass below and tackling each other to the ground in fits of giggles. Not all students outside played in the snow, however. College sophomore Brant Kuehn saw his day off as an opportunity to run errands -- to the bank, the florist and the barber shop. He said he was disappointed and shocked to find all three closed. "Back in Utah, businesses don't close down for just a few inches of snow," Kuehn said. "The world goes on -- people panic here." Some students, however, had no desire to spend any time outside, braving the cold. "It's a good day to be inside," College sophomore Kate Moore said. She invited a few of her friends to her room to lounge and enjoy hot chocolate while listening to soothing music. College sophomore Arpan Punyani also stayed inside, but not to relax. "I'm working, unfortunately," Punyani said on his way to a computer lab. "But I'm planning to play basketball today." In the midst of writing her name in the snow, Bianca Bacinschi, a College freshman, stopped to ponder the significance of the snow day. "God is giving me a second chance to do my reading for tomorrow," she said. "But it is so distracting with everyone playing outside." Still others took the snow day as the perfect opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. Alex Kapur, a College freshman, was just rolling out of bed at 2:30 p.m. Kapur said he planned to spend the day recovering from last week's rush activities. Because the weekdays do not afford much time for TV watching, Korschgen said she was looking forward to staying home and watching Days of Our Lives. Unfortunately, the snow foiled her plans. "I'm bitter because [the soap opera] wasn't on because of the news," Korschgen said. But Ware College House Graduate Advisor Autumn Grice was able to spend the morning catching up on some of her favorite shows. She did not intend to spend the entire day in front of the TV, though. "My students and I want to go sledding," Grice said. But there was one complication to her planned snow day fun. "We don't have a sled," she said. The creative GA borrowed a tray from dining, and had plans of using it as a makeshift sled. Although students took advantage of the snow day in different ways, few would disagree that a "snow day is like a free day," as College freshman Lance Kaminsky said. And few would mind having another snow day this year. "I never thought I'd see a snow day before I graduated," College senior Jessie Beller said.

Princeton's Nude Olympics ends with barely a whimper

(01/24/00 10:00am)

Over the last three decades, the first snowfall of the year has had Princeton students scrambling to take off their clothes rather than bundle up. But skin was well hidden beneath coats and scarves during last Thursday's snowstorm, the first of the school year. Princeton's trustee board banned the Nude Olympics -- a tradition that typically drew hundreds of student streakers from the sophomore class -- last January after 10 participants were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning and reports surfaced of women being sexually harassed, nude runners urinating in public and couples engaging in sexual activities. Last week's snowfall was the first official test of the new ban, which promises streakers a one-year suspension from the school. Administrators claimed that they would not tolerate any streaking this year, even if it took place off campus. "It was only a matter of time before something really tragic happened," Princeton spokesman Justin Harmon said. "We decided [the Nude Olympics] was just unmanageable and a risk to health and safety." The event, which had become confined to a small courtyard, drew about 400 runners and as many spectators last year. In spite of the ban, some students had said they would run anyway, either by streaking or by throwing nude parties at the nearby, privately owned eating clubs, where some students eat their meals. Public Safety officials scanned the campus Thursday night in order to apprehend nude runners, but no disciplinary action was needed. According to Harmon, the campus was relatively free of trouble. Officials did, however, spot one unidentified streaker in a mask. Sophomore class officers, who in previous years had been in charge of organizing the Nude Olympics, proposed several alternate events, including a snowball fight, a food fight, an outdoor dance, a bonfire and a tropical party. However, administrators rejected all of those specific suggestions. According to Sophomore Class President Ben Shopsin, administrators said they wanted an event that would take place indoors with full clothing. However, students failed to agree on an alternate plan, he said. "I think it's a real loss just to let [the Nude Olympics] go," Shopsin said. "It was a chance to blow off steam and relax." He sent out a class-wide e-mail apologizing for not scheduling a replacement activity. Shopsin added that it is difficult to say whether or not a new tradition will emerge in the near future. An activity like the Nude Olympics is "silly and spontaneous and can't be planned," Harmon said.

Ivy trend: More frosh accepted early

(01/20/00 10:00am)

At least four Ivy schools already took 40 percent or more of their classes. With early application numbers rising significantly for almost every Ivy League school this year, there will be fewer spots available for regular decision candidates to their classes of 2004 than ever before. Penn, Columbia and Yale universities and Dartmouth College all filled over 40 percent of next year's freshmen class with early decision candidates. Brown and Harvard universities have non-binding early action programs. Brown accepted 1,037 students for a class of about 1,400 while Harvard took 1,137 for a class of about 1,650 students. Princeton University's early decision statistics were unavailable. Of the schools with binding early decision programs, Penn led the pack with a record 2,570 early decision applications for the Class of 2004. Penn admitted 997 early decision applicants last month from a record-high applicant pool of 2,570, putting the acceptance rate at about 39 percent. "We've become a very popular institution over the last few years, [but] we've never moved at quite this rate," Penn Admissions Dean Lee Stetson said. Stetson attributed the rise to Penn's steadily improving reputation as a school with a wide variety of academic programs, new facilities and residential programs. Columbia boasted the second-highest increase in early decision applications, with its applicant pool growing by 15 percent. The institution admitted 590 students, or 39 percent, of its 1,524 applicants and about 45 percent of its likely eventual class size. Cornell received a record 2,259 early decision applications, 6 percent more than last year. The school admitted 1,041, or 46 percent, of the applicants, filling about 30 percent of its class -- the lowest of the Ivies. And Yale received a record 1,493 early decision applications, an increase of three percent. Yale admitted 547, or 37 percent, of those applicants, who will make up about 41 percent of its freshmen class. Dartmouth sent acceptance letters to 402, or 37 percent, of its 1,092 applicants. They will comprise about 40 percent of Dartmouth's class of 2004. Both Brown and Harvard amended their early action policies this year to allow students to apply early to multiple schools with early action programs. Previously, the schools only let students apply early to one school. The change left both institutions with significant increases in the number of early applications. Brown reported a 66 percent rise in early action applicants. The school accepted 1,037, or 21 percent, of its 4,922 applicants. And Harvard received 6,042 early action applications, a 32 percent increase from last year. The Cambridge, Mass., school accepted 1,137, or 19 percent, of the applicants. According to Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions at Harvard, the change in the early action policy probably had some bearing on the increase in early action applications to the school. But she said, "It is always hard to determine the exact causes [of changes in the applicant pool]." Lewis added that there is a trend nationwide for students to apply early to colleges and universities. "I think [applying] is a difficult and stressful process, and students want to be done early," Lewis said. "They perceive correctly in some cases that there is at least a slight tip [to applying early]." But she claimed that Harvard does not offer any advantage to its early action applicants.

New Web site tries to match students with perfect college

(01/19/00 10:00am)

Life may have gotten a little easier for college-bound students looking to save time and money. With the click of a mouse, high school students across the country can bargain online for college and university tuition discounts. -- an online service that debuted in October -- works to match students with academically and financially compatible schools, to give the students a head start in the college application process. The service is free to students and their families. Colleges and universities pay a $2,000 annual fee for access to the applicant pool. Almost 1,000 students and seven institutions have registered with eCollegebid, and the site's Executive Director Tedd Kelly said he expects at least another 12 colleges and universities to join by the end of the month. "No matter how badly a student wants to go to college or how badly a college wants that student, if a student can't afford it, there are two choices -- [he] can borrow beyond what [he] probably should borrow or can choose less expensive colleges," Kelly said. The site aims to settle the cost factor at the beginning of the application process, saving students the disappointment of receiving inadequate financial aid packages and cutting down on institutions' recruitment time. "It is a win-win situation for both the student and the college," Kelly said. Students visiting the site post the amount they can afford to pay for a college education and their personal academic profiles -- including grade point average and standardized test scores. eCollegebid then matches students' ability or willingness to pay with institutions that might offer them tuition discounts. After eCollegebid matches students with institutions, the students and the schools can discuss application details. The site also gives the schools' admissions officers a chance to review students' academic records. Joyce Smith, executive director of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling -- a consortium of high school guidance counselors and college admissions officers -- said she initially had a few reservations about the service. "We had some concerns that [eCollegebid] gave the impression that students would avoid some of the additional [application] requirements, such as filling out financial aid forms," Smith said. But she added that after meeting with Kelly, she realized that he stresses that the site should only be thought of as the beginning of the college application process. Smith said she hopes students and their families realize that the service will not simplify the paperwork involved in applying for financial aid. "It's a novel way for families to explore college tuition options, but I hope it is not the only way that families pursue [financial aid]," Smith added. According to Kelly, eCollegebid is designed for second-, third- and fourth-tier schools, many of which use the service to attract students to their less popular majors, and to make themselves known to students from under-represented areas of the country. Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., is one of the schools using the site. Barbara Hinkle, vice president for enrollment services at the college, said eCollegebid fits the school's mission to be entrepreneurial and technologically up-to-date. "Knowing that students today definitely use the Internet, [eCollegebid] is a make-ourselves-known initiative," Hinkle said.

Dartmouth recommends major Greek changes

(01/18/00 10:00am)

The Hanover, N.H. school is proposing a major overhaul of student life in general. Dartmouth College last week released its long-awaited report on radically changing student life at the Hanover, N.H. campus, including a large-scale overhaul of the school's infamous Greek system. A committee reviewing the Greek system that inspired the movie Animal House recommended that the coed, fraternity and sorority houses be held to stricter standards. Under the proposal, Greek organizations not complying would lose their houses, even if the houses are not owned by the school. "If we are going to have a Greek system at Dartmouth, it ought to be the best in the country," Trustee and committee Co-Chairwoman Susan Dentzer said. "It's not appropriate to accept anything less than that." The recommendations included eliminating pledging and moving rush to the winter term of sophomore year so that students have a chance to experience social options outside the Greek system. Eric Etu, the a Dartmouth junior who heads the school's Greek council, said the general reaction of students has been positive. Etu added that the Greek council members plan to submit a list of proposals by the end of February. "I feel very optimistic about where we will go from here," Dean of the College James Larimore said of his ongoing talks with various Greek leaders. The committee -- made up of faculty, students, alumni and administrators -- was formed last April to examine the Greek system after Dartmouth President James Wright and the school's trustees unexpectedly announced last February that they wanted to eliminate single-sex fraternities and sororities. The announcement came in conjunction with plans to overhaul the school's residential and social systems. The report cites continuing problems within the Greek community, including an episode in which several students with bullhorns climbed onto the balconies of at least two fraternities and made sexually suggestive remarks to female students walking below. The report noted many incidents of alcohol abuse in several of the Greek houses. To combat this, the committee recommended that Greeks convert their basements for general-purpose use. The report said this change would help eliminate some of the organizations' alcohol abuse. The committee's tour of the Greek houses prior to their report "offered a first-hand view of several fetid fraternity basements in which the stench of bodily fluids was pervasive." According to Etu, a large concern is that fraternities in general are going to have a "financial pinch" if the committee's recommendations are approved. "Greeks want a guarantee that if they put hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovations that they can't be arbitrarily removed," Etu said. Dentzer said some of the smaller fraternities and sororities might not be able to afford the recommended renovations, but that a lot of the organizations would rise to the new standards. In addition to excessive alcohol consumption, the report contends that the Greek system is selective in ways that might not be in line with the spirit of community, as "some non-affiliated students told the committee that they were so fearful of rejection that they chose not to apply to [Greek] houses for membership." The committee proposed that annual reviews of all selective student social organizations be conducted beginning in June 2001 and that a five-year review be made in 2005, after which the institutions would be subject to de-recognition if their progress were deemed below expectations.

U. fills 42% of class with early apps

(01/17/00 10:00am)

Penn accepted 997 students out of 2,750 early applications. The 38.8% admit rate was lower than last year's. The University sent out 997 early decision acceptance letters last month, putting the acceptance rate at 38.8 percent, about three percent lower than last year's early decision rate. The admitted students came from a record-high applicant pool of 2,570, up 18.7 percent from 2,165 last year. Another 576 applicants were deferred, and 965 were denied admission. According to Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson, 12 to 15 percent of deferred students will be admitted with the regular decision group in early April. The accepted students -- 459 of whom are female -- signed a contract promising to matriculate at Penn in exchange for receiving a response 3 1/2 months early. They will comprise about 42 percent of the class of 2004. "There is a continued increasing interest in early programs, and we're benefiting from that," Stetson said. Early decision applications were up across all four undergraduate schools. Applicants to the College of Arts and Sciences rose 20.7 percent; the Engineering School went up 33.3 percent; the Wharton School rose 6.9 percent; and the Nursing School increased 42.4 percent. Stetson said the increase in the number of early decision applicants stems from the University's continually improving reputation as an institution with a wide range of academic programs, vivacious campus life and new facilities and residential programs. He also attributes the rise to a significant emphasis on recruitment, particularly in the form of joint programs -- where Penn and other top institutions like Duke, Georgetown and Harvard travel together to promote their schools to high school students. "Candidates and parents find [the joint programs] helpful, and guidance counselors would rather meet with four admissions officers than one," Admissions Officer Bruce Chamberlin said. "It's a better use of their time." Stetson added that the University's seventh-place national ranking by U.S. News and World Report has helped to broaden Penn's visibility. Stetson said early decision is becoming more and more popular because "there is a feeling on the part of the applicants that they are given a measure of preference" if they apply early. "It's a healthy trend, and it's continuing," Stetson said. Stetson added that the University will be very cautious, however, in its selection this spring for the class of 2004 in order not to overfill the class. Last year the yield rate jumped four to five percent over the previous year, resulting in a housing shortage. "It's a challenge of the riches," Stetson said. "It's a good story, but we have to be conservative for our estimates? and we're moving into a very selective regular decision period." Stetson said he expects a larger waiting list and a smaller admit rate than last year. "We can't afford another year like last year," he added. The accepted students' average SAT score is 1396, a nine-point increase from last year. The average SAT II score is 698, a four-point increase. Most admitted students graduated in the top five percent of their high school classes. A record-high increase in minority applicants accompanied the overall increase in early decision applicants. The number rose from 771 last year to 880, of whom 26.4 percent were accepted. "It is very encouraging that more minority students are making Penn their first choice," said Rodney Morrison, director of minority recruitment. Both Morrison and Stetson attribute the rise in minority applicants to Penn's presence at college fairs in minority communities and to academic programs for minority students held at the University prior to the application period in the fall. Stetson said he expects both early decision and regular decision applications in general to be on the rise for the next several years, as the "echo boom" generation -- the children of the baby boomers -- is now entering college. Regular decision applications were due January 1, and decisions will be mailed April 1.

Asian center endorsed by UA

(12/14/99 10:00am)

At its final meeting of the semester, the Undergraduate Assembly amended and endorsed the Asian Pacific Student Coalition's proposal for a Pan-Asian American Community House, which is intended to serve as a resource center. UA member Albert Song, a Wharton freshman, explained that the center would provide advising to students, offer a library collection, promote cultural enrichment through multicultural dialogue and serve as a meeting place for various Asian-American groups. After several UA members expressed concerns that the PAACH would be self-segregated, the UA passed an amendment emphasizing that the establishment would benefit the entire University community by being open to non-Asian American students. UA Chairperson and College senior Michael Silver said "[The Asian Pacific Student Coalition] has put together a comprehensive and well-researched proposal, and it's important that we support them." Also at Sunday's meeting, UA Secretary Megan Davidson, a College senior, discussed the new Sexual Violence Task Force that will develop an online student survey on date rape by February. According to Davidson, an impetus for the survey came from legislation passed by Congress last year that authorizes universities to notify parents of students who violate their schools' drug and alcohol policies and now also enables schools to release the names of students found to have committed violent crimes and non-forcible sexual offenses. Davidson said she hopes the survey, which will ensure complete anonymity, will familiarize students with the various terms dealing with sexual assault and also raise awareness of the issue. "I am abhorred by the number of people who say [date rape] is not a problem," Davidson said, noting that statistics accounting for incidents of date rape are asymmetrical across college campuses. "Many people don't understand what constitutes date rape." In its new business, the UA discussed UA Visions and the UA Annual Plan -- initiatives designed to define future goals for the UA. UA Visions will conduct a massive survey this spring asking students questions about the University and the UA, Silver said, adding that questions will deal with campus development, diversity and other issues. Based on responses to the survey, which will possibly be conducted via e-mail, the UA will develop a set of objectives for its Annual Plan. "It's going to radically affect, in a good way, how the UA operates and sets its goals," Silver said. In addition, the UA discussed the University's policy on privacy regarding e-mail. Members discussed the fact that e-mail accounts are not completely secure and that the University can access personal e-mail accounts. While the UA does not plan to take a specific course of action on this issue at the moment, UA member and Engineering junior Theo LeCompte explained that the group decided to look at it because it will be debated at next month's University Council meeting.

BIG-C expands, adding first Asian fraternity to its ranks

(12/10/99 10:00am)

The Asian fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon has been a part of the InterFraternity Council since its creation in 1993. But last week the group officially became part of the umbrella organization for historically black and latino fraternities and sororities -- the Bicultural InterGreek Council. By becoming a BIG-C member, the 18-member fraternity will increase its interaction with other minority fraternities and sororities. Incoming Lambda Phi Epsilon President Glenn Luck, a Wharton and Engineering junior, said he was very excited about the move, noting that BIG-C membership affords the fraternity "another venue to meet people and show them what we're about." Lambda Phi Epsilon will become part of the organization on a provisional basis for the spring. At the end of the semester, it will be reviewed by a student and faculty board to obtain permanent BIG-C membership. Representatives from the fraternity petitioned a few weeks ago to become part of the organization. "[As a BIG-C organization] we can work together, and we can learn from each other," said outgoing Lambda Phi Epsilon President Thomas Peng, an Engineering senior. "I definitely see that there are a lot of events that we can organize together as an umbrella organization." BIG-C Program Director Larry Moses said Lambda Phi Epsilon's acceptance into the BIG-C is a big step for both the BIG-C and for Greek life in general. "Penn has always been at the forefront of meeting the needs of [minority] organizations," Moses said. "It's going to show the willingness of our office to represent these groups." Peng also noted that the fraternity has organized projects over the years with many BIG-C groups -- such as the Alpha Phi Alpha and Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternities -- including the annual minority bone marrow drive, which recruited approximately 120 volunteers this year. Incoming BIG-C President Marcela Poveda, a College junior, said this addition would definitely benefit the group. "We felt [the fraternity] would be an asset to the organization as a whole and would shed light on the issues that the Asian community and Latinos and African Americans face," Poveda said. And OFSA Director Scott Reikofski said the benefits of Lambda Phi Epsilon joining the BIG-C extend beyond the Greek sphere. "I think that it certainly lends support and credibility to the group and will allow for increased communication and support between not only those organizations but potentially between those various cultural populations on campus," Reikofski said.

Sweatshop group may get City Council help

(12/09/99 10:00am)

City Council votes today on a resolution asking schools to join the Worker Rights Consortium. A Penn T-shirt hung on the podium in the caucus room in City Hall during a press conference yesterday afternoon. But taped in front of the University logo was a sign that read, "retail price $16.00, worker paid 35 cents." The message from Penn students, other local University students and City Council yesterday was clear -- schools need to stop using sweatshop labor. Members of Penn's chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops joined other students yesterday to support a Philadelphia City Council resolution -- sponsored by Council member David Cohen -- that calls on area schools to reject the Fair Labor Association, a coalition that does not guarantee workers the right to join labor unions or receive living wages. The resolution also asks that schools join the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring system for factories that produce collegiate apparel. Cohen praised the students for bringing this issue to the table and said he hoped this step would push local universities and colleges to take action. "In this case the students are doing the teaching instead of the universities, and we hope this changes," said Cohen, who graduated from Penn's Graduate School of Education in 1934 and the Law School in 1937. Five local labor unions, 11 community and religious organizations and seven university student groups endorsed the resolution. After the press conference, students held a candlelight vigil outside City Hall in support of the resolution, which City Council will vote on this morning. "I think that the support clearly demonstrated that this is not just a student issue," said Penn USAS member Miriam Joffe-Block, a College senior. "It's an issue for members of the community? anyone concerned with social justice." USAS members from Penn have been demanding since September that the University join the Worker Rights Consortium. On November 14, students staged a sit-in in University President Judith Rodin's office, demanding that Rodin meet with them to discuss the University's current sweatshop policy. The social issue has rapidly spurred student activism in schools throughout the United States and Canada. "It has been absolutely exhilarating to see the growth of the issue," Haverford College senior Maria Roeper said, noting that the number of schools involved in USAS has increased from about 30 in 1997 to nearly 180 now. "People are shocked when they hear about the horrible conditions [of sweatshops]," Roeper added. According to Linda Panetta, founder of the social justice group Peacekeepers Action Network and a speaker at the press conference, sweatshop employees in places like Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador work 12-hour days, six days a week, for a wage that falls far below the living wage rate -- the bare minimum needed for the fundamental needs of food, shelter and clothing. Penn USAS member and College sophomore Roopa Gona added, "Women [employees] are forced to take contraceptives?. If they become pregnant, they are sometimes forced to pay themselves to have an abortion if they want to continue working." Joffe-Block said she thought the event would help make the sweatshop issue a top priority for administrators. "I am confident that the University will follow the will of the students in implementing human rights," Joffe-Block said.

Big-C elects exec. board

(12/07/99 10:00am)

Sigma Lambda Upsilon sister marcela Poveda was elected president. The BiCultural InterGreek Council, an umbrella organization for the historically black and Latino fraternities and sororities, announced its executive board for next year yesterday. College junior Marcela Poveda, a member of the Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Senoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority Inc. and the BIG-C's treasurer for the past year, will replace Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity member and Wharton senior Ramon Marmolejos as the organization's president. Marmolejos spoke positively about the incoming board, saying he is confident that the new officers will work well together. "There is a combination of experience from Marcela, who was on this board this past year, and a lot of fresh ideas from incoming new board members," he said. Poveda said one of her goals for the upcoming year is to increase the BIG-C's visibility on campus by continuing traditions like the BIG-C-sponsored Penn Relays step show and also by working more closely with the InterFraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council. "We want to improve on our publicity on campus and let people know who we are and what we do," Poveda said. The new executive board also includes College junior and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member Nathaniel Dayes as vice president; College sophomore and Alpha Phi Alpha member Brian Dunbar as treasurer; College sophomore Tia Rideout, a Zeta Phi Beta sorority member, as correspondence secretary; College sophomore and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member Rene Ashworth as recording secretary; and Zakiya Black, a College sophomore and Alpha Kappa Alpha member, as parliamentarian. Candidates for positions on the six-member executive board delivered speeches on Thursday night. Afterward, five of the eight BIG-C organizations cast one vote for each position. To promote stronger bonds among BIG-C members, Poveda said she wants to organize more study breaks, which are typically held during reading days. Additionally, the incoming board has expressed interest in holding more events sponsored by the entire BIG-C, as opposed to the individual fraternities and sororities. Marmolejos said the goal is to "give individuals the opportunity to come to an event that is representative of all the BIG-C groups." The new board will continue the organization's ongoing efforts to increase membership, Poveda said. The organization has no rush period, but fraternities and sororities will begin to recruit prospective members through their own individualized activities after winter break.

Panhel selects new exec board

(11/23/99 10:00am)

SDT sister Jennifer Chanowitz will become the new Panhel president. College junior and Sigma Delta Tau sister Jennifer Chanowitz was selected last night as the next head of the Panhellenic Council, the governing board for the eight sororities that attract about 30 percent of Penn's female undergraduates. Chanowitz replaces College senior Becca Iverson, a Chi Omega sister who has presided over the body for the past year. A single slate of candidates for Panhel's eight-member executive board was selected by the eight chapter presidents and sent to the houses last week. The houses only had the option of voting "yes" or "no" for the entire slate. Five houses are needed to confirm the slate. Chanowitz, a Tenafly, N.J., native and Panhel's current vice president of publicity, said she is looking forward to strengthening Panhel's commitment to community service. "In particular, we're looking to expand the Pumpkin Chase. We're considering moving it to Parents' Weekend," she said, noting that she also plans to mail letters to incoming freshman females and their parents informing them of the event and the Greek system in general. Iverson said the new board is ready to tackle the issues currently facing Greek life on campus. "The current exec board is happy and excited about the new incoming board," Iverson said. "We feel that they have a lot to offer and that they'll work well together." The new board includes Phi Sigma Sigma sister and College junior Dayna Platt as executive vice president; Kappa Alpha Theta sister and Wharton junior Katie Portland as treasurer; Theta sister and College junior Jennifer Brillante as secretary; Pi Beta Phi sister and Engineering junior Megan Gallenstein as vice president of rush; Chi Omega sister and College sophomore Kristin Moon as assistant vice president of rush; Chi Omega sister and College sophomore Katie Klein, the Daily Pennsylvanian classified advertising manager, as vice president of publicity; and Alpha Chi Omega sister and College sophomore Kristen Buppert as vice president of judicial affairs. Platt said she shares Chanowitz's goal of increasing Greek involvement in community service. "I think [the new board] is a great board with lots of enthusiasm," Platt said. "Hopefully, that enthusiasm will be contagious and get more people involved." The position of vice president of judicial affairs is new to Panhel. Buppert will oversee the body's judicial board, which in the past has been under the jurisdiction of the president and executive vice president. She said she is going to work with the judicial board to recreate a charter of rules and standards for the Panhellenic community. She added that she aims to form a group that is proactive rather than responsive and that will "inform rather than punish or make negative examples out of chapters." Except for the vice president of rush, each position had at least two or three candidates this year. During the election process, each candidate submits an application and makes a speech. The eight sororities then vote on the slate. The new executive board will be inducted at the annual Circle of Sisters Ceremony on February 7, at the end of the formal rush period.