The University’s next president, M. Elizabeth Magill, has the resume necessary to become the next great leader of Penn. Set to assume current Penn president Amy Gutmann’s role this July, Magill will take the reins of a university that has seen a rapid expansion in endowment, groundbreaking research, an increase in socioeconomic diversity among its student body, and the construction of numerous prominent campus facilities. But Penn has also seen tensions between Greek life and students of color, recent changes in University leadership, and pushback from Philadelphia officials and community members — all while navigating a ruthless pandemic.
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At Penn, 2022 will bring more than just the start of a new calendar year. It will mean the departure of longtime University President Amy Gutmann, who was nominated as the next United States ambassador to Germany. Gutmann's successor will have big shoes to fill. The search for her successor is already underway, with students, faculty, and trustees having various degrees of input and influence.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration announced an expansion in eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans age 18 and older. Penn students may soon have easy access to such vaccines; earlier this week, Penn's Chief Wellness Officer, Benoit Dubé, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn plans on offering COVID-19 booster shots in the coming weeks.
In a recent Daily Pennsylvanian article, students reported month-long waits to meet with a Counseling and Psychological Services counselor. Especially for people calling CAPS for the first time, this long wait time is what one student called the “most discouraging thing in the world.” Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé suggested that students take greater advantage of CAPS walk-in services (like walk-in hours and Let’s Talk), but many students aren’t aware of these services. Walk-in hours (and most other CAPS services) are distant from the heart of campus, as CAPS' office is on Market Street. Let’s Talk brings counselors to common student gathering places, but the hours and locations change depending on the day of the week, making it difficult for students to know where and when they can get immediate help.
This time of year, Penn students are selecting classes for the spring semester. During their selection process, students may consider a plethora of factors, including the timing of course meetings, difficulty and instructor ratings given on the Penn Course Review website, and courses required to complete major or school requirements.
Last week, sprinklers in Lauder College House went off, leading to a full building evacuation and the displacement of 12 students. Only 11 days prior, a similar sprinkler-induced evacuation displaced 23 students from Harnwell College House, forcing them to wait outside for hours in the middle of the night and damaging personal belongings. These leaks and evacuations come during Penn’s first year of requiring all sophomores to live in on-campus housing — a policy that continues to face criticism for the cost it imposes on students.
Next Tuesday, voters in Philadelphia and across the state will head to the polls to cast their votes in the 2021 elections. A variety of positions are up for re-election: district attorney and city controller for Philadelphia alone.
Historically, Penn students have looked to breaks as times of relaxation. This year, however, not all students have been able to truly enjoy their time off. This past fall break, numerous students reported that assignments, exams, and papers with due dates just after the break have prevented them from properly taking advantage of their class-free schedule, instead being bogged down in academics.
There are a handful of traditions that are synonymous with Penn: throwing toast at football games, Spring Fling, and perhaps most notably, Hey Day, where soon-to-be seniors march down Locust Walk with canes and are officially declared seniors by the University president. The celebration, which normally takes place during April of one’s junior year, was postponed to the following fall for the Class of 2022, and it will be held on Oct. 13.
Last week, the alleged assault of a Penn sophomore at the Psi Upsilon, commonly known as Castle, fraternity's chapter house became public knowledge. The alleged incident has sparked uproar within the Penn community, as students have roundly condemned the assault. A petition calling on Penn to evict Castle from its chapter house garnered over 1,000 signatures as of publication and protests outside of Castle continue this week.
The return of in-person classes has meant many things for Penn's student body, most of them positive. However, one subgroup of students cannot always fully participate in on-campus activities. Last week, numerous students with physical disabilities reported accessibility problems on campus, such as with academic buildings, housing, and extracurriculars. This is not the first time the University's students with disabilities have felt excluded from campus culture, as students with disabilities such as autism and deafness have also reported challenges in navigating campus.
On Tuesday, College Dean Paul Sniegowski sent an email to students saying that Penn is optimistic the fall semester will be conducted in person. An in-person semester is certainly welcome news for Penn’s student body, many of whom expressed excitement when it resumed last month.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, The Daily Pennsylvanian Editorial Board wrote in part, “In another 10 years, students at Penn will have no firsthand memory of that day, no recollection of the sorrow and solidarity that followed … It is for this next generation that we pause for remembrance on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. We must leave them a record that conveys the momentousness of the event and imparts the lessons we’ve learned.”
This fall, students returned to campus, many experiencing it for the first time. For some, one of the benefits of an in-person learning experience is access to exercise facilities, including Pottruck, Penn’s numerous grassy plains, and Penn Park.
After over a year of learning almost exclusively online, Penn students face the prospect of returning to in-person classes. This is welcome news to Penn students, many of whom expressed excitement about the prospect of in-person classes, while also displaying fatigue from online ones.
On Thursday, Penn announced that all community members, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks in indoor spaces open to the public. This change reverses the University’s previous policy, which only recommended mask wearing, but did not formally require it. This masking policy does not have a designated end date, and comes as Philadelphia County sees “substantial” transmission from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission.
This is part of a series on Juneteenth, the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. In their columns, members of the community evaluate slavery, Penn’s relationship to it, and how this informs our understanding of race today.
This past Monday, the Penn Museum formally apologized for possessing the remains of at least one child killed by Philadelphia police in the 1985 MOVE bombing. However, Penn Museum's apology has not been without controversy. Members of MOVE, a Black liberation advocacy group, rejected the apology as insufficient, demanding the immediate return of the remains, the firing of a key employee of Penn Museum at the center of the scandal, and financial reparations.
This year, as many Penn students struggle to find summer opportunities, Penn’s summer course offerings provide the chance to stay engaged and get ahead on coursework and requirements. However, at a price of $4,694 to $7,092 per course unit, depending on the school, these classes do not come cheap. Without grant-based aid during the summer terms, and limited other assistance, Penn’s courses remain inaccessible to many.
As Penn plans a return to in-person instruction this coming fall, it has yet to announce whether vaccines will be required for students.