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LGBA increases awareness of plight with 'Day of Silence'

(04/09/97 9:00am)

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance and supporters of the gay community are taking a vow of silence today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of the first national Day of Silence. The event is meant to increase awareness of the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people nationwide. Students across the country are participating in the event, raising consciousness about issues in the gay community, and standing in union with heterosexual supporters. When spoken to, participants will hand out small index cards representing the silence forced upon people by certain laws and homophobia. "I have relied very heavily on my voice to express injustices, so it is going to be an equally powerful statement to not use that voice at all," LGBA Co-Chairperson Maria Gonzalez said. "I would like to see people notice us and recognize the symbolism behind our silence," the College senior added. Two students from the University of Virginia's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Union -- which began the Day of Silence in April 1996 -- decided to make the day a national activity this year, aiming to bring together students of any sexual orientation who wish to take a stand against discrimination. Over 50 colleges and high schools across the country have opted to participate, including Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Smith College, Wellesley College and Phillips Academy. "[The Day of Silence's] primary function is to raise awareness of silence that has been faced and continues to be faced," College sophomore Alex Gino said. "What we're hoping is that different people of all backgrounds will come together to be silent -- people who realize that everyone around here is equal," she added. Commenting on the progress of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community towards gaining acceptance in the larger community, many speculated that the event would not have occurred in the previous decade. "Fewer allies would have participated 10 years ago, because they would have been considered gay at the time," Gino said. "Today, to hand these cards out doesn't necessarily mean anything," she added. Members of the LGBA mentioned that several heterosexual supporters have vowed to be silent and distribute the small cards today, exemplifying what Gonzalez called "a pretty powerful statement." The Day of Silence has received the Campus Based Civil Rights Initiative 1997 award for coalition-building among activist communities on college campuses nationwide, according to a press release.

Students gather to "take Back the Night'

(04/04/97 10:00am)

The rally highlighted the need for a safer society for women. Shouts of "1-2-3-4 we won't take it anymore, 5-6-7-8 we must stop rape" rang out across campus last night, as more than 200 students wearing purple ribbons gathered to march and speak out about their demand for a safer society for women. Students united to reclaim the night for themselves as part of the University's fourth annual "Take Back the Night" on College Green. After a musical introduction, College junior Titi Yu, president of the University's chapter of the National Organization of Women, and College senior Vanessa Eisemann, a member of the executive board of Students Against Acquaintance Rape, stood in front of the peace sign and explained the meaning behind the event. "This night is for the survivors -- survivors of rape, of incest and of abuse," they said. "This night symbolizes the empowerment of women to live their lives without fear." Microbiology Professor Helen Davies and Penn Women's Center Director Elena Dilapi served as the evening's keynote speakers. "Take Back the Night continues to be a celebration of women's strength as an active agent of change," Dilapi said. "[The event] is about women reclaiming our space in the world, in this country, in the city and on this campus," she added. Women from different backgrounds shared their personal stories of survival. A woman who called herself only "Leah" told how she woke up to a man having sex with her, and ended up in a hospital after later trying to commit suicide. She spoke of flashbacks and her personal metaphor for "Take Back the Night," explaining that "sometimes I think I'm in a perpetual night." "Leah" thanked the event's supporters, noting that "community is one of the only things that's going to help stop violence toward women." And another student spoke of her experience being gang-raped in the locker room of a suburban high school, and the subsequent onset of bulimia. There was some controversy about whether men should attend the event. School of Arts and Sciences second-year graduate student Litty Paxton claimed that speak-outs such as "Take Back the Night" were designed by women with the intention of helping other women. "This is the one bloody night of the year that we ask you, as men, to shut up and listen," Paxton said. "You see [women] all over the place, and when you want our bodies on the cover of Sports Illustrated, they're there. But I don't think you really hear us," she added. Paxton discouraged men from marching, saying, "I don't need you to be there, okay? I don't need you to hold my hand." After the speak-out, marchers linked arms -- serving as a unified voice for all females -- and weaved throughout campus, chanting their anger and hope into the night. They were led by the sound of a beating drum -- meant to symbolize empowerment -- and echoing voices screaming "Women unite, take back the night!" A confidential and intimate survivors-only discussion followed the march at the Bio Pond, as did a general discussion on sexual violence in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall.

Students bond at B-GLAD rally

(03/27/97 10:00am)

Locust Walk was a little louder than usual yesterday, as a microphone in front of College Green's peace sign became the site of the annual Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered Awareness Days rally. As students gathered at the rally, voices echoed throughout the heart of campus exalting the spirit of the gay community. "Can you hear me, dear ol' Penn because I have something to say -- I'm here, I'm queer, I'm gay," proclaimed College sophomore Dan Sloane. And College senior Joe Cruz added, "I just want to let everyone know -- everyone within the sound of my voice -- that I, Joe Cruz, am gay." With supporters sitting arm-in-arm and embracing each speaker who stepped away from the microphone, the rally served as an example of livelihood and sustenance -- an inspiration for those who may still be in the closet, or those who are simply seeking a supportive community. Speakers discussed the notion of paranoia while "in the closet." "It's amazing how terrified you are that anyone will think you're gay if you're really in the closet, and you might even make homophobic remarks," Engineering junior Dan Weiner said. He added, however, that "two years ago I never would have thought I'd be speaking in the middle of College Green about being a gay man." Christian Association Associate Minister Andrew Barasda praised the University's gay community for its welcoming disposition. "I am a gay man, but I wish when I was coming out 25 years ago, there would have been [a supportive] community like this," he said. "I shall never, under any respect, go back into the closet," Barasda added. "The amazing miracle that has happened over the years is that I have come to love myself just the way I am." And Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Center Director Bob Schoenberg said that on other college campuses, fear and apathy preclude a prominent gay community. He added that several universities do not have rules barring discrimination over sexual orientation, a policy which Penn has had since 1979. "We must counter homophobia wherever it occurs," Schoenberg said. "Let's work together to appreciate what we've achieved, to accomplish even more and to be proud," he added. College senior Vanessa Eisemann sang a moving rendition of "Everyone is Good," while supporters and ralliers listened in silence. Speakers -- including program coordinator Heather Starr -- listened to Eisemann's message and then preached it to the crowd. "To make our voices not feeble but strong and loud and confident is amazing," Starr said "Keep speaking out and being proud and being glad," she added.

Union organizer urges action in Festival Latino keynote

(03/25/97 10:00am)

Shouts of "AViva just'cia!" filled Steinberg-Dietrich Hall last night as Dolores Huerta -- co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America -- stressed gender equality and farm workers' rights. Huerta, currently secretary-treasurer of the UFW, organized the union after witnessing discrimination against the workers. The group's membership includes 26,000 farm workers with union contracts, in addition to workers with medical and pension benefits. "Somewhere out there, the farm workers are picking the food which we have on our table every night, and we take them for granted," Huerta said. "If you were lost on an island, who would you rather have with you -- an attorney or a farm worker?" Huerta charged that workers are not provided with toilets or fresh water on the fields, and that the products are shipped straight to the markets without being cleaned. "There are pesticides out there and the workers are picking the fruit and then eating their lunches with pesticides on their hands, since they have no water," Huerta said. She is leading a campaign called "Five Cents for Fairness," asking chain stores to pledge to support installing toilets and fresh water in the fields for the workers and to provide women freedom from sexual harassment. According to Huerta, "close to 1,000 stores have already signed the pledge," including American Foods, a company which owns the Lucky, Jewel and Acme supermarket chains. "We're asking growers to obey the law and not to intimidate or harass the workers, but to provide them with necessities," Huerta said. "It's all about pressure and power, and the issue is who's going to have more power right now," she added. She said the "secret of organizing" is simply to bring people together, adding that "since every time people come together they are met with violence, we have to learn how to make things happen." Huerta concluded by noting that the only thing students can leave behind is what changes they make in society. "I just want to impress upon you that each of us has the power to change things," she said. College freshman Andrew March --Ewho was born in a UFW boycott house --Esaid meeting Dolores Huerta was a "great honor." "My parents were organizers of the boycott, and Dolores Huerta was a big part of our discussions and my upbringing all my life," he said. The keynote address was co-sponsored by El Movimiento Estudiant'l Chicano De Aztl

Native American talks on sexuality and ethnicity

(03/20/97 10:00am)

Beverly Little Thunder, a Native American lesbian author and activist, shared her insight on balancing gender, ethnicity and sexuality last night in Houston Hall. Drawing a crowd of listeners, the author and activist shared her personal story expressing the initial difficulty of being recognized as both a Native American and a lesbian. "I was worried that if I came out I would have all of the rights of going to [Native American] ceremony taken away from me, and this was scary because my spirituality is very important to me," Little Thunder said. The activist called the process of coming out "lonely and hard." But she explained to the crowd that her feelings of homosexuality were presented to her for a reason. Although Little Thunder has known she was gay since she was 10-years-old, she married a man and had five children and didn't come out officially until she was 34. Little Thunder explained that when she came out, Native American men would not let her participate in traditional ceremonies and suggested to her that she have a ceremony for her "own kind." "That was one of the most painful times of my life," Little Thunder said. "It was the words 'own kind' that bothered me," she added. Little Thunder decided to form her own sun-dance ceremonies for women, since she observed other women being treated disrespectfully by men on the reservation, but was frightened by the thought that if she defended other gay women, "the finger would be pointed [at her]." "Our ceremonies help people to reclaim who they are," she said. "We're not looking for respect from our tribal members anymore -- we get respect by respecting ourselves." Little Thunder is a member of the Two-Spirit People, a group which transcends barriers imposed by gender, culture and sexuality. Each year the group convenes in a different part of the country, and "each city usually sees at least 80 new faces," she said. This year the group will meet in Minnesota for the Tenth Annual International Two-Spirit Gathering, where standard activities will include talking circles, sweat lodge, the giveaway and the powwow. Little Thunder noted that the Two-Spirit Gathering welcomes all Two-Spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered indigenous people, their partners and families to the event. Since 1993, Little Thunder has been helping to write a book about being a Native American homosexual. The book is due for release in August. "We're hoping it's the first of many writings to be published by Native American gay and lesbian people," she said. Despite Little Thunder's efforts to lessen the hardship of being both gay and Native American, "there is still a wider acceptance of gay men than of lesbians because [women's] role is of course to stay home and have babies," the author said. Last night's event was part of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered Awareness days and was co-sponsored by Connaissance.

B-GLAD kicks off with photo exhibit

(03/19/97 10:00am)

A photo and text exhibit entitled "Love Makes a Family" adorned the walls of Houston Hall's Bowl Room last night, as members of the University community celebrated the official beginning of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered Awareness Days. As soft piano music echoed through the room, contributing to the party's jubilant atmosphere, celebrants greeted one another with hugs and smiles. Arriving at the event with a rainbow sticker -- a sign of gay pride --on her hat, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said "the 'Love Makes a Family' theme applies beautifully -- not just to the exhibit -- but also to one of the most basic tenets of the University." "We are most strong when we both respect all people and value both our commonalities and our differences," she added. The photography exhibit -- which continues through March 26 -- "forces us to open our eyes beyond stereotypical images," Program Coordinator Heather Starr said. Both members and supporters of Penn's gay community attended the event. Engineering senior Mike LaMonaca said he is looking forward to participating in B-GLAD throughout the next two weeks, adding that while he is heterosexual, he "actively supports gay efforts." LaMonaca's friend, College sophomore Dan Sloane -- an active participant in B-GLAD and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance -- said sexual orientation does not faze a friendship. "Mike's my friend, just like any other friend," Sloane said. "Sexual orientation doesn't play a role in friendships." Several faculty and staff also attended the event, including Wharton's new administrative assistant, Ron Smith, who said he came to the event to "check out and support the gay community and students." Amelia Smith, a customer service representative at the School of Medicine, said, "since [the gay community] isn't well represented here, I think it's important for the staff to show support." And University President Judith Rodin viewed the photographs, read the textual accompaniments and mingled with students. "I think all aspects of our community deserve support, particularly when they are so supportive of one another," Rodin said. "And what we're all about here is respecting each other across our differences," she added. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Center Director Bob Schoenberg said he was "delighted that such a diverse crowd came to the party to view the photos and socialize and be proud."

U. kicks off Bisexual, Gay Lesbian Awareness Days '97

(03/18/97 10:00am)

"Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Awareness Days '97" kicks off tonight with a party in Houston Hall's Bowl Room featuring food, drink and music. The University has held an on-campus celebration of gay, lesbian and bisexual pride for 12 years, but the official B-GLAD concept was initiated a mere five years ago. The awareness days -- which continue through March 29 -- are designed to celebrate the diversity and achievements of the gay, lesbian and bisexual community and to educate the University at large about homosexual issues. The extended event is both "celebratory and educational," according to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Center Director Bob Schoenberg. He explained that the events -- primarily coordinated by the LGBC and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance -- include a variety of exhibits, forums and panel discussions intended to contribute to a "celebration of pride in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community at Penn and a heightened awareness of the gay community by the general public at Penn." A photography and text exhibit called "Love Makes a Family" -- which includes pictures of families with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered members -- is open in the Bowl Room of Houston Hall from 7:30 a.m. to midnight everyday until March 26. Other B-GLAD events include a discussion on homosexuality and spirituality Wednesday at the Christian Association and a forum Friday entitled "Bisexuality: Gender Differences and Perceptions," which will explore the differing experiences of bisexual men and women. Saturday, the B-GLAD committee will join with the Human Rights Campaign -- a nationwide gay and lesbian political organization -- for a fundraising dinner and dance at the Transit Museum. The theme of the event is "Moving Toward Equality," and features HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch and Candace Gingrich -- HRC Field Consultant and the half-sister of U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- as keynote speakers. "I am really looking forward to our featured speakers because they provide different and unique perspectives within our community," said LGBA Co-Chairperson Maria Gonzalez, a College senior. Schoenberg added that he hopes programs such as B-GLAD will be an effective way of combining the University's homosexual and heterosexual communities. "I would be very happy at the end of B-GLAD days if the lesbian, gay and bisexual students, staff and faculty had an enhanced sense of pride in the Penn gay community and if the heterosexual members of the Penn community were more aware and ideally more accepting of our community," he said.

New UMC chair plans to increase group's visibility

(03/05/97 10:00am)

In her speech for United Minorities Council chairperson last night, College junior Tope Koledoye described herself as a tiger. "My personality is very aggressive, but I don't want people to be intimidated by me," she said, adding that "a tiger is a noble creature and a force to be reckoned with." And as the UMC chairperson-elect for the 1997-98 year, Koledoye -- formerly a Black Student League board member -- said she has several plans to increase the visibility of minorities on campus. Koledoye said she plans to increase the organization's activism over the University's minority permanence plan and the potential for a UMC seat on University Council. "I think minority permanence is a good idea, but it could turn bad if we don't continually push our voices into the fray," Koledoye said. "Bringing these issues to the attention of non-minority students will also probably be to our benefit," she added. Koledoye recently created a student survey to determine opinion about giving the UMC a seat on Council. She called the surveys "a proactive measure to present evidence to University Council." At last night's elections, Koledoye emphasized that her new position is that of a mediator, adding that her role is to "meet on a one-to-one basis with each group within the UMC, to meet the needs of everyone." She said that although her own standpoints may not align with those of all other minority students, "it's still important for the UMC to come to some kind of consensus on issues that affect minorities." The chairperson-elect praised the addition of the Penn Taiwanese Society to the UMC, adding that the group should try to further increase its membership. "We should try to get more groups to join so that the UMC is more representative of the Penn student body," she said. Although Koledoye ran unopposed for chairperson, UMC representatives did not hesitate to ask her questions about specific issues. Current UMC Chairperson Susie Lee, a College senior, asked Koledoye why the University needs a council for minority students. "I guess [minority students] have special needs because America is a land of white people," Koledoye answered. "Penn is not immune to that, so we must come together under the United Minorities Council and be the voice that is there to help," she added. And looking towards the future, Koledoye said she is planning a UMC leadership retreat for the summer, and has begun thinking of ways to better publicize the UMC next fall. "When the fall comes around, I'm going to get out there on the walk and hand out pamphlets and buttons, because a lot of people don't even know what the UMC is," she said. The UMC also elected Engineering sophomore Vinay Bhawnani as next year's vice chairperson. Bhawnani, currently a member of the South Asian Society, shares Koledoye's desire to make the UMC more prominent on campus. "I don't want the UMC to segregate itself from the general public," Bhawnani said. "It must work with the public to meet its needs."

Native American students get taste of Penn

(03/03/97 10:00am)

The Admissions Office invited five high school students from a reservation in South Dakota to partake in a Native American weekend. High school junior Helene Quiver took her first plane ride last week, flying from her Native American reservation in South Dakota to Penn Thursday. In an effort to recruit more Native American students, the Admissions Office invited Quiver and four other female high school students to its new "Native American Weekend." "This targeted pilot program represents the start of reaching out to Native American students," Admissions Dean Lee Stetson said. "We thought these five students had enough goals and direction that would make them want to attend school on the Eastern seaboard," he added. The students and their counselors had the full University experience this weekend, eating their first Philadelphia cheesesteaks, touring the campus and city and cheering at the men's basketball game against Cornell Friday night. At a meeting with faculty and admissions officers Friday afternoon, one of the students introduced herself by saying, "My name is Tamera Miyasato, and I really love this school." The other students also said they recognized the benefits of attending a prestigious university, although they expressed fears about the limited Native American representation on campus. "It's frightening to me that people still think all Native Americans live in teepees and go around scalping people," high school senior Cedar Lone Hill said. "But I realize that after college I can go back to the reservation and help other [Native American] students graduate and go on and succeed as I have," she added. Stetson said the University has enrolled 21 Native Americans over the last four years and is planning to expand its recruitment program to New York, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and North Carolina. "Native Americans have been the most disadvantaged and underrepresented in higher ed institutions in general," Stetson said. "I think we have a chance of enrolling a few of these women," he added. "But Dartmouth has always had an active Native American recruitment program which goes back for many years." Ken Stands, a faculty member at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota, accompanied the students on their trip to Penn. He expressed concern that the University lacks a prominent Native American community and that the students might experience culture shock after the move from a reservation to an urban institution. And he asked how the University -- faced with these difficulties -- expects to offer students a suitable environment. "I know that, as a faculty member, I willingly put in time with students who need more help, but it does take student initiative as well," Anthropology Professor Melvyn Hammarberg answered. The two counselors who accompanied the students to Penn, Oolie Frie, of South Dakota's Little Wound High School, and Lamoine Pulliam, from the state's Pine Ridge High School, also voiced concerns about the students' academic survival at Penn. "I'm so convinced that our students can live up to any of the students [at the University], but their SAT scores will not reflect that," Frie said. Stetson explained that differences in heritage do not necessarily mean that the students will enter the school academically inferior to other students. "This is a building process and it has to start somewhere," he said. "This is only the beginning." Stetson said the high school students' response to the weekend was "positive" and he is "expecting -- not hoping -- to continue and expand this program."

BSL gains support for permanence protest

(02/25/97 10:00am)

Several organizations across campus are backing the Black Student League's criticism of University President Judith Rodin's plan for minority permanence. At a meeting with minority student leaders on campus -- scheduled earlier this month by President Rodin -- BSL President Obinna Adibe, a College senior, announced that the group would not participate in the discussion regarding Rodin's plan, charging that the University hasn't addressed several important concerns for black students. The plan, released last fall, lays out steps to improve minority student recruitment and retention by increasing the number of African American and Hispanic faculty on campus. "We feel that during this past year, we've been trying to get minority data and the administration has been giving us the run-around," said BSL Parliamentarian Jonathan Carroll, a College sophomore. "The University has not been cooperating as we would like them to," he added. BSL Vice President and College senior Sean Coleman -- who refused to comment -- furthered the BSL's efforts, assailing the University's failure in committing itself to the needs of black students in communications with several administrators and faculty members. Adibe could not be reached this weekend for comment. But Rodin said she began the meeting earlier this month "by laying out all that we had done since the November meeting and there were numerous initiatives, many of which Sean and Obinna had a hand in creating." In light of those initiatives, Rodin said she was surprised the BSL feels it has been ignored. "I find myself perplexed by the allegation that nothing has been done," she said. "The purpose of the initiatives is to continue efforts of the University toward recruitment and retaining outstanding students from underrepresented minorities," she added. University spokesperson Ken Wildes, who attended last week's meeting, said he was "surprised and disappointed" that Adibe and his colleagues decided to leave the meeting, and "particularly so because there had been regular meetings and continuing dialogue between the students and administration for most of this academic year." But two tri-chairs of the African American Faculty and Staff Association, James Gray and Tom Henry, fully support and agree with the BSL's decision to abstain from participation in the meeting. "I think [the BSL] has more than a legitimate gripe," Gray said. "There is an attitude of disrespect that is true not only for the BSL but also for the African American Association," he added. Henry criticized University administrators for excluding African Americans in committees working on the welfare of black students and faculty at the University. "I just don't think the University is serious in trying to sit down and work on issues with minority permanence," he said. The tri-chairs canceled a scheduled meeting with Executive Vice President John Fry on February 17, because they "didn't think anything else would come out of it except lip service," Henry added. The United Minorities Council has not formally taken a position on the BSL's criticisms of the plan. And Rodin said the BSL shouldn't view its interests as entirely separate from those of other minority groups. "There are many issues that many of the minority students on campus feel that may be unique to their particular group," Rodin said. "It is not to deny that those issues are important," she added. "It is merely to say that we benefit from putting all of our issues on the table and working on them because there are similarities and commonalities between them." Even without a formal position, UMC Chairperson Susie Lee, a College senior, said her group fully supports the BSL stand. "The groups are going to do as much to support each other as possible, because we all share the same frustrations," Lee added. But some have criticized the BSL for its independent actions on the issue. "If we're established to work as a united front, but everyone's running in their own directions, then what the hell's the point of the UMC?" UMC Vice Chairperson and College sophomore Olivia Troye asked. At the UMC's February 18 meeting, representatives proposed establishing a committee to address what each group wishes to attain from Rodin's plan for minority permanence. "We all have needs that are present beyond racial and ethnic divides," UMC Programming Coordinator and College junior Tope Koledoye said. "We're really losing a group mentality here if we don't all come together," she added. And College sophomore Debralee Santos -- UMC representative for Asociaci-n Cultural de Estudiantes Latino Americanos, or ACELA -- said Latino students share the same perceived lack of initiative on behalf of the administration. "The BSL is providing a forum for discussion and we appreciate their research and efforts," Santos said.

Council continues to delay decision on seat for UMC

(02/18/97 10:00am)

United Minorities Council leaders said the Undergraduate Assembly seats don't adequately serve minority student needs. Stephanie Cooperman Two years after the issue first came up at a University Council meeting, the question of whether to assign the United Minorities Council a permanent seat on the advisory body remains a tangled one. The UMC and its supporters have argued at Council that the student seats allocated to the Undergraduate Assembly do not adequately represent minority interests before Council, which is charged with advising the president and provost on campus affairs. Council has heard various proposals to establish a permanent UMC seat, but hasn't brought the question to a vote recently. Last March, further decisions on the UMC's proposed seat were handed over to Council committees on pluralism and student activities. UA Chairperson Tal Golomb, a College junior, said the two committees assigned to report on the proposal had not yet handed in their decision to Council. He declined to speculate as to the reasons for the delay. But UMC Chairperson Susie Lee said the committees voted unanimously to recommend granting the UMC a seat on Council. The College senior added that the Council seat would be helpful in getting the voices of minority students heard on campus. "As a minority, it's really frustrating the whole way that the seat on Council has been pushed aside," Lee said. "At the same time it makes us more adamant about getting a seat and being more aggressive," she added. Golomb said giving the UMC its own seat on Council would unfairly favor minority opinions over those of other students. "I have not changed my opinion that no undergraduate organization should be given a seat," he said. Since last March, the UMC seat has not appeared on any Council agenda. "Apparently, the [University Council] doesn't want to have any controversial issues," Lee said. Until spring 1994, the Undergraduate Assembly unofficially gave the UMC one of its 10 Council seats, complete with voting privileges. Any UA member may run for one of the body's seats on Council, with elections held at the same time as general UA elections in the spring and fall. When the UA received five additional seats in 1994, members proposed giving the UMC an official seat without holding an election. But Council ruled that the UA's request breached the body's bylaws. Only UA members may fill the group's seats, so the UA cannot allocate an automatic seat to the UMC. "It would be ideal to change the bylaws in Council so that the UMC has a permanent seat," Lee said. UMC Vice Chairperson and College sophomore Olivia Troye said Council is "pushing a touchy issue under the rug." Troye said Council is delivering the message that minority affairs don't matter to the University. Most Council members would not comment on that issue. And UA members said they weren't sure how they would vote if the question came up.

Are Penn gays 'out' enough?

(02/10/97 10:00am)

At a university as large as Penn, it is easy for any group to fall into the woodwork. But members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community are constantly fighting against that lack of visibility. Shelley Krause, coordinator of advanced standing credit, said people questioning their sexuality may be intimidated, since the University does not have a unified gay voice. "Everyone works in their own little environment at Penn," Krause said. "If you look around and see that there's nobody who's 'out' and talking about it, then it can be scary to be the first person to put your foot in the water," she added. College senior Vanessa Eisemann, chairperson of Jewish Bisexuals, Gays and Lesbians, said more Lesbian Gay Bisexual Center visibility might help curious people realize they're not the only ones who are unsure. She said many people in the process of "coming out of the closet" may be afraid of how their straight friends might react, and that anyone can "come and hang out at the LGBC without declaring themselves as gay or bisexual." "Most people on this campus think that they can't come to our events unless they're gay," Eisemann said. If more "straight" people would come to events sponsored by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Center, it would help people who are "coming out" to see that their straight friends are supportive, she suggested. Eisemann added that "there is a very warm community awaiting" once people are "out" and feel good about their identity. LGBC Director Bob Schoenberg said the University's diversity and urban location make it easier for students to explore their sexual orientation. "You could appear 'straight' in the high rises and then go to a [Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance] meeting in Houston Hall, and no one would ever know," he said. Schoenberg added that "there are a lot of places where it is more difficult to be gay, but there are probably places where it is easier, too." He said he is optimistic about the present condition of the gay community at the University and hopeful about its future, explaining that many schools -- especially "conservative and rural schools" -- do not have Lesbian Gay Bisexual Centers at all. "Our LGBC is one of the more funded and established centers in the country, but we're talking about a small number of schools who have them at all," he added. But College senior Maria Gonzalez, LGBA co-chairperson, said that despite its resources, the University is too segregated. "Within the University, there are places for all students to go, but there isn't the tendency to unify those groups," Gonzalez said. "Students of color don't mix with gay students -- we have a tendency to put ourselves in a box and we should try to break some of those barriers down," she added. Gonzalez added that there is not enough education at the University on homosexuality and the gay rights movement, saying the University should be "more sensitive and make everyone more aware." She criticized University officials for taking a "relatively moderate stand on just about everything." She blamed administrators for "not taking a proactive stand to help any one group." And she added that the University should be proud of the LGBC and make it more prominent during the admissions process. College sophomore Steven Huang said he chose to attend the University for its gay community, but agreed with Gonzalez regarding the University's "apathetic stand." "You can put pink triangles and rainbows all over the place, but people here need to know what that means first," Huang said. Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said she is greatly concerned about the needs of the lesbian, gay and bisexual population on campus. "The growth and development of a vibrant Penn student community is nurtured by the free, often passionate interchange of ideas and experiences from which individuals learn, discover diversity and benefit intellectually and humanely," McCoullum said. "Within the context of self-identified Penn diversity, gay, lesbian and bisexual students make major contributions to the quality of our University life and deserve, as do all students, with all students, equal and respectful attention to their issues and concerns," she added. But Schoenberg admitted that still more needs to be done. He said he is angered by the presence of the ROTC on campus, explaining they are in "direct violation of the University's non-discrimination policy." And he said he wishes there were more "proudly gay" faculty members. He suggested that faculty may hesitate to reveal their sexual orientation for fear of not getting tenure or a promotion. "There's still a sense that there's something to lose," Schoenberg said. "On the one hand it could be seen as good that we are not required to disclose our sexual orientation, but what price do you pay to not be able to proudly admit it?" he added. Krause added that gay students do a better job of "creating their own environment" than faculty members do. Communications Professor Larry Gross -- one of the first openly gay faculty members at the University -- praised the University as a "haven" for the gay community. Gross referred to the University as "officially welcoming" and said that he has not been negatively targeted on campus.

Former Princeton assistant dean set to direct Greenfield Intercultural Center

(02/10/97 10:00am)

Princeton University's former assistant dean for multicultural affairs, Valerie DeCruz, was recently appointed director of Penn's Greenfield Intercultural Center. The GIC, located at 3708 Chestnut St., serves as a center of cultural resources that stimulate intergroup discussion and advocate minority student needs. The Center houses the United Minorities Council and Programs for Awareness in Cultural Awareness. DeCruz -- encouraged to consider the position by people who were aware of her previous work and dedication to multicultural affairs -- said the GIC's potential for intriguing collaborations sparked her interest in the position. "The GIC is a space that already facilitates interesting collaborations between different constituencies," DeCruz said. "Different minority organizations can come together to organize social and intellectual programs, and graduate students work with undergraduates in programming around minority issues," she added. DeCruz said maintaining a sense of the GIC as "a home away from home," will remain among the center's important goals. She added that she hopes the GIC's programming will contribute to some understanding of the complexities surrounding race in American societies, while actively supporting students and minority communities. DeCruz was quick to remark about the positive potential of the GIC for the University's campus. "Given that race has particular saliency in our society, the Center has enormous potential to further understanding of race relations in America through innovative social and intellectual activities." Although Decruz was impressed by Penn's attentiveness to the needs of a diverse student body, she has "somewhat mixed" feelings about the move from Princeton to Penn. "I truly value the many interactions I have had with colleagues and students at Princeton," she said. "I had not expected to leave so soon, but became intrigued by the challenges the position at Penn offers." GIC Assistant Director Karlene Burrell has served as acting director for the center since the departure of former Director Larry Burnley. Burrell called the experience "good, but tiring" and said she is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the official director. DeCruz has already been "involved in numerous meetings to get acquainted with Penn," and she officially begins her new post March 3. "I have been impressed by the dedication of the staff, their energy and creativity and it would be a pleasure to support their ideas," she said.

Ebonics debate brings fame to Linguistics prof

(01/29/97 10:00am)

In Senate testimony and in the media, Bill Labov has tried to clear things up. A month after the Oakland school board spurred national debate by deciding to use what members termed Ebonics as a tool to teach some students, Linguistics Professor Bill Labov brought his expertise to Capitol Hill, testifying at a hearing on whether using African American dialect helps black children learn standard English. In testimony Thursday before a Senate committee headed by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Labov attempted to shatter what he deemed a "misunderstanding" of the Oakland decision. "[African American vernacular English] is not simply slang or grammatical mistakes, but a well-formed set of rules of pronunciation and grammar that is capable of conveying complex logic and reasoning," he said. Labov called the hearing "fair and clear" in that it diffused a great deal of harsh rhetoric. But he added that this issue has raised such an emotional climate that progression is difficult. An expert on the logic of non-standard English and dialects of English, Labov has published several books, articles and research reports on these topics, concentrating on inner-city language differences. "For about 30 years we've been trying to make a contribution and we feel that one of the biggest problems in the United States is the education in inner city schools," he said. And Labov conducted a January 17 discussion on Ebonics at the University along with University graduate John Baugh, who currently teaches Linguistics at Stanford. Baugh and Labov have worked together on the language issue in African American communities since the 1960s. They agree that Ebonics should be classified as a dialect of English -- and not as a separate language as the original Oakland resolution stated. And they say that although the Oakland school board called Ebonics "black English," it made every effort to prove that African Americans do not actually speak English. But the terminology creates further complications. Labov said Ebonics is too broad a term, since "the dialect spoken by African Americans in rural Alabama is "very different from that of black people in Brazil." And Baugh said, "What's more important to me than the term Ebonics is whether or not teachers have a linguistic appreciation of what African American kids bring to the classroom." He added that while he admires Oakland for acknowledging that the status quo wasn't "getting us where we wanted to go," he is angry about the resulting racial backlash. "White racists are having a field day with this -- it's like throwing candy to a pig," he said. And Labov said at Penn "we should participate in the community and help out in any ways we can." In response to the discussion, College freshman Dan Cherry took a neutral stand. "Ebonics is underdeveloped right now and I believe before it can actually be utilized, we need to learn more about it," he said.

LGBA honors King's legacy

(01/27/97 10:00am)

Speakers applied King's message to the lesbian and gay struggles. Members of the University's gay community and leaders of Philadelphia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities discussed the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s influence on their lives and activism Tuesday night in Houston Hall. The event was part of the University's commemorative celebration for King. Guest speakers on the panel included University alumni Kuyoshi Kuromiya, Kathryn Furano, Kevin Vaughan and Cathy Barlow. College senior and Co-Chairperson of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance Maria Gonzalez, served as the discussion's mediator. "In remembering Dr. King and his work, it's crucial to remember though his work didn't directly address the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement, the philosophies and the desires for equality are the same across any spectrum," said Gonzalez. "And now that we're continuing his legacy, we must do it as a unified whole," she added. The panelists agreed that King's speech served as a major power tool, as it wrestled for equality through virtuousness. Barlow, one of the founders of the W.E.B. DuBois College House, said, "[King's] speech made a battle for equality not of reason but of moral rightness." The guest speakers discussed the correlation between King and the gay rights movement -- despite the fact that the number of openly gay people in King's civil rights movement may have been limited. "Whatever prejudices people have with gay people get thrown out all the time, and I'm sure that happened a lot with Dr. King, too," Vaughan said. Panelists suggested that lack of communication has thwarted the progression of equality. "Through myths, groups are pitted against each other, when in fact there can be very strong unifying movements," Kuromiya said. Near the end of the discussion, panelists focused on unity, optimism and the ways to ultimately achieve equality in today's society. Furano presented a hopeful idea for the future, saying, "The model that Martin Luther King espoused in reaching other communities should just be the model." And Lesbian Gay Bisexual Center Director Bob Schoenberg said, "Although Dr. King didn't actually say that much in terms of gay rights, I would like to think that had he lived longer, he'd be a great supporter of the gay rights movement." At the close of the discussion, panelists encouraged students to bring their adeptness into the University setting. "Just as Dr. King had many different skills, each of you may have different skills which you can bring out into the community," Barlow said.

King vigil calls for harmony

(01/20/97 10:00am)

A candlelight procession illuminated the path from the W.E.B. DuBois College House to the Christian Association last night, as marchers sang "We Shall Overcome" to commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The vigil, led by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., featured University Chaplain William Gipson as its keynote speaker. The vigil was open to "anyone committed to bringing the unrealized portions of the dream to fruition," Gipson said. Once the procession reached the Christian Association, Gipson facilitated a discussion, in which students from Penn, Drexel and Temple shared what King's remembrance signified to them. Gipson began the powerful conversation saying, "Friends, we are gathered here this Sunday because we are believers." He added, "You are the people who can continue the story by living the dream." James Wilburn, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., said, "Someone has paved the way, and it is now time for us to pave the way for our children." Vice President Jorge Leon added, "There's a bit of Dr. King in all of us, and we should remember ourselves that our struggle is not over." Once the discussion ended, Wharton and Engineering senior Athelstan Bellerand, Jr., led the group in a moving rendition of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the black national anthem. The candlelight vigil began at 7:06 p.m., a time particularly significant for the brothers, since the fraternity was founded by seven men at Cornell University in 1906. The vigil marked the beginning of a fasting period -- presenting the theme of the evening "modest sacrifices create admirable contributions" -- which will end at sundown Monday. "Fasting helps us to realize sacrifices made for us, how far we have come -- just to reflect and say thank you," Leon said. "We didn't get here by ourselves," he added. Wilburn told the group to reflect on the pain and suffering their ancestors endured and that fasting would purify the mind and body of this pain. The fast also protests the University's policy of holding classes today despite the holiday honoring King. The vigil marked the beginning of Alpha Week, created by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha to commemorate figures who fought for racial equality. The brothers have planned a series of events for this week, including a non-violence workshop with children this afternoon, a film night, blood drive, the InterGreek basketball tournament and black literature night. Alpha Week will culminate with the 12th annual semi-formal cabaret. Leon said, "Not only is this a chance for us to express our uniqueness, but it is an opportunity for Penn students to experience it." And Max-Acnri Cozil, advisor to the Psi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., emphasized the universality of King's message. "Martin Luther King, Jr.'s teachings were not only focused on African Americans," Cozil said. "His teachings were teachings of non-violence and that applies to everyone," Cozil added.

PACE helps prepare students to bridge cultural divisions

(01/15/97 10:00am)

Whether on campus or in the Philadelphia community, Programs for Awareness in Cultural Education (PACE) peer facilitators often address the challenges of cultural and ethnic divisions. PACE, a pilot program launched in 1993, falls under the joint authority of the Greenfield Intercultural Center and the Graduate School of Education. By recruiting its participants from all 12 of the University's schools, the program connects undergraduates with professional students and Ph.D. candidates. Each spring, a class of 20 students is admitted to PACE's "Educating the Peer Educator" program. The students then undergo a training process. The course incorporates discussions on subjects including religion, gender and minority issues. The students commit to design and perform workshops in the following fall and spring. Last year, PACE participants sponsored a program on stereotypes and gender with visiting students from a Japanese university. They also organized an orientation on intercultural communication for the pre-freshman program. "The experience was amazing," said peer facilitator Melissa Holsinger. "It took a lot of time and personal growth but my classmates and I had so much to learn from each other," she added. Holsinger, a College sophomore, is in the process of creating her own workshop on homosexuality and Catholicism and how "the differences between the two can be reconciled." PACE Program Coordinator Nathan Smith, a second-year Education doctoral student, said the goal of the program is to promote discussion and dialogue between students. The Daily Pennsylvanian columnist said it's important "to prevent misunderstandings and to examine what gets in the way of effective communication." The PACE program covers a wide spectrum of issues because "communication works on so many levels that to focus on one would be really ineffective," Smith said. By appointing several faculty members and administrators to its board of advisors and involving faculty in the actual execution of workshops, PACE leaders seek to involve a wide representation of the University's schools and resources with the program, and represent the full scope of campus diversity. Peer facilitator and College senior Caroline Szeto described the program as "really helpful for facilitating intercultural differences between groups that have differing opinions." College senior Ali Parnian designed his own workshop on gender and relations between fraternities and sororities, and is currently preparing a program on interracial dating. After completing a semester of PACE, students become on-campus resources for departments and groups across the University. Smith validated the need for PACE facilitators by explaining that people are often "attacked" for voicing their own opinions in discussions without the facilitators' presence. "PACE knows that a discussion forum is more important than a shouting match," Smith added. He said, however, that facilitators' individual backgrounds affect the way they enter a discussion. "We don't pretend that individual facilitators have no opinions of their own, but they go through intensive training to learn to be impartial," Smith said. At the end of each workshop, peer facilitators distribute anonymous evaluations from which they can reflect on their performance. And Smith, for example, said that he estimates "at least 95 percent positive feedback."

Three Penn profs tape lectures for 'Teaching Company' series

(12/12/96 10:00am)

If you missed a lecture in History Professor Thomas Childers' class on Nazi Germany, don't worry -- you might be able to buy a tape for $49.95 from The Teaching Company. Childers and fellow History professors Alan Kors and Bruce Kuklick have all taped several lectures for the company to sell to the public. The company -- which sells taped lectures through a catalog -- says its purpose is to "identify the best teachers in the country, and to make them available to everyone." The Penn professors traveled to Georgetown University and lectured for more than two days before a live audience. "It was great for me because the cameras were unobtrusive and there were real people there to talk to," Childers said. "It wasn't like a studio." Following the taping, the audience members had an opportunity to ask questions of the professors. Childers was one of the first professors in the nation who Teaching Company President Tom Rollins contacted about taping a course. He provided eight lectures on "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" but admitted that he "didn't think this was gonna fly." Childers said he was paid "royally," but he didn't think the program was financially sound. He said the company "didn't sound like a money-maker." Nevertheless, after his taping, Childers suggested Rollins contact Kors and Kuklick. Kors taped an eight-lecture course on "The 17th Century Mind" and another eight-lecture course on "The Enlightenment." The Teaching Company incorporated several of his lectures into a larger series -- a survey of Western thought from the Greeks to the present. This series has been advertised in several national publications. "It was more than enjoyable once I got over my discomfort over having three cameras aimed at me and someone holding up cards letting me know how much time I had left," Kors said. He said he had to take a different spin on the lectures he delivered for The Teaching Company, departing from his usual practices with Penn students. "The challenge of the lectures was that, unlike a college course, you could not assume any readings were done by the listeners, so you would have to impart the content of what students at Penn, by contrast, would have read," Kors said. Rollins served as chief counsel and chief of staff to the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources before leaving government to found The Teaching Company in 1989. Since 1990, his company has produced more than 80 courses in subjects ranging from "Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues" to "Using Literature to Understand the Human Side of Medicine." The cost of the tapes -- starting at $49.95 for audio tapes and $149.95 for video tapes -- goes to pay for the cost of recording the course, producing the tapes and paying the salaries of employees. The company advertises a money-back guarantee for all its tapes, stating in a catalog that "when you disagree with our judgment and are unhappy with a course, you can exchange it for another or we can refund your money promptly."

A 'silly' name for a serious committee

(11/20/96 10:00am)

The University's Committee on Committees helps keep things running smoothly. Poring through the rolls of official University committees yields some fairly predictable names. There's the Facilities Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Safety and Security Committee -- and the Committee on Committees. This last tongue-twister actually lies at the core of some of the most important decisions at the University. The Committee on Committees, comprised of faculty, students and staff, reviews each University Council committee, pinpoints issues of importance and recommends members to sit on the Committee on Committees for the succeeding year. "When I heard the name of that committee, well, the name is so silly," said Associate University Secretary Connie Goodman. "But it is an extremely important committee and serves a critical function in the quality of work done by committees." In other words, the name may be strange, but the committee isn't the University's answer to the Firesign Theatre's "Department of Redundancies Department." In fact, the Committees Committee is one of the original branches of the University Council, the advisory group to the president and provost that first met in the 1960s. The chairperson of each of the University Council's 14 committees sits on the Committees Committee to evaluate the others, thereby assessing the need for each committee's existence. And since its supervisory functions ensure that the 14 other committees work together smoothly, it's not uncommon for the Committees Committee's name to turn up in Council minutes. But this year, the Committee on Committees hasn't even chosen members, much less held a meeting. This is normal, Goodman said. Last year, its first meeting was held in February, and it took roughly five meetings to accomplish its goals. "It is not a committee that meets all year long," Goodman said. "It must meet before the last meeting of the Steering Committee so that names suggested by the Committee on Committees are approved." The Steering Committee of University Council sets the agenda for each Council meeting, and agendas frequently include reports from other committees -- just to be confusing. At each session last year, the Committee on Committees dealt with roughly four other committees, discussing recommendations, membership and whether the chairperson wishes to retain his or her position. "The goal is to get the very best faculty to serve on these committees," said Goodman. "The president, in the past year, has been referring issues for consideration to Council committees, and that's extremely important, because committees want to know that their time is being well spent."

Ghosts, goblins and Rodin share spooky stories at Writers House

(11/01/96 10:00am)

Administators, faculty and students gatheredAdministators, faculty and students gatheredWednesday for an evening of Halloween tales. Armed with a bubbling cauldron and clad in lab coat and goggles, University President Judith Rodin disguised herself as the infamous Dr. Frankenstein, while reading aloud to a captivated audience Wednesday night. Rodin, along with other members of the faculty, administration and student body, spent the evening at the Writers House, which hosted a Halloween bash and reading festival. Two glowing pumpkins lit the path to the house, which was decorated in traditional Victorian style -- complete with spider webs, orange and black balloons, candy corn, apple cider and a variety of other refreshments and decorations appropriate to the season. Everyone squeezed into the small living room where the readings took place. Though several noted campus celebrities like Rodin were on hand, it was difficult to decipher exactly who was who at first glance. Undergraduate English Chairperson Lisa New, who came to the event with her three daughters, was disguised as a black cat. Her daughters presented songs together, a notable highlight of the evening. Gregory Farrington, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, was dressed as the "Ghost of ENIAC," saying, "Hey, 50 years later you deserve to have a ghost." Farrington read campfire stories aloud to the audience. English professors Maureen Quilligan, Toni Bowers and Michael Gamer dressed flamboyantly as witches and performed the scene with three witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth, much to the crowd's delight. Other English professors' contributions included John Richetti's reading of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" and Al Filreis' reading of a parody called "The Raven, Part II," in which an Economics major in the College takes a Wharton finance class. The audience laughed and clapped as Filreis read. Student participants, like College junior Joshua Schuster -- dressed as a piece of lint -- read selections as well. Wharton sophomore Dan Tran read an original piece called "The Secret of Locust Walk," in which he defended the ever-so-familiar fearless squirrels at the University. Other student readers included College seniors Elliott Witney and Jeff Wachs and Wharton senior Ben Nelson. The Halloween bash is only one of many events Writers House has planned. Resident Coordinator Shawn Walker said the Writers House regularly holds meetings in "an attenpt to have faculty and students interact on a social and residential level." The House functions as a "virtual residence, where members of the writers' community can come to study, cook, or just hang out," Walker said. The Writers House is open from noon to 11 p.m. each day.