Graduation is a time for students to celebrate their accomplishments, but it is also a time of anxiety and trepidation about what the outside world will hold. Sitting under the ominous gray skies at Monday morning's Franklin Field Commencement ceremony, family and friends might have been envisioning the assembled seniors' introduction into the harsh, cruel world . . . each graduate voyaging out into the restless seas of reality only to be tossed about like an errant beach ball. But at this year's ceremony, seniors turned such gloomy metaphors on their heads. Out on Franklin Field, a lone beach ball was tossed from senior to senior while, as a group, the restless graduates performed "the Wave." Seniors spontaneously performed the Wave at several points during the Commencement exercises, with each row of students sequentially rising and falling to create an undulating effect for their friends and relatives watching from the stands. They performed the stunt over and over again, until it became so well coordinated that spectators interrupted the official ceremony just to clap. But behind the lighthearted highjinks was plenty of the requisite pomp and circumstance. In the span of two hours, the University conferred thousands of degrees on undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, and handed out honorary degrees to nine other distinguished guests. In addition, hundreds of students and faculty members were singled out for special recognition. Ismail Mahomed, the first non-white South African Supreme Court justice, delivered the commencement address, charging students to use both the power and privilege of their educations to fight the on-going battle toward equality for all. He also criticized the current progress of the United States toward achieving this goal. "Let us be brutally frank," Mahomed said. "What you have done . . . is just not good enough." Performing "the Wave" was far from the only antic that took place as raucous seniors refused to go quietly into the real world. As President Sheldon Hackney conferred degrees on students, many graduates tossed their mortarboards into the air, released baloons or uncorked bottles of champagne previously hidden under their robes. At one point, a student launched a firecracker that whistled off, leaving a wispy trail of smoke. Although graduates had trouble containing themselves, Mother Nature did demonstrate some restraint. The gray skies held and graduation ceremonies were not marred by rain. This year's nine honorary degree recipients were Jon Barwise, Candice Bergen, Rupert Billingham, John Casani, James Comer, Natalie Davis, Chen Fu Koo, Ismail Mahomed and Arno Penzias.
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A former Veterinary School professor filed suit against the University in Philadelphia federal court late last month, following an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling that her sexual discrimination charges against the University had merit. The plaintiff in the case, Veterinary School oncologist Ann Jeglum, originally revealed in November that the EEOC had recently made findings in the discrimination case, originally filed in 1990. Under the EEOC's determination, Jeglum was required to file suit against the University within 90 days or else waive the right to bring suit. In the suit, Jeglum -- once chief of oncology in the Vet School -- claims the University discriminated against her both by denying her tenure in 1987 and 1989 and by paying "less qualified or equally qualified male employees" higher wages. The General Counsel's office said yesterday that private talks between the University and Jeglum are continuing as they have since before the case was filed. "We understand that the suit was filed to perserve Dr. Jeglum's rights under the law," Assistant General Counsel Elizabeth O'Brien said yesterday. "Meanwhile, the University's negotiations with Dr. Jeglum are continuing." The suit states that at the time of Jeglum's tenure denial, the Department of Veterinary Medicine contained eighteen tenured members, all of whom were men. According to the suit, 20 percent of the 35 current non-tenured faculty members in the department are women. In addition to the tenure and wage discrimination charges, the suit also alleges that Jeglum was a victim of sexual harassment throughout her employment at the University, claiming she was subjected to "offensive remarks, and unfounded allegations that she [refused] to be 'cooperative' with other members of the faculty." Jeglum left her office in the Clinical Studies division of the Veterinary Hospital in February and now works in a West Chester veterinary clinic and lab. The suit also names as defendants the Vet School and three current and past Vet School administrators. Vet School Dean Edwin Andrews, former Veterinary Medicine chairperson Kenneth Bovee and recently-resigned Veterinary Medicine chairperson Darrell Biery are named individually as well as in their positions at the Vet School. Andrews is currently attending a conference in Florida and could not be reached for comment. Jeglum, who is also at a Florida conference, and her lawyer, on vacation, could not be reached for comment either. Jeglum was denied tenure by the University in 1987 and 1989, filing an internal grievance against the University shortly after her second tenure denial. The grievance process continued for over a year, until a faculty panel returned its confidential recommendations to the provost this summer. Jeglum seeks lost wages, benefits and expenses due to both her tenure denial and wage discrimination while at the University. She also seeks tenure retroactive from her tenure denial in 1989. Jeglum left her office in the Clinical Studies division of the Veterinary Hospital in February and now works in a West Chester veterinary clinic and lab. While at the University, Jeglum worked in the Vet School's Small Animal Hospital and spent more than five years researching treatments for certain forms of cancer in dogs, under funding from the American Kennel Club.
Happy new year! How are you? What's up? How was your break? Where did you go? What did you do? Standard small talk aside, the DP editors gathered recently to choose the new bi-weekly columnists for the spring semester. Hopefully, our choices will soon provide you with something more humorous or deeper to discuss with friends than, say, What classes are you taking? When's add/drop over? Have you declared your major? It was a difficult selection process for the DP's editorial board, choosing 16 columnists from over 50 applications. And then there was all the begging, pleading, and bribing . . . But, how could we not accept a columnist with a cover letter like this one: Yes, by popular (or unpopular) demand, College senior Andrew Sernovitz returns -- starting Wednesday, January 22 -- and is as caustic as ever. And you were worried he'd run out of people to trash. "Luckily, the Penn community keeps doing dumb things that make me want to vomit," he wrote. Andy isn't the only controversial columnist to come back for another go round. Even graduate student Elizabeth Hunt acknowledges that we may never get rid of her. "Since I will be leaving Philadelphia at the end of the semester, I would love to have one last shot," she said in her application. "Though I am sure that even after one more more semester I will still get a vestigial urge to reapply." "The movers I hire will have to bring their van over to the DP offices and pull me off some terminal to which I am clinging for all I am worth," she predicted. We're sure some administrators would be more than happy to help out. There are also a dozen new bi-weekly columnists, with the first two appearing tomorrow. Several editors thought College sophomore Zelig Kurland deserved a column based on his name alone, while College junior Jennifer Kornreich somehow managed to tie together Tennyson and rhinoplasty in one column. Of course, there are other ways to get a bi-weekly column. College junior Reshma Memon might have struck upon one of them. "I would send you Mrs. Field's cookies, but I'm sure you have way too much integrity to accept bribes." Integrity-schmegrity. But we were also attracted to some of her column ideas, including "the unique thrills of growing up in a dysfunctional family" and: "What it is like to be married in college (and why I recommended it)." Wow, I've been accepted to Penn! Now how am I gonna find a spouse by September? We've reserved bi-weekly slots for both the humorous and the serious, freshmen through graduate students, both campus opinion leaders and people you don't hear from everyday. And there may be a spot reserved for you. The DP prints numerous guest columns and dozens of letters to the editor each month, so grab pen, typewriter or word processor and take a shot at getting published. The new year is also a good time to once again thank the hundreds of contributors whose guest columns and letters to the editor appeared on this page in 1991. These opinions are both important and necessary, since exercising the constitutional right to free expression is the cornerstone of our democratic society and all that jazz. Today, we humbly offer one of the DP's returning humorists, College senior John Lennon. But if you don't enjoy this column, John offered us plenty of other ideas to look forward to. Among them: "The cats who live in my apartment are not cats at all, but spies from the planet Venus who have assumed cat form." Right, John. Michael Sirolly is a Wharton junior and editorial page editor-elect of The Daily Pennsylvanian.
When Robert Zemsky talks, buildings collapse. Then, ground is broken for new facilities in a half-dozen places on campus. And new paths are paved, and the streams of cars and people flowing through the University are diverted in new directions. The chaos doesn't actually begin today, or even tomorrow. Probably not even this century. But in some distant future, as the University's chief planning officer talks, you can hear skyscrapers crumble. Small bombshells like these, each potentially reworking the face of campus, drop from Zemsky's mouth at an alarming rate. He is heading up design of the University's 30-year plan, a document which won't even be written until next fall. In the meantime, however, Zemsky is testing out some of the plan's potential bombshells on University officials. Take October's University Council meeting, for example. Zemsky, pointer in hand and a computer graphic slide presentation in tow, tried to suggest that the University will purchase the Civic Center as a place to expand the Medical Center. We need to acquire the Civic Center. I want to say that quietly -- I don't know how we'll do that. Bombs away. Not only could the acquisition potentially cost the University $60 million, but the city hadn't even put the building up for sale. In a private conversation in his office at 42nd and Pine streets, the bombs continue to drop. We probably made a mistake in building the high rises. In retrospect, they're stupid. Boom. Because the bombshells are dropped with an understated delivery and constant reminders that changes will happen "not today, not tomorrow, probably not this century," somehow the wildest, most whimsical, most earth-shattering suggestions seem a matter of course, even destiny. We need to see ourselves as much as a Philadelphia university, as well as a West Philadelphia university. · The 30-year plan revolves around what is referred to as the Pedestrian Core of campus, an area that theoretically expands outward from a location near the center of Locust Walk, but slightly northward toward the site of the future campus center. Surrounding this epicenter of campus activity are five overlapping districts: the Center City Gateway, the South Street Gateway, the Civic Center, the Woodland Gateway and Hamilton Village. In terms Zemsky borrowed from music, he said each of these districts should be designed as architectural planning "variations" on the pedestrian core's "major theme." "That's the way you build integration," he said. An additional district included in the plan, dubbed the Riverfront, lies outside the Pedestrian Core. The goal in the Pedestrian Core, according to Zemsky, will be "to increase activity at all times, but disperse it better." "We've got to have traffic flow more evenly across the pedestrian core," he said. The construction of the Revlon Campus Center, which many administrators hope will pull the center of campus northward, will help accomplish these goals. Zemsky hopes the 37th and 36th Street Walks and the shortcuts through Stiteler Plaza will become more important student arteries. Zemsky also insisted that this may require changes in automobile traffic flow along Walnut Street to encourage people to cross over more easily. "I'm always going to say convert vehicular [streets] to walking," Zemsky said, but added that in the case of Walnut Street, more realistic goals might be to "not close it, reduce it," and "divert the tributaries." He said the University should monitor the city and lobby it when it makes traffic routing decisions because decisions made during far-off-campus road construction can direct traffic onto or away from campus, he said. Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson, the chairperson of two committees planning the campus center and the future of Locust Walk, said the proposed 30-year plan meshes well with plans made in these committees. "I think it's an ambitious plan, very exciting," Morrisson said. "I think it is actually quite consistent with the Locust Walk plan." Zemsky and others also hope to accent the Woodland Avenue spur that intersects Locust Walk. This now-paved walk enters campus at the southwest corner of Hill Field, crosses 34th and Walnut, continues as a diagonal of Locust Walk until it passes between Steinberg-Dietrich Hall and the Wistar Institute, and runs between the Quadrangle and Stouffer Triangle. The University is already planning to extend Woodland Walk across Hill Field and replace Hill Field's grass with astroturf to allow continued use as a recreation space. However, according to Vice President of Facilities Management Arthur Gravina, who serves as the trustees' liaison to the 30-year planning committee, this could mean some changes in freshmen orientation activities in future years. "You wouldn't want to bring barbeques onto an astroturf field," Gravina said. "You don't [want] ashes to drop." Another goal for the pedestrian core is to "poke holes" through psychological walls along Market Street, where the pedestrian core meets the so-called "Northern Interface" with local neighborhoods. This "wall," some administrators say, was intended to shield the University from the outside world, and may have done more harm than good. "Thirty years later it does not work exactly as it was intended," Zemsky said. · A person who was last on campus 30 years ago might not recognize the University today. The campus of 1961 was about half the size of the campus of 1991, confined to a triangular area stretching east to the Women's Dormitories (Hill House), south to the Hospital complex, west to the tip of the Men's Dormitories (the Quadrangle) and back down the Woodland car-and-trolley transit line. A circular path ran in front of College Hall and between the two libraries, Furness and Van Pelt. Meyerson Hall didn't exist. Hillel and the Christian Association were in their present-day location, but they were across 36th Street, not 36th Street Walk. West of College Green, Dietrich Hall existed, but Steinberg Hall had not been built around it. (Present-day Trustee Saul Steinberg graduated from Wharton only two years before.) The new Annenberg School was nearing completion, but Annenberg Center didn't exist. The Hare building, which was connected to Logan Hall, housed the Music and Psychology departments and the Philomathean Society, but was soon torn down to build Williams Hall. Locust Walk was still Locust Street from 36th Street to 40th Street. Cars still drove down 37th and 39th street, traversing Locust Street. But there was no Superblock, no high rises or low rises, no 1920 Commons, no McNeil Building, no Stouffer Triangle, no Vance Hall, no Aresty Institute, no Book Store at 38th Street and no bridge. This western area of campus was dominated by houses and rowhouses, many of them housing the fraternities now at the center of the Locust Walk controversy. "When you realize how much has changed in the last 30 years, you realize how much can change in the next 30," Morrisson said. · Ironically, much of the new construction that occurred over the past 30 years has been singled out for possible change in the next 30. In the Hamilton Village area -- what is traditionally known as West Campus -- the high rises stick out, in more ways than one, as a possible site for future change. Zemsky said that 24-story apartment buildings aren't generally designed for hundreds of students who all have to go to class at 10 a.m. "They're not great historic monuments," he said. "We could think next century [of] reengineering Hamilton Village without them. Those are towers in the wrong place." The alternative Zemsky describes is a "return to the past" -- a smaller scale, "urban village" that interfaces with the rest of West Philadelphia. "We don't want a hard line because we have a sense of community and neighborliness," Zemsky said. Morrisson also said she likes the idea of a "much more small scale, Locust Walk-like environment." In this district and the Woodland Gateway areas of the campus map, administrators say they want a kinder, gentler relationship with West Philadelphia than when the University pulled its weight to have whole blocks condemned, pushing residents and businesses west to allow for new construction. But although one community leader said the plans sound like an improvement, he said the University may not be able to convince local residents. "Those are certainly laudable sentiments," Spruce Hill Community Association President David Hochman said. Hochman said the fact that the University did not tell the community of the plans makes him skeptical. "It's difficult to believe they're realistic [when they do not] even to reach out with that plan," he said. "It's difficult to take those sentiments seriously."
Alex Doyle and Paul Luongo aren't exactly your typical studs. Yet over 30 minutes into High Rise North's rendition of the television show "Studs," it seemed as if nothing exciting had happened on their blind dates with three female contestants. But as College junior Becky Young described her visit to Paul's room, it looked like things might heat up. "He has an organ in his room," Becky said. "I mean, a musical organ," she quickly added, as the audience erupted into laughter. Nearly 100 people packed into the Underground Cafe last night to watch the show and hear a presentation from FLASH -- Facilitating Learning About Sexual Health -- on how to guard against sexually transmitted diseases. The audience also came to find out which male would walk away with the title of "King Stud" and win a "dream date" by collecting the most hearts for correctly guessing which of the three females -- Becky, Wharton senior Terry Chen or College senior Kim Colton -- had made selected comments about them. The comments were selected from the female's descriptions of their dates with the men, which took place mostly over meals donated by area restaurants such as New Deck Tavern, Beijing Restaurant, Boccie Pizza, Smokey Joe's Tavern and Joyful Inn. But Becky's date with Paul, also a College junior, didn't end at the restaurant, or even in Paul's room. Nor did Becky cut her losses and end her description there. Becky went on to explain how the date was particularly interesting because Paul was a member of an organ society. The Curtis Organ Restoration Society, that is. Big laugh from the audience. "Listen, I can show you the organ if you want," Paul supposedly offered that night. So at 1 a.m., Becky and Paul trekked down to Irvine Auditorium to see the organ. Paul played the organ. Paul took her inside the organ. It was neat. Sure it was, the audience laughed. Alex's dates didn't go so well, as evidenced by Emcee Tim Monaco's query as to whether there was any kissing. "No," according to one female. "No, no," said another. The Engineering senior was at a loss to decide which female had made which comment. "If it were 'no, no, no, no, no,' I might have a chance," he said. The audience got into the game, and reactions often separated along gender lines. As women cooed, men clapped. As women clapped, men whistled. As women laughed, men booed. Did Paul do anything that offended the females on the dates? Terry: "The imp made fun of Wharton." Kim: "He asked me if I was looking for a husband." Becky: "He [said he] saw Vanilla Ice in concert." During the game, the two males quickly collected hearts, with Alex acquiring 11, and Paul obtaining 14. Some of the clues were dead giveaways for the contestants, since they described activities that happened on only one of the dates. In other cases, two female contestants would burst out laughing as they heard a particularly outrageous comment made by the third. Monaco occasionally asked the females to "expound" on their comments. Terry on Alex: "[He] reminded me of the feeling I get when a drink a warm glass of milk." Becky on Alex: "He's a rock star in an engineer's body." Becky on Paul: "[He's a] Disco King" -- Paul supposedly played the Village People's "YMCA" during the visit to his room. "Excellent, excellent move on a first date, Paul," Monaco quipped. In another segment, the females were asked to choose which male was most likely to do certain things. "Most likely to scream out his own name during sex?" Alex. "Most likely to make love on the Button in the wee hours of the morning?" Paul. "Most likely to buy clothes at K-Mart?" Alex. In the end, Alex was matched with Terry and Becky was matched with Paul for potential "dream dates," but Paul and Becky walked home with the undetermined prize because he had collected the most hearts. A 20-minute speech and question-and-answer session by FLASH briefly interrupted the game before a winner was declared. As FLASH members distributed pamphlets and tossed out free condoms, member Tracy Green gave advice on everything from what condoms to use -- latex, not animal skin, and only with water-based lubricants and particularly with the spermicide nonoxynol-9 -- to what type of test to get for the AIDS-causing HIV virus -- anonymous tests, not just confidential ones. She also offered some additional advice which the audience could relate to. "Going back to the organ talk, if an organ looks funky, don't play it," Green said. "You can get help for a funky organ."
The provost and a faculty panel reviewing a Veterinary professor's protest of research sanctions have not yet reached a ruling, although the sanctions are nearly two-thirds over. Microbiology Professor Jorge Ferrer, sanctioned in February for "lapses of judgement" that exposed 130 people to lambs carrying a leukemia-causing virus, said this week that the provost has not yet responded to his protest of the sanctions. "I do not know [what has happened]," Ferrer said Wednesday. "The provost asked the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility to reinvestigate the matter even though there was no new evidence." Ferrer filed a grievance with Provost Michael Aiken this spring, saying that the University's sanctions against him were improper since he was not found guilty of misconduct or of any violations. The committee did, however, find Ferrer principally responsible for the incident, due to "lapses of judgement and poor communication." Based on this finding, Vet School Dean Edwin Andrews imposed sanctions in February which prevent Ferrer from conducting animal research or conducting studies of the leukemia-causing virus. But according to Ferrer, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, charged with investigating the grievance this spring, found the sanctions "inappropriate" and said they "must be rescinded." Despite the recommendation, Aiken forwarded the report back to the committee this summer, asking for further investigation, Deputy Provost Richard Clelland said in July. Ferrer has not heard anything on the grievance since. Officials would not say this month when a decision on the grievance will be made. Aiken said in February that although Ferrer was not found guilty of misconduct, the charges were not "unfounded." In a response to Ferrer published in a March issue of the Almanac, Aiken said that the committee "made findings of fact that support the dean's sanctions." Aiken said last week that "we don't discuss personnel matters with the press." But regardless of the timing of the decision, the sanctions Ferrer is protesting are almost two-thirds finished, and are scheduled to end next June. If the decision is made in favor of Ferrer, however, University's Procedures Concerning Misconduct in Research state that "the dean and the provost have the responsibility to take an active role to repair any damage done to the reputation of the respondent." The costs of such repair, if justified, may be mounting. Ferrer has previously stated the sanctions would mean the loss of federal and private research funds. "Because of their nature, these punitive sanctions will most likely destroy a research program which, as judged by leading scientists in the field, has made fundamental contributions to leukemia and retro-virus research for more than 25 years," Ferrer said in a February statement. In addition, Ferrer said in July that the grievance report "also rules that the University should take immediate positive steps to restore my reputation and the University must provide me with assistance as necessary to keep my laboratory operational." James Ross, the newly elected chairperson of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, declined to comment this month on his committee's work on the grievance. "I can't answer on that because the committee hasn't taken formal action," Ross said. "The actions of this particular committee are always so confidential that nothing is ever made public until the committee makes a formal report." Ross said the committee has met twice this year. He also indicated that he was surprised the provost's office had revealed that the provost asked for further investigation from his committee. "I didn't think it was customary for the provost to comment on anything he brought before the attention of the committee," Ross said. "We normally wouldn't give that information out," Aiken admitted last week. Ferrer was found responsible for an April 1990 incident in which 14 lambs infected with HTLV-1, a virus that can lead to leukemia, were permitted to rejoin a healthy flock at the Vet School's New Bolton Center research facility in Chester County. Approximately 30 New Bolton Center staff members and 100 preschoolers later came in contact with the infected sheep. The faculty committee which investigated the original incident reported that those exposed to the lambs were in no danger of contracting the disease, which is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusions, breast milk or infected needles. Of those exposed, several dozen were later tested for the virus. All of the tests were negative. Staff writer Melissa Fragnito contributed to this story.
A former Veterinary School professor involved in a tenure grievance against the University revealed yesterday that she has also filed sexual discrimination charges against the University with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC has recently made a finding on the charges, filed over a year ago by former Vet School Oncologist Ann Jeglum, but a resolution is still under discussion, Jeglum said yesterday. Neither Jeglum or University officials would say if the EEOC has found in favor or against the University. EEOC officials would not comment on the case. The incident or incidents that caused Jeglum's grievance against the University have never been revealed, but she was twice denied tenure in 1987 and 1989 for unspecified reasons. The University's General Counsel's office confirmed the EEOC charges yesterday, but would not discuss the specifics of the current negotiations. "The process is still ongoing -- we're in discussion with Dr. Jeglum and her attorney at this time," Assistant General Counsel Elizabeth O'Brien said. Jeglum, a Vet professor who researches and treats canine cancer and was once chief of oncology in the Vet School, said yesterday that she is still involved in ongoing negotiations with Provost Michael Aiken. She said she has been negotiating since a faculty panel returned its findings in the case to the provost in July. "The provost [accepted] the findings of the grievance commission and made a proposal to me, to which I then sent a letter back as kind of a counterproposal," Jeglum said yesterday. "And the last correspondence I had back from him was answering my concerns, basically, and I have had no further communication since the determination of the EEOC." If the EEOC has made a final "letter of determination" in Jeglum's favor, she would have the right to sue the University within 90 days. But both O'Brien and Jeglum's lawyer said yesterday that their negotiations should be finished soon, and may be completed by the end of the year. Aiken repeated previous statements yesterday that he will "not discuss personnel matters." EEOC Investigator Joan Gmitter refused to confirm or deny the investigation or determination yesterday, saying that information on EEOC cases becomes public only if charges are brought in court. Vet School Dean Edwin Andrews said yesterday that he has not heard any news on the EEOC investigation, and repeated previous statements that he has not been notified of any progress in the grievance. "I haven't heard a thing," Andrews said. But O'Brien said that the General Counsel's office has been in close contact with Andrews over the past year. "Obviously we've had to gather factual information with individuals in the Vet School and we've been in close contact with the dean on this matter," O'Brien said. "Certainly when the General Counsel's office comes in contact with these things we aren't operating in a vacuum." Despite the General Counsel's office assertion, Andrews maintained that he has not heard "anything in any regard concerning Ann Jeglum" since the end of Jeglum's grievance. Because of the confidentiality of grievance proceedings, faculty and administrators are not permitted to comment on that aspect of Jeglum's case. Clinical Studies Department Chairperson Darryl Biery, Jeglum's immediate supervisor while at the University, could not be reached for comment last night. Biery resigned from his chairperson post late in June, but agreed to remain chair for six months until a replacement could be found. Andrews said this summer that the radiology professor's resignation was completely unrelated to Jeglum's case. Jeglum was denied tenure in 1987 and 1989 and filed her grievance shortly after. The grievance, a series of court-style hearings in which both sides present evidence to a three-person faculty panel, lasted for over a year until the panel returned its recommendations to the provost this summer. Jeglum left her office in the Clinical Studies division of the Veterinary Hospital in February, and now works in a West Chester veterinary clinic and lab. While at the University, Jeglum worked in the Vet School's Small Animal Hospital and spent more than five years researching treatments for certain forms of cancer in dogs, under funding from the American Kennel Club.
Missing: Hundred of students, last seen living somewhere in the vicinity of campus. If found, please convince them to return to local apartments and on-campus dorms. Want ads like this have not appeared yet in local newspapers, but if things don't change soon for Residential Living and local realtors, they just might consider placing them. According to Residential Living, the number of people living on campus declined again this year, and local realtors and off-campus living officials say the market has also been weak for apartments in West Philadelphia. To reverse the trend, realtors and Residential Living officials are trying to come up with the magic combination of accomodations and services that will lure students back to West Philadelphia. "We're all trying to get some kind of formula for putting the community back to the status it belongs," Campus Apartments General Manager Dan DeRitis said this week. According to statistics compiled by Off-Campus Living, approximately 8953 students live on-campus this year, down from about 9042 students last year. About 4326 students live in West Philadelphia now, down from 4781 last year. Meanwhile, figures for those living in Center City indicate that about 1958 students now reside across the river, up from about 1826 students last year. Officials also suspect that the number of students living in Philadelphia suburbs is also up this year, and are conducting zip code studies of students' addresses to find out. "It's a fairly soft market, so there is lots that's on the market," Off-Campus Living Director Eleni Zatz said this week. Consequently, many advertisements and want ads for empty apartments, and not missing students, are running in newspapers. Officials are somewhat baffled by the slump, although they have developed several theories. "I think it's just a fluctuation in the market and there's probably something collectively that the University and the community could do aggressively to strengthen the market," DeRitis said. "I really don't think it's recessional." Off-Campus Living, Residential Living and local realtors have met several times since the beginning of the year to try to find the reasons why fewer people are renting fewer apartments. Besides moving farther away, officials suspect students are also sharing apartments more. "I think it's probably because people have less money, but it's really an impression," Zatz said. "People just can't afford to take a one bedroom apartment -- they've got to share." She listed many other reasons for the apparent West Philadelphia exodus. "More people would probably live on campus if the place was the same and if the accomodations were the same size," Zatz explained, emphasizing that Off-Campus Living has "no vested interest" in whether students choose to live on or off campus. She cited proximity and security as two reasons students often prefer Residential Living. "But all things being equal, I think people would like to live on campus," she said. Zatz said high car insurance rates may be driving some students farther out into Delaware County and into suburbs, where premiums can be cheaper. To compensate, realtors are advertising more, trying to offer special services and ammenities to attract new tenants, and even price breaks like one month's free rent. "We've been trying a bus," DeRitis said. The bus is Campus Apartments' answer to Escort Service. The shuttle transports residents back and forth, arriving at their doorstep and playing "Dixie" to notify residents the bus has arrived. Residential Living is also considering changes, including more private bedroom space in West Campus. "We're trying to do everything we can to make on-campus as convenient as it can be for students," Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone said. "We're trying to offer as many items as possible that students would really want." Deritis said people may be responding to the extra efforts. "I think it's something that makes a statement about us, about the attempt we make . . . to provide, for lack of a better phrase, a higher form of living for tenants who want to live close to campus," DeRitis said.
What's bad for Residential Living this year may be good for students living in Residential Living dormitories next year. The actual number of students who chose to live on campus decreased this year from last year, Residential Living officials said recently. But in an attempt to reverse this downward trend and revive Residential Living's sagging budget, officials are considering dormitory changes to attract students back on campus -- including more West Campus rooms with private bedroom space. "We're trying to do everything we can to make on-campus as convenient as it can be for students," Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone said this week. "We're trying to offer as many items as possible that students would really want." Deputy Vice Provost George Koval said last week that undergraduate residences are 96 percent full, while graduate student dormitories enjoy a 99 percent occupancy rate. These figures translate into about 215 vacancies in undergraduate dorms and fewer than 20 vacancies in graduate dorms. Last February there were approximately 400 vacancies. But these numbers do not tell the whole story because of the closing of the English House dormitory for renovation and the demolition of the Law School dormitory. "[We have] slightly less students living in the dorms than we did a year ago, but the percentages are better because you have a small base," Koval said. "We had planned to have the same number of people living ]on-campus[ and that did not materialize to that degree." But according to Simeone, officials are trying to compensate for the downward trend with perks to make on-campus dorm rooms more attractive. "We're just hoping that the rates will go up next year and we're right now in the process of developing some innovative things," Simeone said. The plan most often put forward at this point is offering more private bedroom space on West Campus, which is currently suffering from particularly low occupancy. Officials said they may offer the common three-bedrooms-for-four-people suites in the high rises to only three people, giving each student a private bedroom. Low occupancy rates can have serious budgetary implications, and they did last year. If Residential Living does not receive the rent it expects, it may defer maintenance projects -- something it was forced to do last year. But officials said they have yet to resort to cutting student services. In the meantime, the Residential Living budget, while not in perfect health, is in better condition than this time last year. "We are slightly behind in what was budgeted, but I don't expect it to have any adverse effects," Koval said. "We're not in as dire straits as we were a year ago." According to officials, summer rentals to conferences and visiting student groups helped make up some of last year's lost ground. "They came in just about on target and we were able to do some minor showcasing items we had planned," Koval said. Because vacancies are spread out among dormitories and because planning and hiring for each year begins before occupancy agreements are signed, it is too late to reduce the number of residential advisors, support workers or buildings in operation by the time the year begins. "If you knew they were concentrated, you could shut down a building and have all kinds of savings," Koval said. Where have all the students gone? Not directly off-campus, according to local realtors. Center City student populations have remained constant, however, and more students may be commuting from suburban locales. Koval said occupancy rate figures can fluctuate rapidly -- "It's a moving target . . . I get these every week to ten days" -- and dramatically. "It's the springtime that we see the major change because people go to study abroad," he said. Koval said the second semester shift may be more dramatic than usual this year due to the after-effects of the Persian Gulf War. Students may have deferred travel last spring due to the perceived risk, and more than the usual number may temporarily vacate the campus in the coming year. "After it settles in, it should be a constant," he said. "They have to come back eventually." Low Rise North, which houses both graduate and undergraduate students, and the Quadrangle, which only houses undergraduates, are the fullest dorms this year. The Low Rise has "no vacancies at this time," Koval said, while the Quad has a 99.7 percent occupancy rate and only four vacancies. The three High Rise dormitories have occupancy rates ranging from 92 to 95 percent, while the King's Court dormitory has an occupancy rate between 95 and 96 percent. College House and Living-Learning Programs are 97 percent full this year. These dorms include Hill House, parts of Low Rise North, Van Pelt Manor House, Modern Language College House, Stouffer College House, the Community Service Living-Learning Program in the Castle, and certain areas of High Rise East and the Quadrangle. Except for the addition of the program in the Castle, none of the special program floors, areas and dormitories grew. Several special programs shrunk, however: East Asia House and Arts House each lost a high rise floor compared to last year, and the Substance Free Floor and Women's Issues Living-Learning Programs are each contained in a couple of rooms. Graduate student dormitories include Mayer Hall, the Graduate Towers and certain areas of Low Rise North.
The Judicial Inquiry Office is now investigating the students who allegedly started the flood in the Quadrangle's Butcher and Speakman dormitories two weeks ago. Residential Living had been leading the probe into the cause of the flood, but the JIO has taken over the investigation. Residential Living Director Gigi Simeone also indicated that more than one student said they were involved in the incident and are now being questioned by the JIO. "They came forward," Simeone said yesterday. "They are having conversations with the JIO." The flood is believed to have started when an errant lacrosse ball struck a sprinkler head on the fourth floor of Butcher during a hallway game between students. A broken sprinkler system soaked the two lower Quad dormitories with approximately 1300 gallons of warm, brown water two weeks ago, causing as much as $5000 in structural damage to the buildings and additional damage to students' personal property. The flood also forced many residents of the third and fourth floors to spend the night elsewhere, and created homework headaches when students could not return to rooms to get books for midterms or classwork. Simeone declined to elaborate on the JIO's investigation of the flood, but did not dispute the previous descriptions of its cause. Simeone said shortly after the flood that only one student had come forward at the time, and added that any kind of disciplinary action the University might take against the students "will be determined" sometime in the future. Officials said after the flood that the damage was not as bad as originally feared, but was still serious. "It was a bad situation -- I can't deny that," said James Miller, director of Fire and Occupational Safety at Physical Plant two weeks ago. "But the total damage is not as bad as I expected under the circumstances." Staff writer Scott Calvert contributed to this story.
College sophomore Wayne Deflaminis answered the call of the drums. Sitting in his room in the Quadrangle's Bodine dormitory Wednesday night, Deflaminis noticed the sounds of rhythmic percussion coming from below the building. "I heard the noise and all," he later explained. He decided to investigate, and discovered the sounds were emanating from the Quad's McClelland Hall. He was probably surprised by what he what he discovered next: seven young girls performing an unusual ballet in shimmering red, green, gold and checkered costumes, spinning and leaping from leg to leg in time with a drum, in seeming defiance of gravity. And they were on stilts. The entrancing African-American Stilt Ballet was part of an "African Thanksgiving Extravaganza," a diversity education program sponsored by the Quad's Community House dormitories. About 30 people attended the three speakers scheduled before the dancing, and many more were attracted by the sight of the dancers and the sounds of the drums later on. Dancer Aisha Imani, who spoke and performed during the program, explained in her speech that drums have traditionally served that purpose in African cultures. "Everybody comes, everybody dances together," Amani said. "Drums call people to dance, to worship." During the "Thanksgiving Extravaganza," organizer Tanya Fowler, a folklore and folklife graduate student, explained that thanksgiving takes place often in African culture on holidays and religious ceremonies. Wednesday's program marked the harvest season. Those in attendance ate and drank from an "African feast" of traditional African foods, decorated with pumpkins, squash, apples, bananas and other vegetables representing the harvest. But the evening's real harvest was an intellectual one, and speakers frequently gave thanksgiving for having the opportunity to share their knowledge, and to those who continue to study African cultures around the world. Speakers emphasized the many distinct forms of African culture and religion that developed as African societies were forcibly relocated around the world. The speakers called attention to how dissimilar cultures are now often misunderstood and stereotyped. While the "reconstituted cultures" share a common foundation, the speakers said, they cannot and should not be lumped together with modern African culture or with each other. "[There are] billions of different peoples speaking millions of different languages, celebrating thousands of specific cultures, dates and times, in hundreds of different ways that are so different it blows my mind," Amani said. Many participants agreed that the dancing was the most dynamic part of the evening. Audience members were given the opportunity to try some of the dance steps at the end. Although apprehensive at first, nervousness quickly gave way to enthusiasm. "That wasn't so bad," Cheryl Groce, assistant dean of Community House, acknowledged afterwards. "It was fun."
A damaged sprinkler system in the Quadrangle sent water cascading through the Butcher and Speakman dormitories last night, causing thousands of dollars in damage and forcing dozens of angry and upset residents to spend the night elsewhere. University Police, Philadelphia Fire and Physical Plant crews responding to a fire alarm at 7:48 p.m. arrived to find the sprinkler system ruptured on the fourth floor of Butcher dormitory. It was not immediately clear what caused the break, but several residents said last night that the deluge began when an errantly thrown lacrosse ball knocked off a sprinkler head in the hallway. University Police Sergeant Michael Fink said he also had heard that explanation "from a couple people," but added that there was "nothing concrete yet." Officials evacuated both dorms because of the "electrical hazard" and began work to shut the water off, as the sprinkler system continued to shower the fourth floor with warm brown water. Officials said the spray lasted between 15 to 30 minutes before being fixed. By that time, two inches of water had accumulated on the fourth floor and water was streaming down to hallways and rooms on lower floors through walls, ceilings and stairwells. One stairwell in Speakman took on the appearance of a tropical waterfall, as torrents of warm water plummeted through the center of the stairwell and smacked the pavement five stories below. Residents scrambled to stop the approaching water from reaching their rooms by barricading their doorways with towels, sheets and, in some cases, dirty clothes. Most students had little time to react. College freshman Jesse Hergert, who lives on the fourth floor of Butcher, said she was talking on the phone with a friend, when she noticed the approaching water. "There was a river of blackness spewing under my door," she said. Layla Gilbert, a College freshman also living on the floor, thought she had curbed the water's advance by sandbagging her door with towels, only to realize the water had found another way into her room -- seeping through the wall. "I was leaning out the window talking to a friend, thinking I was safe," she said. "Then all of a sudden I was standing in a puddle." Some residents feared leaving their rooms immediately after the break because they could not gauge the temperature of the water flowing into their rooms. Ben Greenstein, a College sophomore who was working at the front desk at the time, said he received calls from several residents who were standing on furniture out of fear that the water in their rooms was scalding hot. One resident on the fourth floor of Butcher, who requested anonymity, said he was trapped in his room for ten or fifteen minutes after a "big stream of water came zooming under the door." Police officers and residential advisors told students on the third and fourth floors of Butcher and Speakman to turn off all electrical appliances before leaving and prevented anyone from returning to those hallways. Many students worried that they might be electrocuted by walking through the water, but police later said it was unnecessary to turn off electricity in the building. "There really wasn't that much of a risk," Fink said. Physical Plant brought in several large wet vacuums to remove the water, but the air in the dorm remained hot, humid and foul smelling even after the cleanup. Many students, some of whom were not at home when the flood occurred, said they were worried that personal property such as computers, rugs and clothing had been soaked. "It looks like Lake Michigan," said fourth floor Butcher Residential Advisor Scott Starks after some of his students asked him to assess the damage in their rooms. There was no official estimate last night of structural damage, but several students estimated property damage would exceed thousands of dollars. Wharton freshman Geoff Lee returned from an evening exam to find his third floor Speakman room "dripping all over" and heard "popping sounds" coming from his stereo. Residential Living officials asked residents of the third and fourth floors to find another place to stay and offered others couches in High Rise East rooms to sleep on for the night. Although the water reached the lower floors of Butcher and Speakman, damage was limited to the third and fourth floors, and most residents of the basement, first and second floors were allowed to return to their rooms once Physical Plant had turned off the water. But many students said since they could not get books and notes from their rooms, the disruption would affect their ability to study for midterms or complete homework due today. College senior Kristin Peszka, a residential advisor on Speakman's fourth floor, sought to reassure frantic students that they would be allowed to make up any missed assignments or reschedule midterms without being penalized. Therese Conn, executive assistant to Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson, said last night that students would probably be able to make arrangements with their professors or school deans. For several hours after the accident, students gathered in the stairwell outside their hallways and commiserated about the damage and inconvenience. Some swore as they sympathized with each other, and at least one student cried. "At least I'm not in Hill [House]," one sophomore said. Residents of upper floors talked about what might have been damaged in their rooms or could not be reached because they were not allowed to return. One student included vodka in the list of items she could not reach. "It's not like I need a drink, but it would be helpful," she said.
The condition of Sumit Mehta, the Wharton sophomore who collapsed in the Gimbel Gymnasium weight room September 14, remains largely unchanged, family members said this week. Still comatose, Mehta can now breath on his own without the help of a respirator after undergoing a tracheotomy last week. But family members said Mehta's condition is otherwise unchanged, due to the severe brain damage he suffered immediately following his collapse. Mehta went without oxygen for nearly 45 minutes as medics attempted to restore his heartbeat. Doctors did not manage to resuscitate Mehta until after the student reached the emergency unit. Family members and friends have expressed concern over the time it took University Police and Philadelphia Fire Rescue to transport Mehta from Gimbel to HUP's emergency unit. According to police, hospital and city reports, Mehta collapsed around 12:30 p.m. September 14. Paramedics were called at 12:35, and Fire Rescue's Medic Unit #7 arrived at 12:41 and attempted to resuscitate Mehta on the scene for about 20 minutes. But the reports differ on the time the ambulance took to transfer Mehta from the gym, at 38th and Walnut streets, to the hospital's emergency unit, at 34th and Spruce streets. According to University Police reports, the ambulance left Gimbel with sirens blaring at 1:05 and arrived at HUP at 1:19, fourteen minutes later. Family members said yesterday that hospital reports agree with these times. But Captain Paul Seaman of the Philadelphia Fire Commissioner's Office said Monday that city reports state the ambulance left the gym at 1:04 and arrived in the emergency unit at 1:06, two minutes later. "This looks like a very normal job," Seaman said. He added that the medic unit may have assisted hospital personnel in the emergency room for up to an hour. According to Fire Rescue's report, the unit became available for new emergency calls at around 2 p.m. Family members said further decisions on Mehta's treatment -- including the possibility of transporting him home to India -- may be made this weekend.
Remember back to when you were sitting in class yesterday. Think of who was sitting on your left. Now, the person to your right. There's a good chance one of these people -- or you yourself -- did not take a shower. A ruptured pipe at the Schuykill Steam Generation Plant left the entire campus without the steam used to supply heat and hot water to many buildings, including dormitories. It also left harried desk workers with a lot of explaining to do. "There's a steam problem and there won't be water until after eight," Novelette Sanford told a caller in High Rise North yesterday morning. By 7:40 a.m., she said she had received over 30 calls. "If I say that one more time, I'll just die," she added as she hung up. But it was the lack of hot water that had most people steamed. "I most certainly did not [take a shower], no," a Quadrangle resident said before dashing through the front gate turnstile. "I'm going to go get some coffee, actually." According to Alan Zuino, associate director of residential maintenance, West Campus residences and the Quad lost both heat and hot water shortly after 4 a.m. yesterday. Hill House and the Graduate Towers fared somewhat better, since these buildings heat water in large storage tanks rather than through the "instantaneous" system in place elsewhere on campus. A smiling resident of Hill House said her hot shower was "great" as she dashed downstairs to the dining area, presumably for a hot meal. A Hill House desk worker dipped her hand in a bucket of water she was using to wipe down the desk area. "It's hot," she said. Perhaps most frustrated of all were students in the Kings Court and English House dormitories. Because of a scheduled water shutdown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., many residents woke up early to take a hot shower only to discover they just could not win. Baseball caps and bandanas became de rigeur for some as they tried to hide their unkempt hair. Still, not everyone gave up on a shower. But some lived to regret it. "To take a cold shower is not the most comfortable experience ever," College freshman Alex Hope observed as he left the Quadrangle. Zunio said steam service was restored shortly after noon yesterday. West Campus dormitories were also plagued by water shutdowns at this time last year. Water was shut off several times last September and October, including one instance in which all buildings lost hot water for a 12-hour period.
And the winner is . . . Nobody. Five educators nominated for last year's Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching endured several months of nervous anticipation between their nominations late last fall and decision time in April. But at least each of the potential winners could look forward to receiving both the School of Arts and Sciences highest teaching honor and a $1,000 prize. Only it didn't happen. After one lunchtime meeting, the selection committee recommended that no one receive the honor, saying they could not accurately judge the nominees based on the materials they received. Then the nominees hesitantly drummed their fingers through the summer, hoping the committee would meet again to select a winner. That didn't happen either. "We were supposed to reconvene this summer but apparently no one called me and we didn't," Committee member Madeleine Joullie said last month. "I'm available to do it and I've been available to do it all summer, but no one called me." "I don't know what's going on," the Chemistry professor said. Then everyone gave up. "I think it's a dead issue," Mary Cartier, the SAS dean's executive assistant, said last month. And as slightly embarassed officials probably explained to the nominees, it wasn't a reflection on the candidates themselves. There were extenuating circumstances. The school switched deans, the student representative graduated and the professors on the committee -- Joullie, English Professor Peter Conn and History Professor Bruce Kuklick -- were on vacation or away doing research for a large part of the summer. All of which is probably small consolation to the nominees, whose names have been kept secret. "Let's regard this experience as a momentary lapse and a goad to doing it right in the future," SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens said Friday. Former SAS Dean Hugo Sonnenschein declined to comment on the award last week. Sonnenschein was dean during the committee's deliberations, but said last spring he had only "casual contact" with the group. He is now provost of Princeton University. The committee's student representative, Lara Nicolayevski, is no longer at the University either. "If I was there I would love to help," the College alum offered from Los Angeles. The major problem, she said, was that the group had received disproportionate amounts of material on each nominee. She said it became impossible to choose a winner fairly when the committee had received "200 pages on one and 50 on the other." But Nicolayevski said selecting a winner "shouldn't be done to get it over with" and that the committee's decision not to recommend a winner was a "gutsy stance." "I was pleased with the committee's stance last spring because it really made me realize how much thought is going into teacher evaluation," Nicolayevsky said last week. She added that if no changes in the system are made, the award may not be given out again this year. "I think it's inevitable, unless someone makes sure that it doesn't happen," she said. "I guess this was the first time that it was so unbalanced. We had to face it -- we had to deal with the fact it wasn't working." Stevens, however, said the lack of a name on the Abram's plaque for 1991 is not a reflection on the quality of teachers in SAS. "I hope this gap will move us to put teaching as a center of pride," Stevens said. "I think on balance we have good teaching in the Arts and Sciences." Stevens, who was previously chairperson of the History and Sociology of Science Department, said it was "a great pity" only five professors were nominated for the award. "The committee is dependent on there being nominations for this honor," Stevens said. "Most of the departments did not submit candidates last year." "What we've got to do this year is publicize it better and make sure it works," she said. But although Stevens called the lack of nominations "shocking," she chalked up this year's failure to name a winner as "a learning experience." "I think the school can survive," she said. Nominations for next year's Ira Abrams award will be solicited later this semester.
So you think kicking back with some friends, ordering out some pizza and watching a movie on cable would be great? Well, it just got seven percent better. For the state and city, that is. Philadelphia is also joining in the fun by tacking on an additional one percent sales tax, also effective today. It's enough to make you cry, isn't it? But before grabbing a paper towel to dry that teary eye, note that these are now taxed as well. A wide variety of household paper products have moved from the category of non-taxed essentials to taxed nonessentials under the new law. Grab some toilet paper instead. It isn't taxed. You could pick up a phone to sob to -- or demand more money from -- folks at home. But if it is a long distance call, a sales tax will again be exacted under the new measures. In addition to the sales tax, employees in the state also face a one percent personal income tax increase over last year, which rises to 3.1 percent until next July and then drops to 2.8 percent. According to Purchasing Director Robert Michel, the taxes won't hurt the University itself. The University is sales-tax-exempt as a not-for-profit institution. But looking in your wallet or purse, you may begin to think you are a not-for-profit institution too. "We're going to be rivaling Tax-achusetts here," local Domino's manager Dave McGarvey complained after learning the taxes had passed. Most pizza places in the area have always charged sales tax on pizza -- delivered or not -- because they had eat-in areas and were consequently classified as restaurants. Restaurants are already required to charge sales tax. But in the past, Domino's Pizza, because it only delivers pizza and lacks an eat-in area, could escape from charging sales tax by classifying itself as a bakery, a loophole permitted under the law. Lawmakers countered this tactic by adding a sales tax on delivered baked goods, which primarily includes pizza. The tax issue gets even more complicated when discussing long distance telephone calls. At the University, both offices and on-campus residences receive phone service from the same system, Penntrex. But not being separate won't mean being equal. Offices will not be taxed for long distance phone calls under the University's exemption as a not-for-profit institution. Residences, however, will be taxed, since living on-campus is not directly related to the University's function. Off-campus subscribers to Wade Cablevision will also feel the tax bite if they choose to order channels beyond the basic cable subscription. Wade Assistant General Manager Janine Stewart said the tax would be even harder on low-income families in the area, who she said are major subscribers to premium cable channels. "From what we understand, [sales tax] will be implemented on everything other than our basic service," Stewart said. "We do feel that it's not fair to our subscribers who depend on cable as their main source of entertainment as well as news and other information." Some of the businesses now passing the new taxes on to customers worked actively against them prior to passage. "We opposed the tax," AT&T; spokesperson Nancy Smith said last week. "We thought that it would be bad for the economy in Pennsylvania . . . and we thought it would be detrimental to efforts to bring and keep industry in Pennsylvania." Smith said AT&T; is particularly worried about losing "telecommunications intensive" businesses in the state, and said she had already heard of one business that would fold because of the tax. "It is ultimately the consumer who pays for all these taxes because it gets passed along," Smith added. "We think it's a regressive tax."
On a Saturday, the last goal in the average student's mind is to be first in line at Gimbel Gymnasium. But two weeks ago, while some ate brunch or recovered from hangovers or enjoyed a day to sleep in, Sumit Mehta was one of the first people to enter Gimbel's weight room when it opened at noon. "Sumit was first up and out the door at 12:00 when everyone else was waking up," his roommate Pronab Saha said last week. Throughout his 19 years, Mehta had been first in most things. He is an award-winning horse rider, an outstanding student and all-around daredevil. And Mehta, a Wharton sophomore from Bombay, India, had been weight training without incident for over a year. But on Saturday, September 14, something went terribly wrong. About twenty minutes into his workout, Mehta took a break from a set of exercises designed to work his upper back muscles. But shortly after stepping away from the lat pulldown machine, he began to feel faint and dizzy. According to eyewitnesses, his eyes fluttered and he began to reel as he sensed he was losing his balance. He may have tried to say something, but no sound came out as he tried to form words. Knowing he was about to fall, Mehta lunged for a nearby exercise mattress to break his fall. He tumbled toward it, narrowly missing steel exercise equipment. As Mehta's body crumbled into the mat, the muffled thud was heard around the world. His uncle and family friends came from New York that evening. His uncle and aunt arrived from Belgium the next day. His parents arrived from Bombay, India, on Monday, and his younger brother in Switzerland and his grandparents and additional aunts and uncles arrived from India early in the week. Since the family arrived, they and Mehta's roommates and numerous friends at the University have kept constant vigil over their son, grandson, nephew, brother and friend. They have also started to question what could have been done to prevent the severe brain damage Mehta received within the hour after he collapsed, and what caused him to pass out in the first place. · Immediately following his collapse, eyewitnesses said Mehta was shaking violently and hyperventilating. The 15 to 20 people in the weight room began to gather around Mehta, and as the seriousness of his condition became apparent, some ran for help. In the span of two minutes, Mehta's shaking began to subside and his labored breathing tapered off. Observers tried unsuccessfully to find a pulse. Standing on the opposite side of the weight room, College senior Bill Thompson watched as Mehta dropped to the floor. Too far away to see Mehta's face, the collapse caught his attention but didn't immediately strike him as odd. Perhaps Mehta was putting on an exaggerated show of exhaustion for a nearby friend, or dropping to the floor to adjust weights on one of the machines. Then people started yelling for assistance. Thompson and some fellow members of the swim team ran down to the first floor recreation office to get help from gym workers. When they returned, some observers were making attempts to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Thompson, who is certified in CPR, realized they were unfamiliar with the procedure and jumped in to help. Gym officials ran downstairs to call for paramedics. University Police took the call at 12:35 p.m. and contacted Philadelphia Fire Rescue. Upstairs, three men pushed their way through the growing crowd, identifying themselves as doctors. The three -- local opthamologists -- had been playing a game of basketball on the nearby courts when someone ran in searching for help. The doctors and Thompson continued the resuscitation efforts. At 12:39, University police officers arrived in front of Gimbel. Police proceeded to clear people from the room, and the rescue unit arrived at 12:41. While Thompson and one of the doctors continued to deliver CPR, paramedics hooked up heart monitors and an intravenous line to deliver adrenaline. Emergency medical technicians prepared the defibrillator, a machine which delivers electric shocks in an attempt to jump-start the victim's heart. Thompson repeatedly asked, "Should I keep going? Should I keep going?" The paramedics assured him he was doing fine. But the only response paramedics detected were faint ventricular fibrillations, fluttering attempts by heart muscles to reestablish a uniform heartbeat. Thompson recalled wondering how long a person could go completely without oxygen before starting to suffer brain damage, and he knew it was only a few minutes. As Mehta went "asystole" and the faint signs of electrical activity in the heart muscles fainted away, paramedics took over and delivered atropine -- a drug which increases heart rate -- in another attempt to revive the 19-year-old. Their efforts continued to be unsuccessful. Mehta was lifted onto the stretcher and transported downstairs, along the chlorine-scented corridor above the gym's swimming pool, out the front doors and into the back of the waiting ambulance while another paramedic continued to work on his chest. According to reports, the vehicle departed the scene with sirens blaring at 1:05 p.m. -- 24 minutes after arriving and more than a half hour after Mehta collapsed. At 1:19 p.m. -- 14 minutes after driving away from the gymnasium -- Mehta was admitted to HUP's emergency room. Then doctors and nurses made a breakthrough. Paramedics using the emergency room defibrillator managed to restore Mehta's heartbeat and pulse. Yet as doctors worked to stabilize Mehta with life support systems and respirators, the student remained comatose. At 3 p.m. that day, he was transferred to HUP's Coronary Care Unit, and has shown no significant signs of improvement since. · Sangeeta Mehta, Sumit's aunt from Belgium and the family member most fluent in English, said this weekend that the doctors and nurses at HUP who delivered emergency treatment and critical care were excellent. "Those are the people who revived a dead person after 50 minutes," she said. "They did their level best -- no complaints." But even now, family members and friends of Mehta said they still have concerns about the emergency treatment he received immediately following his collapse. Particularly disturbing to them is the 14-minute gap between when the ambulance left Gimbel Gym at 38th and Walnut with sirens blaring and when Mehta arrived at HUP's emergency room at 34th and Spruce. "You can walk -- it takes five minutes," his roommate Pronab Saha said last week. Sitting on the half dozen blue couches in the hospital's beige-and-blue waiting area outside the Coronary Care Unit, the family receives occasional calls from friends, family and University administrators on the lounge's two pay phones. Sangeeta Mehta, the aunt, acts as spokesperson, while family members occasionally add information or debate a point in a mix of English and Hindi. "Those first 45 minutes that he did not get that blood supply to the brain -- maybe that time could have been shortened or saved and we would have gotten a better response," she said Friday. "That's what the family thinks." HUP Medical Director Sheldon Jacobsen said this weekend that while he had no direct knowledge of the incident, the family's concerns "are not unreasonable." "But I'm sure there were heroic attempts [to resuscitate him]," he added. Jacobsen said the goal of the emergency medical crew is to stabilize a patient on the scene if at all possible, and added that ambulances carry "almost the same medical [equipment] that we would have in the emergency room," making immediate efforts to reach the hospital unnecessary and, at worst, risky. Since the equipment is basically the same, he also said that the difference in Mehta's response to defibrillation is more a matter of chance. "As to why it took 14 minutes to go from one place to the other, I certainly can't answer that," Jacobsen said, saying it was a question for Fire Rescue. The Fire Rescue commissioner's office referred calls to officials in the EMT division, who were not available for comment this weekend. · The family has scheduled a meeting today with doctors to "make further decisions." "We cannot say anything yet," Sudhir Mehta, Sumit's father, said Friday. Over the last two weeks, Mehta has undergone tests to detect a brain hemorrhage or heart defect or some other reason for his collapse. But the only reason doctors have offered the family is "cardiac arrhythmia," or uneven heartbeat. What, if anything, caused the uneven heartbeat has not been determined. Other tests were administered to check for brain damage from lack of oxygen between the time he collapsed and the time he was resuscitated in the emergency room. According to the family, tests indicated "severe brain damage" in the cerebral cortex, an area of the upper brain that controls higher-level thinking. Mehta was scheduled for two minor surgeries Friday that were pushed back to today because of operating room backups, and then cancelled over the weekend. One operation was to be a tracheotomy to help Mehta breathe with a direct oxygen supply to the lungs and to replace breathing apparatus put in place when Mehta first collapsed. The second was meant to switch Mehta's feeding to a direct stomach tube. Doctors contacted this week said these operations might have suggested a victim was a candidate for long-term care. ' "You don't expect things like this to happen at this age," Mehta's roommate Pronab Saha said last week. "You expect everyone to be immortal." Saha has also been grasping for a reason to explain Mehta's collapse. "He's been lifting since freshman year, so that shouldn't have been a problem," Saha said. "He doesn't smoke, he doesn't do drugs, he's a vegetarian, he's fit."
It took 40 days and 40 nights for Noah's world to get back into some semblance of order, but Van Pelt Library did it in just over a month. Today is day 34 after the flood, and previously soaked books have already arrived back from Texas where they were flash "freeze dried" to prevent mildew damage. A rooftop air conditioning coil which sprung a leak, dousing the west end of the fourth and fifth floors of the library in mid-August, is being replaced, as well as the coils in the other three rooftop air conditioning units. And on the fourth floor, most compact shelving -- which moves electrically to allow access to books -- is now back in working order. According to Patricia Renfro, Associate Director of Public Services, all but one aisle can be reached by the public. A hole cut in the water-damaged and buckling floor tiles of the remaining aisle makes it unsafe for use. But on the fifth floor, library workers continue to make once-a-day trips to retrieve books for patrons from the waterlogged compact shelving, which must be moved via a mechanical hand crank. Library employees are now uncarting the freeze-dried books. Officials said Friday it would be several days until they could see how well the books survived last month's deluge. Even then, administrators said it would be difficult to immediately place a value on the damage, since many books could be difficult or near impossible to replace. Many of the books destroyed may now be out of print. Books in the East Asia collection, which was particularly hard hit, can be difficult to obtain, since many are published halfway around the world. "The chance of replacing that sort [of book] is infinitesimal," Administration and Finance Manager John Keane said. Also, four new air conditioning coils were crane-lifted to the library's roof last week to replace the coils presently in Van Pelt's four rooftop air conditioning units. Normally, water pumped through the coils cools air circulated through them. In last month's accident, one of the coils began to leak, allowing water to shower down on the collections on the library's west end. The coils had not been replaced since the library opened in the early 1960s. Although Physical Plant workers regularly inspect the air conditioning units, officials said last month the type of leak that caused the flood could not have been detected. Keane and Renfro said Friday that more information on flood damage would be released in a forthcoming statement.
The state Senate Education Committee held public hearings yesterday on a bill which could make University budget information public. Senior Vice President Marna Whittington testified before the committee, which sought feedback on the "Higher Education Right-to-Know" bill, slated for consideration by state lawmakers later this fall. The bill would make accounting information public for schools that receive any state funding, including the University. Supporters argue that legislators and taxpayers should know how funds earmarked for higher education are spent, particularly in the wake of major financial scandals at several schools, particularly the University of Pittsburgh. Opponents argued yesterday that the bill would create more trouble for schools than it is worth. The bill would be an addition to state "Sunshine Laws" which open local and state government records and meetings to the public. In her testimony before the committee, Whittington described how the University's state funding fit into the University's budget, and stressed the University's large size -- over 20,000 employees, 20,000 students and 14 labor unions -- in relation to the relatively small amount of state funding it receives. Some officials criticized the scope of the proposal, arguing schools like Penn State, which covers nearly 20 percent of its budget through state allocations, should be held to higher accountability standards than schools such as the University, which receives only three percent, or $36.7 million, of its budget funding from the state. Others said the bill might be more trouble than it is worth. "It would add little to the existing system of public accountability," Temple President Peter Liacouras testified. "It could, on the other hand, impose costly burdens on the university." Administrators said the current bill would put schools at a competitive disadvantage in faculty and staff contract negotiations, since the salaries of other employees would be public knowledge. Some also said it could discourage donations, particularly those from anonymous benefactors who might be forced to reveal their identities under the law. Officials said the cost of making accounting information public, higher labor costs and lost donations could negate the benefits of state funding. "It could end up costing you more money than you're getting [from the state]," Sen. James Rhoades (R-Schuylkill), chairperson of the Education Committee, said last night. Rhoades said that Whittington, as a previous Director of Finance for the state of Delaware, "has gone through this" with schools such as the University of Delaware. He also said Whittington had presented University accountability procedures to the committee which might be used as models when the committee starts revising the bill. "She seemed to have a very good grip on the situation," Rhoades said. Whittington could not be reached for comment last night. Rhoades pointed to the recent scandal at Pitt as the driving force behind the proposed bill. This spring it was revealed that Pitt trustees had offered outgoing President Wesley Posvar a multi-million dollar retirement package and $700,000 in low-interest mortgage loans. Senator Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia), who is minority chair of the Senate Education Committee and who represents the University area, declined to comment on the hearings last night, saying a representative attended the meetings in his place. Fattah has previously stated the measure could put universities at a "competitive disadvantage" and act as a "disincentive." The Associated Press contributed to this story.
A College junior collapsed Saturday afternoon in the Gimbel Gymnasium weightroom while he was exercising and was listed in satisfactory condition at HUP last night, University officials said this weekend. According to John Henrich, assistant director of recreation, the student completed some exercises, known as lat-pulldowns, took several steps and collapsed for reasons that are still unknown. Four men in the room ran to the gymnasium office and reported the incident to Henrich, who went to assist the student. Henrich said he reached the weightroom to find the student incoherent, but still breathing. Henrich said he ran back to his office to call University Police and rescue squads, and when he returned to the collapsed man, two other men, claiming to be University doctors, were performing CPR on the student. Henrich said the doctors, and another man from the swim team, performed the cardio-pulmonary recitation on the junior until emergency medical workers arrived. According to a HUP spokesperson, the student's condition has since been upgraded to satisfactory. University officials said doctors at HUP are performing tests on the student.