Officials at the Medical School are still trying to regroup after the November 29 suicide of Biochemistry-Biophysics Professor Manjusri Das. According to several department officials, the 44-year-old professor committed suicide by cyanide ingestion in her suburban Narberth home. Das had been a researcher and teacher at the University since 1978. Das' suicide shocked faculty, researchers, and graduate students within her department who said they saw little indication that she might take her life. During her time at the University, Das obtained equipment and organized a lab custom-designed for research on biological growth factors which play a role in the development of both normal and cancerous cells. Biochemistry-Biophysics professor Walter Englander, a close friend and collegue of Das who was a member of the search committee that brought her to the University, said that Das sent letters to the department and relatives the day of her death in which she requested that her research be continued and the lab and its equipment go to a young scientist entering the profession. "She wrote a letter in which she actually requested that be done, in which she worried about everyone," Englander said. "Everyone except herself." Collegues described her as a thoughtful educator and an outstanding scientist who may have become clinically depressed due to monetary pressures in her competitive area of research, despite adequate funding and a distinguished research career. "There was this bright future ahead of her," said Department Chairman Franz Matschinsky this week. "But in her mind it wasn't bright, it was dark." Matschinsky said the department was at a loss to adequately explain why Das might take her life, but said she held extremely high expectations for herself and may have become battle-weary in her quest for continued research funding. "There was some difficulty with one of her grants, but she had funding through 1992 so it wasn't a catastrophic situation," he said. At the University, Matschinsky said only members of her research group noticed a significant change in her behavior, which led them to insist on her visiting a psychiatrist. Englander said she did not visit the psychiatrist until the week of her death and never filled the doctor's prescription for an anti-depressant drug. "She was very devoted and kind of intense about her science," Englander said. "I mean she really, more than most people I know, was very centered on her science. She really thought about it." After her death, faculty and students conducted sessions to openly discuss her death. Professors in the department said they also were concerned about how the students would perceive the suicide of a successful researcher in the field. "As faculty, I guess that with the students you always think of science as a very pure profession," said Assistant Professor Barbara Hoffman-Liebermann. "There are tremendous amounts of stress that appear within the profession when you're involved in it." Department Chairperson Matschinsky said the researchers in Das' lab have been relocated to other labs at the University, and the equipment in her lab is being held until someone who conducts similar research is found. Das was not teaching any courses at the time of her death. A replacement delivered the guest lecture she was scheduled to give in the department's introductory graduate-level course, a class which she had directed for the previous three years. The department is compiling a memorial volume of her work, and plans a small department memorial ceremony for sometime later this year to present the book. Das is survived by a husband who lives and works in the Philadelphia area, as well as parents and two brothers in her homeland of India.
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With interest in the Persian Gulf region reaching a feverish pitch around campus last week, Religious Studies Department Chairperson Ann Matter found herself with a lot of explaining to do. "We've been getting calls all week from residence halls, student groups, and community groups, asking if we can recommend someone on this issue to speak, and I can't," Matter said last week. The problem for Matter is that without a standing professor of Islam -- the religion overshadowing much of current events in the Middle East -- she has had to turn away requests for speakers. Matter instead routed callers to visiting lecturer Lynda Clarke, the teacher for the department's only course on Islam this semester, "Introduction to Shi'ite Islam." And having only one class on one of the world's major religion, says Clarke -- who is working on her doctorate while teaching at the University -- is the major flaw with the current Religious Studies Department. "I think the obvious thing is: a Religious Studies Department is not a Religious Studies Department if it does not cover one of the world's three major religions," Clarke said. Faced with budget constraints and hiring limits within the School of Arts and Sciences, the University's small Religious Studies Department has gone for more than five years without a faculty member specializing in the study of Islam since the previous standing professor of Islamic Studies departed for Yale University. The vacancy, criticized by several faculty members this week who say it jeopardizes the University's research reputation in the field, shows signs of eventually being filled -- but only after extensive debate on the purpose, direction, and feasibility of Islamic Studies at the University. Progress has been slow. The Religious Studies Department and the Oriental Studies Department last semester were assigned the joint task of identifying potential candidates, but neither department head has been permitted to contact anyone yet. Associate Dean for the Humanities Stephen Nichols said yesterday that budgetary constraints limit the School of Arts and Science's faculty to 500, and that he hopes one appointment of a professor who concentrates on both Arabic and Islamic studies will satisfy the needs of both departments. "We have a pretty bad budget crisis in the School of Arts and Sciences and we're trying to be creative with this," said Nichols. However, many faculty members said they doubt such a dual appointment would provide sufficient coverage for the Islamic religion or that an Arabic expert would satisfactorily present a religion where, worldwide, only one out of five members are Arabs. Administrators indicated, however, that compromises would have to be made or departments might have to re-examine priorities to determine which fields of study are of greatest importance. "It's a matter of departments making choices," Dean of Arts and Sciences Hugo Sonnenschein said yesterday. Faculty members said this week that the professor is sorely needed, not just for research or teaching, but to combat lingering stereotypes and prejudices on campus against Muslims. Visiting professor Clarke said she has recently found graffiti scribbled over signs for her "Introduction to Shi'ite Islam", and said she has also seen shirts which also play off the word "Shi'ite." Oriental Studies professor Roger Allen also said he has seen the defaced posters for Clarke's class. Yale Professor Gerhard Bowering, the University's last professor of Islamic Studies, said yesterday he was attracted to the New Haven school six years ago by the opportunity to design a program of broad-based research -- which had been impossible to create here. Bowering said that researchers in Islamic Studies draw on many concentrations, including language, history, political science, anthropology and art. Difficulties obtaining primary source materials from other departments at the University brought about his departure, he said. "The elements are there, the focus is not there," Bowering said this week. "You would need someone in Religious Studies to really push through an Islamic Studies program but you must do it as an interdisciplinary program." Bowering said that when he was hired fifteen years ago, the Religious Studies was making a progressive attempt to break through into Islam as a new religious field, but that the department lacked both resources and political clout within the University. That trend is only a recent one at the University, according to Middle East Center Director Brian Spooner, adding that during the first half of the century, the University was at the forefront of Middle Eastern studies. "It looks to me as though we hit a low," Spooner added. "Penn was one of the four major places in the world in the study of the Middle East in the first half of this century. But then things declined in the later 70's and early 80's, and since then I think things are improving again."
Attempting to combat images of anti-war protest on the homefront, about 40 students gathered Saturday for a noontime rally on College Green to support U.S. troops fighting in the Middle East. Participants decorated Benjamin Franklin's statue with American flags and held up signs and banners in support of United States troops in the Persian Gulf. While organizers presented prepared speeches, students added their signatures to a poster "in support of the troops and the President," and to a signup sheet for blood donations. College sophomore Jon Held presented the first speech, reiterating President Bush's well-publicized reasons for starting the war. Held also questioned the motives and reasoning of protesters at recent rallies against the war in the Persian Gulf. Students in the crowd were also given a chance to speak. College freshman Chris Schulten criticized ongoing anti-war protests, calling some of the protesters "North Vietnam and Saddam Hussein's greatest weapons." "Now is the time to support these troops," Schulten said. "Now is the time to support the battle of good over evil." The rally ended with a recitation of the "Pledge of Allegiance" when organizers realized no one remembered the lyrics to "God Bless America." There was little counterprotest during the rally. One passerby yelled that she wanted troops home alive, while a student at the rally asked whether participants would fight in the Persian Gulf themselves. Most participants, however, agreed with the speakers' views and the purpose of the meeting. "I thought it was good," said College freshman Sarah O'Herron, who was also interviewed by one of two local television stations at the rally. "I wished that more people were here." College senior Marc Alberts said he suspected many signs advertising the rally had been torn down. Although organizers said the gathering was a success, they added that they would schedule future rallies on weekdays to attract more people.
With the war in the Persian Gulf just two days old, many University professors yesterday expressed greater concern this week over the aftermath of the conflict rather than the war itself. But for the professors, some of whom have spent years of their life researching the Middle East, the Gulf War is just one in a series of episodes in the continuing evolution of a turbulent region. For the past week, the experts have repeatedly voiced concerns over the future of Iraqi government, increasing animosity between Western and Arab nations, and the continuing impasse in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As of late yesterday, Iraq had already launched a missile attack on Israel and many University experts said they feel Iraq may also exploit strengths in other forms of combat -- perhaps resorting to terrorist attacks. Understanably, faculty are becoming increasing wary of making predictions that could soon turn out to be wrong. Most recently, many were surprised at the speed with which the U.S. and its allies attacked after the United Nations deadline passed. Most professors said they had expected the U.N. coalition to delay the start of fighting, in part to make further military preparations. But in the end, the decision to attack Iraq Wednesday may have come down to weather. "It's a new moon for these few days and the weather is going to be clear," said Political Science Professor Frederic Frey. "So it's ideal conditions for night fighting." But such discussion have become academic. The question for many now has become how long the war will last, and who will eventually prevail. "There's very little doubt that we will win the war eventually, whether it is short or long," Frey said. He said he worries more about the turmoil the war will create in the region. One of Frey's predictions made earlier this week came true as Iraq launched a missle attack on Israel last night. "The longer this goes on without an attack on Israel, the harder [an attack on Israel] will be for Iraqis to avoid," Frey said. Peace Science Professor Stephen Gale also predicted the Iraqi attack on Israel, but questioned whether it was an intelligent move strategically. "If Hussein is smart he won't bring in the Israelis because Israel has no compunction against leveling Iraq," he said. There was no word on a possible Israel response as of late last night. Gale teaches the Peace Science program's Terrorism class. He said Iraq may resort to terrorist tactics as an alternative form of leverage if direct military action is unsuccessful. "As soon as Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, all of the major players in terrorism moved to Baghdad," he said. Gale said possible terrorist acts could include bombings, airplane hijackings, assassinations, and disruptions of water and electric utilities, among possible Iraqi targets. He said terrorism experts currently believe terrorists will choose targets in Western Europe, but that the United States is extremely vulnerable as well. "They'll be spot actions, but I'm sure they will be planned out very carefully," added Gale. Gale said that Saddam Hussein's is now destined to leave the international theater in a "blaze of history." He said that Hussein may survive the war only to be assassinated by any of the many enemies he has made since the Gulf showdown began. But the defeat of Saddam Hussein would not mean instant peace in the Middle East, the experts warned. A political vacuum in the Persian Gulf created by an Iraqi defeat might be filled by Syria or Iran. "We haven't explored what the effects of a war will be on the balance of power in the area," History Professor Alfred Reiber said. He added that tensions could escalate with Arab nations as a new precedent is set of "U.S. intervention under U.N. sponsorship." "In the near future, there will be an enormous backlash against the Western Europeans and the U.S. in general," he said. Such a backlash would jeopardize hopes for a Middle East peace conference, recently advocated by leaders including U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, he said. Other experts agreed, saying that tensions between Arabs, Israelis, and Westerners inextricably linked in the current Gulf crisis might become an insurmountable obstacle at the bargaining table. This could leave other countries that have a stake in the Gulf Region out of potential talks, Oler said. He added that he fears further destabilization of third-world countries that have important economic links with Arab countries. "The issue of oil prices [in third world countries] is one of food or famine, rather than the type of car you can drive," he said.
Faculty members said last night they are uncertain what will happen next in the Middle East, but said that they are certain students will not sit idly by watching the events unfold. Several history and political science professors, many of whom specialize in Middle Eastern politics, said that they expect the invasion to intensify political debate on campus. And these projections proved to be fairly accurate. As the professors made their predictions last night at their off-campus homes, more than 200 students were rallying on campus against the war. Assistant Political Science Professor Graham Walker said that although many students may not fully understand all the issues prompting military action in the Persian Gulf, they will begin to air their feelings in the coming days. "No doubt, some students will become more vocal," Walker said last night, hours after fighting broke out. "Very few students will think they have mastered the complexities of the issue, but those who do think they have will probably be very dogmatic and very intolerant of those who have doubts on either point of view." History Professor Michael Katz said that student opinion will be polarized about the "legitimacy of this war." "I don't think there will be much apathy," he said. "I think students will be actively engaged and involved whatever their position is." Nearly all the professors made comparisons to the Vietnam era, a time of unprecedented student protest and activism. Political Science Professor Donald Smith said that he does not think students will become involved to the degree of their late 1960's counterparts because of a significantly different political atmosphere. "First, in Vietnam, the draft played a very visible role because it was a personal threat to students," he said last night. "Second, Vietnam dragged on. Student reaction to Vietnam is not likely to be repeated. The degree of international support for the war really makes the Vietnam analogy very shaky. I am not saying, however, that there may not be a huge outcry." Penn Israel Exchange Program Director Norman Oler, who said that he vividly remembers the turmoil of the Vietnam conflict, noted a discrepancy between student reaction to the current crisis and Vietnam. Oler said that the issues are more clearly defined, adding that the widespread support from the world community makes the situation far different from that in Southeast Asia. "When the whole current crisis began to unfold, I hoped and prayed the world could and would not be torn like it was in the Vietnam tragedy," he said. History Professor Drew Faust, who noted that her college career was colored by the Vietnam conflict, said she did not believe the United States would attack as soon as yesterday. "I thought it would not happen for another day," she said. "It was a real shock. Somehow you can't believe something this horrible would happen. You keep hoping something would avert this." "What troubles me is the tremendous confidence of people who undertake war," she added. "They are seldom right and that scares me. I was in college during the Vietnam War and it is so poignant in my mind." Faust, however, said there is a possibility of racial and religious tension on campus because of the war. She said she thinks there may be a division between Jewish and Arab students, something that was not prevalent during the Vietnam War because there were not many Vietnamese students at American Universities. "I think the identity of different groups may lead to a division and there wasn't that identification during the Vietnam War," she said. Although war may occupy students' thoughts outside of the classroom, professors said that they do not want to let the issue dominate their lectures. Adam Garfinkle, who specializes in the Middle East in the political science department, said that he will not ignore other topics in his course to concentrate on the conflict. "The syllabus was created long before the invasion of Kuwait and I'm not going to change it now," he said yesterday. "I'm not going to allow the crisis to devour the course." Faust, who is teaching the history of the American South this semester, said that she is somewhat uneasy keeping her lecture schedule because the crisis is dominating students' thoughts. "How can I give a lesson on secession?" she said. But, she said she would still go ahead with her plans and just try to incorporate the war into the course.
In response to criticism last spring of the University's handling of religious holidays, Provost Michael Aiken last week released an updated policy on holidays that would give students more latitude for notifying professors of events which conflict with exams. The changes in the University's Policy on Secular and Religious Holidays, which took effect January 1, will be published in today's issue of Almanac. The revision mandates that students observing religious holidays that may conflict with exams or assigned work warn professors within two weeks of the beginning of the semester of the impending holiday, even if the dates are not yet known. The policy change stems from an incident last spring, when then-College freshman Reshma Memon was denied permission to reschedule a final because it conflicted with the Muslim celebration Ad-al-fitr. Memon did not warn her professor of the conflict within the first two weeks of the semester, as University guidelines required, because the holiday's exact date is not determined until approximately a month before it occurs. Memon, whose plight attracted both campus and nationwide attention, was eventually given permission to reschedule the exam. Memon, now a College sophomore, could not be reached for comment last night. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said that she is happy with the changes, adding that it addresses student concerns. "I'm very pleased that the Provost revised the policy for holidays because he was very cooperative and he revised it quickly," Harris said. The Faculty Senate did not vote on the revision in their December meeting, but called for a year-long investigation of the University's academic calendar. According to Faculty Senate Chair Almarin Philips, the move was not a disapproval of the revision, but was due rather to a faculty perception that available class days are being "eroded" away by various pressures on the calendar. "It did not focus on any particular day, any particular time off," said Philips. "It simply said 'Let's study the calendar.' "
For participants in one graduate program, the advice "Don't quit your day job" has taken on new meaning. Commuting to the University nightly, students in the Graduate Professional Development Program pursue a master's degree in the "Dynamics of Organization" -- studying the businesses in which they work during the day. Participants in the Dynamics of Organization program, which is run through the School of Arts and Sciences, study while continuing full-time careers outside the University as managers in business, industry, health care and education. Their ongoing work experience provides the basis for much of their studies, and allows them to immediately apply what they learn. "Instead of inventing a case of a widget in an XYZ company, we have 15 cases sitting around the table," said Program Director Stephen Gale, an associate professor of Regional Science. The program's 700 participants choose from about 30 seminars each semester, completing 10 in approximately four years in order to graduate. The seminars are limited to about 15 students. "I've found that the program is actually better than I thought it would be," said Marc Rayfield, sales manager for WIP-AM, Philadelphia's all-sports radio station. "In terms of practical applications, I find that I use things I've learned every day." The program extends outside the classroom in other ways. As part of an International Summer Seminars series, participants took seminars in Japan earlier this year. Pamela Little, president of her own Philadelphia consulting firm, PROCA Consultants, said the trip included personal interviews with Japanese marketers, tours of Japanese health care facilities and speeches by leaders in Japanese corporations. "Essentially you're there, which certainly gives you a different perspective than if you're taking a course on Japan and it's thousands of miles away," Little said. Both directors and participants said that efforts have been made to encourage "networking" domestically as well, including brunches, newsletters and lectures. Participants are also members of the University's Faculty Club, where they gather for refreshments before evening classes. "Once the Dynamics of Organization made the Faculty Club available before classes they had a great turnout," said Bill Mitchell, a participant and chairperson of the student steering committee. "You find out a lot of them get together after classes to discuss the readings and what was discussed in classes." Mitchell, who called the program "participatory education," said he chooses seminars that fit in with his work managing a china and crystal business in Valley Forge, and with his work in financial consulting. The program attracts participants from New York, Maryland and Delaware.
Despite what the University calendar says, Thanksgiving break did not begin yesterday. But that didn't stop hundreds of students from making the traditional early mass exodus home to celebrate the holiday. Across campus and the city, students congested at 30th Street Station and Philadelphia Airport, anticipating a Thanksgiving dinner filled with hot turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. At 30th Street Station yesterday, University students boarding trains for home said they were looking forward to at least four days with family, friends, and "real" food. One group of students waiting for a Connecticut-bound train debated whether the Thanksgiving break would be long enough for everything they had planned. "They ought to lose fall break and make this a nine-day weekend -- a whole week off," said College sophomore Will Malz. Still, many said they would be back in time for Monday's classes, despite the fact they had already decided to miss English, Philosophy, Oriental Studies and various other lectures today. "I can't skip -- I have classes on Monday and a lab I have to go to," College sophomore Mark Swanson said. Others stood outside the Quadrangle, a line of yellow and red taxis and shuttle buses lined up to ferry students to both the train station and the airport. College freshman Rob Sena waited at the front gate of the Quadrangle yesterday, ignoring cabs as he guarded several large duffel bags he planned to transport home with another student who lived close to his home. "I'm taking some summer stuff home, bringing some winter stuff back, getting some stuff cleaned, and pretending I'm doing some work by taking some books," Sena explained. Associate Professor of Anthropology Robert Harding said the students' desire to leave campus early hits home for him. Harding said he canceled his Evolution of Behavior class today under "extreme pressure from my daughter." "She said no one at her college has classes today," he said. He also explained that he added half of today's lecture material to Monday's class, and plans to blend the rest into next week so students don't miss any of the material. Professors are not the only ones who said they expect students to start break in advance -- several Philadelphia taxi drivers said they were depending on it. "We hear that there's a break for you all, so this is the busiest part of the city right now," said Kenneth Alexander, a driver for United Cabs. "We cater to the school kids before we go for the businessmen." Alexander said he had already made ten runs to 30th Street Station by early yesterday afternoon -- and was planning to tap business today as well. "I'll get out here tomorrow at 4:30 a.m. and work the whole day here until 4:30 [p.m.]," Alexander said. Students said they had generally not made elaborate plans for break, instead relying on family and friends to both keep them busy and help them relax. College sophomore Julia Miller said she was looking forward to visiting a teacher at her old high school in New York, but said that the rest of her plans were not extremely firm. "Then I'll just visit with family and cook," Miller said. "Make some pies." While many students flock home over the holiday, some find it more difficult and can "adopt" a family or spend the holiday with a professor. Ludo Schaffer, a resident of International House, said yesterday that over 100 students, many from the University, participate in a host family program which allows students to spend the day with families from the West Philadelphia or the suburbs. Other international students said that they will just spend the day with friends. Some added that they will probably have a small dinner, while one group was making plans to travel to Atlantic City by train.
Declaring a "war against war," a small band of students protesting the U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf region held a "Peace Fest" on College Green Friday afternoon. And they found the University community ready to do battle both for and against their cause. Over 150 people attended the two-hour discussion, which featured speakers on both sides of the debate over the U.S. presence in the region. Many of the speeches were marred by hecklers from both camps who yelled slogans and by others who sang patriotic anthems. The rally on College Green took place virtually in front of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house, and much of the opposition to speakers during the event came from within the house. At two points, an Open Expression monitor ordered the fraternity members to stop interupting the rally. The overwhelming majority of speakers at the rally argued against U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf, attributing the rapid military buildup to a wide variety of causes including overdependence on oil, media glorification of violence and the "macho" attitudes of some military leaders. "Bush wants another war, we say no," chanted Marie Bloom of Act for Peace in the Middle East. "We remember Vietnam, we won't go." Other speakers said that quick military response was necessary to prevent both Iraqi expansion and U.S. economic hardship. During the speeches, an Open Expression monitor asked that the playing of patriotic music from a second-floor window of Phi Kappa Sigma be stopped, as well as the singing of the national anthem by a group which gathered outside the house. According to College senior Bart Barre, an Open Expression monitor overseeing the event told them they were breaking Open Expression guidelines and had to stop. A group of students then attempted to sing the national anthem between speeches. The next speaker, however, began despite the singing, and the group was again stopped by the Open Expression monitor. Barre said that his name and social security number were recorded by the monitor because he continued singing after the rest of the group stopped. Deputy Vice Provost George Koval said last night that Barre was not cited for a violation of Open Expression, but added that his name was taken down in case any violations occurred. Open Expression guidelines state that groups or individuals violate these rules if they "interfere unreasonably with the activites of other persons." The rally officially began just before noon at Superblock, where 25 students tied on white armbands and bandannas before beginning a noisy procession down Locust Walk. As pedestrians parted in their wake, the group played guitars, flutes, and a tamborine, and repeatedly yelled, "Let's talk about the war." Students generally said the rally was a worthwhile event. Some, however, expressed irritation at the distractions from the Phi Sigma Kappa house. "I think it's good," said College of General Studies senior Adam Hirsch. "I think it's kind of annoying when [there are interruptions from] these fraternity people on the Walk." Staff writer Emily Culbertson contributed to this article.
At Barbara Hafer's Center City campaign headquarters last night, there were no whispered prayers for victory. No tears. No depressing speeches. In fact, there were no people. At 7:30 last night, the modern office from which Hafer's Philadelphia campaign was launched was silent. Cursors blinked endlessly on unwatched computer monitors. Party favors which might have heralded a new administration in Harrisburg lay unused in boxes underneath desks. An unattended radio blared pop music, not election results. It was clear that Hafer's $2 million war-chest and limited last-minute television advertisements could hardly match the well-oiled $7 million machine of her opponent. Two Republican pollsters who showed up at the 15th and Chestnut streets building to report election results from their local districts said they expected to be greeted by throngs of Hafer campaigners. Instead, they found only janitors cleaning the office after a typical business day. "I've never seen [an election eve] where everybody is absent and nobody is here to respond to anything but us," said Tommy Cunningham, a long-time Republican pollster. "I think that the people in her campaign have withdrawn their faith and hope in this candidate by leaving no one in sight, no one in charge," added Ronald Goldstein, another pollster. The two said they were told by officials at the Philadelphia Republican City Committee that victory celebrations would be held at Hafer's headquarters. Republican City officials could not be reached for comment last night. Hafer was considered the race's underdog even by her own supporters. She faced a strong Democratic incumbent in a state where Democratic voter registrations exceed Republicans' by approximately 500,000. But Goldstein held out hope for his candidate until the bitter end. "We worked very well for Hafer and we believe she achieved a lot in our division," he said.
Last Sunday, like nearly every Sunday during the academic year, some students neglected to set their alarm clocks. They instead relied on waking up to the pungent aroma of perking coffee. Or the sounds of eggs scrambling, crackling, and sometimes burning, in lounges down their halls. Or the barks of "Brunch!" as fellow students tear down hallways, pounding on doors and yelling like half-crazed drill sergeants. In a time-honored campus tradition, groggy students in residences across campus filled dormitory lounges with a vast array of juices, bagels, muffins, and pre-sweetened breakfast cereals. Some students try to be the first at their brunch for hot food. But College freshman Lilie Chang wanted the plastic maroon boomerang from a box of Cap'n Crunch cereal. However, most casually throw on tee-shirts and sweats before arriving at brunch. Some come with their eyes half-shut stumbling down the hall letting their noses guide the way while others quickly run a comb or brush through their hair as they gallop down to brunch. "A minority of us will shower eventually," said College freshman Andrew Epstein at a second-floor Hill House brunch. But in each of the various dormitories across campus, there are varying methods and traditions guiding the Sunday ritual. In the Quadrangle's Ware College House, students designed a culinary salute to Homecoming, consuming the toast that would normally have been tossed away at the football game -- in both plain and "French" variations. Kyda Kaiser, a graduate fellow at Ware, said suites usually develop brunches around holidays and themes. Last week's brunch was preceded by a "Harvest Brunch," which featured pancakes with apples. Ware brunches run for several hours from late morning into early afternoon. According to Kaiser, though, residents must get up particularly early to enjoy the special entrees. "Key items like sausage go fast," said Kaiser. "But the carbohydrates are there to the end." Organizers of Van Pelt College House's brunch actually charge $2 admission, with profits eventually funnelling back into the house. Signs in the dormitory entreat residents to "Please Cook Brunch or Die." As in most dorms, different rooms or suites prepare brunch, with the work and monetary burdens eventually split evenly among all residents. "It's a good deal," said Hill House's Epstein. "Pay $15 and have slaves feed you." Some brunches are simpler than others. In DuBois College House, Engineering sophomore Shelly Smith wakes up every Sunday and procures Dunkin Donuts, coffee, juice, and newspapers for the house. "You're a bit late for glazed donuts," DuBois Faculty Master Risa Lavizzo-Mourey told one student who arrived around noon last Sunday. "It's a morning when you don't have other things to do," Lavizzo-Mourey explained. "It's a nice thing to build community spirit." And while many said they like the free food of Sunday mornings, it is the community spirit makes the brunches important for freshman floors. "At the beginning it was a way to meet people -- it was a really relaxed atmosphere," said College freshman Jeffrey Greenberg, a resident of Community House. "Everyone really chilled out." "I don't know if it's a function of being a first-year student and not knowing anyone else or if its brunches," said College senior Meredith Carroll, a residential advisor in High Rise South. "But it brings them together each week." She said the lack of a weekend meal plan and the low cost of brunches also contribute to their popularity. "We talked about not having brunches one week and they said no way," she added. But some freshmen resident advisors indicated that brunch participation has declined or even ceased completely since the beginning of the semester. Many students have decided instead to venture to area restaurants to fulfill their Sunday appetites. Diners at both Kelly and Cohen Restaurant and Saladalley listed omelettes as a favorite brunch selection -- an item seldom prepared in dormitory brunches. Students eating at area restaurants generally spent more time getting together before going out to breakfast. Compared with dormitory brunchers, a greater number said they had studied or exercised beforehand. Several fraternity brothers said they start their fall Sundays with intramural football games and follow up by socializing at campus restaurants. "We like to eat and get the scoop on the weekend," said College junior John Gamba, a Pi Kappa Alpha brother who ate at Kelly and Cohen Restaurant. Restaurant brunchers said they must sometimes contend with long waits and high prices. However, students at one brunch indicated that they are prepared to leave brunches with more than just emptier pockets, fuller stomachs, and closer friendships. "We have a moment of silence and listen to our arteries clog afterwards," Hill House's Epstein said.
Although Sunday evening was cloudless and warm, even the good weather couldn't mar the mood of a ceremony marking Edgar Allen Poe's death 141 years ago. Organized by the Philomathean society, the ritual -- now in its fifth year -- featured dramatic readings of Poe's works, including the short story "A Tell-Tale Heart" and the poems "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee." The ceremony started on College Green with a walk of lamentation for Poe, accompanied by a song about Poe sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club theme. Philomathean Society members next recited Poe's poem, "The Bells," in front of Benjamin Franklin's statue. Approximately 30 people then joined group members in Philo's library in College Hall. By the dim light of candles, a candelabra, and a chandelier, attendees took turns reading from Poe's works under the watchful eye of a stuffed raven centerpiece borrowed just for the occasion. The readings were punctuated by sound effects provided by ceremony attendees. During "A Tell-Tale Heart," listeners stomped their feet to provide heartbeats mentioned in the story. Organizers said Sunday that they hoped to rekindle the excitement of poetry that students may not fully grasp in high school. "Some people are really turned off by poetry," explained organizer and Society member Emmanuel Morales. "So this is one way of reintroducing the fun of it." "How many deaths do you really celebrate each year?" added College senior Jacob Cogan, also a Society member. Morales and Cogan said the ceremony also serves as a convenient way to introduce prospective Society members to the activities of the group. They also said that Poe's death, on October 7, coincides neatly with the Philomathean Society's founding day, October 2. Prizes, ranging from a cassette of creepy sounds to a bag of barbarcued pork rinds, were awarded for different styles of reading. College senior Mia Lipsit said she came to the ceremony out of curiosity, but she walked away with a glow-in-the-dark spider for her performance during the short story readings. "It was kind of neat that it was up in the halls," she added. "The candles and all -- good for effect." According to Society members, the decision to commemorate Poe was made five years ago after Virgil couldn't be reached on the Society's Ouija board. Edgar Allen Poe, the early nineteenth century American writer of macabre short stories, poems and critiques, died on October 7, 1849.
While West Germany and East Germany became a single nation only last Wednesday, administrators and faculty said this week they have been making preparations for the merger for several months. For example, as a result of German unity, students can expect new places to study abroad. And faculty say they have already incorporated the changes into their classes. International Programs director Joyce Randolph travelled to Berlin this summer as part of a German Studies Group which is attempting to "link up" the University with German institutions -- making it possible for University students to study in the new Germany. "One of the reasons we were considering Berlin, of course, was because it is on the very frontiers of stuff, the cutting edge of what is happening with reunification," she explained. According to Randolph, reunification has brought a special urgency to looking into cooperative possibilities with German institutions. She added that the effort is part of the provost's long-range plan for "internationalization" of the University. Randolph added that these links may culminate in several faculty as well as student exchanges with the new German state, exchanges which should also bring more German students here. "Generally, what I've been hearing about East German universities is that many of the students would love to study in the West," she said. "But they have real financial difficulties." But the University is also taking steps to increase the number of applicants from Germany and other European nations. Director of International Admissions Elisabeth O'Connell is currently in Europe to recruit new students for the University. O'Connell, responding by fax from Belgium earlier this week, said that there are currently 19 German undergraduates at the University, all from what was previously West Germany. She said that reunification means the pool of potential applicants will grow to include students from now-defunct East Germany. "For the future I see us visiting Berlin, which will emerge as a key city with 'Eastern' Germans as well," O'Connell said. "We haven't visited in the past but I see us doing this." Still, the University will probably not receive a flood of East German students in the immediate future. O'Connell said she visited Germany last year and plans to return next year, but is trying to recruit from other European countries on this trip. Also, according to International Program's Randolph, plans have not been finalized for the links with German universities. "No decision has been made about whether or not we are going to pursue the possibility specifically with Berlin," she said. "But it's an indication of the fact that the faculty are interested, the provost is looking towards some of the ramifications of German reunification, and so are some of the people in our office." In the meantime, students can expect several classes to change in response to the rapid chain of events in Germany. "I've added several lectures on this to my EEC class," said Political Science assistant professor Michaela Richter, who teaches the class "The European Economic Community in 1992." And, according to German professor Frank Trommler, there is an increased popularity for German classes as students grudgingly decide that learning German may help their careers. "In general, I would say that for Americans to engage in foreign language is not really so attractive," Trommler said. "At the same time, with Europe being more important, some have brushed it up."
Some professors have been waiting 45 years for this week. For the faculty members who were born in Germany or those who have spent their entire careers researching Germany, this week's reunification of East and West Germany represents the beginning of a new era in their research. And while the German unity is just a day old, some have already used the startling events as basis for studying, celebrating and re-assessing the world. "I think that it's a new world," said History professor Thomas Childers. "The second World War is finally over." Childers, who teaches the popular "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" class, said that since both his father and uncle fought in World War II, he has devoted much of his research to the evolution of Nazism in the early part of the 20th century. Childers said he expects the new Germany to be very different from the one that existed in the first half of this century. He said that the fact that most Germans today were born after World War II is an assurance that this united Germany would learn from its past mistakes. But Childers is not alone in his optimism for the future. "What has happened since January internationally is more or less a stunning execution of the impression that they belong together," German Professor Frank Trommler said this week. But professors added that there must be several economic and political changes before the reunification can be declared a total success. Economics and Finance professor Lawrence Klein has spent the last year studying the dramatic changes in Germany as part of Project Link, an international group which attempts to predict the world economy. Klein, a Nobel Laureate in economics, said that the former West Germany will need to "bail out" the financially troubled East Germany, adding that there will probably be a need to rebuild the infrastructure and modernize work habits in the former Communist country. Still, he also predicted that the merger will be successful. "On the whole, people believe that this will be a production juggernaut -- that it will be a very powerful economic state," Klein said. "I think anyone who has been through the second World War is thinking back to the contrast in emotions in 1945 and today, wondering whether there will be a new Germany or not," added Klein. Assistant Political Science Professor Michaela Richter, who was raised in West Germany, said she never expected anything but the status quo for her native country. She also said she is still awed by the speed of reunification. "One [will have] to rediscover the identity in being German," she said. But the reunification of the Germany has affected more than just the personal opinions of the professors. Trommler and Richter, for example, have both visited Germany in the past year to do first-hand research of the remarkable changes. Trommler visited Germany in May to study the new economic plans, while Richter spent the summer in East Berlin and Bonn meeting with German political leaders. And Richter added that she believes after talking with German leaders this summer, that the new goverment will be able to handle any short-term problems caused by reunification. "The first thing one can say is that it's approached in a much more sober fashion," she said. "The enthusiasm of last December has, well, not evaporated, but changed into a sober energy to transform this Germany." "Although there are some differences about what the costs are and who will pay for it, for the first time there is a consensus," she added.
What was once considered a pastime for the most chronic of couch potatoes has become a fact of life at the University. Every weekend, dozens of students carrying petite blue bags can be seen around 40th Street, carting home their favorite flicks. "We have dinner and make popcorn," said Lisa D'Angelo, a second-year Nursing graduate student as she returned a copy of Dune to a video store. "I have crafts I do while I'm watching. Hate to waste time!" In student rooms, the videos have found a place alongside the traditional popcorn maker as a way to lure hallmates into one's dorm. "We watch them on the weekend because we want to blow off work on the weekdays," said Engineering senior Liz Penades. She was returning The Fabulous Baker Boys. In nearly every dormitory across campus, weekly movie nights showcase recent releases. And at fraternities such as Theta Xi, watching videos often serves as a warm-up for an evening's activities. "We have a couple beers and [then] go out to a party, since the social scene doesn't start until later," College junior Rich McCloskey said. McCloskey had rented I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka!, which he was returning to Houston Hall's video rental store, The Movie Ticket. "It's a much dryer campus now, so video renting is a nice alternative," Movie Ticket Co-Owner Howard Gensler said. "You can't go get smashed at a fraternity anymore." The Movie Ticket shares the campus video market with the Video Library, a store located in the Warehouse at 4040 Locust Street. The Movie Ticket is frequented by students in the Quadrangle and Hill House, as well as employees of the University Hospital. Video Library caters to residents of West Campus, and West Philadelphia in general. "They tend to recognize the store as part of campus," Video Library Manager Ron Watkins said. "They come in and tend to socialize." Watkins listed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings as the busiest rental times. In addition, Campus Corner, located on 38th Street between Locust and Walnut streets rents videos, as well as an Erol's Video chain store on 43rd and Chestnut streets and a West Coast Video chain store on 46th and Baltimore streets. Getting in on the "Video Revolution" doesn't require a VCR. Stores which rent tapes lend out VCR's as well, and many dorms have VCR's in their student lounges. Still, many students have bought and brought their own players to campus -- and said they feel some guilty pleasure from the extravagance of their purchase. "I had a little extra money," College sophomore Dan Gouger confessed. "I bought myself a gift." But for many on campus, video rentals have become a relatively cheap way to entertain a date. One female College freshman selecting movies at the Video Library this week described her weekend rentals: "Pornos." She was returning the adult title Deep Throat and said that that she watched the movie with her boyfriend. Her choice for video rental is a popular one on campus, according to Video Library's Watkins, who added that soft porn movies have a great appeal to the younger campus audience. Still, most patrons stick with more conventional titles of the action-adventure, drama, and comedy variety. The future of the video rental industry remains unclear, according to the store managers. The industry as a whole reportedly failed to achieve any growth last year, and some campus retailers say that trend has been reflected here. "It was a fairly low-key year. It wasn't unbridled growth like in the early eighties," the Movie Ticket's Gensler observed. "The campus is fairly saturated." Apparently, though, some renters dispute that claim. A window sign in a vacant storefront on Walnut Street between 39th and 40th Streets heralds the site as a future location for "USA Video/Mega Video."