Rodin has agreed to withdraw from the FLA while Penn looks at other options. University President Judith Rodin reached a tentative agreement with the anti-sweatshop group that had occupied her office for the past eight days by agreeing to withdraw Penn from the Fair Labor Association. According to a joint statement released last night by Penn Students Against Sweatshops -- formerly known as United Students Against Sweatshops -- and Rodin, the president will submit a letter of withdrawal to the FLA while examining the efficacy of joining another organization to monitor Penn-logo apparel. "The important thing is that we find a solution in the best interest of Penn," Rodin said last night. "What we have here is really creative and great." Rodin will meet with PSAS today to discuss the final details of the agreement. The group will remain in College Hall, continuing with the two-day hunger fast -- which it began yesterday at noon -- until the agreement is finished. "Having a tentative agreement is definitely good news," College senior and PSAS leader Miriam Joffe-Block said last night. "[But] there's a lot of work we still need to get done." The agreement also states that the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor -- formed last January to create a code of conduct for Penn -- will now evaluate the various monitoring organizations and present Rodin with a recommendation by February 29. The committee, which includes three PSAS students among its membership, will meet today, chairman Howard Kunreuther said. The students launched the highly publicized sit-in last Monday, demanding that Penn pull out of the FLA and join the alternate monitoring organization the Worker Rights Consortium. PSAS has repeatedly argued that the WRC is more effective in securing workers' rights because it is run by human rights organizations, rather than the companies it is supposed to monitor. Gathering steam over the past week, the protest -- which began with a core group of 13 students -- has been steadily growing both in size and in campus-wide support. The number of students sleeping in College Hall rose to about 30 by the end of last week, as PSAS held rallies and vigils in support of its cause and covered the campus in protest signs and banners. Twenty eight student organizations offered their support to the sit-in, including the United Minorities Council. Local unions and religious groups have also provided support to PSAS, bringing them meals and speaking at demonstrations. To promote even greater solidarity among activists nationwide, the students kicked off a 48-hour fast yesterday at noon that, despite last night's tentative agreement, will continue. "We are fasting to raise awareness of the issues of worker rights and sweatshop conditions," announced PSAS member and College sophomore Christine Nangle at a press conference yesterday. Over 60 other colleges and universities have mobilized students to fast on their respective campuses along with the Penn students. Director of the National Labor Committee Charles Kernaghan and Union for Needlework and Textile Employees President Jay Mazur will also join the nationwide fast. Last night's agreement comes after days of criticism of the students by the administration. Though Rodin met with the students yesterday and on Friday, she had expressed frustration with the group's presence in College Hall last week. But, according to PSAS members, recent exchanges between the administration and the students have been conciliatory. "Right now relations are good," Joffe-Block said following last night's agreement. "Some of the pressure's off," she added.
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Members of USAS spent the weekend in College Hall. They are planning a humger strike for today. Pushing into day eight of their highly publicized sit-in, United Students Against Sweatshops spent the weekend protesting in College Hall but has yet to reach an agreement with the administration. Approximately 20 students met with University President Judith Rodin on Friday morning to discuss the group's demand that the University withdraw from the Fair Labor Association -- which currently monitors the manufacture of Penn-logo apparel -- and join the Worker Rights Consortium. The group maintains that the FLA is ineffective and biased because it is tied to the industry it is supposed to monitor, while the WRC is more humane since it is run by human rights organizations. USAS members, who began the sit-in a week ago, said that while they thought progress had been made at the meeting, they would not leave College Hall until the University agreed to their oft repeated request to join the WRC. USAS members said they were pleased with their interaction with Rodin, who has criticized the student protest several times over the past week. "In our meeting with her she made a bunch of concessions," College junior and USAS member Nati Passow said. But he added that joining the WRC was still "her decision to make." Rodin told the students she had been reviewing materials supplied to her about the WRC and had spoken to officials from the four schools currently using the monitoring organization. But Rodin did not yet make any offers to the students, beyond noting the existence of the ad hoc committee to investigate the issue. Formed last month, the committee is scheduled to report to Rodin by February 29. The ad hoc committee met for the second time on Friday and released a statement saying it would direct its efforts toward reviewing the codes of conduct for university-logo apparel at other colleges. Chair of the ad hoc committee Howard Kunreuther, an Operations and Information Management professor, said that it was unclear whether the group would develop a proposal for a new code of conduct for Penn-logo clothing manufacturers. USAS held a rally on Friday at noon to generate support for the sit-in and their cause, attracting over 50 students to the steps of College Hall and inciting chants of "workers' rights we demand" among the crowd. The group will fast in support of their cause today. USAS will be joined in this endeavor by activists from schools and organizations across the country. With those attending the rally wearing white stickers proclaiming their support of USAS, the students who spent last week living in College Hall rallied the crowd to help pressure the University to pull out of the FLA and join the WRC. The largest cries of support seemed to come when USAS members announced the reinstatement of 30 workers fired for trying to unionize in El Salvador. According to College freshman and USAS member Anna Roberts, a human rights organization called the National Labor Committee told Liz Claiborne -- who owns the factory the workers were dismissed from -- that if the workers were not reinstated, the students conducting the sit-in at Penn would be contacted to launch a national publicity campaign against the company. "It was the sit-in at the University of Pennsylvania, and the student movement, which finally pushed this over the top and led to the breakthrough of successful negotiations," said Charlie Kernaghan, head of the NLC, in a statement. The group also reported the results of their meeting with Rodin. "She's definitely feeling the pressure," Roberts said. "I think she is taking the issue a lot more seriously." During the meeting Rodin encouraged the students to participate in the ad hoc committee, according to her director of external affairs, Jennifer Baldino. There are already three USAS members on the committee, and she offered to add more, Baldino said. "I look forward to the response of USAS to these suggestions," Rodin said in a statement. But Passow said that he disagreed with Rodin's continued statement that she would wait until the ad hoc committee provided her with a recommendation to make a final decision about withdrawing from the FLA. "I don't think it is an effective way to do this," he said. "While there are a lot of people involved, it just ends up taking time. All they can do is recommend to her." "It continues to be clear that she's the one who has the power to make a decision," Roberts added.
Eight construction workers were injured yesterday when scaffolding collapsed at the site of the new Regional Performing Arts Center at Broad and Spruce streets. The workers were building a concrete ramp for the facility's new underground parking garage when the scaffolding supporting them collapsed at about 8:30 a.m., according to RPAC Coordinator of Events and Special Programs Stephanie Lim. "As they were pouring the concrete, the scaffolding just gave way," Lim said. The workers were using 40 tons of concrete to pour a 10-inch slab of concrete for a ramp in the parking garage, Lim added. The eight injured men were sent to three area hospitals after the workers and chunks of concrete fell 20 to 30 feet. Philadelphia Fire Chief Henry Dolberry said several of the workers had to be lifted from under the concrete with a crane. "We had workers from the construction site down inside the collapsed area," Dolberry said. "When we arrived on the scene, some workers were covered in concrete material." Three of the workers were released just a few hours after being hospitalized while the other five remained in stable condition as of early yesterday afternoon, Lim said. Hahnemann University Hospital spokeswoman Barbara Katzman said one of the four men sent to her hospital had been buried under concrete for almost an hour, resulting in eye and stomach injuries and broken bones. "I think they were incredibly lucky, though they're not out of the woods yet," she said. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital received a 39-year-old worker with a fractured arm and possible muscle injuries, spokesman Steve Benowitz said yesterday. Although one of the three workers sent to Thomas Jefferson was released yesterday, the other two were admitted, and Benowitz estimated that they would remain in the hospital for several days. "That could change, though, depending on how they are doing," he added. Construction on the center will resume tomorrow, but the Occupational Safety and Health Advisory and the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections will be investigating what caused the scaffolding to crumble and how long repairs will take. Officials speculated that faults in the scaffolding itself most likely caused the collapse. Willard Rouse, chairman of the board for RPAC, said he thought the incident occurred because "structural scaffolding failed and part of the ramp under the scaffolding collapsed." However, Lim remained optimistic that the accident will not significantly set back the project -- which has been under construction since November 1998 and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2001. "It's really too early to tell," Lim said. "Our focus is really on the five guys in the hospital. The $245 million facility will contain three performing arts spaces, classrooms and a cafe. Former Mayor Ed Rendell has heralded the new building -- which will be five stories high and topped with a glass dome -- as the future centerpiece of Center City's Avenue of the Arts area. Daily Pennsylvanian Design Editor Rod Kurtz contributed to this article.
Rodin remains critical of the growing number of students occupying College Hall. Now on their fifth day in College Hall, the United Students Against Sweatshops continued their sit-in protesting Penn's sweatshop policies yesterday -- insisting they would stay put through the weekend if necessary and drawing further criticism from University President Judith Rodin. "They have used bongo drums, they have banged on my inner office, they have physically blocked the ability of people to move into the office," Rodin said. The group, which began with 13 students and has grown to as many as 30, is rapidly gaining momentum, receiving support from various campus organizations, union workers and earning national media attention. But Rodin has not changed her position on the situation and in an interview yesterday, voiced her increasing annoyance with the activists. The group has repeatedly said it will not leave Rodin's office until Penn pulls out of the current monitoring organization for University-logo apparel, the Fair Labor Association -- which members claim is ineffective and biased -- and joins the rival Worker Rights Consortium. "We're here for as long as it takes," College sophomore Cara Kusko said. Kusko, who joined the sit-in at its kickoff Monday morning, hasn't left since to shower or attend class. Rodin has not agreed to the demands, saying that a recently charged ad-hoc committee -- which includes three USAS members -- will look into the issue. The committee, which met for the first time yesterday, will develop a University code of conduct for sweatshops, but will not necessarily discuss the monitors -- which USAS says are at the crux of the problem. "It won't do any good to have a code of conduct? without a monitoring organization," USAS member and College freshman Anna Roberts said. Rodin will meet with USAS for 30 minutes today to discuss the group's demands. "I am eager to talk to them about this," she said. "I am willing to talk to any students. They don't have to sit in my office to see me." USAS also plans to hold a rally on College Green today at noon. At the moment, a tattered yellow piece of construction paper, taped across the sign to Rodin's office, re-names 100 College Hall the "Office of United Students Against Sweatshops." Administrators are growing tired of the persistence of the USAS members planted in College Hall. Rodin said the students -- who have overtaken her outer-office with sleeping bags and posters -- have not affected her work. She said she was on campus throughout the day, although several USAS members said they had not seen her in College Hall. Steve Schutt, Rodin's chief of staff, described the environment in College Hall as "unavoidably somewhat tense." And Rodin herself also expressed concern about the group's behavior in College Hall. "They have exceeded the boundaries of what is appropriate at this University with regard to open expression and are in absolute, complete violation," she said. The group has effectively taken over the main lobby of College Hall. Brightly colored posters from various supporters of USAS decorate the walls outside Rodin's office. Bob Marley echoed from a stereo strategically placed in Rodin's office, with students typing away at laptops perched on daypacks and others quietly speaking into their cell phones. The group received a boost earlier yesterday afternoon when three representatives of the Union of Needlework and Textile Employees, or UNITE, arrived at College Hall to provide support for USAS members. UNITE presented the students in College Hall with a petition bearing the signatures of over 600 UNITE members who support the group's demand that the University join the WRC and pull out of the FLA. Rosario Machin, business agent for UNITE, told the students about her own experience as a laborer in a New Jersey sweatshop. "There was just so much abuse," Machin said after speaking to the group, shaking her head and burying her face in her hands. And UNITE organizer James Dobbs, who spent last summer working in a garment factory, also said he was subjected to bad working conditions. "The temperature was 95, 98 degrees everyday," he said. "You're in a building working with no air. They don't give you any breaks." Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Eric Dash contributed to this article.
W. Phila. residents met with the mayor and Judith Rodin to discuss neighborhood issues. Hundreds of West Philadelphia community members met with Mayor John Street for three-and-a-half hours of lively discussion last night to demand blight removal, improved schools and restored funding for the Walnut West branch of the Philadelphia Free Library. Street, along with Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and University President Judith Rodin, held an open-invitation meeting for West Philadelphians at the Lea School on 47th and Locust streets, listening to individual concerns and complaints for over three hours. "We think we know a little about? what's important to you," Street told the assembled citizens to open last night's proceedings. "But that's not the same as hearing it from you." So Street, under moderation by Rodin, opened the floor to anyone with a concern about life in and around West Philadelphia. One of the first concerns the panel had to address was the projected loss of funding to the libraries that came as a result of the mayor's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2000. But when Beth Ann Johnson, president of the Friends of Walnut West Library group, stepped to the microphone to request funding for area libraries, she was surprised to learn that within the past few days the mayor had altered his budget to provide the funding she wanted. "It's done," Street said to Johnson after she asked the mayor to allot almost $300,000 to the libraries' anticipated budget shortfall, inciting roaring applause and a standing ovation from the audience. Yet the work of the panel was not done after what seemed like an early victory for Street and the West Philadelphia community. Both Rodin and the new mayor soon had to address the controversy surrounding the construction of a Penn-assisted public school and the proposed catchment area drawn by the school board to determine who will be eligible to attend the new school. "Where's the money coming from to build the school? when you already have two schools that can't afford to buy books or build a library?" West Philadelphia resident Roxanna Smith demanded of Street and Rodin, who did not respond to the question. Several others speaking at last night's meeting agreed with Smith's fear that the construction of a Penn-assisted school would be detrimental to already existing public schools. But the University came under the greatest attack when community members began discussing the proposed catchment area, with some calling the proposed boundary "racist" and comparing it to "gerrymandering." "They're removing all the black children," Smith added after speaking to the panel. Rodin responded to these complaints at the end of the meeting, noting that, "We will never satisfy everyone" and that the school "gives a chance to all the schools in West Philadelphia." "This is not about racial politics," she explained. However, despite heated debate about the new school, the panel spent the majority of the meeting listening to individuals complain about the abandoned cars, litter and lack of economic development on their own blocks. In response, Street reminded the audience of his pledge to fight neighborhood blight and his recent allocation of millions to this project. But Street also asked the neighborhood to remain involved, noting that each block should appoint "block captains" to help keep West Philadelphia clean and safe. "The first step is on us," Street said. "And then, after we work with you to do what needs to be done, the community has to be engaged so we can have a project that has been maintained." Since last night's meeting generated such a large turn-out and heated discussion, Street said he will hold a follow-up town meeting for the area on February 28.
As Bergin O'Malley trudged through the snow on a cold January day, she realized why the majority of young voters were at home in front of their televisions instead of standing next to her, waving colorful campaign posters at passersby. "The whole time I was thinking, 'Is this how we get our votes? How will this make a difference?'" the Columbia junior said, reflecting back on her New Hampshire experience volunteering for the Bill Bradley campaign. O'Malley is not alone in her revelation. Many college students across the country are trying to make their voices heard and get their peers involved. And many others say they don't care at all about who moves into the White House next year. With the first presidential election of the century looming on the horizon, students, organizations and political candidates alike are struggling to mobilize what have historically been apathetic young voters. As Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain fight for the bid of the Republican Party, and Vice President Al Gore competes with former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley for the Democratic slot, many of America's students have only been watching the races from the comfort of their own homes. But while the candidates don't always agree on lowering taxes or subsidizing college education, they are all working to get young people off their couches and into the voting booths. "There are 25 million 18-24 year olds in this nation," said Andrea Jones, national youth coordinator for McCain 2000. "If they decided collectively, they could choose a candidate together and have that candidate win." It was just decades ago that college campuses were characterized as bastions of political involvement. The universities of the 1960s saw riots, sit-ins, peaceful protests and tear gassings with an eerie regularity. But since then, voter participation among 18-to-24 year olds has been steadily and significantly declining. In the 1996 presidential election, according to the coalition group Youth Vote 2000, less than one-sixth of the eligible voters in the 18-to-24 age range actually voted. And in 1998, only 15 percent of young people showed up at the polls on election day. Experts claim youth turnout is so low because politicians fail to address issues that affect young voters or to campaign through media outlets, like MTV or Cosmopolitan, that are geared toward young people. "Youth don't vote because they don't think the candidates care about them," Youth Vote 2000 spokesman John Dervin said, adding that in return, "The candidates don't target them because they don't vote." "At some point somebody needs to step forward to break this cycle," he added. This failure to communicate often means candidates do not relate issues to college students' lives, losing the interest of many potential young voters. "Perspective is key," explained Aili Langseth, youth inclusion director of Project Vote Smart, an organization designed to educate voters. "When politicians talk about the economy they usually talk about Social Security or today's prosperity," she said. "But students don't look at the economy that way. They look to see if there are going to be jobs for them when they graduate." Other experts say the problem lies not only in the message, but in the medium. Young voters feel alienated simply because candidates do not transmit their messages through youth-oriented media outlets, said Richard Thau, president of Third Millennium -- a group that aims to inspire young people to get politically involved. "What you need are ads running on the WB and Fox. You need to be putting a lot of banner ads on Internet sites that target teens," he said. Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of Southern Florida, said politicians have underestimated the power of the Internet as a way to reach young voters. "All the candidates have finally realized that this is not something you can put number five" on the priority list, she said. But, as several students and experts said, perhaps the entire process of democracy just is not suited to students' mobile lifestyles. Ryan Hayden, a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, recalled that last week a fellow student could not register to vote because it would jeopardize his residency status in his home state. "[He] found out that if [he] registered in California? he would have to get new license plates for his car at home," Hayden said. "The political process isn't suited for college students who move around frequently," he added. In light of these challenges, several groups are trying to convince students that, in the end, their involvement matters. One such organization, Youth Vote 2000, has brought together about 51 national organizations to prove, as their spokesman said, that "youth do care." The coalition has sponsored youth training conventions in New Hampshire and Iowa designed to teach students how to discuss issues with candidates, increase political activity at their colleges and, above all, make their voices heard, Dervin said. Neglection 2000, a project sponsored by Third Millennium, has taken a somewhat different approach. Thau said his group is trying to make the candidates use their campaign funds to target all voters, rather than just those who historically vote. "If one of the parties made a $10 million contribution to youth for the next few years, they'd see an immediate response," Dervin agreed. With New Hampshire and Iowa behind them and the Super Tuesday primaries fast approaching, the presidential frontrunners are developing strategies to get young voters in their headquarters for the final campaign stretch. All four candidates have Web sites designed to aid student volunteers in creating a campus movement to support their candidate of choice -- which, students say, are effective. "It's easy to start a group at any campus," O'Malley explained. "When I wanted to start a Bradley group at Columbia, all I had to do was go to his Web site, download a kit and follow the instructions." McCain's volunteers will be co-sponsoring voter registration "derby days" with college fraternities and sororities nationwide, pitting the greek organizations against each other in a contest to register voters, Jones said. While Gore's campaign will also challenge schools to sign up voters through a similar competition -- grouping schools by athletic conference -- Students for Gore coordinator Allison Friedman said that is not all Gore wants from young people. "We've had students in Iowa and New Hampshire canvassing, making phone calls and acting as field organizers," she said. But, in the end, it is unclear whether the candidates are doing what it takes to captivate the younger generation. Karl Von Vorys, a Penn Political Science professor, said the presidential campaigns simply are not idealistic enough to make America's youth care. "Young people like to get involved with causes -- and this is not a cause," he explained, adding that the race's lack of idealism has kept candidates from successfully reaching young voters. Regardless of organizational sway or candidates' efforts at getting young people involved, it is the students themselves that have to prove to the candidates that they are willing to get out and vote. At Penn, students have formed official student groups supporting Bush, Gore, Bradley and McCain. As part of their campaign push, each group sent supporters to volunteer at the New Hampshire primaries. College junior Beth Harkavy, one of several Penn students who traveled to the primaries to support Bradley, said the most memorable part of the weekend was spending the night in a New England Boys and Girls Club. "There were like 500 kids, and we were all crowded together in our sleeping bags," she said. "There was so much enthusiasm and spirit." That kind of energy is exactly what many politically active students, including those at Penn, want to share with their peers. College senior Patrick Ruffini, leader of Penn Students for Bush, said his group will set up a voter registration table on Locust Walk in the coming months to help with voter registration and absentee ballots. The other groups are planning similar drives. "During the fall, groups [on Locust Walk] registered more than 700 voters for the mayoral election," said Harkavy, who also helped campaign for Mayor John Street. "The mayoral election was close -- those votes mattered." And the groups provide more than just voter registration forms. They are all devoted to educating the student body about their candidates. According to College sophomore Matthew Oresman, co-chair of Bill Bradley for President at Penn, these efforts do have an impact. "The first day we were tabling for Bradley we had a girl who had formerly voted Republican come up to me and ask me why she should vote for Bill Bradley," Oresman recalled. "And we sat there and talked about it for a long time. That happens a lot. Now she comes to a lot of political events to support Bradley," he added. The success of these students will not truly be apparent until November when the effect of the youth vote -- which Ruffini has dubbed the "sleeping giant" of the upcoming election -- can accurately be assessed. "When we do come out, we can make our voices heard and really surprise people," he promised.
The budget foruses on improving public schools and fighting blight in Philadelphia's neighborhoods. Philadelphia Mayor John Street submitted his first yearly budget to City Council yesterday morning, highlighting as priorities education, blight removal and fighting crime. He also introduced his five-year capital program for FY 2000 to FY 2005 to the 10 Council members and the dozens of community members in attendance. "While the budget and five-year plan include funding for city services and key initiatives, like the expansion of our after-school programs, it is a conservative budget," Street told those assembled for his address. Street's budget speech focused largely on the very same issues that he pledged to address when he took the reins from former Mayor Ed Rendell last January . Street put the budget's greatest sum of money -- $250 million out of $2.7 billion -- toward his new neighborhood revitalization initiative, the "Saving Neighborhoods Campaign." "This will be an all-out assault on neighborhood blight and destabilization," Street said of the new campaign. The mayor also focused on his plans for improving Philadelphia's public schools. While pledging to work with the state legislature and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to solve the school district's present fiscal crisis, Street also discussed several new projects. One such initiative will focus on keeping children off the street by providing them with constructive after-school activities. "My administration intends to dramatically increase the number of children who have a safe place to learn and play in the after-school hours and during the summer," Street said. And Street also promised to help eradicate Philadelphia-area crime by allocating millions of dollars to criminal justice programs, the district attorney's office and new police facilities. City Council Majority Leader Jannie Blackwell, who represents the West Philadelphia and University City area, said she was pleased with Street's financial plans for the next few years. "It was a conservative budget," Blackwell said. "He did some excellent things. He tripled the after-school programs. It was a positive budget." Blackwell still remains concerned, however, about the loss of funding to the Walnut West branch of the Philadelphia Free Library that came as a result of Street's budget. "I hope that there is money to replace the lost funding," she said. "We've fought too hard." Street attributed the loss of funding for many such programs as a result of the city's large debts. "We are fast approaching our legal debt limit," he said yesterday in his budget address. And although the city is currently in debt, according to Street, his new operating budget begins spending the over $200 million surplus the city has accumulated for the past several years. "The surplus was built up in anticipation of increased costs," Street explained. "The $205.7 million surplus was clearly a fiscal achievement, but the greatest mistake we could make would be to forget the painful history of our financial crisis in the late '80s and early '90s," he said.
With CNN calling the New Hampshire primary race "too close to call" until late last night, about 20 excited supporters of Bill Bradley gathered around a small television in Civic House last night with high hopes for their candidate. Yet the combined enthusiasm of these students could not help Bradley surpass Vice President Al Gore to take the New Hampshire victory. Gore won 52 percent of the vote while Bradley received 47, leaving supporters of the former Princeton basketball star and New Jersey senator disappointed but still hopeful for success in upcoming primaries. Also last night, Arizona Senator John McCain defeated Texas Governor George W. Bush by 18 percentage points, with McCain capturing 49 percent of New Hampshire's voters and Bush garnering only 31 percent. For College junior Michael Bassik, co-founder of Penn for Gore, yesterday's primary reconfirmed his belief in his candidate. "It's fantastic that Al Gore was able to prove to the people of New Hampshire that he was a worthy candidate, especially noting that his was a come-from-behind victory," Bassik said. "This victory goes to show that Gore is the candidate that can win the nomination," Bassik added. But for the student Bradley supporters who watched the primary results at Civic House, last night's primary was a letdown. "It was frustrating to watch," College senior Ben Schein said. "The whole polling process with the media predicting the outcome before you know was very frustrating." However, Schein, a member of Bill Bradley for President at Penn, said the results do not mean Bradley is out of the running for the Democratic nomination. "It's a minor setback. New Hampshire would have helped a lot, but you can't close his coffin," Schein said. Calling Gore the "heir to the Clinton economy," Matthew Oresman, chair of Bill Bradley for President at Penn, attributed Gore's victory to his role in the Clinton administration and the mild media furor caused by Bradley's recent heart problems. The Bradley group followed CNN's result updates throughout the evening. When the results of the first precincts reported that Gore was leading over Bradley, shouts and boos echoed throughout the living room. "I'm trying to think optimistically," College junior Beth Harkavy said when approximately 20 percent of the calculated vote showed Bradley 10 points behind Gore. While Bradley was not able to pull off last night's victory, his supporters at Penn say they will continue to work toward securing Bradley's victory in future primaries. According to Oresman, the several hundred students in the Bradley group will spend the next month gearing up for the March 7 New York primary instead of focusing on yesterday's loss. "Bill Clinton shows you don't have to win the primaries to win the presidency," he said, noting that Clinton came in second in New Hampshire in 1992. Oresman, a College sophomore, said the group would definitely be sending students to New York to do "whatever the campaign needs us to do." And Bassik said that he, too, would be up in New York to help out Gore's campaign. Last weekend, over 35 students from the Bradley group traveled together to New Hampshire to volunteer for the Bradley campaign. Ten Gore supporters from Penn also headed north to help get out the vote in New Hampshire. Once they arrived in New Hampshire, the Bradley volunteers were dispersed throughout the New England state with some working in Bradley's Manchester campaign headquarters and others being sent to smaller rural towns. "We just had information about Bradley," said Harkavy, a Bradley group member who worked for the campaign last weekend. "We knocked on doors to tell people about Bradley, find out what they thought of him and encourage them to come out and vote in the primary," Harkavy said about her weekend in New Hampshire. For College freshman Arshad Hasan, who was also able to go to New Hampshire, the weekend proved to be more than an opportunity to support his presidential candidate of choice. "I always believed that there was a point to get involved," he explained. "This experience showed me why and reinforced that thinking."
Mayor John Street appointed a health and fitness czar after Phila. was named the country's fattest city. Newly inaugurated Philadelphia Mayor John Street promised yesterday to trim the city's fat. Literally. Today marks the kickoff of "Fit and Free 2000," a campaign designed by Street and his administration to help Philadelphia -- recently named the fattest of America's big cities by Men's Health magazine -- adopt a healthier lifestyle. "We think this is very serious," Street explained yesterday at a press conference introducing the campaign. "We spend about $259 billion a year in this country on health care costs -- a significant portion of which could be avoided by doing simple things," like drinking more water, he said. So yesterday, Street issued the second executive order of his mayoral career, establishing a Health and Fitness Office in City Hall, creating a Health and Fitness Commission and kicking off the "Fit and Free 2000" campaign. And the new mayor crowned Gwen Foster, the former Health Director of the Allegheny East Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, as "Health and Fitness Czar" for the city. Foster is charged with leading the Health and Fitness Commission in encouraging better fitness and exercise habits in Philadelphia. "The overarching goal [of the commission] is to see Philadelphia be the healthiest city in the nation," Foster said yesterday. Consequently, the Health and Fitness Commission has set up an Internet site dedicated to providing Philadelphians with health tips and information about fitness-related events. Site users are encouraged to log on and tell the service their fitness goals, and software will help those trying to shed a few pounds track their progress. Today, the campaign kicks off the month of February with a registration drive designed to get the city's sedentary to commit to get fit. But the city's intentions for out-of-shape Philadelphians do not stop with the Web site and February's membership drive. Street announced plans for a "Night Out" in mid-March, outlining an evening where commission members retreat into Philadelphia restaurants to ask owners how their business will accommodate patrons who are trying to stay healthy. The Health and Fitness Commission will also organize fitness and exercise events, such as group classes or excursions, and health education campaigns. And the new mayor even hinted that especially fit Philadelphians may be able to accompany him to Hawaii to compete in the state's annual marathon this spring. However, Street also noted that funding plans for the Health and Fitness Commission and Office are not quite certain. "We're going to try and do this program in a way that minimizes costs to taxpayers," he said. "I don't believe it could be done general fund-free." Penn Recreation Director Mike Diorka said Street's plan is ambitious and well-intentioned, but not necessarily entirely realistic. "Exercise is an individualized type of thing," Diorka explained. "They have to do it. They have to make a decision." But Diorka also said the commitment to exercising with a group can be highly motivational. "The catalyst becomes the group meeting on a regular basis, knowing there is a group of people meeting that you can do something with," said Diorka, who has helped rehabilitate leukemia patients by coaching them in running. "Just keep it simple and people are more likely to participate," he advised the mayor. Last week, Street appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in an episode entitled "Take Charge of Your Life in 2000." While Street and the national media personality gossiped about everything from Philly's hoagies to eggplant cheesecake, he announced to viewers his plans for helping Philadelphians lose their excess weight and get in shape.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has sampled numerous fad diets and newfangled exercise regimes while attempting to shed off those extra pounds. And her latest weapon for fighting fat is none other than Philadelphia's own Mayor John Street. Yesterday Street appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in an episode entitled "Turn Your Health Around 2000," an hour dedicated to helping viewers improve their health and wellness. "This time next year, we are going to be a healthier, fitter city," Street pledged on yesterday's show, which was taped last Wednesday in Chicago. Street's five-minute segment outlining his goals for a fit, fat-free city kicked off the program, which also included Surgeon General David Satcher and Christine Northrup, a physician who spoke about stress reduction and weight management. Right away, Street was asked to address the notorious January issue of Men's Health that labeled Philadelphia as the most rotund of America's big cities. "Why do you have such a fat city?" Winfrey demanded of the newly inaugurated Philadelphia mayor. "Because we eat great," Street jokingly replied. But Street used this question as an opportunity to tell the television show's national viewing audience what he's doing to help Philadelphians shed the pounds -- and shed the title given to them by the magazine. First and foremost, Street promised to "create a movement" devoted to making Philadelphia a healthier city. The mayor asked all Philadelphia residents to take several small steps towards reaching a healthier lifestyle, urging them to drink water, eat fruit and exercise several times a week. Included in his other plans for the city's out-of-shape citizenry are a World Wide Web site on health and fitness, a city-wide club for those trying to lose weight and the appointment of a "health and fitness czar." According to Street, the "sole and exclusive responsibility" of the fitness czar will be to whip Philadelphians into shape. Street said yesterday afternoon that though no final decision has been made as to who that person will be, he hopes the search will end before the close of January. "San Diego, watch out," Street said in reference to the California city's current status as Men's Health magazine's fittest city. Street also detailed for Winfrey his own battle with weight loss. Approximately 32 years ago, the 5'9" Street weighed over 250 pounds. "Oprah, I just blew up," the mayor explained to Winfrey and the studio audience. So the younger -- and heavier -- Street put himself on a stringent diet and regimented workout routine, losing almost a pound a day until he reached his current weight of 193 pounds. "I weigh the same thing I weighed when I graduated from high school," Street noted of his current frame. But being mayor hasn't meant that Street has had to leave his diligent workout routine behind. "I cross-train, I run and I ride," Street explained in a press conference after The Oprah Winfrey Show aired. "I'm doing five days a week." And it's this devotion to physical activity that Street hopes to transmit to what he dubbed a "sedentary" city. "We're not asking people here to do the impossible," Street told the press yesterday afternoon. "I don't expect that we will one day wake up and a quarter of a million people in the City of Philadelphia are now going to start doing the Philadelphia distance run. But I think people will walk." The show wasn't just an opportunity for Street to unveil his strategy for leading Philadelphians towards a healthier lifestyle -- it was a chance to showcase Philadelphia to America. Aside from Street's interview with Winfrey, a small portion of the show was taped in Reading Terminal Market. "I think virtually anything? where we get a chance to talk about our city and the good things that are happening here is great for us," he said yesterday afternoon. "We're going to do some things during the course of the year that I think people are going to like."
If Mayor John Street has his way, Philadelphia sports fans will soon be singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with new vigor. During his first 100 days in office, Street says he will resolve the controversy surrounding the city's ongoing plan to construct new stadiums for the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies. Street made a $23 million promise on January 5 to the NFL Eagles that he would get them a stadium. The mayor said he would put the money into the construction of the team's new practice facility if City Council does not approve funding for the stadium deal by November 3. Under this promise, Street would have to put $80 million toward repairing the almost 30-year-old Veterans Stadium -- shared by the Phillies and the Eagles -- if a deal is not made by next fall. "Mayor Street's stepping to the plate really quickly? changed the status of the stadium issue to put it back on the front burner," said Marjorie Dugan, who leads the transition team appointed by Street to help the city reach a deal with the two franchises. After hearing Street's commitment to resolving the stadium issue, the Eagles restarted work on their practice facility, which is located on the grounds of the old Naval Hospital. The team had stopped the facility's construction after former Mayor Ed Rendell's November announcement that the stadium issue would not be resolved in 1999. In December, Street assembled a committee of about 20 local residents to find ways to involve the community and be economically efficient during negotiations with the teams. Phillies Director for Business Development Joe Giles also noted that the teams have yet to select the specific locations of the new stadiums. It must still be decided whether the stadiums will be constructed in South Philadelphia near the Vet or somewhere downtown -- a possibility that is looking increasingly remote. Dugan said the committee, which is co-chaired by Legal Studies Professor Kenneth Shropshire, will hopefully submit a proposal to the mayor in February. "Street's announcement really served to energize the committee," Dugan explained. "The big emphasis is that John Street really wants the public to be involved in this process and doesn't want to make any decisions without them." But not everyone is entirely supportive of Street's promise to allocate such a large amount of funding to the sports teams. West Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, for one, said she is supportive of the economic vitality that the stadium could bring to the city, but is apprehensive that the success might come at the expense of Philadelphia neighborhoods. "I believe that we need all of these things to make our city move," she said. "If we really, really work hard together, we can meet both goals, but our commitment has to be to the neighborhoods first." Blackwell added that funding for the new stadiums was likely to be a topic discussed by West Philadelphia residents at the area's town meeting with Street on February 9. However, Giles said he is optimistic that the city and the franchises will reach a deal by Street's November deadline. "We have to finish negotiations with Mayor Street and work through the issues that remain outstanding," he said. "These are just normal things that have to be worked out in any project." Dugan did, however, indicate that the franchises were considering rebuilding on the original Vet site, while also examining new possibilities. Street's announcement comes almost two years after the state legislature passed a bill promising the two teams almost one third of the estimated $600 million needed to build the new facilities. The city had promised to pay an additional third of the costs, leaving the teams to pick up the rest of the bill.
Two bicyclists died in separate incidents last fall, speeding up the timetable for new bicycle lanes. Thanks to the joint effort of University, city and state officials, West Philadelphia cyclists now have a safer place to pedal. Together, the three groups have been working to make Penn and its surrounding neighborhoods more bike and pedestrian-friendly by repairing roads, adding bike lanes and brainstorming other ways of increasing safety. Over winter recess,, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation kicked off the improvements by resurfacing Market Street between 38th and 46th streets and adding a bike lane between 38th and 44th streets. PennDOT, also marked a second bike lane on 33rd Street from Spruce to Market streets. According to Glenn Bryan, Penn's director of city and community relations, the University's efforts to make the Penn campus safer for pedestrians and cyclists alike are just beginning. In conjunction with recommendations from the University, PennDOT and the city say they intend to continue improving the University City area for cyclists this spring with seven key projects. This spring, PennDOT and the city will resurface parts of 33rd, Spruce, Walnut and Chestnut streets. They will also mark bike lanes on selected areas of these streets. "We're very serious about getting stuff done with the city so we can alleviate some of the problems encountered while walking, riding or driving on this campus," Bryan said. Bryan is a member of the task force appointed by University President Judith Rodin to investigate bicycle safety in and around Penn. Rodin put the committee together last November following the deaths of two cyclists, a Wharton freshman and an elderly man taking classes at Penn, in the University City area over a two-week period last fall. The group, chaired by Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman and Vice President for Public Safety Thomas Seamon, was charged with making the Penn campus safer for cyclists. The task force has been meeting with city and state officials -- who had been working since 1994 to create more bike lanes in Philadelphia -- to formulate long and short-term strategies to make Penn a safer place for those on bike or on foot. According to Tom Branigan, assistant engineering director of the Philadelphia Streets Department, the city plans to put some of the committee's proposals into place with the start of the next construction season this spring. "We have been working with a project known as the Bicycle Network Plan to look at the entire city to make it safer for bikes," Branigan said. "The University City area is obviously part of that." While lanes will be drawn in some areas, Branigan said the city would be working hard to make most streets "bicycle friendly" by widening designated lanes and prohibiting cars from parking on the street during peak hours. But Bryan said these are just some of the proposals of the University's task force. "For the long term, we're exploring various ways to slow down traffic," he said. The committee's other short-term proposals include posting signs to prohibit turning against red lights at designated intersections, placing stop signals on pedestrian walkways and marking left-turn lanes on Spruce Street, Bryan continued. University Police Chief Maureen Rush emphasized that bicyclist and pedestrian education are just as important as street maintenance and repairs. "Once we get bike lanes in place, we have to focus on the broader issue of keeping bikes from where they don't belong," she said. Wharton junior Jon Glick, the student representative on the Penn task force, is currently spearheading an effort to improve bike and pedestrian safety education. According to Glick, who chairs the Undergraduate Assembly's Facilities Committee, a group of approximately 10 Undergraduate Assembly committee members have come together to organize ways of increasing bike safety awareness around campus. "One of the things we would hope to do is to create a bicycle awareness program -- maybe an awareness week -- and do something with CUPID next year to educate incoming students about bikes at Penn," Glick said. Branigan echoed the need for improved bicycle education. "With the changes taking place in University City, combined with educating students about bike safety, the area will become safer for bicycles," he said.
The curent DNC chair and former mayor taught his first two Penn classes yesterday. Ed Rendell has held many positions in his political career -- district attorney, big-city mayor and now general chairman of the Democratic National Committee. But to the students in the Penn courses he's teaching, he's just Ed. Yesterday, the recently-departed Philadelphia mayor kicked off the semester as an instructor in the Urban Studies Department by holding the first sessions of the two classes he will be teaching this semester, Urban Studies 470 -- "Can Cities Survive" -- and Urban Studies 320/Political Science 320 -- "The Science of Politics: Who Gets Elected and Why." Rendell, a 1965 College graduate, returned to his alma mater to try and help a new generation of students. And in fact, Rendell got his political start at Penn, serving as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government. From the outset yesterday, Rendell used lessons learned from his own life on the campaign trail to help students understand exactly what was expected of them in his class. "People who work in a campaign sink or swim together," he explained to the 60-plus students assembled for last night's Urban Studies 320 lecture. "And that's going to be true here too." But the campaign Rendell was talking about wasn't one of his runs for mayor or district attorney -- both positions he has sought, and won, throughout his political career. Instead, Rendell was referring to the campaigns his students would be running themselves. As their cumulative project for the semester, students will apply what Rendell teaches them to design their own campaigns, with groups of five students guiding one of four fictional candidates toward victory in the mock election of Urban Studies 320. Students in the lecture class will learn aspects of campaigning, ranging from campaign finance, to the role of media in politics, to how endorsements influence an election. And it will all be done by combining Rendell's on-the-job experience with the knowledge of the guest lecturers he intends to bring to class this semester. "Mass media has changed it all," Rendell proclaimed when providing students with an overview of issues they will encounter in the coming semester. As proof, Rendell explained to students how he strategically crafted statements released to the press in an especially conservative district during a past campaign. "You should always remember where you are and who you're talking to," he continued. The students in the seminar class will also use group projects to enhance their understanding of urban issues, but will do so from a policy rather than campaign perspective. "He wants us to look at real problems and consequences and come up with real solutions," explained College senior Jessica Oliff, a history major enrolled in the course. Rendell's political prominence prompted 50 students to apply for the 20 slots in his seminar and over 500 students to pre-register for his lecture. However, only 50 undergraduates and 10 graduate students were eventually admitted into the larger class. Dozens more arrived to class last night in hopes of gaining enrollment. "The reasons I'm taking this class are probably obvious," said College senior Elizabeth Cohen, a political science major who managed to enroll in Urban Studies 320 last November. "You can probably learn more from his experience than from any professor who has been here for 20 years." Yet despite Rendell's political achievements, students remained most impressed by his commitment to teaching the classes. "He really seems to want to be involved with students," College junior Gina LaPlaca said. "He cares about what the students get out of the class." Rendell himself is no stranger to city political issues. During his eight-year tenure as Philadelphia's mayor, Rendell saved the city's floundering economy, balanced the budget and revitalized the Center City area with projects such as the Avenue for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Perhaps his crowning achievement is luring this summer's 2000 Republican Convention to the city. Rendell was appointed general chairman of the Democratic National Committee by President Clinton in September because of his well-known fundraising prowess. He will spend the months leading up to the presidential elections fundraising for Democratic candidates and is expected to launch a campaign for governor in 2002. Rendell's wife, the U.S. Circuit Court Judge Marjorie Rendell, is a 1969 Penn alumna and University Trustee. Son Jesse is currently a Penn sophomore.
Street looks to focus on improving both education and Philly neighborhoods. ] With the start of January came a new century, a new decade, a new year. And, for Philadelphians, a new mayor. Mayor John Street was sworn into office January 3 in a lavish ceremony held at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music before an invitation-only audience of over 2,500 supporters. Former City Council President Street became the city's 122nd mayor, succeeding the popular Ed Rendell, who served the city for two terms. In his inaugural address, Street pledged to focus on issues of education, work to remove blight from area neighborhoods, maintain the city's current fiscal stability and fight crime. "If we are to achieve our goals for our economy and our neighborhoods we must begin by focusing on the quality of education in our public schools," Street proclaimed during his inaugural speech, calling 2000 the "year of the child." Consequently, Street promised to devote $250 million to restore funding to what he dubbed a "chronically underfunded school system" and double the number of undercover-narcotics officers patrolling neighborhoods. One of the first challenges Street faces is living up to his predecessor Rendell, a man labeled by Vice President Al Gore as "America's Mayor" and credited by many with revitalizing Center City and lifting Philadelphia out of economic depression. "There's no question that Rendell left [Street] big shoes to fill -- but things in Philadelphia aren't as perfect as people think," Street spokesman Ken Snyder said. According to Snyder, Street is going to work towards redeveloping Philadelphia's neighborhoods in conjunction with Center City's recent renaissance. "We're at a point -- for the first time in 20 years -- where we can finally go into neighborhoods that are on the decline or flat on their backs and make a real difference," Snyder said. Although Street's overarching focus has been on improving neighborhoods, he emphasized in his inaugural speech that this won't decrease his commitment to Center City. "We will never surrender to the false choice between improving our center area or improving our neighborhoods," Street proclaimed during his speech. "We must do both in this city." Street demonstrated his commitment to neighborhoods and other issues last Wednesday when he announced his 100-day plan, a list of 21 objectives he hopes to achieve by the end of his first 100 days in office. The plan includes introducing a neighborhood blight removal effort, working towards resolving the city's school-funding crisis, starting labor negotiations with the city's four municipal unions and holding town meetings with each of Philadelphia's 10 districts, Snyder said. The local town meeting will be held on February 9. According to Penn Public Policy and History Professor Theodore Hershberg, Street needs to be taking radical measures to make differences in Philadelphia neighborhoods and to distinguish himself from Rendell. "To continue the Rendell administration is not going to save the [city]," said Hershberg, who is also the director of the Center for Greater Philadelphia. "The question is how radical [Street] is prepared to be." Hershberg claimed the real test of Street's commitment to change will come with the forthcoming contract negotiations with the city's four municipal unions, whose contracts will be up for renegotiation this year. According to Hershberg, Street's transition into office has been eased by his familiarity with the city government. "He got off to a quick start because he spent 20 years in City Council and seven years as the council president and therefore isn't going through a lot of on-the-job training," Snyder said. Hershberg also credited Street for his intimate knowledge of current city issues. "He has forgotten more about the workings of the city than most of us know," Hershberg said. "Street probably knows what needs to be done." Rendell's administration worked hand in hand with the University -- the city's largest employer -- during his term and Snyder said the new mayor will do the same. He added that the mayor's office views Penn as "almost a full governmental partner." "I think we're off to a fabulous start," said Carol Scheman, the University's vice president for government, community and political affairs.
Professor Ann Burgess' class met with inmates at local jails to better understand the criminal mind. The Asian fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon has been a part of the InterFraternity Council since its creation in 1993. But last week the group officially became part of the umbrella organization for historically black and latino fraternities and sororities -- the Bicultural InterGreek Council. By becoming a BIG-C member, the 18-member fraternity will increase its interaction with other minority fraternities and sororities. Incoming Lambda Phi Epsilon President Glenn Luck, a Wharton and Engineering junior, said he was very excited about the move, noting that BIG-C membership affords the fraternity "another venue to meet people and show them what we're about." Lambda Phi Epsilon will become part of the organization on a provisional basis for the spring. At the end of the semester, it will be reviewed by a student and faculty board to obtain permanent BIG-C membership. Representatives from the fraternity petitioned a few weeks ago to become part of the organization. "[As a BIG-C organization] we can work together, and we can learn from each other," said outgoing Lambda Phi Epsilon President Thomas Peng, an Engineering senior. "I definitely see that there are a lot of events that we can organize together as an umbrella organization." BIG-C Program Director Larry Moses said Lambda Phi Epsilon's acceptance into the BIG-C is a big step for both the BIG-C and for Greek life in general. "Penn has always been at the forefront of meeting the needs of [minority] organizations," Moses said. "It's going to show the willingness of our office to represent these groups." Peng also noted that the fraternity has organized projects over the years with many BIG-C groups -- such as the Alpha Phi Alpha and Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternities -- including the annual minority bone marrow drive, which recruited approximately 120 volunteers this year. Incoming BIG-C President Marcela Poveda, a College junior, said this addition would definitely benefit the group. "We felt [the fraternity] would be an asset to the organization as a whole and would shed light on the issues that the Asian community and Latinos and African Americans face," Poveda said. And OFSA Director Scott Reikofski said the benefits of Lambda Phi Epsilon joining the BIG-C extend beyond the Greek sphere. "I think that it certainly lends support and credibility to the group and will allow for increased communication and support between not only those organizations but potentially between those various cultural populations on campus," Reikofski said.
Richard Duboff alleed biased media coverage of the riots in Seattle. Calling the media's coverage of the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization "garbage," a professor emeritus of Economics at Bryn Mawr College gave his own take yesterday on what caused the recent uprisings in Seattle. Richard DuBoff spoke to a crowd of about 25 students last night at Civic House, arguing that the globalization of trade was the true source of contention for the recent riots during the WTO's annual meeting in Seattle last week. An estimated 50,000 demonstrators, including environmentalists and farmers, descended upon Seattle over the past two weeks to protest the globalization of trade. DuBoff also expressed his frustration with what he perceived as inaccurate media coverage of the protests. "The media just don't get it," DuBoff said. "They are convinced the anti-WTO organization is anti-trade. "[The protesters] are not anti-trade. There is just immense dissatisfaction with the costs of globalization." According to DuBoff, today's economy is consumed by the "era of globalization." Consequently, "the cost-benefit ratio of trade is increasing." And DuBoff claimed that the protesting groups in Seattle represented the costs of the increasingly global nature of trade. "This was very well illustrated in Seattle," he said. "You had labor groups, environmental groups, women's groups. And this is what the media is ignoring." Instead, DuBoff said the media --especially national periodicals like The New York Times -- portrayed the Seattle protests solely as revolts against trade. College senior Miriam Joffe-Block, who flew to Seattle last week to join the protests on behalf of United Students Against Sweatshops, said she supported DuBoff's interpretation of the false media coverage of the protesters' motivations. "The message repeated throughout the protests was that the WTO is pushing corporations at the expense of the people," she said. "The media largely ignored this." Though DuBoff discussed the motivations behind the Seattle protesters, much of his talk focused on the consequences of globalization, sparking intense debate between DuBoff and several audience members about current economic trends. Most members of the audience were prompted to attend DuBoff's lecture after the media coverage of last week's protests. "There's such biased reporting going on," College sophomore Alice Rink said. "It's very sad the media focused on the small minority that tried to cause mayhem, because the protests forced every representative in Seattle to realize that everyone has concerns [about the WTO]."
A local branch of a national mortgage company hoping to target Penn employees who live in the West Philadelphia area opened for business yesterday at 3900 Chestnut Street. GMAC Mortgage, a division of General Motors Acceptance Corporation -- based in Horsham, Pa. -- has established a partnership with the University's Office of Community Housing to provide information about homeowning and mortgages. "Through our guaranteed mortgage program for employees, the Office of Community Living will be working with GMAC to help them get information for home purchases," said Bernadette Ramsey, outreach coordinator for OCH. GMAC also plans to hold educational workshops about credit and financing for graduating students who are contemplating buying a first home. "[Buying a home] can be a very scary process -- especially when you're just starting," said Lolita Gray, district manager of the new West Philadelphia branch office, one of more than 230 nationwide. "The staff here are dedicated to holding our customers' hands throughout the mortgage process." The grand opening of the West Philadelphia branch is part of GMAC's initiative to enter housing markets in urban areas. According to Gray, the expansion represents the company's goal of providing services for all homebuyers in Philadelphia, not just those from Center City and surrounding suburban areas. The company opened yesterday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception at its new facility, drawing around 50 representatives of the company, community leaders and local officials. At the opening, GMAC President Mike O'Brien pledged to work with local charities and community programs in the company's new location. "We're committed to reaching customers at the grassroots level in their neighborhoods," he said. "We want to be a part of the community." As a testament to this commitment, GMAC presented 50 Thanksgiving baskets containing canned and dried goods generated from a corporate food drive to Pastor Kermit Newkirk of the Philadelphia Interfaith Action. The packages will be distributed to local families in need. The company also gave a $10,000 contribution to Philadelphia High School Academies Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to delivering career-oriented education to over 6,000 high school students in 19 area public schools.
By presidential decree, a delegation of 13 traveled halfway around the world to perform the traditional music and dance of Uzbekistan at the University Museum. Over 200 members of the University community flocked to the museum to get a sample of Uzbek culture Monday night at a performance featuring 17 pieces of Uzbek dance and music, with five musicians providing the background for more than a dozen dance and song solos. "The art and culture of an area is the best way to forge links between two cultures," Wharton senior Kodir Norov said. One of four Penn students from Uzbekistan, Norov contributed to the final preparations for Monday's performances. Archaeology Professor Fredrik Hiebert coordinated the event and arranged for the transportation and accommodations for the delegation of Uzbeks. In his study of ancient Asian trade routes, Hiebert discovered that few aspects of Uzbek culture had traveled overseas to reach the United States and resolved to change that. Through communication with the Uzbek government, he soon found himself with an Uzbek presidential decree in his name. The decree provided Hiebert with contacts to Uzbek museums, promises of Uzbek relics, a delegation of Uzbek dancers and musicians and the means to transport them all to the United States. "The president liked the idea of bringing Uzbek culture to Penn so much he not only opened all the museums to me but he provided the transport for everything on his personal presidential airline," Hiebert said. The result was an event that drew many Penn professors and Philadelphia residents, but few students. Prior to the performance, "Treasures of Uzbekistan: The Great Silk Road" -- an exhibit featuring relics from museums throughout Uzbekistan -- opened in the Museum's Arthur Ross Gallery. It marked the first time any Uzbek artifacts have been exhibited in the United States. The items are on loan until the exhibit closes in February. The collection contains over 100 pieces from varied ages -- several artifacts date from the Bronze Age -- and includes textiles, tiles, manuscripts and ceramics from Uzbekistan, one of the five Central Asian republics that became independent in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. Accompanying the delegation of performers was the first deputy prime minister of Uzbekistan, Otanazar Matayakubov, who spoke both at the museum opening and the performance. "This show -- the music and dance of Uzbekistan -- represents the spirit of the artifacts you just saw," Matayakubov said through a translator at the evening performance. Through Hiebert's efforts, similar exhibitions of Uzbek artifacts are being held in New York and Washington, D.C., and the group of 13 performers also traveled to those cities to celebrate each museum opening. "Though there are exhibits in other cities, the main exhibit -- the main focus of Uzbek culture -- is here at the University of Pennsylvania," Hiebert said.
Future film directors, actors and producers now attending Penn gathered at the Kelly Writers House Tuesday night for the introductory meeting of the Hollywood Club, a group devoted to helping undergraduates prepare for careers in the motion-picture business. Students interested in aspects of filmmaking ranging from the business end of production to recording soundtracks came to the club's first-ever meeting, which served both as a brainstorming session for future activities and a chance for the members to get acquainted. "The real key to success in the movie business is networking and forming contacts," explained College junior Josh Rosenberg, co-founder of the group. "It's a real shame when all of us want to go into a business about knowing people without actually having these contacts." Which is exactly why over 50 students attended the meeting. "Basically, the more people you know, the better off you are," said Doug Silversten, a Wharton senior interested in the financial aspects of film production. After a brief general meeting, the group broke down into smaller sections guided by specific interest -- producing, directing and screenwriting; the technical aspects of film; and acting. There, students exchanged advice relating to those more narrow fields, such as how to land an internship in production or how to evaluate talent agencies. "The purpose of this first meeting [was] just to see who wants to do this, who's interested," Rosenberg said. "It's still a fledgling group." Earlier this year, Rosenberg -- who is interested in screenwriting -- thought about ways to create a network of contacts among undergraduates and with people already in the industry. Rosenberg said that he has found Penn Career Services ineffective in helping out with networking. He claimed Career Services' contact list of Penn alumni involved in the film industry is both outdated and inaccessible to students, containing more higher-ups than entry-level positions. Students need people "to point you in the direction of attainable jobs, not those in the upper levels," he explained. Consequently, Rosenberg approached College senior Eugene Kwack -- head of the Teaching Film project at the Writers House -- about starting an informal network of students interested in working in the film industry, and the idea for the Hollywood Club was born. Rosenberg said the principles guiding the group are collaboration and reciprocity. "It's hard to succeed when you're trying to break in by yourself," he said. This group, he continued, is founded on the idea of students helping each other succeed in Hollywood. Though the dominant theme of the meeting was how to network in the film industry, students also expressed interest in working together on current film projects here at Penn.
While it's a view that has become increasingly less popular since the end of the Cold War, Daniel Singer firmly believes there is an alternative to capitalism. Singer, a European correspondent for The Nation, spoke to a group of over 20 community members at House of Our Own bookstore last Wednesday night about his new book, Whose Millennium? Theirs or Ours? The book, Singer's third, uses the close of the 20th century as an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of the American-style capitalist system in Europe. In doing so, he calls for political activists to look beyond the Western laissez-faire economic method and find alternative systems that allow the pursuit of "the ideals of democracy and equality." However, Singer focused his discussion not on the contents of his book but on his motivation for writing it, as he discussed European politics in depth. Citing the current Polish trade union movement and 1995 labor strikes in France as evidence of growing public discontent with capitalism in Europe, he called Whose Millennium? "a book against TINA -- the idea that 'there is no alternative.'" "We are told by our system -- call it hell, call it heaven, call it purgatory -- that capitalism is unchangeable," he said. "The purpose of this book is to say no, we don't have to resign to that." Singer believes the massive strikes and labor demonstrations of France in 1995 were "the first revolt against TINA" and a statement by Europeans against the future capitalism holds for them. This book, Singer said, was another step towards fighting TINA and the unquestionable acceptance of capitalism. "You have to build an alternative [to capitalism]," he told the audience. "That is now our agenda." After Singer spoke about his book, he opened the discussion to questions. While topics discussed ranged from the anti-sweatshop movement to the sociobiology of evolution, the conversation largely centered on NATO's war against Yugoslavia last spring. "We haven't got the moral ground to be there," Singer said, explaining that NATO forces only exacerbated the already unstable situation in the province of Kosovo. Despite the fact that the Philomethrian Society -- Penn's undergraduate literary society -- co-sponsored the event with House of Our Own, Singer failed to attract many Penn undergraduates. The few that did attend were graduate students. Instead, the audience mostly consisted of local residents. However, House of Our Own owner Debbie Sanford still felt the event generated a "good turnout." Most who attended the talk were familiar with Singer's work in The Nation and were curious about his new book. Local resident Mary Rutkovksy said she came "to see what's going on in terms of the Left as the group is getting smaller and smaller." Singer kicked off House of Our Own's Fall Author Series. Authors Christian Parenti and Marshall Berman will each visit the bookstore within the next month to discuss their own recent publications.