Seven middle school students got to try their hands at journalism. The Community Times Why? Because I'm a sixth grader at Shaw Middle School, located at 54th and Warrington streets in Southwest Philadelphia. What is my name doing in the DP? It is there because I decided I wanted to see what it's like to be a journalist and put out a paper. At Shaw, I joined the Journalism Club, a way for students like me, who are interested in journalism, to write articles and produce our own paper -- The Community Times that you're reading right now. The club is a part of the AIM Community, which stands for Active Innovative Multimedia. Elaine Welles is the AIM community coordinator. The Journalism Club at Shaw was started during the 1995 to 1996 school year. According to Mrs. Garnette Davis-Gorman, the club's adviser, the club was started to "assist students to work in small group settings, to develop writing and interviewing skills, as well as learning the process of maintaining a successful newspaper business." There are seven Shaw students in the Journalism Club this year. Their names are Ebony Archer, Raynard Archer, Brittany Fritz, Jamilla DeLoatch, Desahra Outlaw, Jaunita Alexander and Tarren Lawrence. Two or three Saturdays during the semester, we all come to The Daily Pennsylvanian building and edit our stories with the DP writers. They help make our stories clearer and more complete. It is so much fun at Saturday School at the DP -- the Penn students are great. I would like to thank Mrs. Davis and everyone who helped us to put this paper together. I am in the club because I like to see my name in the paper. My other club members have different reasons why they are in the journalism club. "I would like to be a journalist and this is good practice for me," Brittany Fritz said. Even though I enjoy the Journalism Club, I would not like to be a writer when I grow up. I would like be a singer. In the Journalism Club I can learn things that will help me with my singing career such as I might have to write my own songs and I'll have to be a good writer to do that. I learn to work with people in the Journalism Club and that will prepare me for working with people in the music world. The Journalism Club has been a really good experience for me and it has helped me develop my writing and my computer skills. All students should have a journalism club in place at their schools.
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In my first year of middle school I learned that boys pull girls' pigtails. In my first year of high school I learned that women won equality in the 1970s. In my first year of college I learned that my history teacher had lied and that boys still misbehave. I do not understand how any Penn student can claim that gender inequalities on the college campus or in our larger society have been eradicated. We have made vast progress in the larger battles for political and economic rights, yet young women in America still face daily abuses specific to the female gender. This continued battery is especially damaging because it is subtle. We are constantly bombarded by peers and the media to conform to a double standard of beauty: be sexy, but not sluttish; be thin, but not bony; wear black pants, but don't personify the sorority type. Female Wharton graduates can look forward to a businessworld where they will have to fight to earn equal pay for equal work. We are subjected to the torments of males who, seeing us as breasts and genitalia, belittle us through dormroom banter, poor taste but mainstream films and e-mail circulated sex jokes. It's not that we can't take a joke, but it's tiring to be the punchline time and again. I'm the first to assert that not all men are guilty of these offenses; my aim is not to perpetuate stereotypes. But what conclusion are we to come to when repeated experience reinforces these stereotypes? Women at frat parties do find themselves fending off roaming fingers; women in the big city do get accosted; women in the office do become the unhappy recipients of unwanted advances. In the regular course of events, we don't complain about being treated disrespectfully because we have been conditioned to view the swirl of sexual jibes and snide comments as a natural mode of rapport between males and females. I take full responsibility for the fact that I rarely protest these degradations anymore. Somewhere along the line I learned that a little woman in a big world can lose her voice easily, so it's best not to shout. But even as the Penn Women's Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary, reading the public commentary that has lined this newspaper's pages has convinced me that my silence is the surest way to reinforce the status quo. So today I add my voice to the males and females alike who look forward to a more equal society where men and women respect each other as intelligent equals, not sex objects. As the cream of the country's academic crop and its future leaders, it is our duty to continue to strive for gender equality and our special shame if we deny that the problem persists. When I don't need a posse of trustworthy male friends to escort me to a party, when I don't see girls tragically parading their anorexic frames around campus, when I can live through an entire day without being teased by a male student who thinks I find humor in his sexual innuendo, when the card swiper learns my name is not "sweetheart," when I can voice my opinions without being called a bitch, then and only then will I applaud those who declare that the revolution is over. I can only hope it happens before my daughter is old enough to have pigtails.
The article "NEC decision to invalidate ballot raises controversy" (4/6/98), and the editorial in the same issue both fail to comprehend just how low -- in Scanlon's own words: to the "rock bottom" -- referendum supporters and the DP are willing to go to perpetuate dishonesty. We must remember that we are not in the world of modern political campaigns where, unfortunately, presidents will lie about their past and mislead voters to sway them to their agenda. We are in the world of academia, a place where truth is held to a higher standard. If an organization decides that it should extort voters by "requiring" them to vote for a referendum, lie to them about the money available and do so willingly, the subsequent referendum has little legitimacy and no place in a university community. The DP and others still can't comprehend that one of the reasons the referendum passed was because many students believed that their Student Activities Council groups would receive no funding as a result of the increase in the UA discretionary fund. This is an all-out lie and should be reported as such. However, given that few in the campus newspaper have a regard for truth, it is up to other individuals to ensure that the truth be known. The reality of the situation is that SAC has approximately $630,000 to allocate to its organizations. Even the $200,000 of the reserve fund will not be invested until after this year's appeal process (a direct contradiction to SAC's propaganda campaign). Therefore, SAC is in a fury about something that amounts to less than 5 percent of its budget. The InterFraternity Council and other parties opposed to the referendum did not stoop to the level of lying to persuade voters. We should not be punished for holding ourselves to a higher standard. The Nominations and Elections Committee exists to ensure fair elections. When two-thirds of the body decide that action has been taken to jeopardize that fairness, action is not only justified, but necessary. Students should be proud of the organization that seeks to have truth remain in elections, especially given that others are willing to lie to achieve their objectives. I am not astonished, however, that the DP would side with the dishonest. It has been clear from the beginning where the editorial staff and reporters stand on this issue. It is unfortunate that they abuse their power, but after all, there is no NEC equivalent to hold them accountable. It is time that the DP stop its smear campaign against Greek organizations and begin reporting the truth. But then again, maybe its staff agrees with Scanlon's comment that "it is not against the rules to mislead people."
Jeff "Inflated Grade" Dinski, Commentary 1. Penn's athletic program and its little oversight of football player Mitch Marrow's failure to take three classes this fall. 2. The Penn student body's excitement about the trip to the game tonight. The trip will give the students an opportunity to visit an Ivy League school and see what higher education is all about. 3. The fact that most Penn students won't be able to understand this column anyway because of the abundance (that means a lot) of four-letter words like play and game. However, I realized that none of those topics was really necessary or appropriate. After all, this column is supposed to be about the game tonight, and when it comes to basketball, there is really only one thing this column could be about -- the fact that Princeton is better than Penn. Pure and simple. Period. Princeton will win tonight and we're so good that we won't even have to forfeit the win back. A lot of you down in Philadelphia probably think that your star guard Michael Jordan will have a big game tonight, leading Penn to victory. A lot of you probably think Jordan is good enough to one day get paid to play in the NBA. (Actually, we'll probably find out in a month or so that Jordan is already getting paid to play.) I hate to break the news to you, but Jordan isn't even the best point guard in the Ivy League. That honor belongs to Princeton's Mitch Henderson. Henderson is a better passer and defender and would score as much as Jordan if he weren't surrounded by four other talented players. Henderson's superiority will become painfully clear to you Penn fans tonight. Even at the Quakers' best position, Princeton is better than Penn. Speaking of Jordan, the only similarity between him and his more famous namesake is his number. The real Jordan wins big games. I'm sure my Penn counterpart will talk about how overrated we are and how we don't deserve to be a top-10 team. So what? Rankings don't mean anything anyway. At least we're ranked. It just indicates what I've been saying. Like me, 70 intelligent members of the media and 30 Division I coaches know that Princeton is better than Penn. Early in March, the NCAA selection committee will come to the same conclusion. Is there any doubt that Princeton will get a higher seed than Penn? Oh wait, the Quakers won't get a seed at all. We'll send you tickets to the tournament. So say all you want about Princeton students being a bunch of snobby, rich kids. Say how our basketball team is a bunch of slow white guys. Talk about how boring our games are to watch. Mention how our national ranking is a joke. None of that really matters. All that matters is that we have a better basketball team, and nothing anyone can say or do will change that. Penn, try as you might to bend the NCAA rules, it's inescapable -- Princeton is better than Penn.
Clinton's new mentoring initiative is based on Penn and Philadelphia outreach programs. President Clinton unveiled an initiative Wednesday to give children from poor families a chance to pair up with mentors, tutors and counselors. The intent of the $140 million plan is to gear students toward college from as early as grade six. For Penn, such programs are old hat. The Kite and Key Society's Step-One tutoring project, which pairs University students with Philadelphia grade schoolers, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Penn students work with children at Lea Elementary School at 47th and Locust streets, meeting weekly to tutor them in math and reading, among other subjects. Ninety-two percent of Lea's 1,100 students are at or below the poverty level. They are able to look to their tutors as success stories. Additionally, the University's West Philadelphia Tutoring Project has been providing academic and social support for children in grades K-12 for the last 11 years. Involving over 370 University students, the program lends help to children often living in single family homes at or below the poverty line. Studies have shown that the average amount spent per pupil in Philadelphia is $2,000 less than the average spent in surrounding suburban districts. The city's schools simply don't have the money to provide students with an adequate education, and it is clear that they are in need of vast improvement. But in the interim, Penn volunteers are helping to make up the difference through their outreach efforts. We hope the president's plan meets with similar success.
Jessica Darpino Jessica Darpino Last April, President Clinton convened the "President's Summit on America's Future." Colin Powell, former presidents of the United States Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and many other dignitaries, as well as involved American citizens, came together in Philadelphia, urging the nation to become more involved with volunteerism. Currently, there are many community service programs available on campus, with varying levels of student participation. These include programs for tutoring and mentoring, feeding the hungry and homeless, putting on theater productions for children and raising money for various charitable causes. While for undergraduates none of these are required activities, community service is mandatory in some parts of the University. For example, in order to graduate from the Law School, students must perform 35 hours of pro-bono work in both their second and third years. They have an opportunity to work with many different law-related organizations and programs, and they can select programs which fit their individual needs and personal or career interests. The goal of this requirement is to raise social consciousness and to encourage students to "give back" to society. One significant benefit of the program is that the exposure to different social problems encourages emotional involvement. Some law students later pursue public interest law or make a commitment to pro-bono work based on their experience. Unfortunately, there are many students on this campus who have never committed even an hour of their time to those who are less fortunate. The University aims to produce well-educated men and women who are prepared for the 21st century, but will it benefit society if these graduates have not been exposed to working for the public good? Penn Law should serve as a model for other schools within the university. At the very least, community service should be required among undergraduates. At one of the foremost universities in the country, it should be the responsibility of the administration to generate interest and force community involvement. Students here have a plethora of talents and special abilities that could benefit the community and society as a whole, while they become more well-rounded graduates. Although there is potential to enrich the lives of Penn students, the concept of mandatory public service may be unpopular. But if students were required to put in even a small amount of time doing volunteer work for an organization of their choice -- even as little as 10 hours a year -- the results would be astounding. The community would benefit, and there is a likelihood that students would be more socially responsible when they leave the University. As trite as it sounds, each person can make a difference. If more Penn students took an interest in West Philadelphia, maybe relations between students and area residents would improve. Students could do volunteer work for educational, health-related and other organizations that correspond to their interest and touch many lives.
Ah, the joys of Swamidom. At first, it seems the flying carpet and turban are all a young pigskin prognosticator could ever want. Good effort, backrubber Andrea Ahles, but you must hear the Swami mantra: "None will be refused: some may be shunned." Guess which category you fall into? Also shunned was Johanna Hinkel, illustrious Hamilton Court resident and would-be football freak. Her bribe was something less than convincing. A gin and tonic, Johanna? One. We couldn't even get a CFUI (carpet flying under the influence) on that contribution. Finally, one visitor played on our Swami sweet tooth, producing a prodigious packet of candy. Engineering junior Wade Bennett, judged "positively unemployable" by CPPS, found work for one night as a turban-headed freak, even if his sports sense is off the beaten track. "I'll take the NWO over WCW," the pro wrestling lover said. "Uh, yeah, that's cool." No, that's not cool. But why dwell on the negative. All-purpose athletic-predicting ability is a thing of joy. We Swamis are proud to welcome several bribers into the fold. First, and most impressive, was the bribe of DP Copy Editor Michael Mugmon. You may know "Mug" (as he is called by virtually no one) as the man responsible for DP "style," whatever the hell that is. The junior goatee-wearer came up with a sure-fire bribe, which young would-be Swamis should note. FWOT -- fingers preferred -- is always a winner. Copy Boy Mike took Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown to "try to impress Miss America," a reference to his girlfriend, Roberta. If being a Swami doesn't impress, what does? We Swamis also enjoyed the visit of Adam Cohen, that rare breed of Penn student, a Jew from Long Island. Cohen, who likes Penn, Harvard (by 45), Dartmouth, and Brown, had good reasons to drop by the Pink Palace with a bundle of goodies, including Wheat Thins with chive dip. "I was really bored," Cohen said. "Seinfeld kind of sucks this year. It's the same show every time -- it's blatantly obvious." Well, it's been a wild 10 weeks and we hate to depart. But fear not, we Swamis will return next year to fly through air on carpets specially weaved, telling the glory of Ancient Eight wisdom received.
Our turbans must have been tied too tight when we universally picked Princeton to defeat Columbia last week at Wing Stadium. How could our perennial perfection be marred by such an unsightly blunder. This left us no choice but to get on our carpets and fly to our place of miscue, where we once again promptly found the university's sign, "Welcome to The College of New Jersey". Wasn't this Princeton's alias? But the students below weren't wearing vests and pocket protectors. Luckily, the swamis came upon The College of New Jersey athletic communications director Ann Bready, who set our genius at ease. "We are The College of New Jersey," Bready said. "Princeton took us to court. But that never was their name. They called themselves College of New Jersey." This explanation provided ample reason why the football team we scouted last week showed signs of talent. Had we correctly flown to College of New Jersey sans "The", we would have seen the kind of inept play characterizing the Princeton Tigers we remember. But rather than make a flight across Jersey, we decided to extend our visit, honoring Bready as a guest Swami. Our newest compatriot joined us in selecting the winner of four Ivy League football games, starting with the Dartmouth versus Columbia matchup. "Dartmouth is pretty good this year, aren't they?" queried Bready. " I'll pick Dartmouth 36, Columbia 14." Bready also selected Cornell and Harvard, and then boldly made her prediction for the game that the Swamis are most looking forward to this weekend. But before we could dismiss the Tigers' chances, we wanted Bready's opinion whether it was possible last weekend's rains caused the Tigers' flop. "We actually had a great game in the same exact weather," Bready said. "We had a 40-yard punt return and a 73-yard touchdown pass." That was enough to convince us that Princeton was indeed the crappy football team that lost to Columbia last weekend. We swamis loosened our turbans and flew away on our carpets, assured of a return to picking perfection to which we have become accustomed.
From Carl Seaquist's, "Ahann Ahim," Fall '97 From Carl Seaquist's, "Ahann Ahim," Fall '97 My former department just sent me the student evaluations for the course I taught last summer. Student evaluations are always hard to interpret, and this semester's were no exception. And when students have to fill in the little machine-readable ovals, most professors in most courses get average evaluations: lots of threes, plus a couple of twos and fours out of five. What can a person conclude from feedback like this? Everything's basically alright, but students don't know what they want, or else want conflicting things. So this sort of feedback is not much help to the instructor who wants to improve his teaching, and is looking to his clients --- his students --- for that feedback. I also have had students tell me they always try to give graduate students good evaluations because they know we do not have much power in the system, and they figure we need good recommendations to get jobs in future semesters. I appreciate the sentiment expressed by these students, but such an attitude really does little good for either the University or, in many cases, the graduate student himself. At the University of Pittsburgh, for example, student evaluations never go to the department: they are sent directly to the instructor. So there is no need in a case like this to be easy on the instructor. And since graduate students are just learning how to teach, this sort of kindness cuts off one good source of feedback. Another common criticism is that students like easy courses and are unhappy with challenging courses. This argument has a certain a prior appeal, because it fits in with the attitude a lot of instructors have of undergraduates, and probably has a certain amount of empirical support. But I suspect that, at least at a school like Penn, such criticisms are exaggerated. After a fairly careful reading of the entries for certain departments in the Penn Course Review's latest Undergraduate Course Guide, I suspect the overall grade given to a course is correlated less with the difficulty of the course and more with the quality of the instructor. In fact, most courses have a difficulty rating of between 2.0 and 3.0 out of 4.0, whereas both instructor and course ratings seem to vary more widely. So even if easy courses did receive higher marks, it would appear there are not that many easy courses being offered. The exceptions to this generalization are fairly easy to locate: language- and mathematics-heavy courses tend to be seen as more difficult than general education and survey courses. The fact that Physics 361 (Electromagnetism I), the course that made me abandon a Physics major some years ago, is given a difficulty rating of only 3.3 indicates to me that Penn students in fact DO expect to do a fair amount of work in their courses. The positive correlation between instructor and course rankings is more interesting than the negative correlation with difficulty. As an undergraduate, I always thought that most learning was supposed to go on outside of the classroom. After all, one hour of class time is supposed to mean two to three hours of homework, plus time studying for exams or writing papers. But not everyone feels this way. Compare the rankings in the course guide with the appended commentary, and you can see what aspects of teaching are of the most concern to Penn undergraduates. Instructors with good ratings are usually praised for being interesting and for giving good lectures, whereas instructors with low ratings tend to be seen as boring. Course design and selection of readings are mentioned in the written comments, but seem to correlate much less with instructor quality than are lecturing skills and the appearance of accessibility to students. Students are, as I said earlier, our clients and our customers. One of the great things about the corporatization of the academy is that this is now becoming more widely acknowledged. Because they are our customers, we should be responsible to them for the education we provide. And quality of instruction should certainly be considered in hiring and promotion decisions. If it is recognized what aspects of teaching student evaluations are good at measuring, then they become a necessary and useful part of the process of judging instructors and departments. But they are not transparent documents, and to simply look at the aggregate numbers they provide is to misuse an important source of information on teaching at the University. If a university wants to evaluate the quality of its teaching, it must first have public discussion of what constitutes good teaching, then create means of evaluation that focus in on those qualities that it wants to measure. The current system used in most universities does not do this. It tacitly presumes that everyone knows what constitutes good teaching, and therefore assumes that all measures of teaching quality are compatible. Such an approach will not improve teaching, and might end up, if applied universally, selecting teachers for odd and restricted abilities.
Freshmen? I hate the word, as I hate hell and all underclassman. Freshman year is certainly a harrowing experience. In high school, we were the epitome of cool. Some of us had varsity letters, others were leaders in the community, but all of us were seniors. We were older, wiser, and as one College freshman put it: "We knew what was up." And just when we had it all figured out, and things were finally running smoothly, we have to start all over again. At my high school, I looked down upon the naive freshmen who had so much faith in the system, in education, and in the faculty. All of that changed one day when a little freshman screamed at me from across the halls?"Just wait, next year you too will be a freshmen." When I first visited Penn, it was love at first sight. The beauty of the Quadrangle, students studying on the Green, my stroll down Locust Walk, neighboring West Philly and Ben Franklin on the bench. There was something about that statue that really enthralled me on that first visit. But now I go here, and all of that is simply a brochure of the past. I have to work on making it through Locust Walk in one piece, on platforms, and still getting to class on time. An impossible feat! I tried studying on the Green the other day? enough said. After I sat down and got out my books, I was rudely interrupted by a congregation of vicious squirrels at my feet. But hey, that's fine?after all, I'm in college and that is all part of the ambience! We freshmen -- easygoing and extremely carefree. Why are we looked down upon? Why must we receive "Oh, you're a freshman?" wherever we may meander? Can we not escape these labels? Can we simply be referred to as "students at the College?" Or what about "members of the Class of 2001?" That sounds so much better! When it takes us three times to "pass" on the swipe machine, I think that's a good thing. After all, practice makes perfect. When we e-mail our friends messages about how much we despise Political Science 1, and then send it via the the class' listserv, that takes talent! When we sign up for 9 a.m. classes, we are merely making good use of our time. Freshmen: kings of time management! There is NOTHING better than a trip to Wawa at midnight. The "Freshman 15?" Fair enough! As one of my dear friends remarked "the only freshmen that gain weight are the ones that eat pizza at 2 a.m." She couldn't have been more right, but those words rolled off of her mouth as we were eating pizza, and I think it was a little past 3 a.m.! But we are so innocent and we mean well. If you can't understand us, just accept the fact that we are trying the darned best that we possibly can. I've been here for barely a month, but I feel as though I have been here forever. I NOW know not to venture past 42nd Street (the world just ends), where to get the best lattes (you think that I'm telling!), and what time I should set my alarm in the morning if I hit snooze 12 times. Yes mom and pop, this is exactly why I went to college. I know the football team is nothing to write home about, but they do try hard! I've conversed with my professors, played basketball with the varsity squad (and scored!), and am currently working on a psychology research project?and I'm not even the subject! So, with all of this experience on my back, why must I still be a "frosh?" Everyone gawks at the freshmen at Penn as they converge together in packs on the way to some party or another. They charge us to get into some "exclusive Greek party" and we willingly pay (do we know ANY better?) We try our best to look inconspicuous, but no matter how hard we try, we always manage to walk on the wrong side of Locust Walk! Our PennCards hang from our necks, and our nervous excitement permeates from within. Forgive us! But we know the truth: every time you pass a freshmen on campus, you are thanking God that that phase of your life is over, and behind you. But is it?
Congratulations! You're in college. You're on a beautiful campus. You may be in a city for the first time. You may also be living on your own for the first time. It would be easy to believe that everything is perfect and that nothing can touch you. Don't be fooled. These people are criminals -- opportunists who seek out students like you. They assume you are wide-eyed and naive, with plenty of money in your pocket and not a care in the world. They assume you don't know any better. Let them know they are wrong. Just because there are lifeguards out there doesn't mean that you don't need to know how to swim. You have to take responsibility for your own personal safety. Be a tough target. I have spent more than a decade traveling all around the country talking about how common sense, awareness of your surroundings, and even having a big mouth can keep you from being the target of a crime. I talk about street smarts. I will be at the Palestra tomorrow night. (I have it on good authority that the sound system will be in good working order!) It's my second visit to Penn. The tough target strategies I'll be talking about follow four basic principles. Get your scissors. Cut these principles out and hang them in your room. Share them with your friends They could save your life. 1. Have a Plan A crime can happen to anyone anytime, anywhere. It can happen to you, so you've got to be prepared. You've got to have a plan. If you have a plan, you can adapt it to where you are and what you are doing: walking down the street, riding in an elevator, going to your car. Street smarts apply in every circumstance: · Pay attention to your surroundings. (Don't wear headphones while jogging!) · Look tough by carrying yourself confidently. It's not how tough you are but how tough you look. · Conceal your money by wearing your purse with the strap across your body or under your coat, or use a fanny pack. · Cross the street if you see someone acting suspiciously. · If it feels bad, trust your instincts and get out of the situation. 2. Do Not Get in the Car If someone tries to take you into a car or down an alley, do not go! Ever! Some of the worst crimes happen when criminals take their victims to a "secondary crime scene," a place other than where they were initially confronted. They take their victims in cars, and many of these people never come back. You cannot allow this to happen under any circumstances. Do not get in the car. Do not go down the alley. Just make a pact with yourself that you just won't do it. 3. Attract Attention If you are in trouble, or if you see someone else in trouble, yell "Fire!" The mention of a fire gets everyone's attention. And the last thing a criminal wants is to be the center of attention. So shout, scream, do whatever it takes to draw attention to the situation and get help. 4. Take Action The rules are simple: ·If you are confronted, give up your property. If someone demands your purse, your wallet, or even your coat, give it up and get away. Do not wait around for request No. 2! ·If fleeing is an option, it's always your best option. If the attack is physical, you have got to respond. You cannot let the criminal have control. There is a fifth principle, what I like to call the "Golden Rule" of safety: Help one another. If you see someone in trouble, do something. For the next four years, this is your home and you are family to one another. Do what any family does: take care of yourselves and take care of each other. I'll see you tomorrow night.
A brief review of recent major news stories: Attorneys for 40 U.S. states announce a landmark but flawed settlement with the major tobacco companies. The Supreme Court, in a flurry of far-reaching decisions, voids part of the popular "Brady Bill" requiring states to conduct background checks for prospective gun buyers, opens the door for state-funded special education in religious schools and tells states to decide controversial right-to-die issues by themselves. Hong Kong reverts back to Chinese rule. The Middle East peace process breaks down -- again. And so on and so forth. Now for a short quiz: What major American personality was almost entirely absent from the nation's airwaves and newspapers during this historic period? Let me give you a couple of hints: He has the most famous pasty, white thighs in America as well as weaknesses for pies, McDonald's food, shady real-estate deals and Arkansas state workers. His absence is not, however, particularly surprising -- especially to anyone who followed last year's presidential elections. Think back to Clinton's giant Hill Field rally. Do you remember hearing or seeing anything interesting, historic or courageous (apart, of course, from President Rodin's infamous black leather miniskirt) during the rally? Neither do I -- and for a good reason. Nothing of any interest or import happened at the Penn event, or at any of Clinton's other pre-election visits to the nation's college campuses. The speech was the same, the jokes (about Socks having his own Web page) were the same. And, as in all the other speeches, Clinton's Quaker address was entirely devoid of new ideas. Well, not entirely devoid of new ideas -- just devoid of any large-scale initiatives with which to define his second term. I suppose it makes a certain sense. After winning an election by trying not to offend anyone (by, say, offering up something that might actually make a difference, like a workable health-care plan), Clinton has apparently decided to follow the same strategy in office. So we get Clinton's proposed presidential commission to study, and presumably attempt to solve, the nation's racial problems; tax credits to help low-income families afford two years of public college (bad news, Penn parents). And, most recently, his plan to rescue the nation's inner cities by helping 2,000 police officers purchase houses in poor neighborhoods. All of which, on paper, sound fine -- which is exactly the problem. The proposals are designed to be totally unobjectionable, and indeed, the Republican congressional leadership has indicated that it will support all the new plans. You don't have to be a cynic (or, God forbid, a Republican) to question what, if any, impact these modest proposals will have. We are left, therefore, with a president seemingly content to ride out his last years in public office, one trying not to rock the boat. It often appears like Clinton is trying to gather strength for another election, to complete some nice, small new programs to get some positive publicity before Election Day 2000 -- when Vice President Al Gore will inevitably be up for the nation's highest office. But the strategy that won him re-election is entirely inappropriate for his second term. There are, after all, no more elections to win, no more offices to hold. Having done what every politicians wants to do more than anything else -- win re-election -- Clinton should devote the rest of his time in office to doing something grand, something worthy of a president who billed himself as the Man from Hope. The nation's problems are too vast and varied to be solved by small-scale, uncontroversial, ideas like a commission on racism. America needs, and deserves, better. The president's reluctance to try anything daring is understandable for a man whose first term was almost destroyed by grandiose plans such as his attempt to reform the entire American health care system. But having won re-election, and with the economy zooming to record heights and his Republican opposition in disarray, the time is right to dust off the political boxing gloves and get back into the ring. Now is the time to experiment with one of those radical ideas Clinton must have developed while not inhaling weed at Oxford. What, after all, is there to lose? Clinton, like most American presidents, has been said to be concerned about his place in history. But the man often referred to as the "Ultimate Politician" seems to have forgotten that history is not an election, and that the great are remembered not for treading softly and not upsetting the balance too much on either side, but for leading a hesitant and fearful nation to a brighter tomorrow. It is a lesson William Jefferson Clinton would do well to remember.
Commentary, Justin Feil At first there are the cold sweats... Then the confusion and restlessness...Followed by the dry mouth... These are the signs of withdrawal for the sports junkie. Fearsome and terrible, like Jim Carroll's heroine withdrawal symptoms portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries, they spring upon us. Carroll lived to tell about them, and sports junkies will recover, too. It's only two...no, six...Omigosh, almost 10 weeks away! The onset of such symptoms began just days ago with the sounding of the final horn in Chicago's United Center. Statistics scream that there are more instances of spousal abuse on the day of the Super Bowl than any other day of the year, but I can't imagine that they truly are counting that day in mid-June when all the "good" sports come to a sudden and definite halt. Maybe the numbers are too staggering. But maybe it's because not everyone seizes the bitterness of the moment at the same time. (In no way, do I or The Summer Pennsylvanian condone spousal abuse.) If you aren't paying attention, it might take a day or two to realize: "Hey, there's nothing on TV anymore." And it stays that way until the NFL season begins in late August. Let's be honest. Who watches the NFL preseason for more than a quarter of any game? Furthermore, it's these odd years that cause the most distress. There isn't an Olympics, or even a World Cup, to fill up the evening hours for any true-blue sports fan. Now, I know what everyone is saying. The obvious -- "What about baseball?" What about baseball? Even before the strike, it didn't quite take a front seat to a trip to Baskin Robbins. The strike only gave everyone time to sit back and realize that things aren't that much different without those 60 mid-season games. Besides, I'm a Phillies fan -- enough said. Golf? Even if Tiger did win every time, he would have to add a lot more Happy Gilmore-esque pranks to prompt any sort of television time investment in that snail-paced sport. Soccer? It's one of the many sports that is so much better to play than to watch. Tennis? Same idea. Swimming? Ditto. WNBA? Basketball is fun to watch, but not that fun. What we are left with, then, is a hodgepodge of "lesser" sports or, in many cases, the newest activity to be named a sport. Mostly, this means that ESPN pushes up their 1 a.m. programming into the prime time block. Thus, dear channel seven begins this week to load its evening lineup with such heavy hitters as billiards, equestrian shows and extreme sports. Unless they bring in Bill Walton for color commentary -- "Make a shot! Minnesota Fats hasn't run the table in two straight matches" -- there's no way anyone seeking any entertaining sport will tune in. What could be moved up, however, is everyone's favorite -- replays of the World's Strongest Man competitions, hosted by Brent Musberger. Even so, these reruns get old after a while. To pass the ten weeks, some entertaining sport deserves the prime airtime. With no sport in sight that is entertaining enough, however, we are forced to turn our sights to entertainment that passes as sport. And nothing says "entertainment as sport" better than...professional wrestling. Most any sports junkie can see that these men, though athletic, are no more than "glorified stunt men," as Curt Schilling might say. Yet in the weeks ahead, even the most dedicated sports hounds can sniff out the parallels between their favorite sports that leave a two-month gap and pro wrestling, a 12-month circus. Pro wrestling has the continuing saga of forged partnerships and bitter feuds that make any sport's free agency dealings look tame. The victor's music played after each match reminds us of the beloved Olympic tradition. The distracting and oft-times manipulative managers are no different than the sports world's George Steinbrenners, Al Davises or Jerry Joneses. There is plenty of crossover. Who but the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, could have taught A.J. Foyt that chop he used to fell Arie Lyundyk two weeks ago? The continual ferrying into the ring of celebrity athletes -- from the football, basketball and even ultimate fighting worlds -- provides the most visible connection between the two worlds. No, Monday Nitro won't ever replace Monday Night Football, and it doesn't have to. But for now, for these next 10 weeks, while the entertaining sports world is on hold from it's most avid consumers, the WWF and the WCW may be the best kind of medicine to stave off those withdrawal symptoms.
As members of the University community (students, faculty and staff) we would like to express our concern over the proposed Sansom Commons project. We believe that there are a multitude of questions that have yet to be asked, let alone adequately answered, regarding this "upscale shopping mall" planned for the heart of campus. At this meeting of the Trustees, you will doubtless be asked to approve expenditures and other resolutions that make Sansom Commons a reality. We ask that you vote to table any such resolutions, and put Sansom Commons "on hold" until the University as a whole can comment on the proposal. Not all of us share the same concerns, but we all feel that more time, and more answers, are needed. We believe it is antithetical to the principals under which this University operates to act on a project of this magnitude without appropriate consultation. Eight months ago, when Sansom Commons was first mentioned by University President Rodin, people asked questions about the nature of the project and its financing. They were told that the plans were not far enough along to say for sure. Suddenly, when most of the faculty and students have gone home for the summer, we are given 12 days notice of the groundbreaking. We've been told none of the details that are necessary for an adequate evaluation and critique of this very expensive proposition, yet we are the people who will have to live with it. The Sansom Commons project is based on an assumption of profitability. We believe this assumption should be very closely questioned, given the University's rather spotty history of retail real estate management and Philadelphia's historical lack of enthusiasm for artificially created upscale retail destinations of this kind (e.g. NewMarket). Sansom Commons is a gamble with money that is supposed to be used to fulfill Penn's mission?and the odds of success do not appear all that solid. We seriously question why Penn is building a hotel that will cost at least 2.5 to three times the purchase price of the Sheraton. The primary source of revenue for the Penn Inn will be Penn itself: schools, departments, and student organizations that bring in guest speakers and others for special programming and projects, Penn parents, and Penn alumni. The Penn Inn will be significantly more expensive than the Sheraton, and any profits generated by the hotel for the University will actually be at the expense of the rest of the University community. The hotel project is an example of cost-shifting -- and it may have a significant impact on the budgets of schools, departments, and student organizations (not to mention the pocketbooks of Penn parents and alumni!) Could the tens of millions of dollars being spent on the hotel be better used in providing student housing that meets the requirements of Penn's academic mission? Many of Center City Philadelphia's retail areas are struggling. We question whether it is appropriate for Penn, as a tax exempt educational institution, to provide competition for one of the essential amenities of urban living -- vital and thriving downtown retail districts, especially if Penn is using its special status to provide itself with an unfair competitive advantage. There is little reason to believe, as Dr. Rodin asserts, that the University City/West Philadelphia communities will benefit from this project, and substantial reasons to assume otherwise. Many local residents (which includes many of us) believe that most problems in the communities are associated with neighborhood instability that results from Penn's policies and attitudes toward its neighbors. Many believe that the project is designed to fill Penn's coffers at the expense of local businesses. We fear that Sansom Commons will be perceived as an act of hostility, and will exacerbate the perception of the University as an avatar of institutionalized classism, elitism and racism. Finally, we believe that a serious dialogue regarding Penn's priorities is in order. There is no evidence that Sansom Commons reflects the priorities of any of the various constituencies of the University community. Students are not asking for an "upscale retail mall," they are asking for things like the renovation of the Hutchinson Gymnasium weight room, appropriate performing arts space and a new recreation center. The faculty is not asking for a "funky" retail district -- they want Penn to provide the support they require to fulfill Penn's academic mission. Employees have little use for expensive restaurants and hotels -- they need a living wage, and an end to cuts in benefits. And we wonder how Penn's alumni will feel about their contributions being used in this fashion. Does Sansom Commons really represent the best use of Penn's financial and real estate resources? Should Penn spend tens of millions of dollars on retail amenities when budgets are being cut? Is an "upscale shopping center" the best use of the last large, undeveloped parcel of land near the heart of campus? These questions need to be considered, and they have not even been asked. These are just a few of the reasons that we are asking you to put the Sansom Commons project "on hold," and decline to take any steps during this Trustees meeting to make this project a reality. We hope you recognize that Sansom Commons is being undertaken without the serious consideration that should be the hallmark of an academic institution of Penn's stature, and take steps to ensure that a project of this scope is carefully and thoughtfully examined before it is built.
After growing up in Washington, the city named the murder capital of the world (preliminary government statistics show murders last year increasing 10 percent from 1995 when they were down 3 percent across the nation), I thought I was prepared for anything. But during my first few weeks as a freshman last fall, I soon realized that I had an unrealistic view of safety and that I would need to change many habits in order to be safe and continue to live my life. Although it was only my second day at Penn, I was a little overwhelmed to be sitting in a huge lecture hall and being told to carry a fake wallet around so that I could forfeit it -- instead of my real wallet --during a mugging. "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked myself as I left the seminar, clutching my purse tighter than ever. But even though that lecture scared me to death, as I walked back to the Quadrangle that day, nothing about the streets of Philadelphia seemed any more dangerous than any street in Washington. It was later -- during my favorite time of the day, when I go running -- that I began to feel unsafe around much of the Penn campus and realized the safety lecture was not worthless. As a cross-country runner in high school, I coveted my time during the day when I got to forget everything, strap on my Walkman and simply run. After a long day of freshman seminars, I was excited to escape to the familiar world of running and explore my new city. Not really knowing my way around very well, I decided to weave my way through the streets and create a little loop. Things started out well, but soon I grew uncomfortable. It wasn't that people around me were scaring me -- there was no one around. I was scared because I was running through dark, empty streets. Soon my world of running wasn't so familiar. I turned off my Walkman and ran as fast as I could back to the Quad. Maybe panicking wasn't the best thing to do, but at the time it seemed to make sense. I was in a bad situation and just wanted to get out of it. For the next several days I restricted my runs to the track at Franklin Field. I tried to find running companions to venture out into the streets with me, but I was unsuccessful in finding anyone who wanted to run at my pace. Soon I grew frustrated at the track. Trying to run five miles on the track made me feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel -- I was running and getting nowhere. Finally, after about my third week at Penn, I decided enough was enough, and I had to run elsewhere. I carefully studied maps of the city and planned a run downtown. Using the street smarts I picked up in Washington, I ran facing traffic, preferably on one-way streets so that cars couldn't turn around and nab me. I ran into Center City along Walnut Street and soon found myself in the Rittenhouse Square area. I was exhilarated -- and it was honestly one of the best runs of my life. For one thing, I was thrilled to see that there really was an actual city in Philadelphia and that life did include more than Wawas and hoagies in this new city I called home. But more importantly, that run made me proud of myself. I was happy that I was able to overcome my fear of the streets of Philadelphia and to continue to do the things I love. I hope you in no way think I feel completely safe in Philadelphia, especially in the area immediately surrounding Penn. Instead, I hope you realize the importance of accepting the danger of our campus and adapting to it. For me, running is one of the most important times of the day, so it was necessary for me to change certain habits. But for the entire year, I had to remind myself I was no longer in Washington and that I had to be more careful. I ran different routes at various times of day, with the volume of my radio lower than usual. By the time I went home in May, I felt like West Philadelphia was really my home and somewhere I could feel safe. My running smarts helped me become more aware of my surroundings in all situations.
While the program has cut costs, employees questioned its merits. New York, N.Y. University officials have made restructuring the central administration -- paring $50 million from the budget over the next five years -- a major priority. When the program began in 1995, its main goal was cutting costs and increased administrative efficiency. A year and a half later, attention is also being focused on saving money in order to fund capital projects and, according to some, to lower the rate of tuition increases. At the same time, the program has resulted in approximately 200 job losses, leaving some workers questioning whether the benefits justify the costs, and others asking if the program even offers any benefits. From an employee standpoint, restructuring has caused overload and a sense of job insecurity, which may counteract the increased efficiency that restructuring plans sought. Administrators have also never considered the program to be easy to implement -- Executive Vice President John Fry called it "a bad situation" in 1995. But while most administrators maintain that the program is necessary, many of the workers who could be affected disagree. Librarian Jim Gray -- who serves as tri-chair of the African American Association of Faculty and Staff and as vice president of Local 590 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- said restructuring not only demoralizes workers, but also "makes them mad as hell." "Restructuring is tremendously bad for the morale of the workers here on campus," Gray said. "Every year there is some kind of layoff process under whatever is the current industrial fad name. The process has left people with this insecurity which is unfair, especially for career employees who have already given a life of service to the University." For some workers, restructuring has taken on a racial dimension. Tom Henry, another tri-chair of the AAA, said job cuts affect a disproportionately large number of African American employees. This, combined with the fact that his group has not been asked to participate in any discussions on restructuring, has caused African American employees to feel they are under-respected and undervalued. But workers' criticisms of the restructuring process go deeper than fears of job losses. The layoffs have burdened remaining employees with more responsibilities -- an unintended consequence of the drive for efficiency. Fry said last year that layoffs would aim to eliminate work that doesn't add value to the system, but workers complain that they are still performing such "unnecessary" jobs -- in addition to the duties they already had to handle. Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said the 15 jobs cut from the VPUL have forced her staff members to work overtime and take less vacation, while purchasing agent Thomas Leary said he is "having a difficult time keeping pace" after job cuts in his department. But Purchasing Director Robert Michel said workers in his department -- which lost more than half its employees in the past year -- are not unhappy or any busier than in previous years. University President Judith Rodin acknowledged that restructuring causes some insecurity problems among workers, explaining that the University aims to expedite the process in order to ease the difficulties. "Our goal is to have the most well-qualified and well-trained and well-motivated people," she said. "When there is uncertainty and times have changed, it is hard to do that, so we are trying to get through this period of uncertainty as quickly as possible." But could the feelings of insecurity and overload associated with the process impact the University further down the road? Rodin said she does not think such effects will last, adding that increasedworkloads are temporary and will level off as workers get used to the new systems and technology added as part of the restructuring program. "Always in the early stages of process reengineering, as people are getting retrained, people do feel overloaded," she said. "We are doing a lot of training and, when that works, people will not feel overloaded." But restructuring is not over yet, and while employees adjust to the first stages, there could be future shocks to come. The degree of impact of future job cuts, which could be relatively minor or more significant than in the first stages, depends on decisions regarding departmental outsourcing and major overhauls. Fry explained that while downsizing is not the focus of restructuring, he will consider outsourcing certain departments if a private company can provide cheaper services and better quality. Officials have instructed the consulting firms studying both dining and residential life to consider all possibilities for those functions, including outsourcing them. Fry said the University has an obligation to ensure that students get the most for their tuition dollars. "We will continue to [consider outsourcing], not because we are going to outsource everything, but because we believe that unless we ask that question, we are clearly not doing to the students and faculty a service," he said. But outgoing Vice President for Finance Steve Golding emphasized that the University prefers to cut costs in areas where workers are not affected. Nonetheless, Golding conceded that the University must have a smaller workforce if it is to lower tuition, which has been a priority of students, parents and Trustees. While administrators list lower tuition increases and better services as the benefits of restructuring, Gray said the benefits of the plan are unclear and certainly do not apply to University workers. And Henry said the claim that restructuring will lower tuition is merely a way of playing student concerns against those of workers, adding that salaries aren't high enough to impact tuition significantly. Administrators said they are aware that employees feel insecure and even resentful, but they insist these changes are both necessary and beneficial to the University. "Obviously, when there is uncertainty it affects people," Rodin said. "The answer is not not to change, but to do it fairly, openly and as quickly as possible."
To the Editor: Specifically, what actually seems relevant is not whether the current A-3 board has done something bad, but whether A-3 employees are missing out on having a functional forum for solidarity. The reason this saga is pertinent to University Council is that it raises questions of consistency, and Council just happens to have at its disposal some means to help break the paralysis. Isolated A-3 employees are the ones losing out, as are, for instance, isolated graduate and professional students who are not served by their purported student 'government,' which some of us happen to be handing over to to the next bunch really soon. This actually interests me still far more than the aforementioned analog, and should be of no little interest to about 10,000 other people. Now that I'm on to my axe, let me grind it briefly. There is frequently a dearth of students willing and/or able to make significant input into the political structures at Penn -- potentially functional structures worth using and nurturing from within several constituencies. Alex Welte SAS doctoral student GAPSA Chairperson Insight on SPEC To the Editor: This is in response to the grossly ignorant editorial "The 'mother' of all concerts?" DP, 4/1/97. Before the DP intends to criticize the efforts of the Spring Fling or any other Social Planning and Events Committee, I strongly suggest they make the effort to actually find out about the hours invested and frustrations endured by these individuals over the past several months. A good start may be interviewing people who are actually members of a SPEC committee, unlike Howie Blumenstein. Perhaps the DP could have written more insightfully about the time and energy put in speaking to agents, organizing subcommittees, processing contracts, etc. to bring the best possible event they complain about. SPEC directors do not get their kicks from keeping bands secret or by disappointing students. In fact, the only reward we receive is seeing the events well-received by as much of the University community as possible. Melissa Muniz College '97 SPEC President
To the Editor: The claim that "SPEC needs to start looking for Fling bands earlier if they want to sign big-name bands" implies that we, as directors, have been either lazy or stupid. We have been neither. The ridiculous factual inaccuracies of the editorial show the DP has no idea about the process of setting up a national act concert. We would like to make it known that, while the DP or any student has a right to criticize the band choice, they do not have the right to criticize inaccurately our hard work or competence. This is not only insulting, it is just plain wrong. Our process began in September, the first week that school began, and yes we do work through a professional agent. We want to properly address the concerns of the student body and the obnoxious misrepresentations of The Daily Pennsylvanian. For now, we will suffice to say the DP has continued its legacy of problematic and inaccurate information. Barbara Burns College '97 SPEC Spring Fling Co-Director (4 signatures follow) u To the Editor: Where shall we begin? It is so obvious in their editorial on the Fling Concert the DP has absolutely no clue as to what they are talking about. There is an industry out there in music land that revolves around a thriving business market, driven by factors associated with many modern capitalistic markets. These are -- as I'm sure the DP doesn't understand -- factors such as supply, demand, monopolies, promoters, venues, repeat bookings, etc. While we will not take the time to explain the relevance and interaction of these industry drivers and their consequences, we will point out that we operate in the Philadelphia market under the influences of these factors and many others and enjoy our advantages and must deal with our disadvantages. We wanted A Tribe Called Quest and we were the only school to get them. We know what we're doing and how to get what we want if what we want is available. Not all bands are touring all the time! They actually have other things to do! And some bands that we may want are touring, but there is a thing called monopoly that exists and maybe if the DP thinks about it really hard you'll know what we're talking about -- maybe. We've been working on this show since the summer and if that's not early enough for you then you'll just have to get over it. Please refrain from trashing us, all we're trying to do is put on a concert that Penn students will enjoy and this year we have booked a band that almost everyone loves. The show is going to be incredible. If you don't want to come, we won't miss you. Allison Rosen Wharton '98 Betsy Pellegrini College '97 SPEC Concerts Co-Directors Support 'Take Back the Night' To the Editor: I am writing to commend your guest columnist Sapana Donde for her creative approach to making Take Back the Night as inclusive as possible. She and others on the Take Back The Night planning committee faced an enormous task in trying to unite students, staff, and faculty in support of sexual violence survivors. Most people at Penn agree sexual violence is wrong and must be prevented, but there is widespread disagreement over how to meet this goal. The debates about how to do it and who to include can be frustrating and even painful, but I believe that they are ultimately healthy and necessary debates. Only a hardy few, primarily student members of NOW and STAAR, have had the perseverance to move forward and take the risks which come with planning Take Back the Night. As the staff advisor to STAAR, I want to remind Penn students that STAAR is accepting applications from men and women who want to become facilitators in preventing rape and promoting healthy relationships. Applications are available in 310 Houston Hall. If men are wondering where they fit-in to the movement against sexual violence, let me point out that since STAAR was founded in 1989, over 50 male Penn students have made a difference at Penn as STAAR facilitators. Please join STAAR and support the work of Sapana and other women leaders on campus. Kurt Conklin Office of Health Education Baker is a good leader To the Editor: This is in response to Robert Glazer and Robert Fechner's letter to the editor. It has been my personal policy not to speak to the DP about issues concerning the InterFraternity Council. I have found the DP attempts sensationalism and often takes quotes out of context or completely misconceives them. However, IFC President Matt Baker does not have that luxury. He was elected by the presidents of the IFC to be our voice. When attempting to compare Baker to past IFC presidents, no previous president has had to deal with the "charging issue." For the past 40 years it has been passed down the line. Unfortunately, the University decided to press the issue now. Baker has done an exemplary job defending the Greeks and the Greek system while trying to work with the University. While it was not Glazer and Fechner's goal to berate or demean Baker they succeeded in not only that, but the berating and demeaning of the complete IFC Board. There are general meetings every other Wednesday. Each fraternity can send as many reps as they wish. Glazer and Fechner and any other Greek are more than welcome to come to discuss any issue they see fit. The only thing that the letter to the editor "Baker is not the only Greek voice" proved was their own ignorance of the situation. Adam Silfen College '98 Sigma Alpha Epsilon InterFraternity Council Vice President for Rush and Member Education
I do not mean to attack or criticize any present or former member of the UA, but simply to tell curious undergraduates, faculty and administrators what the UA is really about. What does it mean to be on the UA? With the risk of generalizing, most people think that having the UA name will enhance their resume. How soon we forget convocation. Sitting in Irvine Auditorium as an eager freshman, I remember how insignificant I felt after University President Judith Rodin listed the achievements of the class of 1999. I think there were only 900 student government presidents, 20 Olympic hopefuls, 50 business owners? the list goes on. So, realistically, how much can it help you when applying for jobs to say you were a member of the student government or on the steering committee. Now think about it? how many colleges and Universities are there in the United States? It can't help that much. This is perhaps the major reason why the UA is so fundamentally ineffective. According to Larry Kamin, the present vice chairperson of the UA, who is presently running for reelection, he himself stated in his candidates statement that people on the UA are "self-promoting." It is beyond me if he in fact feels this way, why he is running again. I find it quite humorous after reading the candidates' personal statements how strikingly similar they are to previous years. It seems like everyone is promising again. When I reflect on my two years on the UA, I must sadly admit that as a body our list of achievements is not that impressive. There are, however, individuals -- and I stress individuals -- who are on the UA to better the University community. Their successes have come because they chose to take action on specific issues. I strongly believe those individuals would have accomplished their goals with or without the UA. The list of these initiatives includes more performing arts space, lunch express, better safety measures and a report on advising. Each of these projects were completed byone or two people for the most part. When members tried to get additional support, whether it was to stand on Locust Walk or go door to door, UA members were usually too busy to help. I will never forget in the fall when the UA's safety committee held three safety awareness days. There were more non-UA members who stood on Locust Walk passing out safety information than UA members. Let me remind you, this was a UA sponsored event! I encourage student activism, but I think the UA does not facilitate student involvement. Perhaps student leaders should consider creating campus wide committees to address specific concerns. I propose that a representative from each campus group meet at the beginning of each semester to come up with issues that are truly representative of the student body. Then these representatives can solicit these committees to their respective group. By encouraging individuals to participate simply because they want to, ideally the members of the committees would be sincerely concerned and thus more effective. Or perhaps change the form of the UA and make it more of a President's Council. In this case, the president of each organization would meet once a month to discuss University issues. Student activism is a fundamental part of college. Instead of electing new people to the UA, it is time for Penn to consider changing the structure of the student government altogther.
I was watching Schindler's List and am once again struck that the story is not about the victims of the Holocaust. It primarily focuses on its perpetrators and the symbiotic relationship between Oskar Schindler, the businessman who sees the light and Amon Goeth, the labor camp commandant who does not. It is a story about White oppressors. What does the story tell us by what it is not? Since the experiences of the Jews are told in the context of Oskar Schindler, it tells us we have a long way to go to come to terms with the horrors created by Western culture. It tells us why the nation will embrace Roots but ignore Sankofa. Roots is considered a breakthrough production since it was made from an African American perspective, but it sanitized slavery's brutality for its television audience. Sankofa is a gruesome portrayal of the slave trade that was so accurate no movie studio would distribute it. It tells us why so many will celebrate the truth of Ghosts of Mississippi but won't ask why people who see the movie will still know little about Medgar Evers. How many more Mississippi Burnings will we need to see before portrayals of the Civil Rights movement from black perspectives are accessible? This country would be worse off without movies addressing the horrors fundamental to Europeans and European-American history and culture from oppressors' perspectives. It is not enough, however, for European peoples to air our grief over past and current oppressions while continuing to resist the perspectives of people who have suffered through oppression. Why doesn't this country have a museum to preserve the memory of the Middle Passage -- the trans-Atlantic shipping of Africans for slavery -- or of those Native Americans killed in the conquest of this land? Some have criticism Schindler's List for being superficial in portraying the Holocaust. The same could be said about portrayals of this country's own history of genocide. What, then, does Schindler's List tell us by what it is? This is an extraordinary movie told with as much poetry as it was told by Thomas Keneally -- the author of the book the movie was based on. Most of all, it is the story of an oppressor's liberation from the emotional constriction that gripped Germany and led to the horrors of genocide. Schindler is a man who began as a war-time opportunist all too happy to take advantage of Jewish slave labor. He was unfaithful to his wife and had little to hope for beyond striking it rich. Schindler dealt with the murder and madness that surrounded him only to the extent it effected his business. He suffered from the same emotional distance that allowed millions of other Germans to accept evil as a national policy. Schindler gradually discovered relationships and the joy that comes from choosing liberation over oppression. He freed himself by resisting evil, expressing his guilt for what he could have done but did not and accepting the blessing of those he saved. His life speaks to the possibility for all people born into the world with privilege or schooled in hatred to release themselves of the bonds preventing us from achieving grace. One of the most powerful scenes is when Goeth voices his own suffering to a Jewish slave, Helen Hirsch with whom he has fallen in love. He says "I would like so much to reach out and touch you in your loneliness. What would be wrong with that? I know you're strictly not a person, but what would be wrong about it?" You cannot possibly be fully human if you believe that certain people are less human than you. Our families suffer from a host of problems driven by the same emotional distance that resulted in the Holocaust -- suicide, incest, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and neglect. Hatred in any form inevitably comes home to roost and it is incumbant upon all of us to resolve our inner contradictions with courage and compassion. I do not believe hatred is the sole province of people of European descent. I do believe my people have denied the power hatred has on our development and relationships with people all over the world for far too long. It is high time for people of European descent to come to grips with the negative aspects of our history even as we celebrate our accomplishments in such areas as technology, art and literature. The price for our liberation is simply the painful truth.