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Walnut St. Bridge may soon reopen

(09/12/90 9:00am)

Casual strolls across a nearly-deserted Walnut Street near Hill House will become ill-advised within the next few months, when thousands of motorists reclaim the Walnut Street Bridge. The 94-year-old bridge, which spans the Schuylkill River from 24th to 32nd streets, was closed in January 1988 so that it could be rebuilt. "We recognize that it would be a great relief to that entire area," Morasco said. It will also make it easier for students to walk to Center City. The new bridge is two feet wider, with four 11-foot travel lanes and two eight-foot sidewalks. The ornate wrought-iron pedestrian guardrail has been replaced with concrete walls. The project cost about $28 million, and was both federal- and state-funded. Its opening awaits final work on traffic signals and protective barriers. Unanticipated problems discovered during the final inspection could cause delays, Morasco said. While Walnut Street near 33rd and 34th streets will be busier after the opening, Morasco said she does not expect large increases in traffic further west on Walnut Street. While the bridge was closed, motorists were re-routed to open bridges, such as the South Street bridge next to Franklin Field, and returned to Walnut to continue westbound. Morasco said that throughout the project, the contractor has been ahead of schedule. Rob Buckley, the project superintendent, called the reconstruction "difficult," but added that it went smoothly. Buckley said that hundreds of workers participated in the project. He said that for every one worker on the project site, there were eight in architects' offices, manufacturing plants and other project-related work.

Plan for Castle house draws varied reviews:

(09/11/90 9:00am)

Greek reaction to Hackney statement mixed Greek reaction to the president's announcement about the future of the Psi Upsilon house split along gender lines yesterday as fraternities criticized and sororities lauded the move. President Sheldon Hackney announced Friday night that next semester a non-fraternity group of students will be housed in the Castle, located at 36th Street and Locust Walk. The move marks the administration's first step to diversify the Walk. Several fraternity members said that while they support bringing a more diverse student population to residences on the Walk, they were dismayed by the announcement which eliminated all fraternities from the running for the Castle house. Kappa Alpha Psi President Lerone Sidberry, a Wharton senior, said that Hackney's plans to diversify the Walk unfairly discriminates against black fraternities. "I'd like to see the walk diversified, be it a sorority, or a Latino organization, or something other than a white fraternity on the Walk," Sidberry said. "By [Hackney] excluding all fraternities from the Castle, he seems to have killed the hopes for a black fraternity on Locust Walk." But sorority members, who are still in the running to live in the facility, said they were excited by the president's statement. And Chi Omega President Kelly Christie said last night that her group would love to move in. "This vacancy affords the opportunity for the University to provide a safe and viable housing option for women at the center of campus," said Christie, a College senior. "As a diverse group of women, Chi Omega would be pleased to begin the trend of diversifying the Walk." Interfraternity Council President Bret Kinsella said last night that while the IFC fully supports diversifying the Walk, he is disappointed that Hackney has denied fraternities a chance to live in the Castle. "I see it as unfortunate that Dr. Hackney seems to have categorically excluded fraternities from the opportunity to reside in the Castle," Kinsella said. Several fraternity members said they hope moves to diversify the Walk will not include any relocations of current Locust Walk fraternities. Pi Lambda Phi house manager Daryl Michalak said he does not think any current Walk fraternities should be punished in the efforts to diversify residents of the area. "I don't believe we should randomly kick off fraternities," he said. "It's an accident that Locust Walk was the center of campus." Theta Xi member Jason Soslow, a College senior, said that he does not object to a non-fraternity group moving into the Castle. But he said he sees the administration's interest in diversifying the Walk as an image-boosting campaign. "The administration has funny ideas about the center of campus and its hopes for it," Soslow said. "Over the past 15 years, the University has spent a lot of money to increase ratings in certain polls, and a major goal is to eliminate negative press." Several fraternity and sorority members expressed support for Hackney's statement that he would consider relocating office space to make it possible for a large concentration of students to live on the Walk. Beta Theta Pi brother David Benditt, a College sophomore, said clearing out offices for student housing would be an "easy solution" to diversifying the Walk. But he said he does not think most people are irritated by the present make-up of Locust Walk. "My personal belief is that the president is feeling a lot of pressure [to deny fraternities the opportunity to live in the Castle]," Benditt said. "Personally, it's not irking me that Locust Walk is not diverse."

Diversity events underscore barriers

(09/06/90 9:00am)

Filing onto Hill Field for a barbecue on a sunny afternoon, scores of freshmen separate into smaller groups, many segregated by race or gender. It is not an uncommon scene at the University, whose administration has tried to combat segregation with programs such as diversity education seminars. But the scene was particularly striking on Monday the students had just left the diversity education seminars. Although students voiced overwhelming support for the sessions, their actions showed that achieving diversity awareness will take more than one Labor Day session. But students said the programs are a first step. "The program was very worthwhile," College Freshman Paul Rozelle said Monday. "I learned a lot more of how to communicate with different people, and that people really could be open-minded about differences." Students also said that while the discussions brought out many opposing viewpoints and emotions, they felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with the facilitators and members in the group. But some freshmen said they did not foresee a change in the way they would deal with situations involving harassment or in their relationships with diverse groups of people. Student Life Director Francine Walker said last night that the students' self-separation is not surprising since new students tend to "go with those with whom [they] feel most comfortable." The session, which focused on racial, gender, religious and sexual orientation differences on campus, was the first in a series of diversity awareness programs scheduled for freshmen throughout the year. The programs were initiated last fall after extensive debate. Some professors criticized the programs as values indoctrination, while some minority leaders did not support them because attendance was not required. Approximately three-quarters of last year's freshman class attended the programs. Assistant Student Life Programs Director Robert Schoenberg said approximately 2000 of the 2250 freshmen attended this year's first session. Some organizers said they felt this year's program was even better than last year's, both logistically and in content. And College Junior Seth Wiesen, a facilitator of a small group session, said he was very pleased with his group's insights and participation. "I had a very positive feeling about the people saying their true feelings and listening a lot," he said Monday. In response to student complaints that last year's eight-hour program was too long, Monday's session was shortened to a half day, starting with a keynote address by renowned author and activist Maya Angelou. Angelou encouraged students "to take on responsibilities which for 18 years no one ever told you about," stressing the need for someone to "work out the problems of racism and sexism." Angelou urged the students to "put this idea [of diversity] in your perception." Several students and organizers said later that the author's emotional address was the most memorable part of the day.

SEC Chair-elect Shoemaker highly regarded among peers

(04/17/90 9:00am)

According to fellow faculty members, Senate Executive Committee Chairperson-elect Louise Shoemaker is a strong, caring and no-nonsense educator. But above all, her colleages say she is capable. Since she was nominated to the post without opposition last month, Shoemaker has received staunch support and virtually no criticism. "She has certain causes which concern her, and she stands by them strongly," Emeritus Biochemistry Professor Adelaide Delluva said this week. Shoemaker, who has worked at the University for 25 years, will begin her three-year stint in the fall, learning SEC operations and advising committees as chairperson-elect. She will head the committee the following year, and will advise the incoming officers during the 1992-93 academic year. Shoemaker served as Social Work dean from 1971 to 1985 and has been in the forefront of the fight for civil rights at the University for most of her years here. During her tenure as dean, the School of Social Work hired four black professors, and the school still has the University's highest percentage of black faculty members. "I feel that there should be a faculty diversity here because we are an American faculty," Shoemaker said. "I'd like to see the University become a more humane place for people to study and work." The clinal social work professor has served as chairperson of the Association of Women Faculty and Administrators at the University for the past year. She said that the group's greatest work during the year has been "taking a proactive stance about women's issues on campus." Under her leadership, the association signed an amicus curiae brief supporting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commmission in the recent Supreme Court case against the University, in which the justices ruled that the University must give documents for government investigations into charges of discrimination. Social Work Professor Mark Stern said yesterday that Shoemaker will be a "strong spokesperson for the faculty." He added that he expects her to focus her efforts on combatting racism and sexism on campus. "She is a no-nonsense person who has a clear notion about what is important, and she works on those issues," Stern said. Shoemaker also serves on several academic committees and currently heads the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Resposibility. Delluva, a member of the academic freedom committee, said that Shoemaker has been a fair and capable committee chairperson who "always stands by her principles." Delluva added that she expects Shoemaker to carry these traits with her to the SEC leadership. While Shoemaker will not be a SEC member until the fall, she said that her experience as Academic Freedom and Resposibilty chairperson has helped her to understand faculty issues at the University. "There seems to be a lot of ignorance about what it means to be a faculty member at the University in regards to academic freedom," the Social Work professor said. She added that she hopes to educate faculty about their rights and responsibilities during the next three years. Shoemaker also said that her experience as dean and professor will enable her to be an intermediary between the administration and the faculty. "Being dean, I had to know how the University operates and the kinds of issues it deals with," she said. "The administration knows I am persistent, and I have a very good relationship with the deans." Colleagues have praised Shoemaker's professional work as well, saying that she is well known in her field of clinical social work. According to Social Work Professor June Axinn, Shoemaker is a "leader in social work in the United States," who has written extensively and given many speeches about her area of expertise. But Shoemaker's social work fame is not limited to this country. Shoemaker's love of travel has taken her to the ends of the Earth where she has taught and studied the social work practices of people worldwide. She has been involved in a student exchange program to the University of Ibadan in Nigeria for the past five years, and said she plans to travel to India in the near future. While Shoemaker said she loves to experience foreign cultures, she added that she seldom travels just for fun. Her trips include visits to prisons, institutions and hospitals which "tell a lot about the people." Axinn said she thinks Shoemaker's travel experience will help her in her new position. "She has a lot of interest in international affairs," Axinn said yesterday. "She will give a broad perspective to University life." Shoemaker also paints, and her artistic works include oil landscapes and other subjects which she said are "restful to the soul." But according to Shoemaker, all these accomplishments are little next to her lifetime greatest accomplishment: the successful raising of her three children and one Vietnamese foster child.