Reflections from not-so Happy Valley

Kyra Gemberling
Design Editor

“Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones. And I will try to fix you.”

Photo by Kyra Gemberling.

These were the heartfelt lyrics from Coldplay’s “Fix You” that were sung by thousands of Penn State University students, community members and fans as they stood together as one for a candlelight vigil on the chilly night of Nov. 11.

The vigil took place in the wake of the recent Penn State controversy that has left the school without several head faculty members, including former head football coach Joe Paterno and former university president Graham Spanier. It was held to show support for the alleged victims involved in former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse scandal.

And though the scandal has shaken the small-town university to its very core, it is apparent that the spirit of the Penn State population will not be so easily broken.

A Wounded Town

Photo by Kyra Gemberling.

As a long-time fan of Penn State football with personal connections to the school, I’ve visited many times over the years to attend home football games with family. The word “disappointed” only scratches the surface of my feelings toward the recent controversy, and I wasn’t sure if my planned visit to see the Penn State football team play the University of Nebraska on Nov. 12 would be in our best interest.

Nonetheless, my family and I headed to the not-so Happy Valley as planned, hoping to find the same energetic Penn State that we know so well, not the disjointed spot for angry student riots that the media presented.

Despite several stationed protests and strings of news station vehicles lining the streets, I realized that State College was the same buzz-filled urban town as before. Students briskly walked the streets of downtown with friends, talking excitedly about their Friday night plans. Visiting alumni ducked in and out of stores with their families to get last-minute gear for the game the following day. Someone with no knowledge of the controversy would never have been able to pick up on a change.

But subtle differences made it all too clear that the school was indeed wounded by the scandal. Shops advertised t-shirts with a tear coming from the eye of the emblem of the school’s mascot, the Nittany Lion. Windows displayed hand-made signs with the words, “We love you, JoePa,” and “Thanks for everything, Joe,” commemorating Paterno for his 46 years of service.

A Community Healing Effort

Photo by Kyra Gemberling.

As demonstrated by the candlelight vigil, the campus of Penn State has expressed empathy for the victims of the incident, but they are gradually moving on from the issue by working together to restore the university’s reputation.

Individuals were encouraged to wear blue to represent the color associated with the “stop child abuse” campaign for the final home football game, showing that the university does not take the issue lightly.

“We have to raise child abuse awareness,” said Jeff Lowe, a fan that spoke to reporters at the game Saturday and had a blue ribbon pinned to his shirt. “No one wanted to see Joe Paterno fired. We want to see some good come out of this.”

And though the game was emotional due to the obvious absence of Joe Paterno, I saw no difference in the rousing support of the thousands of fans at the game, who would not abandon their team for anything and stuck it out until the very last second.

This controversy may change the way some view the university, but I, along with many other fans, understand that this will be only a splotch in the history of an incredible legacy at Penn State.

Whether the state community comes together to quietly sing amidst the glow of candles, or to boldly cry out the symbolic phrase “We Are Penn State” with thousands of fans at a home football game, the infallible spirit of Penn State University can never be diminished.

Want another perspective on the firing of Joe Paterno? Check out the Sports Jam podcast.


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Learning to report on a controversial topic: Covering the GST proposal vote

by Grace Elkus
Senior reporter

Writing the article regarding the GST proposal vote required more reporting than I had originally thought it would, but I subsequently learned a significant amount about how decisions like these are made at Elon and why some people are more willing to talk about them than others.  It wasn’t until I learned how many years of work were put into the proposal that I realized how big of a vote this was, and the fact that it was put to a full faculty vote meant it was of extreme importance.

Although I was hoping to attend the meeting during which the votes were cast, I was informed that the presence of a reporter might affect faculty participation in the discussion.  It would have been helpful to see the specifics as to how the meeting was run, who participated in the discussion, etc.  Instead, I knew that I would have to talk to faculty the following Monday.

I wanted to get a range of faculty opinions on how they felt about the proposal being voted down, but getting clear answers from some faculty proved difficult.   I was constantly re-directed to different people to talk to, and some simply said they didn’t want to comment.  Although the majority of the faculty who participated in the vote voted the proposal down, no one I talked to would explicitly say they voted no.

When it came to writing the story, it proved challenging to not have the story seem biased or one-sided because of the lack of sources I had that were against the proposal.  No further discussion was held immediately after the vote, so my first follow-up story consisted of two students’ opinions on the result of the vote.  I thought it was interesting that one of the students mentioned an over-arching concern regarding a lack of communication between faculty and students concerning these types of proposals/votes.  I think it is true that many students did not know about the GST proposal, which is one of the reasons why I was happy I got to write about it for The Pendulum.  I will be doing a second follow up for this weeks paper, which will include the specifics of what was discussed at various meetings following the vote.

For more on this subject, check out this week’s issue of The Pendulum.

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SUB events: More than meets the eye

by Nick Zanetti
Senior Reporter

While I was doing interviews for my story about the changes to SUB this week, I was surprised to learn how much work and planning goes into every SUB event. There are dozens of people involved in the organization. They had a bustling office when I visited them. PIT crew members now undergo weeks of training where they learn to work every type of event, although their hard work is invisible to most students.

The SUB team seemed like a fun group of people to be around, and I’d highly recommend joining to anyone interested in event planning. One of SUB’s biggest annual events is the spring concert.

I was interested in hearing from Amanda Long, the president of SUB, about the changes to the voting that students participate in to determine who the spring show will be. She said Elon students were upset when SUB wasn’t able to book the specific artist that a lot of students vote for.

Not surprisingly, booking a big name artist to do a show is no easy task. The people in SUB have to work for months in advance to book an artist. This year the surveys for the spring show just asked students what genre they would like to have. The next time you are at a SUB event, remember that there are a lot of people working behind the scenes to make it a great experience.

Want more information about SUB? Check out Nick’s article in the upcoming issue of The Pendulum.

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Update on potential internship stipends

by Grace Elkus
Senior Reporter

After writing my article about the stipends Elon University’s School of Law provides for students doing summer internships, I learned more from law student Jason Senges about how the program works and am excited to share this information on The Pendulum blog.  The Public Interest Law Society (PILS) stipend only goes to a student that is doing public interest work.  Last year’s recipients worked in a public defender’s office and with Guardian and Litern.  The stipends for the Leadership Fellows benefit non-profit and public interest practices by enabling them to have interns work for them because the interns can work for free.  As Senges explained, had it not been for the stipend, he would not have been able to work for the entirety of the summer.  The stipends are a way the law students can give back to the communities, according to Senges. If Elon wanted to give similar stipends to undergraduates, they would be for students working over the summer in programs that benefit the community and potentially change lives.  Senges suggested the undergraduate Leadership Fellows would be a good organization to start fundraising for student stipends.

Although I do think the School of Communications or the Love School of Business could benefit from a stipend program, which I mentioned in the article, I now understand the nature of the internships the law students were participating in.  I think a stipend that not only helps a student but also the organization for which they are interning is a very intriguing and worthy concept.

Want to know more? Check out Grace’s original article. 


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Learning a new beat

By Grace Elkus
Senior Reporter

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with someone from Elon’s Law School.  This was exciting for me because I know very little about the Law School and was interested to learn specifically about the stipends they provide for students doing unpaid internships over the summer.   I wanted to know more about how the stipends are funded because I think that Elon’s undergraduate programs could potentially provide the same type of thing.

I talked with Jason Senges, president of Elon Law School’s Public Interest Law Society and a Leadership Fellow at the law school.  He explained to me that last year, the money provided to students was raised at a tennis tournament.  This year, the fundraiser will be a basketball tournament held in February.  The goal is to be able to give $500 to multiple students.  A committee of professors determines which students will receive the scholarships.  The criteria is being modified this year, but it will most likely be an overall look at the students’ resume, application and the merit of what they will be doing over the summer.

The stipend program was developed in order to encourage students to seek out summer opportunities where they can work without pay, Senges explained.  For this reason, I think that the same type of program would be beneficial in undergraduate programs as well.  For many students, internship credit is mandatory for their major and often times, it is hard to find an internship that will pay.

Pam Brumbaugh, the director of experiential education at Elon, told me that the career center has been talking about providing some sort of stipend or scholarship to undergraduates for a couple years now.  Hopefully, we can see those ideas come to life in the near future.

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Filed under Writer: Grace Elkus

Oct. 10 Sweep

Don’t have time to read in-depth reports on the major news stories of the moment? Not to fear! Check the News Blog every week for a run-down of the top stories that matter to you and where to find out more. 

According to a recent suit, the NYPD has been using illegal methods to monitor the activities of Muslim Americans. Image courtesy of MCT Campus.

NYPD Surveillance of Muslim Communities
According to a recent report from The New York Times, papers filed in a federal report allege the NYPD has been using undercover officers and informants to gather information about Muslim communities, without any indication of actual crime. The Modified Handschu Guidelines, set forth in 1985, dictate the legal grounds for investigation of political and legal groups. A letter filed by lawyers in the suit claims the police department has violated the terms of the guidelines by conducting unwarranted surveillance. Particularly relevant to the lawyers claims are lengthy reports from The Associated Press, as well as a blogger, which describe the police department as focusing on “hot spots” of activity, such as mosques, social gathering places and community organizations, particularly on college campuses.

Death of Steve Jobs

STEVE JOBS. Image courtesy of MCT Campus.

Within days of the release of the iPhone 4S, Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple, died at the age of 56. The response to the news was immediate, with many around the country expressing an outpouring of grief for the mastermind behind the products now so common in households around the world.

Jobs’ rise to success was not always a pretty one, however, and there have been more reports detailing his often manipulative and cut-throat methods of running business.

Look for a column in this week’s issue of The Pendulum with an Elon student’s opinion on the world’s response to the news of Jobs’ death.

24 killed, 320 injured in Cairo’s worst violence since first uprising

Sunday's clashes were the worst since the original Arab Spring uprising. Image courtesy of The New York Times.

At least 26 people died and 320 were injured Sunday in Cairo’s worst clashes since the Arab Spring uprising. The violence followed a then-peaceful protest led by Coptic Christians upset by an attack a church, when others on balconies began throwing rocks at the 1,000 Copts participating in a sit-in outside a television station.

The clashes were likely fueled by others frustrated by the military and that the situation in Egypt has not changed much since the revolution. Hundreds of Copts pelted policemen with rocksa Monday morning outside a hospital and have called for a worldwide, three-day fast to be observed starting Tuesday.

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A Campus in Transition

Natalie Allison
Senior Reporter

Under a proposed plan, a new School of Communications would be constructed in the current McMichael Parking Lot. Photo by Tracy Raetz.

Seeing construction projects is nothing out of the ordinary for students at Elon. Every year, the university is working on new projects, both large and small, to grow, beautify and update the campus. The construction is often inconvenient and the noise of machinery gets old, but once the projects are finished, there are rarely any complaints from students.

Such might be the case in a few years when (or if, rather) the university begins construction on a new School of Communications, which most likely will be located in the current McMichael parking lot. That’s 82,000 square feet of communications building, and a project that is expected to take at least two years. Two years. What will it be like having a construction zone smack in the middle of campus for years on end? The answer is that it will probably be really annoying. Some students will probably hate having to park all the way behind the Francis Center and having to take a shuttle to campus. Commuter students and those who live on the southwest part of campus will lose a parking lot that already used to fill up everyday. It will probably be inconvenient.

But it will be a great addition to the university, which has been in a state of change for decades. All of these changes have made this institution the place it is today. The beautiful green lawn in front of Alamance that surrounds the brick area and fountain used to be a parking lot. Students and faculty could park right in front of the building. Pretty convenient, right? But in the grand scheme of things, our cars’ close proximity to buildings was no match for a beautiful landscape and pedestrian area for students. And campus adapted. And it grew. And people love it. It seems like one generation of students endures construction for the next. And usually, it’s worth it. We’ll all come back to visit in a decade and be proud of the place we spent our college careers (and our tuition dollars).

For more information about the planned construction projects, read Natalie’s story. 

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