Author Archives: Caitlin O'Donnell

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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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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Filed under Elon University, 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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Filed under Sunday Sweep

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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Oct. 3 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. 

Occupy Wall Street

Day 13 of Occupy Wall Street begins with a march through the streets of lower Manhattan, at around the time the bell rings on Wall Street on September 29, 2011. The protesters in the "leaderless resistance movement" have gained traction, but are short on specific demands or a long-term strategy. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

A movement that started Sept. 17 by a group of activists claiming to stand against the United States’ crippling debt and greedy corporate officials has gone viral as more protests pop up across the nation. As reported by the New York Times, the idea behind the movement was to camp out for weeks or even months to replicate the scale of protests in Egypt earlier this year.  On Oct. 1, New York police arrested about 700 participants as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, as some claim they were coerced onto the bridge and subsequently arrested. Similar groups are now planning to march in areas of North Carolina.

Want to know more?
*Read a column from the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof.
*Watch a video that claims to prove police entrapment of the 700 arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.
*Check out the group’s website, which describes participants as “the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.”

Look for a report on Elon students and alums involved in the movement in an upcoming issue of The Pendulum.

Anwar al-Awlaki killed

ANWAR AL-AWLAKI. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

In the months following the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda operative and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki remained a close second target. He was killed in a drone attack Friday, Sept. 30 in Yemen and while his death is a huge blow to al-Qaeda’s ability to function, many are questioning Obama’s decision to deny a citizen the Constitutional rights to a fair and speedy trial and to be innocent before proven guilty by due process of law.
The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings in anticipation of potential anti-American attacks fueled by al-Awlaki’s death.
Want to know more?

*Read an article in the Wall Street Journal about al-Awlaki’s importance.
*Read an article in the Atlantic about violating al-Awlakis’s rights as an American.

Amanda Knox freed

Amanda Knox, right, spent four years in an Italian prison before being released Monday. Photo courtesy of Time.

Amanda Knox, an American student jailed for the alleged murder of her roommate while studying abroad in Italy in 2007, was released Monday. Knox plead innocent and spent four years in an Italian jail before being sent home to Seattle and would have faced more than 25 years in prison had she been convicted. Knox’s family is said to have incurred debt well over $1 million because of the cost of lawyers, legal fees, international travel to Italy and other expenses, and multiple organizations have been started to fundraise for Knox’s family.
Want to know more?

*Read a column from the Chicago Tribune on why Knox being wrongly targeted as the perpetrator
*Watch the appeals verdict

Debate over the Jobs Act

President Barack Obama deliveres remarks at the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio Sept. 22, urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Since announcing his plan to put America back to work in a joint session of Congress Sept. 8, President Barack Obama has traveled the country pitching the plan, boiling the complicated proposal into two simple meanings:- putting people back to work and putting money back in their pockets. Included in the plan is tax cuts for businesses who hire new employees, $4.4 trillion deficit reduction and the expansion of job opportunities. While many doubt the Republicans will support the plan, members of the president’s own party are balking at the bill, proposing it be broken down into smaller chunks, making it easier to pass through Congress.

Want to know more?
*Check out a graphic from the New York Times about the reality of the American Jobs Act.
*Read a transcript of President Obama’s speech to Congress announcing the Act.
*Watch Obama’s Oct. 1 weekly address speaking in support of his plan.

Look for a report on the Jobs Act and what it means for students in this week’s issue of The Pendulum.

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Filed under Sunday Sweep, Town of Elon

An Inspirational Interview

Grace Elkus
Senior Reporter 

I am so glad I had the chance to interview Stacey Crutchfield, an Elon sophomore who is also an Elon Academy scholar.   Stacey has lived in Burlington her whole life, and both sets of her grandparents are from Alamance County.  None of Stacey’s grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles or older cousins attended college, so she never seriously considered applying.

Stacey told me she wasn’t motivated to try very hard in her classes her freshman year of high school.  But when she heard about Elon Academy, she decided to fill out the application. She was one of 26 students accepted into the program.   It was there she realized that college was more than just some “far off idea.”  She began doing better in class and challenging herself in harder courses.  She was also happy that the Academy included her family in some of the meetings, so they could understand how the program could help her apply to college and for grants and scholarships.

Stacey had never been interested in attending Elon because it was so close to her home.  But when she was offered the Odyssey scholarship, which provided her with generous academic and social support, she knew she could not pass up the opportunity. Now that she’s a student at Elon, Stacey works with the Academy to coordinate the summer program and works with the younger scholars.

I was truly inspired by Stacey.  She is extremely self-motivated and made me realize that so many of us take going to college for granted – an obvious next step after high school.  I look forward to writing more articles for the Pendulum that allow me interview such motivated and passionate people.

Look for Grace’s story about the Elon Academy in this week’s issue of The Pendulum.

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Filed under Writer: Grace Elkus

Elon Academy Mentorship Program

by Grace Elkus
Senior Reporter

This week, I spoke with Nathan Thomas, a senior at Elon and the lead male mentor for Elon Academy’s summer program.  The Elon Academy is a program for high school students from the Alamance-Burlington School System who will be first-generation college students.  Participants attend a four week summer session at Elon, where they work with Elon student mentors who help them strengthen their academic skills as well as assist them in college application process.

Although the summer portion is the biggest part of Elon Academy, students also come to campus on various Saturday’s during the year, Thomas said. Furthermore, representatives from the Academy visit the students at their respective colleges after they graduate from the program.  This ensures they still feel connected to the Academy and the relationship stays strong.

Thomas explained the role of the mentor as a cross between a camp counselor and a TA.  The mentors get to know the students on a personal level but also know their goal is to fulfill the academic mission of the Academy. Elon students who are interested in becoming mentors can attend the program’s information sessions, which will provide more information about what it’s really like to be a mentor, the types of students they will be working with and the ins and outs of the job.
For more information about Elon Academy and the role of mentors, look for Grace’s story in an upcoming issue of The Pendulum. 


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Filed under Elon University, Writer: Grace Elkus