VOICES OF CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
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The legalization debate [or lack thereof] in Centre County pg. 3
Breaking into the State College music scene: luck, skill, and cover tunes
Protecting Centre’s historic buildings from fire pg. 11
pg. 18 page two: when journalism becomes voyeurism • increase in sexual assaults attributed to better reporting • the make space • how do colleges allocate financial aid? they won’t say • centrepeace offers some a second change • unwinding the polar vortex • birdwatch: snowy owls • farmers struggle to hire migrant workers • editorial: grad students give more than they get • crossword • sudoku • 300 percent electric hike stuns customers • page two: wh
2 | PAGE TWO
PAGE TWO: When journalism becomes voyeurism A terrified mother watches helplessly as paramedics load her seizure-stricken toddler into a medevac helicopter. The beach patrol pulls a man out of the surf after the rip current took him. Everyone knew he was dead, but the beach patrol performed CPR all the way to the ambulance anyway — just in case.
A man stands sobbing over the blood stain in the pavement where his brother lay dying in the street a moment before. What do these events have in common? I was there for all of them, shooting photos for my hometown paper. This is what they call spot news. This is journalism, you see. I wasn’t special or cool. Just another journalist bringing you photos of © 2014 Voices of Central Pennsylvania Inc. the latest horrifying, lifealtering trauma of the March 2014 day (and how it might affect your commute!). EDITORIAL BOARD CIRCULATION MANAGER Fires, car accidents, Sean Flynn, Kevin Handwerk sudden deaths — these Managing Editor email@example.com sorts of things these firstname.lastname@example.org spark debate over the ADVERTISING MANAGER moral and legal lines Politics and Economics Marisa Eichman separating journalism Sean Flynn email@example.com from voyeurism, and firstname.lastname@example.org whether journalists are BOARD OF DIRECTORS on the right side of it Community and Lifestyles President on any given story. It open Elaine Meder-Wilgus seems exploitative. It email@example.com seems cruel to the people firstname.lastname@example.org who just experienced a University and Education dreadful loss. It seems Secretary Chelsea LaBar heartless. Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. email@example.com And hey, nobody firstname.lastname@example.org held a gun to my head Environment and forced me to shoot Treasurer open photos, but I can tell you Julia Hix email@example.com that sort of stuff takes firstname.lastname@example.org a mental and emotional Arts and Entertainment toll on journalists too. Members at large Amanda Dash Nobody stays on the Bill Eichman email@example.com police beat for years, and
Thoughtful. Fearless. Free.
it’s not just because it’s an introductory position. There’s a reason why newsrooms run on gallows humor, and why a fair number of journalists are functioning alcoholics. So why is this even a discussion? Couldn’t a simple headline saying “I-99 is closed due to an accident” convey Sean Flynn the same information Managing Editor without the photo of a firstname.lastname@example.org horrifying, twisted car wreck? Does this really @VoicesPAEditor come down to a greeddriven media serving a bloodthirsty public at the expense of the broken and wounded? Sometimes, yeah. “If it bleeds, it leads” is absolutely true. Horrific car accidents draw fantastic web traffic, and fantastic web traffic pays the bills. But sometimes coverage of a tragedy can spur a community to restore itself. Sometimes talking about tragedy can bring people together. Sometimes respectful coverage can be comforting. People know that that someone will notice if something awful happens to them or their family, and that someone will care enough to write about it. And sometimes it’s a cautionary tale. “Don’t drive drunk” is a more powerful message when it’s wrapped around a telephone pole. Journalism serves the public. Voyeurism lines its own pocketbooks. Next time you read the news, ask yourself: Is it serving you, or serving itself?
Opinion Marilyn Jones
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ENVIRONMENT ................................................... pg. 8 Unwinding the science of the polar vortex BIRDWATCH: Brisk, with a chance of snowy owls
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In This Issue...
State College, PA 16805-0066 firstname.lastname@example.org voicesweb.org
CAMPBELL: In search of better role models Uptick in PSU rape stats due to better reporting
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ................................. pg. 18 Breaking into the music scene in State College Arts and Entertainment Calendar
OPINION ............................................................... pg. 20 JONES: Be heard in VOICES with a letter or column SOLKOFF: ACA robs children of dental care EDITORIAL, LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CROSSWORD, SUDOKU
politics and economics | 3
Legalization in Centre County a long way off By SEAN FLYNN Managing Editor email@example.com / @VoicesPAEditor The marijuana debate has galvanized the country and grabbed headlines in the last couple years, partially because of the large swing in public opinion and in state law. Here in Centre County, the focus isn’t on legalization. It’s people potentially charged with felonies for sharing pot at a party; it’s about students forced to become informants after being threatened with years of prison; and it’s about the silence of the university’s student population, despite the large number of students affected by the law. Currently two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and numerous others have legalized medical marijuana, and still more have legislation pending. But Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s views on the issue are clear. “There’s no way recreational marijuana will happen in Pennsylvania for a very long time,” he said in an interview with pamatters.com. But polling data from multiple sources suggest that Corbett’s views are increasingly out of step with the rest of the nation, and even his own state. An Oct. 2014 Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana, an increase of almost 10 points since 2012. A nonscientific PennLive.com poll found that 90 percent of Patriot-News readers supported the legalization of recreational marijuana. And while the national polling firms haven’t focused on Centre County or State College, it may be possible to draw some conclusions about affected parties from national data. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 22 percent of college students used some kind of illegal drug in 2012. With those numbers, University Park’s population of 35,000 undergraduate students could make the university a hotbed of activism. But there are no chapters of marijuana legalization groups in the community. Out of over 800 clubs at Penn State’s University Park campus, not one is devoted to marijuana, medical or otherwise. While the reasons for that are unclear, what is becoming public knowledge is the methods of prosecution of small-time marijuana users and dealers in State College. Centre County’s Chief Public Defender David Crowley spoke to Voices about marijuana, the current state legislation, and prosecutorial practices affecting State College. Crowley says that ordinarily, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Pennsylvania would be charged with the least serious level of misdemeanor on the spectrum. But in State College, charges can escalate fast. “If you’re caught either selling or possessing with the intent to deliver or manufacturing or growing in something called a school zone, the penalties are horrific,” said Crowley. “Nobody has the slightest idea that a school zone means a felony.”
University Park’s population of 35,000 undergraduate students could make the university a hotbed of legalization activism. But there are no chapters of marijuana legalization groups in the community. Out of over 800 clubs at Penn State’s University Park campus, not one is devoted to marijuana, medical or otherwise.
Photo by EMILY NACEY // VOICES Staff Writer
Grinders, as pictured above, are used to pulverize marijuana into finer piecesfor smoking. Grinders are easily found at most smoke and head shops. State law says that any piece of university property, high schools, elementary schools, various day cares, and any other educational facility licensed by the state all qualify as schools. The 1,000 feet around each property is defined as a “school zone” for the purposes of drug enforcement. That makes the vast majority of State College a “school zone” for drug enforcement — including the main campus of the largest university in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law, the distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no money ordinarily carries a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine — less than underage drinking, public drunkenness, or disorderly conduct. But in most of State College and University Park, that same act — no matter how little drug is involved, and no matter how trivial the money — has the potential to become a felony carrying 2-4 years of prison time. Crowley says that local courts have often held that “social distribution,” in which no money changes hands, ought to be handled as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The State Mandatory Minimums on drug laws were intended to keep drugs out of middle schools and high schools. But Crowley says that very few local cases actually deal with someone selling in schools. Crowley believes these laws are draconian. For someone caught outside of a school zone, how much marijuana does he believe warrants 2 to 4 years in prison? “I would hope at least 50 lbs,” said Crowley. “[This is] somebody with a serious history of other offenses. Should we really be filling up prisons with college
kids that made the mistake of selling a couple joints to somebody they thought was a friend?” Crowley outlined the process for individuals facing a felony drug charge. “The way it works in State College is you get caught selling a little weed, police bring you in, sit you down, they explain the facts of life to you, they probably tell you about the mandatory minimum sentence, they probably tell you about state prison, they probably tell you a lot of things to scare you,” he said. “And they give you a ray of hope and that ray of hope is if you work with [the police] and agree to set up [a buy], through your friends or through your associates, [they’ll] let you plead to a misdemeanor and you won’t have a felony on your record,” he said. “Never sell drugs,” said Crowley, “and never take money.” In boroughs like State College, the state mandatory minimums can apply in what would seem like nonschool related areas, like a duck pond, the Penn State golf courses, or a Philadelphian telephone pole with a basketball net tacked to it. Is that right? And when will Pennsylvania join the rest of the country, more than half of which openly supports the decriminalization of marijuana? In March 1998, Professor Emeritus Julian Heicklen and other protestors openly smoked marijuana in front of the Old Main gates in favor of decriminalizing the drug. In an article on stopthedrugwar.org, Heicklen said he “deemed it hypocritical to ‘glorify football as a religion’ while condemning marijuana as a dangerous drug.” It’s time for Pennsylvania, State College and Penn State to rejoin that discussion.
4 | politics and economics
How do colleges allocate financial aid? They won’t say. By MARIAN WANG ProPublica Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ProPublica that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could give the regulation teeth with a simple letter that spelled out what “criteria” universities would have to reveal about their decisions about financial aid. “The need for disclosure is paramount right now because of the shenanigans going on,” said Oberg, who worked with Congress on matters of interpretation, enforcement and regulation related to federal higher-education law. “Without that, it’s very open to people saying, ‘It’s vague, so we don’t know,’ or schools saying, ‘If it’s vague and there’s no enforcement, we don’t have any obligation.’” As it stands, colleges’ disclosures about their aid criteria “could be very ambiguous and still meet the statutory framework,” said David Bergeron, formerly the top advisor on higher education at the Department of Education. “Unless you have a regulation that’s specific about more detailed disclosure, I don’t think the Department can enforce anything.” Bergeron and Oberg say that colleges are doing things now with institutional aid that those writing the regulations could not have anticipated at the time. “It’s a very old provision,” Bergeron said. “It predates a lot of the significant activities and changes over time. It likely predated a lot of the public higher education financial aid.” Bergeron worries about the unintended consequences of disclosure — particularly, that the colleges that do give generous aid to needy students would feel pressure to equalize aid across all income classes to make their practices seem more palatable to the public. He’s also not sure, he said, whether the greater disclosure would ultimately be helpful to students, or whether it would get lost among the other paperwork sent their way. Oberg, on the other hand, believes that the benefits of greater transparency would outweigh potential drawbacks — and that it’s better for people to know more rather than less. “The consequences of being able to keep these decisions behind closed doors have been very bad for a lot of people,” Oberg said. “I would argue that transparency leads to positive things for higher education.” Nolt said the Education Department has encouraged more transparency, pointing to the standardized financial-aid letter the agency has developed and that colleges can voluntarily adopt. “The U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Duncan think that institutions should be transparent about the cost of college and should empower students with the information necessary to make a smart decisions about where they will attend college,” Nolt said in a statement. “Students are best served by receiving clear, easyto-understand information about their aid package from their college – and that’s what we’ve been developing in partnership with institutions and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
There’s currently regulation on the books requiring colleges participating in federal student-aid programs to disclose to current and prospective students “the criteria for selecting recipients [of financial aid] from the group of eligible applicants,” as well as “the criteria for determining the amount of a student’s award.”
At the center of the admissions and financial-aid process is a massive information imbalance: Schools make their decisions with detailed data about each applicant that goes well beyond test scores and transcripts. Many universities have access to comprehensive financial profiles, sometimes down to the type of cars a family drives. Some analyze patterns and interpret even the most subtle indicators from students, such as the order in which schools are listed on the federal financial-aid application, or even how long a student stays on the phone with an admissions officer. Students are not so lucky. Schools offer comparatively little information about exactly who they’re awarding aid to and for what. Collegebound teens and their parents often resort to college forums, sharing their personal “stats” — their financial and academic profiles — with strangers online to get advice on which colleges are likely to be generous with aid. Once they get their financialaid awards, some even go back to these forums to compare their aid packages in an attempt to reverse engineer colleges’ criteria. Most colleges offer “vague and superficial” disclosures about how they allocate their financialaid dollars, said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial-aid expert with Edvisors, which publishes websites about paying for college. “They don’t give details about the actual formulas they use.” Take Newman University, a Catholic liberal-arts college based in Kansas. What are the actual criteria the college uses to determine who gets aid and how much? “That’s proprietary information,” said Pam Johnson, Newman’s interim dean of admissions and financial aid. “It’s part of our competitive strategy.” Six other universities we contacted declined, or did not respond, to our request for details on how they allocate aid, including Columbia University, George Washington University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. While universities don’t want to disclose the details, they have become increasingly strategic in recent years about how they use their aid and which students get it. Aid isn’t just given to students in need, it’s also used now for what schools call “financial aid leveraging” — often to entice high-scoring students who will help a school’s ranking or to give a small, feel-good discount to attract out-of-state students who will still end up paying a higher price. Such strategies can result in curious outcomes. At Newman, for example, the most recent data available shows the school charging students in the lowest income bracket, on average, several thousand dollars more than students in the two income bands directly above them. It’s “certainly not intentional,” Johnson said. “There’s not a financial-aid grid that says, ‘Give more money to rich kids.’ It’s kids who meet other criteria that are getting financial assistance.”
What are the actual criteria the college uses to determine who gets aid and how much? “That’s proprietary information,” said Pam Johnson, Newman’s interim dean of admissions and financial aid strategy. Johnson says the school provides need-based aid in addition to its merit-based grants and athletic scholarships. But, according to Johnson, even “needbased” grants aren’t based solely on need: The size of the grants also depends on a student’s academic merit — a fact the school’s website doesn’t mention. The Obama administration and Congress have tried to nudge colleges toward greater transparency, rolling out a number of consumer tools to help make information about college more accessible and comparable across institutions. Among the tools available are the model financialaid award letter and colleges’ net-price calculators, which provide students with individualized cost estimates. Both were meant to help students understand what college will cost. But neither brings any transparency to how colleges themselves are helping to determine those costs when they give aid dollars to some students and not to others. “I think opening up the information would be a good thing,” Kantrowitz said. “It would enable perhaps something even better than a net-price calculator, which are just approximations.” In fact, a mechanism for greater transparency may already exist. There’s currently regulation on the books requiring colleges participating in federal studentaid programs to disclose to current and prospective students “the criteria for selecting recipients [of financial aid] from the group of eligible applicants,” as well as “the criteria for determining the amount of a student’s award.” That goes not only for federal and state dollars, but also for the financial aid that universities give out themselves. The law and regulation don’t spell out what details colleges have to disclose. U.S. Department of Education Press Secretary Dorie Nolt sidestepped our questions about what the regulation actually requires. Nolt also did not say whether the department has ever enforced the transparency regulation. The ambiguity leaves colleges and universities a lot of wiggle room, and exactly what financial-aid information is available varies depending on the school. Jon Oberg, a former congressional liaison in the Department of Education’s Office of Legislation, told
politics and economics | 5
CentrePeace offers some a second chance By ART GOLDSCHMIDT VOICES Staff Writer and Founder email@example.com Almost every driver who enters or leaves Bellefonte on the Benner Pike has seen the sign for CentrePeace. On fair weather days, its rambling structure is surrounded by sofas, chairs, and tables available for sale. Some folks are tempted to stop there and look for bargains. They are likely to notice that some of its workers wear orange suits—inmates from the Centre County Prison who are brought there by a staff member every morning and taken back to their cells every afternoon. CentrePeace is a complicated institution for, as Director Thom Brewster explains, it is one of the few social service agencies that is largely self-funded. Ninety-five percent of its income is generated by what is sold in their showroom., and the remaining 4–5 percent comes from the Centre County United Way. Unlike other agencies, CentrePeace sells goods and services. Aside from the sale of household furniture, most of it donated, it also repairs broken tables, reupholsters sofas and easy chairs, and even, as this writer can attest, recanes Hitchcock chairs. Equally important, it helps some criminal convicts rebuild their lives. Sales, repairs, and indeed the moving of furniture (floor space inside the showroom is cramped), are in large part carried out by inmates. CentrePeace needs to have at least four prisoners to function effectively and would like to take more, but during the past year it has averaged barely two inmates per day. There is a full-time paid staff consisting of three supervisors, supplemented by three part-time staff members. Without the scores of dedicated community volunteers, often coming from area churches, CentrePeace could not function. Brewster estimates that Project ReStore, the recycling of household goods, annually saves 250 to 300 tons of “stuff” that would otherwise go to the County Landfill. Working with other groups, such as Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul, CentrePeace will even donate furniture and other furnishings to a customer who is proven totally needy. The prisoners who are released to work at CentrePeace are gaining skills that may facilitate their employment elsewhere once they complete
CentrePeace. their sentences. Aside from work experience, CentrePeace also Thom Brewster responded in his interview that imparts life skills such as basic nonviolent conflict CentrePeace is not told what the charges were against resolution, accepting responsibility for personal the prisoners who are allowed to work there, except relationship problems, and breaking barriers that their sentences must not exceed two years. Most to growth caused by attitudes or belief systems. are serving ninety days on average. Successfully reintegrating former prisoners into Only rarely does a prisoner admit that he is under society is a key component of preventing reoffending. a protection from abuse order, for he is not required Centre County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board, to do so. Brewster could recall only one incident which includes Judge Bradley Lunsford, the three when a prisoner violated the conditions of his county commissioners, work release: one inmate Sheriff Denny Nau, District The prisoners who are released to last year wandered away Attorney Stacy Parksfrom CentrePeace but was work at CentrePeace are gaining quickly apprehended and Miller, and the prison warden, as well as Thom taken back to jail. skills that may facilitate their Brewster, has called on reentry program employment elsewhere once they is This CentrePeace to design a in progress. Brewster complete their sentences. comprehensive reentry tries to teach inmates how program for released to present the fact of their Successfully reintegrating former prisoners. having criminal records prisoners into society is a key At present, Brewster when they go for job estimates that two out of component of preventing reoffending. interviews. He publishes three inmates will probably once every three years a commit a new offense directory of social services within three years of their release. He organized within Pennsylvania, some of which are nationwide, a field trip for the Board members to visit the Pike given free of charge to released prisoners. County correctional facility, which has reduced its CentrePeace also runs a Christmas card program. recidivism rate to ten percent. One of the Board Using card stock furnished by a local printer, it members remarked that it looked more like a school sends blank sheets to children’s, senior citizens’, than a prison. and other community groups all over the country CentrePeace’s effort to provide restorative justice to design cards. Brewster sends sample cards to all to some of Centre County’s prisoners has led to some state correctional institutions that wish to be in the controversy within the Criminal Justice Advisory program and then sends them as Christmas greeting Board, because some categories of prisoners are cards to all their inmates. In 2013 this amounted to deemed likely to present a public danger. 26 thousand cards. “It may well be the only piece of Attorney General Stacy Parks-Miller has argued mail a prisoner receives in an entire year,” Brewster that some inmates, especially those having active said. protection from abuse orders, should not be allowed There is also a prayer meet, or spiritual to work at CentrePeace, where they might threaten connection, program. Volunteers, using only first co-workers or customers. Protection from abuse names for themselves and for the inmates, send orders are civil orders issued to protect family them messages to foster spiritual connections. members from abusers, much like a restraining The volunteers are from various faith groups order. but are not bound by denominational category, Parks-Miller’s questions, simply put, are who nor are the prisoners, who find encouragement is trusted and how do we determine that. In an from any show of concern. CentrePeace also sends interview for this article, she concluded that “only birthday cards to all men and women who are on trusted inmates should have work release.” She Pennsylvania’s Death Row. regrets that most members of the Prison Board CentrePeace, located at 3013 Benner Pike, did not agree with her stance, for it has recently Bellefonte, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on eased its restrictions on the release of prisoners to Sundays and holidays.
6 | politics and economics
STEVIESLAW: Embrace procrastination (tomorrow) By Steve Deutsch VOICES Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org From the time it opened in February of 1929 until June of 1963, Samuel J. Tilden High School — a stately pile of stone in the heart of the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn — produced a yearbook celebrating its graduating class. Things changed in 1963, when my second cousin, Amy, became chair of the yearbook committee. Amy was elected as an early 60’s protest against school authority, by a vote of 4753 to 14. In our family, Amy was recognized as “the person least likely to be ready for her own funeral,” and she was already well known at the school as president of the “Procrastination Club,” although the club had never met. Amy spent the entire time from September to June telling one and all that she had done the background work and was “about ready to start on the yearbook.” She never did, but it made no never mind (a centralpennsylvaniaism). Cousin Amy went on to be a nine term Congresswoman from Staten Island. To this very day, she continues to run on the simple slogan “Tax
Tomorrow, Not Today,” proving that the rewards of procrastination can be far reaching and lucrative. Since 1963, America has followed Amy’s path to become the procrastination nation. In a quiz offered on Facebook this January, 93 percent of the participants thought that “Always put off until tomorrow, what you might do today,” was the correct forms of the proverb. Even the American Medical Association was forced to agree. Recent trials have shown that nearly 9.8312 out of ten people will not abandon their social media events to do tasks they have been assigned to or volunteered for unless the fear of the impending deadline has raised their resting blood pressure to a staggering 300/165 or higher — and that is the reason you may very well find typos in “Right After My Nap — The LessIntelligent-than-Average American Guide to Embracing Procrastination,” which we must have to the editor in about 15 minutes. What is more natural than procrastination? Learn to love it! In the guide, you will learn techniques like: 1. Research. Stephen King famously said that “calling procrastination research is the scholar’s greatest weakness.” But we will show you that
We are only a phone call away.
accumulating the tools for research download the brand new version of without even pretending to use them is the Microsoft operating system just among the greatest of procrastination minutes before you are ready to dive skills. into your assignment. Michael K, an old friend of mine 3. Over-Examine the Implications: from the neighborhood, once acquired Shakespeare said, “There is nothing 431 books and thousands of articles either good or bad but thinking and photographs for makes it so,” which a two page research we improbably paper he was to translate as don’t Recent trials have shown work on. He loved rush in. that nearly 9.8312 out to bring friends and Analyzing the of ten people will not acquaintances to his implications of what house to show off the abandon their social media you might do over reams of material he over again may events to do tasks they and would have to get save you from doing have been assigned to something bad — through to write a successful paper or volunteered for unless or not, but it is an — hoisting and all tool for the fear of the impending excellent but caressing the procrastination. deadline has raised their material that was Our local bridge keeping him from resting blood pressure to a club was forced starting his work. to close recently staggering 300/165 “Even deciding because no one in or higher. where to start is the club was willing daunting,” he would to make an opening say to one and all. lead, as it is well Exactly! And Mike managed to known that the wrong opening lead is acquire all of his material before often disastrous. the age of the internet and Amazon. 4. Play with New Toys: Who was Imagine how easy it will be to it who wrote in the New Yorker, “Like overwhelm yourself with an incredible many people, I started blogging out of volume of material now. a need to procrastinate?” No matter, I What’s more, the acquisition will will look up the source tomorrow. require very little actual work on your Whoever said it would certainly part — if you think something might not argue with the idea that the be relevant, “one-click it.” Social Media is the greatest boon to 2. Tools: Dorothy Parker once procrastination ever. said that she had missed a deadline In the guide, we will help you because, “Somebody was using the justify the twenty to thirty hours a pencil.” We know you are all thinking, day you spend on Facebook, Twitter “What’s a pencil?” especially in a and LinkedIn in terms of the need to nation that is soon to eliminate the interest people in your final product, teaching of cursive writing, but it is the should you ever find the time to principle that is important. produce it. Make sure to buy your copy We will show you that the best of the guide right after your nap. approach to starting a new project is We have done all the background to buy a new computer—say the $125 work and are about ready to start model at Best Buy, reputed to work writing it any minute now. just as well as a Dell, or better to
dating & domestic violence | sexual assault | stalking
politics and economics | 7
Variable-rate electric bills shock customers By SEAN FLYNN Managing Editor email@example.com / @VoicesPAEditor Pennsylvania customers hoping to catch a break on their electric bill were stunned to find variablerate energy provider IDT Energy had tripled their prices without warning. Bianca Baier, a Penn State graduate student and State College resident, says she received an electric bill that was more than triple what she normally pays — without any warning. “People are getting screwed here, and it’s awful business practice,” she said. “Other people in worse cases than I had bills that jumped from $300 to $1200, and they can’t even pay them.” IDT Energy provides variable-rate electrical power, meaning prices can change month to month without notice. When Baier finally got through to an IDT Energy representative, she was told that the increase in prices was due to “higher demand for electricity in the colder months” and was offered a “one-time refund” at the previous month’s lower rate. But of the 16 variable-rate providers serving the State College area, most were much closer to the regular residential service rate of $0.0562/ kWh charged by West Penn Power than what Bair received from IDT Energy’s price: $0.22/kWh. Baier wasn’t the only one impacted. IDT Energy’s Facebook page had dozens of comments from outraged people claiming that their energy rates had doubled or tripled — and that IDT Energy’s
phone lines were jammed, and claimed “they didn’t know the customers were unable to get rates were going up, and that answers or resolutions over is why they did not contact the phone. [their customers].” IDT Energy had not Even though she managed responded on their Facebook to cancel her association with page to any of the complaints IDT Energy, Cafone said it as of press time, and did would take “2-3 billing cycles not respond to a request for to switch back.” She plans on comment on this story. filing a complaint with the Jennifer Kocher, Better Business Bureau, and spokeswoman for the says she’ll refuse to pay any of Pennsylvania Utility IDT’s bills. Commission, said the PUC In a Feb. 14 press release, the had received 1,468 complaints PUC encouraged customers as of Feb. 21, 2014 about using a “competitive supplier” competitive electric suppliers like IDT Energy to review changing their rates. their contracts, especially “We’ve been alerting variable-rate plans, or fixed Photo by bclinesmith // Creative Commons customers about this since contracts that have expired Jan. 31. And the Commission A Pennsylvania Power and Light electrical and transitioned to a variablestarted a proceeding on Feb. station on N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. rate plan. 20,” Kocher said. Residents who find According to a PUC press release, commission themselves unable to pay a electric bill may arrange members voted 5-0 to “examine areas of concern,” to make payments with their utility companies — including compelling notification of price changes, provided they can get through the jammed phone compelling competitive price suppliers to offer lines. Customers can also apply for a Low Income historical data, and other related issues. Home Energy Assistance Plan grant from the Nichol Cafone, a resident of Nazareth, Pa., said Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. her electric bill tripled as well, costing her an extra As for Baier, she’s called West Penn Power and is $100. She called to cancel the moment IDT Energy’s ending her association with IDT Energy. phones opened —and said she still waited on hold The phones are so overloaded, Baier said, that for 30 minutes. West Penn Power representatives are taking names According to Cafone, an IDT representative and numbers and promising callbacks.
8 | environment
Unwinding the science of the polar vortex By JAY SEARLES VOICES Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of arctic blasts have rolled through Pennsylvania, causing many to complain about the coldest winter in recent memory. Why is it so cold? Is it really that cold, historically? And when will it all end? A winter to remember — or maybe to forget, depending on your point of view. There were quite a few records established this year, and most of them did not make Central Pennsylvanians happy. So what was the cause of this last winter? How “bad” was it really? Will it happen again? Could it be worse? Even with a warmer planet? Slow down, slow down. To give this winter some context, the cold weather we’re experiencing is following a string of mild winters which is making the conditions feel colder than they would in a normal year. However, looking climatologically over the whole state, January 2014 was the 9th coldest on record. This shows up very well in the temperature trace for State College, where we compare observed daily averages to the climate records. So what was the cause this extreme weather that brought the surges of cold air right off the North Pole? It has to do with the oceans and how they affect the overall weather pattern. There is a multi-decadal pattern in the North Pacific (north of the Equator) where the temperature flips between warm and cold phases. For the past 43 years or so it has been in a mostly warm phase where temperatures run relatively high. This means that the other cycles in the Pacific Ocean, such as El Niño and its opposite, La Niña, dictate what happens to the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere. The warm phase began to flip in 2012 when the dominant temperatures in the North Pacific began to turn colder. Remember how the winter of 2013 did
Graphic by HANNAH HALLIDAY // VOICES Staff Photographer
This graphic illustrates the large-scale weather patterns that have brought bitterly cold conditions to Central Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the northeast. The jet stream skirts the edge of the blocking ridge of high pressure over the west coast, until it plunges south, allowing cold arctic air to come south into the Lower 48. not seem to want to go away? That was the beginning of this phase shift, and with it a shift in the jet stream. The two equatorial patterns have become subdued into what is being called “La Nada,” which is the term for an average temperature pattern at the equator, in between warm and cold phases. The colder North Pacific causes the Jet stream to bulge northward along the US west coast, creating a feature called a “ridge.” This ridging effect pushed record breaking warm air into Alaska complete with thunderstorms and giant avalanches. After affecting Alaska, that same
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jet then must come down the other side of the “ridge” and right into the Lower 48. This grabs all the extreme cold air over the North Pole and sends it our way, carving out a big “vortex” (counter clockwise spinning upper level low) that gets stuck over eastern Canada. The two combine to send waves of cold artic air into the Central and Eastern USA. The west gets locked into a drought with very few winter storms, while the rest of us get a lot of snow that piles up.
see winter, pg. 10
environment | 9
BIRDWATCH: Brisk with a chance of snowy owls By JOE VERICA VOICES Columnist firstname.lastname@example.org
The winter of 2013-14 is shaping up to be the season of the snowy owl! While these iconic owls have been observed in Pennsylvania in past winters, they are mostly reported in the northwestern region of the state around Lake Erie and their numbers are typically low. On a good year, as many as dozen owls are reported around the state. This winter, we are having a snowy owl invasion, with owls showing up in near biblical proportions. As of the beginning of February, upwards of 60 Snowy owls have been reported in 42 counties in Pennsylvania, including as many as ten owls right here in Centre County! Snowy owls have also been reported in the deep south, including one Georgia, another in Florida and a first-ever record for Bermuda! Snowy owls are the largest North American owls, tipping the scales between four and six pounds, with females being slightly larger than males. Adult male Snowies are typically all white with scant black spotting, while females and immature have varying amounts of black barring pher on the breast, back, wings and head. The head is rounded and lacks readily ssurevisible ear tufts. The bill is black and their eyes are a blazing yellow. Snowy owls range from northern dge”Alaska east across the Canadian Arctic to Labrador. Their preferred habitat is ortharctic tundra and open grasslands. rtex” These owls are perch hunters thatthat prey primarily on lemmings, voles and other small rodents. Near c aircoastal areas, the owls also take getsducks, geese and even fish. When its rms,preferred prey is unavailable, the owl p. is quite opportunistic, taking hares, pheasants, marmots and other birds. Prey is captured on the ground. The
owls uses its bill to breaks its victims neck, then swallows it whole. Larger items are ripped into chunks before consumption. Courtship typically begins in late winter away from the breeding site. In an attempt to prove his worthiness as a mate and a provider, the male performs a display flight in front of the female, often with a prey item such as a lemming in its talons. The male may also put on a ground display that is the envy of every mummer in Philadelphia. He bows his head, ruffles his feathers and struts around his would-be mate with fanned wings. I can almost hear the strumming banjos on Market Street now. Mating occurs in May. The female will scrape out a small depression on a small mound or hummock and line it with vegetation or feathers. She lays between 3-5 eggs in most years, but can lay 14 or more during years prey are abundant. Snowy owls are monogamous breeders, and both parents care for the young. As fall approaches, snowy owls begin to wander south in search of food. During a normal year, many owls will remain near their breeding grounds, while others will move south to southern Canada and the northern US. In other years, owls may move far south of their typical winter range. The reasons behind these irruptive movements are somewhat puzzling to ornithologists, but appear to be linked to the dynamics of lemming populations. During years of summer lemming abundance, snowy owls enjoy a high rate of reproductive success, with many nests producing a dozen or more birds. As winter approaches, young nomadic owls begin to roam. While some ornithologists have speculated that winter food scarcity is the motivating factor spurring the
Photo by ALEX LAMOREAUX // Special to VOICES
A snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) perches at the Haugh Family Preserve in State College. southward movement, the precise cause remains unclear. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the owls are on the move this winter. Unlike most owls, snowy owls tend to be active during the day. For birders and nature lovers alike, this offers a great opportunity to view these magnificent creatures. The best places to find wintering snowy owls in Central Pa. are any open areas resembling the grasslands and tundra where the owls breed. Agricultural areas, reclaimed strip mines, lakeshores and airports are your best bet. This winter, snowy owls have been reported locally at scattered agricultural sites throughout the county: near Rockview State Prison,
at the State College Airport, and in the reclaimed stripmines near Clarence. If you happen to see a snowy owl, be sure to maintain a respectful distance while viewing or photographing it. These birds have travelled a great distance, and are likely to be foodstressed. As such, they need to conserve as much energy as possible for hunting. I would also appreciate it if you could forward any sightings and photographs to me so that I can document them. Joe Verica is a vice president of the State College Bird Club. Questions or comments? Email him at joeverica@ gmail.com.
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10 | environment from winter, pg. 8 That answers the causes, but what about the future? This pattern could last a few years, and it will depend on how long the Pacific cold phase will last. The Atlantic Ocean is in the process of flipping to a colder phase as well, and the result could send us to conditions very reminiscent of the 1960’s. In this case the Lower 48 will become hotter and dryer in the summer and colder in the winter. Some the strongest recorded droughts happened over the Northeast in the early 60s, which was the last time we had both oceans in the “cold phase.” Here in Central Pennsylvania, the deck is stacked in favor of colder winters and dryer and hotter summers, which will have impacts on our regional economy. Bennet Hoffman at Tussey Mountain Ski Resort said they had an early start to their winter playground, and were able to open the weekend after Thanksgiving. The cold has allowed snow making operations to excel! But the weather is a two-edged sword: the cold and wind have also kept customers away. That same cold and wind have helped other merchants. Winter clothing sales have also been strong, according to Aaron Brumbaugh at
Appalachian Outdoors. “Eighty percent of our business is driven by the weather, and the cold air has brought people out to buy outdoor clothing,” he said. Brumbaugh also says that they have sold out of a lot of skiing gear and snowboarding equipment. Ice fishing has also been good (at least better than recent years) which has led to better bait and tackle sales at the few local shops. Snow removal folks have been quite busy and so have many of the local grocery stores. Energy sales have also been high, causing a propane shortage, and even a strong dip in the natural gas supplies and a price rise. But overall, colder winters tend to slow down the economy, which can be seen in the national economic numbers. Regardless of how the winter or the weather as a whole goes, there are bonuses and shortcomings. The economy favors pleasant and tranquil conditions, especially in the winter. So what is in store for this warm season? Tune next month; we will lay it out as we see it. Jay Searles is a Meteorologist and forecasts the weather with Weather Ranger. You can reach him at jay@ weatherranger.com.
community and lifestyles | 11
History ablaze: saving our historic buildings By CHELSEA LABAR VOICES University Editor email@example.com Visiting a historic building is like taking a step back in time. Unfortunately, the historic buildings in Centre County may have a bleak future if they continue to rely solely on the fire department, in the case of an unanticipated blaze, instead of installing sprinkler systems. Owners, or towns that historic buildings reside in, don’t want to install sprinkler systems because of water damage and cost concerns. The problem is they’ll come to regret that decision when a fire does occur and the building is beyond repair. “Fire suppression systems can really reduce the damage done by fires,” Pennsylvania’s Technical Field Services Representative, Erin Hammerstedt said. According to Alpha Fire Director Steve Bair, water damage concerns from sprinkler systems seem to be unfounded. In a sprinkler head a glass bulb, filled with red liquid alcohol, needs to reach 135 degrees Fahrenheit before it goes off. “Sprinkler systems have a bad reputation because of the media portrayal of them,” Blair said. “People see all the sprinkler heads going off at once in TV shows and that never happens,” he said. Blair said the Match Factory in Bellefonte, which is now the headquarters for the American Philatelic Society, is ready to burn down. He went on a tour there in 2009 and as he looked around the aged brick building he noticed the priceless things inside. He wondered to himself why it still doesn’t have a sprinkler system. The piping in the building was torn out and reconstructed, but there’s still no sprinkler system in sight. The Centre Furnace Mansion in State College may also be at risk, according to Blair. It is presently the headquarters for the Centre County Historical Society and hosts wedding receptions and private parties. However, it’s normally empty later in the day, so if it would catch fire no one would be alerted to it until it’s too late. The look of a sprinkler system can look out of place in the historic setting of a pre-1890s building. The cost of installing it is a major reason as to why these buildings are going waterless. It’s a lot more expensive to install them in
Photo by CHELSEA LABAR // VOICES University Editor
The Centre Furnace Mansion in State College, Pa., is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building has been restored to its original condition and decorated in the style of its 19th-century times, and now serves as the headquarters for the Centre County Historical Society. It’s one of the buildings in Centre County that Alpha Fire Director Steve Bair believes may be at risk for a fire. historic structures because they’ll take measures will save money in the long much more of a beating. There’s a lot run. She believes historic buildings of complexity in making these systems improve people’s quality of life and the cost to protect them is more than work in old buildings. Blair said that this installation worth it. However, she acknowledges that money is a problem is one major component of the difficulties “It does a lot of money to of why historic in preserving make improvements and buildings lack historic buildings. people don’t want to tell sprinkler systems. Pennsylvania is “It does a lot of a minimum code elected officials to spend more money to make state and jobs money.” improvements are done without and people don’t much effort, he said. Erin Hammerstedt want to tell elected to spend “Codes are PreservationPA officials more money,” she chipped away said. by the Borough The reliance on Council and aren’t applied as much as they should be,” the fire department to protect historic buildings is completely misplaced, Blair said. A sprinkler system in a historic according to Bair. “The business model of the fire building uses 30 gallons of water a minute compared to residential department is terrible,” Blair said. When a blaze occurs the fire systems that use 15 to 20 gallons, and effective sprinkler systems can be department needs to arrive as soon as possible to overwhelm the fire before expensive. “People who have strong opinions the flashover. The flashover is the ignition about preserving historic buildings aren’t willing to write a check in order temperature of combustible materials to do so,” Blair said. “All these cultural in the building and takes approximately gems are siting in these smaller two to 11 minutes to occur. Unfortunately, it takes the fire venues.” Hammerstedt said these preventive department at least five minutes to do
anything at all. The fire department is also excessively expensive, labor intense and usually arrives too late. Blair also explained that most fire departments are composed of volunteer fire fighters who don’t go through any training, and if they’re aren’t at the station it’ll take even longer to alert them and get to the scene. This seems like a heavy price to pay when historic buildings decide to forgo a sprinkling system. Talking about fire preventive measures only happens once an incident already occurs and it may be too late. “If people don’t believe they’re at risk they won’t do anything,” Blair said. Hammerstedt said that people also forget a disaster happens shortly after it occurs. They get riled up about it for a couple of days and then they move on, she said. “The Fire Task Force, for example, will meet after a fire and decide on a project they want to implement and then they leave,” she said. “They should have these projects at least twice a year instead of once every three years.”
12 | community and lifestyles
The Maker Movement comes to State College By MARGARET COOK VOICES Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org The Maker Movement, a growing community of tech-inspired DIYers, has made its way to State College and found a home at The Make Space, one of the many hackerspaces popping up all over the US. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “hackerspace” as a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. People who gather at hackerspaces are known as hackers, but eschew the Webster’s definition of “who illegally gain access to and sometimes tamper with information in a computer system.” In his Make magazine blog article “Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab?” Gui Cavalcanti explains that the popular definition of hacker is transforming to mean someone “who makes existing objects do something unexpected.” Other labels for frequenters of hackerspaces include makers, DIYers and tinkerers, although subtle distinctions do exist among them. John Stitzinger, a lifelong tinkerer and computer engineer, was inspired by the communal atmosphere of established hackerspaces that had become a breeding ground for invention and creativity worldwide and wanted to start one in State College. Stitzinger got that opportunity in 2012, when a representative from Innoblue, a PSU student-led group that supports entrepreneurialism, offered to share its workspace at 141 S. Fraser Street, which Innoblue was renting at no cost from the Borough of State College. Mr. Stitzinger and a group of other like-minded individuals then set to work creating the by-laws, building the membership and planning the use of the shared space which would become The Make Space. Innoblue eventually moved out, and nearly two years after its founding, The Make Space has become a hub of community collaboration, with an emphasis on technology-related hacking, or tinkering, projects. It houses equipment such as drills, saws, 3-D printers, a vinyl cutter, a sewing machine, electronic parts, art supplies, and a tool lending library. The Make Space’s schedule is filled with weekly workshops, meetings and
Photo by MARGARET COOK // VOICES Staff Writer
Members Mike Ghen (L) and Roger Daugherty (R) troubleshoot an Arduino Mega 2560 with a breadboard and laptop. help sessions. Each Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. members hold an open house for prospective members and members of the community to learn more about the space, as well as an informal general meeting to discuss new items of business. Show-and-Tell, held on the first Friday of each month, allows members and non-members alike the chance to win a free month’s membership for presenting the “coolest” thing – whether it be their latest project, an awesome website or their original artwork. Other regular uses of the space include Bitcoin meetings, microelectronics and drone workshops, 3D printer training, arts and crafts nights and a help session for PSU Computer Science and Engineering’s CMPSC 121 course. The Make Space has an annual budget of approximately $3,500, which covers utilities, internet and taxes. The equipment and materials have been donated, although sales of snacks contribute modestly to the purchase of materials, but the membership fees pay the bills. Membership is $25 each month for individuals or groups, with a modest student discount. But the members are not in this for the money. Instead, they are more interested in building a community of hackers, makers and DIYers. Members are given a key to the front door with 24/7 access to the space, and may invite guests, who are not charged admission. In fact, any time The Make Space is hosting a meeting or workshop, members of the community are welcomed to utilize the space, equipment and materials at no charge.
But members of the Make Space and other hackerspaces are about more than just meetings and tinkering: they are making a positive impact on business and society. “I have seen the development of many new products that have begun to change the world. Each of them was started because of cheap access to the powerful tools of the industrial revolution combined with a platform (makerspace) designed to encourage their success,” says Mark Hatch, cofounder of the hackerspace TechShop, in his Forbes magazine article “Makers are Radically Changing the World… Already.” Mr. Hatch states that the prototype for Square, the white fob that attaches to smart phones and transforms them into credit card terminals, was created at TechShop. A Stanford
student group also used TechShop to fabricate an infant incubator blanket designed to protect premature babies in third-world countries from dying of hypothermia, called Embrace. The blankets are donated to populations in need through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In that spirit, The Make Space has fostered invention that could lead to a greener planet and economic change. Mike Ghen, a founding member and PSU student of computer engineering, stated that the PSU chapter of the Engineers for a Sustainable World utilized the local hackerspace’s resources in order to build a completely solar-powered smoothie cart which the group hopes will help business owners in developing countries sell the product by more cost-effective and energy-efficient means, as reported by an Oct. 15, 2013 Penn State press release. Members of The Make Space want to continue fostering that kind of ingenuity through their vision to expand. Mr. Stitzinger joked that although it’s hard to find, its location near to the university is ideal. Mr. Ghen said he wants to see the Fraser Street location remain a computer lab, meeting space and small workshop area, but also wants to acquire a second warehouse-type space to use as a machine shop. Mr. Stitzinger further noted that he hopes to offer more classes and to attract a greater variety of makers to the space. One visit to The Make Space will reveal why Steven Kurutz in his
see makespace, pg. 13
Photo by MARGARET COOK// VOICES Staff Writer
John Stitzinger, founder of The Make Space, carefully removes a plastic creation from the RepRap 3D printer in the workspace.
community and lifestyles | 13
Photo by MARGARET COOK // VOICES Staff Writer
The Make Space features a number of fabrication tools, including this RepRap 3D printer that Stitzinger built himself. 3D printers can print many objects in various types, shapes and colors of plastics.
from makespace, pg. 12 New York Times article “One Big Workbench” wrote “The atmosphere at a hacker space is a bit like finding yourself in an episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ There is unabashed geekingout on science and technology, and an enthusiasm for making that is infectious.” The Make Space has a list of donation requests that would help it expand:
Table/band/radial arm saws, drill presses, lathes, shears, grinders, welders, presses Hand tools Logic analyzers, volt meters, soldering irons Laser cutter CNC milling machine Water/plasma cutter. Computer controlled knitting machine, quilting machine LCD monitors/TVs Interesting electronics/cameras Audio equipment, speakers, lighting equipment
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14 | community and lifestyles
Farmers struggle to hire migrant workers By EMILY EDLING VOICES Staff Writer email@example.com
Though Pennsylvania is far from the traditional entry points of migrant workers, the “migrant stream” brings a steady flow of potential agricultural workers from the South. Or it would, if a laborious and unwieldy H-2A visa program didn’t separate farmers from their labor force. With an entire country suffering from staggering unemployment, it seems strange that Pennsylvania farmers are having trouble finding enough workers to harvest their crops. But this is exactly what has been happening, with a shortage of farm workers at about 20 percent just this past year. Jon Weirether addressed a room of these frustrated farmers about the different methods to go about acquiring and utilizing those people who really want to work, especially the migrant workers, at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) Farming for the Future conference in February. Weirether is a State Monitor Advocate for Pennsylvania with the Department of Labor and Industry, and works very closely with the farm workers that come through the migrant stream and elsewhere. The term “migrant stream” describes the steady flow of farm workers that travels from state to state with the changing growing seasons to follow the work. The East Coast stream starts in Florida and travels north, making its way into parts of Pennsylvania and up through Maine. So with this steady stream of workers, why is it that many farmers are still having trouble securing enough labor to harvest their crops? The best way Weirether sees in making sure farmers secure enough labor is to utilize the H-2A program, also known as the legal guest worker program, sponsored by the federal and state governments. With this program, he says, “there is no reason anybody shouldn’t get enough workers.”
As Weirether explains, the H-2A program is free to apply and can be used by any agriculture employer or authorized agent. The biggest requirements involved with the H-2A program are: the employers must provide housing for the migrant workers they bring in, the workers must be there for temporary agriculture work, and the employers must demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are qualified to do the work. While the H-2A program seems like a great tool for farmers to Graphic courtesy National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc. make sure they get work, it is not Copyright © 1974-2002 . Used by permission. being utilized with exactly 60 H-2A orders made in this past This graphic illustrates the migrant worker stream. Workers may end year, according to Weirether. up on Pennsylvania from any number of states or entry points. Many farmers are still confused about how the whole system requires them to make this contract well in advance works, and some found it completely unfeasible. of the start of the expected crop harvest This is made John Eisenstein owner of Jade Family Farm in difficult since most workers who follow the migrant Port Royal, Pa., is one such farmer. stream do not follow a strict schedule, but rather “I tried H-2A, I started filling it out. But they follow where the crops, the work, and the weather make things so difficult, it’s really not feasible,” he take them. said. Eisenstein also agreed that the system needs For Eisenstein, finding work is always difficult, changes to make sure that employers and workers especially since his farm has grown larger than can join forces more smoothly so that he can utilize when he first started out. the flow of migrant workers that come through the “I usually end up hiring workers who are local stream. and can provide their own transportation to the “Immigration reform needs to happen, and not farm,” he said. just in Pennsylvania,” said Eisenstein. Eisenstein says he always has work, but he doesn’t have housing to offer which is one of the big requirements of using the H-2A program. Even Weirether admits that while he is a big fan of the H-2A program, Friday, May 2, 2014; 10:00 am - 6:00 pm some people would say Saturday, May 3, 2014; 8:00 am - 2:00 pm that it is a “fatally flawed” system. The program does provide legal means Loca�on: The Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority for farmers with means 253 Transfer Road, Bellefonte, PA to contract with migrant workers who can come BRING: Insec�cides, weed killers, pool chemicals, cleaners, and work for them, but it
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university | 15
CAMPBELL: In search of better role models this poem, from Josiah G. Holland, that opening line says it all. VOICES Columnist “God give us men,” with men being email@example.com the keyword here. Men not males, but When I entered into college, way let’s expand on that and say women back before lights and moving picture not females. With spring comes the shows took off, I was taught several idea that there is hope for renewal, a quotes and poems that we had to rebirth of the planet. With that comes recite at every college introduction. the irresistible force for individuals to You PSU alums may know this process go out and to be not only seen, but to as FTCAP, now lovingly known as New interact with each other in public. Student Orientation (NSO). Thus the problems begin. There were two As a father of poems that always three I am constantly stood out to me. The concerned about the first one: “I would role models they will rather go to hell choose to follow. Of by choice than to course I hope that stumble into Heaven they follow my or their by following the mother’s lead (hers crowd”- by the late in particular), but I Benjamin E. Mays. know that kids follow A strong statement parents second and to try to live up to, friends first. I cannot but at the same time say that I’ve seen many helpful to those role models that I young men looking would be comfortable for a path to carve in them following. out for themselves. Do not be mistaken, Jamie Campbell The second poem I understand laying a Voices Columnist I believe is more good foundation and important now than giving proper guidance, ever before. It starts like this, “God but I mean come on: children spend give us men” While there is more to more time with their teachers, coaches
By JAMIE CAMPBELL
Home of the 9-to-5 No-Repeat Workday VOICES AD: 5” X 5-1/2”
With spring comes the idea that there is hope for renewal, a rebirth of the planet. With that comes the irresistible force for individuals to go out and to be not only seen, but to interact with each other in public. and friends than they do with family. So what kind of role models are we giving them? Grown men (in one state) can freely shoot and kill unarmed young men, and claim self-defense from popcorn and skittles. Grown women would defraud their neighbors and generous strangers by faking a terminal illness. Adults who are more worried about how they look than the quality of their character. Elected officials so intoxicated with their own image and power that they are willing to cut off an area of their state just to prove a point, or be so corrupt that they are easily convicted of 20 out of 21 indictments. Entertainers and athletes who….well just turn on the television, or open your internet news of choice, and their bad behavior gets more coverage than job rates or the wars in other countries.
Think about it: toward the end of February the stock market had record highs, but “we” cared more about Beiber egging someone’s home or drag racing. Better yet, consider how quickly we are to forgive our favorite athlete for an offense that would normally cause us to despise another person, all because they can help us win a game.So what are we to do? I’m glad you asked. If each one of us goes out every day and tries to be a role model to one person, no matter the age, we can begin a trend to reverse to our children’s lack of role models. More importantly, we can usher in an era where each child can have people that they want to be like as they grow up. Just imagine it: we could have a generation of adults who could engage each other beyond one hundred characters; beyond throwing drinks or tables to settle disputes. Who knows, we may even go back to that long-lost time where conversations (google it for reference) could be held face to face! We are no longer the change we were waiting for. If we are to create a better world for all of our children, we had better be the change we need right now. We can make this idea work. Yep, it’s spring again, and I’m optimistic.
16 | university
Uptick in PSU rape stats due to better reporting By EMMA STUCK VOICES Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Reports of sexual assault at University Park have increased significantly over the last three years. Police attribute the increase to better reporting, rather than more crime — and the Women’s Resource Center concurs. Reporting of sexual assaults at Penn State’s University Park campus have increased over the last year. University officials say that’s a result of improved reporting, a big step forward for the traditionally underreported crime of sexual assault. In 2012, there were 63 reports of forcible sex offenses, up from only 30 reports in 2011, according to Penn State University’s 2013 annual security and fire safety report. According to Penn State University Police Chief Tyrone Parham, 11 of those 30 reports in 2011 were reports from previous years. Thirty-six of the 63 assaults reported in 2012 were from previous years as well, assaults that had occurred between the 1970s and 2011. No official report for 2013 has been released yet, but from Aug. 1, 2013, through Feb. 13, 2014, there were nine reported cases of sexual assault at Penn State, according to Parham. Parham said that most sexual assaults at Penn State occur in the residence halls on campus, and often involve alcohol consumption by both parties. The majority of these assaults at Penn State involve a student victim and a student assailant. Surveys and studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control suggest that 1 in 5 female college students have been sexually assaulted. According to Peggy Lorah, director of Penn State’s Center for Women Students, the proximity of individuals living in town and on campus explains why sexual assault rates are high on a college campus, where there is a large population of students. Penn State currently has 46,148 students. Young women ages 18 to 25 face the highest risk of sexual assault, and college campuses have an abundance of female students in that age group, according to Ann Ard, executive director at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, also known as the CCWRC. When assailants are looking for an individual to assault, college campuses are the most common place they look because of the large number of young women who gather on campus. The CCWRC, which works very closely with Penn State’s Center for Women Students, helped 38 Penn State students during the 2012-2013 fiscal year. “Now that the reporting numbers are up, there are some suggesting that ‘oh, the numbers of sexual assault must be up,’” Parham said. “But we are not 100 percent sure that’s true, when we actually just have more people reporting, which
is something we have always knowing that they will be wanted to happen.” supported and will not be Parham said that all sexual blamed. She said it is not assault victims who choose uncommon for her to talk to seek justice through the to victims who had been criminal court system are assaulted from several coordinated through the district months, to two or three years attorney’s office in Bellefonte. ago, and are now ready to But he said that justice means work with a counselor. different things for each victim, The January 2014 White and some find simply filing a House report on rape and police report to be the justice sexual assault stated that they need. only 12 percent of sexual The majority of sexual assaults on college campuses assault cases at Penn State do are reported. not proceed with charges or According to Parham, bring the case to court, Parham there are several myths said. Of the 9 recently reported that cause victims to retreat cases since fall, the majority did from filing a police report, not want the police to proceed including the misconceptions with investigations, and as that the police will arrest the Photo by EMMA STUCK // VOICES Staff far as Parham is aware, none victim if underage drinking Writer wanted to go to court. was involved with the assault, “The worst thing we don’t Ann Ard, executive director of the CCWRC, that the victim’s parents will want to do is re-victimize a said it is not uncommon for her to have patients be contacted, or that the victim who does not want to who had been assaulted months before police will give the victim’s their visit. Support is a big factor in a victims’ go through a court process or name to the media. Parham doesn’t want to be involved in willingness to report an assault. If nobody says that none of these things believes an individual, it may be a long time that process,” Parham said. will happen. “The worst thing we don’t before they talk to a counselor or the police. Lorah said that victims want to do is do something feel socially responsible for against their wishes. They’ve already been violated.” the crime, even when they are not, which is another Lorah agreed that there has not been a spike seen in sexual assaults at Penn State, and she has seen see assault, pg. 17 about the same number of crimes in the past 15 years that she has worked at Penn State. She has seen a difference in the reporting of assaults in the aftermath of the investigation and trial of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, whose victims she believes accounted for about 30 of the recent reports. According to Ard, reporting has increased because of increased outreach to students with “pretty solid” services on campus, increased conversations about sexual assault and improved media coverage. Ard said she believes that when individuals start to see organizations and institutions responding appropriately to sexual assaults, they will begin to feel more ready to come forward,
university | 17
Mar. 2014 from assault, pg. 16
factor as to why sexual assaults on college campuses l be are so underreported. The invasiveness of the t be crime tends to make them feel ashamed and guilty, not especially when they see movies, TV shows and talk media reports where the focus is on what the victim been was wearing and why they were at the location where veral the assault occurred. ears “They [sexual assault victims] get lots of negative y to messages about what it means when you’re a sexual assault victim; and so, it becomes very difficult then, White oftentimes, for people to admit that they have been and victims of sexual assault, even when the reality is it’s that not their fault,” Ard said. xual According to Lorah, when it comes to immediate uses response to sexual assaults, both the University Police and the State College police do a very good ham, job. She said that Centre County is very lucky to have yths law enforcement officials who go above and beyond reat their duties and are very sensitive to victims’ needs. port, There are many educational presentations and ions events, along with strong working relationships, t the that are formed to help increase sexual assault king awareness and prevention at Penn State. ault, The CCWRC frequently sends educators to speak will in classes at Penn State, and frequently participates the in events that the Center for Women Students im’s sponsors, according to Ard. The CCWRC is also part ham of the local sexual assault response team that meets ings with victims who seek help at the Mount Nittany Medical Center — a team which includes a forensic tims nurse, a police officer and an advocate from CCWRC. for The University Police partner with residence life ther staff and holds several programs and presentations throughout the year to educate students, and all of the programs encourage reporting of sexual
Photo by EMMA STUCK // VOICES Staff Writer
Penn State University’s Center for Women Students, located in room 204 of the Boucke Building, teaches several courses on sexual assault in the women’s studies and crime, law and justice programs. The Center also holds educational films and discussion groups throughout the year to raise awareness of sexual assault. assaults. They also meet with sororities, along with male students, to educate students about sexual assault prevention. Penn State’s Center for Women Students does many things to help educate students about the dangers of sexual assault, including, but not limited to, at least 200 presentations across campus throughout the academic year and the required AWARE module. According to Lorah, this is the third year the university is doing the SAFE and AWARE modules,
which are modules that were implemented across all of Penn State’s campuses. SAFE educates first-year students about alcohol and drug use, and AWARE educates first-year students about sexual assault, relationship violence, harassment, and stalking. “I think there’s nobody here who doesn’t take sexual assault seriously, and it’s something we’re working on all the time,” Lorah said.
18 | Arts and Entertainment
Breaking into the music scene in State College By RENAE GORNICK VOICES Staff Writer email@example.com Becoming an established band in State College is an achievement. Penn State students in bands battle with loads of classwork on top of long practice hours and late night gigs. Even non-student bands struggle in a college town where the subconscious mind of the student body could take a sudden shift, and now that certain night in which that certain band had played is no longer popular. Not to mention, Penn State attendees typically graduate. They eventually move on from State College to follow their dreams and pursue a job, which makes a local band’s job a lot harder trying to sustain a consistent fan base. First a band needs to break into downtown State College’s close-knit circuit before worrying about remaining relevant in a town with an ever-changing population. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. Most bars in the area are receptive to trying out new acts, especially places like The Darkhorse Tavern on 127 E. Calder Way. General Manager Michael Caruso, said he understands that students in bands just want an opportunity to play, and for the most part is open to providing them that space. “I’ll give them some standards, but it doesn’t necessarily matter how good they are,” said Caruso. “As long as they can bring in some kind of crowd I’ll book them for a weekday night.” The Darkhorse Tavern also allows people to play in the bar who aren’t 21 by marking under-agers so
they aren’t served alcohol, which some other local bars don’t permit. Although it’s a good starting point for bands looking to get a foot in the door, The Darkhorse isn’t the only opportunity out there for those who have enough audacity to seek. Local rock cover band Public Domain got its start playing at Café 210 West on W. College Ave because a member in the band knew one of the servers who worked there. The bar had a Thursday night slot open and had been in the process of trying out a few bands. Public Domain outplayed the rest and was given the gig. Currently, the band plays at Café almost every Thursday, but according to the lead singer, Pat Usher, nothing is ever really guaranteed. “It was sort of a semester to semester kind of thing,” said Usher. “We did it for two and a half years until they brought some other band in, but other people said they weren’t good and the place was dead, so they brought us back.” Public Domain plays Saturday nights at The Darkhorse as well as Thursday’s at Café 210. Having consistent gigs two nights a week is ideal for local bands, and a situation that others covet. Although a local venue might give a new band a chance, it’s rare and risky to replace their consistent performers, which makes it difficult for a band to break in unless the timing is right. “It’s almost like waiting for a king to die,” said Greg Folsom, bass player for the popular cover band My Hero Zero. That being said, breaking into the downtown music scene and becoming a successful band in State College takes more than just good luck and timing. A band needs to be able to cater to the crowd to maintain an existence, which means almost every group, playing at any bar on any given night, is a cover band. Before Usher was in Public Domain, he realized early on that playing cover music was important when he would perform on The Phyrst’s open mic night. “I write my own music and was looking for a place to play, and open mic nights were really good for that kind of thing. But I kind of realized that no one in this town wants to hear original music, and that’s really unfortunate, especially at a place like The Phyrst. It’s a bar; people go there to get hammered, so they want to hear something that they know, something they can sing along to. So I started phasing out
Photo by KYLE ROSS // Special to VOICES
Public Domain lead singer Pat Usher plays at the Bryce Jordan Center during THON in this undated photo. Usher and Public Domain got their foot in the door at The Darkhorse Tavern. the original stuff and started playing some of my favorite songs from the 90’s, and it worked.” Bands like My Hero Zero draw in big crowds. They’re well known because they prioritize cultivating an audience and do so by playing covers of popular mainstream music. The members in the band admit that they don’t necessarily need to have any emotional connection to the songs they play, and care more so about connecting with the crowd. “There’s definitely a song that we’ll play just because we personally like it, but that is the exception rather than the rule,” Folsom said. “Usually when we pick songs, we think if people will be excited about it, and if we can play it well.” And when it comes to playing a song they think people will be excited about, there isn’t too much of a limit for My Hero Zero. “Sometimes we don’t know where to draw the line, but once at a gig we played that song ‘What Does The Fox Say’, and now I think that’s where we draw the line,” joked Folsom. He and the band believe it’s more important to have a crowd that cares about them before they work on creating and performing any original music. The members say they aren’t totally disconnected from originality, and stay unique by tweaking some of the songs they play to make it work with the band’s dynamic. “We want to focus on making it sound good. A lot of the time we have to change keys or the style to fit Jason’s voice, which keeps us connected to making this version of what we’re playing sound the best that it can,” he said. My Hero Zero and Public Domain have established their rank in the State College music scene hierarchy with hard work and a bit of luck. The effort is worth it, as Usher says if he weren’t in Public Domain he’d still be doing open mic nights at The Phyrst. “I would donate my time to do this, and the fact that we make a decent amount of money doing it is just a bonus,” said Usher.
Arts and Entertainment | 19
Arts and Entertainment Calendar For more events going on this March and every month, check out our online calendar at voicesweb.org. See what’s going on in Happy Valley this month, or submit your event for free!
ELK CREEK CAFÉ — elkcreekcafe.net Mar. 1, 8 p.m. – Ted + The HiFis Mar. 2, 5 p.m. – The Howlin’ Brothers Mar. 6, 7:30 p.m. – Pub Hang: Chris LaRose Mar. 8, 8 p.m. – Bluegrass Extravaganzee with Haystack Lightnin’ + Moonshiners Mar. 13, 7:30 pm - Pub Hang: Richard Sleigh + friends Mar. 15, 8 p.m. – Richard Sleigh + friends Mar. 16, 11 a.m. – St. Paddy’s Day Brunch featuring Celtica Mar. 20, 7:30 p.m. – Pub Hang: Troubadour Third Thursday Mar. 27, 8 p.m. – Van Wagner Mar. 29, 8 p.m. – Dom Flemons + East River Stringband featuring the Jive Bombers THE STATE THEATER — thestatetheatre.org Mar. 1, 12:30 p.m. – Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Prince Igor Mar. 1, 7 p.m. – War Horse presented by National Theatre Live Mar. 2, 3 p.m. – War Horse presented by National Theatre Live Mar. 13, 5:30 p.m. – 2014 CBICC Awards Gala Mar. 20, 7 p.m. – A Fierce Green Fire, Presented by Sierra Club Moshannon Group Mar. 21, 9 p.m. – Keller Williams, What the Funk 2014 Tour Mar. 22, 7 p.m. – Rock the 80′s for Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund Mar. 27, 7 p.m. – Lunafest, presented by The Centre County Women’s Resource Center Mar. 29, 2 pm, 7 p.m. – Happy Valley’s Got Talent THE GAMBLE MILL — gamblemill.com Mar. 1, 7 p.m. – Natascha and the Spy Boys Mar. 2, 5 p.m. – The Stevedores Mar. 7, 6 p.m. – J. Mac and Junior Mar. 8, 7 p.m. – Hannah Bingman Band Mar. 9, 5 p.m. – Chris Rattie Mar. 14, 6 p.m. – The Strayers Mar. 15, 7 p.m. – Archie Blue Mar. 16, 5 p.m. – Jay Vonada Mar. 21, 6 p.m. – J. Mac and Junior Mar. 22, 7 p.m. – Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats Mar. 23, 5 p.m. – KJ Mar. 27, 6 p.m. – Band Burrage Mar. 28, 6 p.m. – Dan Stevens Mar. 29, 7 p.m. – Deb Callahan Mar. 30, 5 p.m. – Little Paris Jazz Trio WEBSTER’S BOOKSTORE CAFE — webstersbooksandcafe.com Mar. 1, 12 p.m. – Rag and Bone Vintage Clothing Trunk Show Mar. 1, 6 p.m. – Gallery Opening featuring Steven Sherrill Mar. 2, 10 a.m. – Sunday Music Brunch with JT Blues and Andy Tolins Mar. 4, 7 p.m. – Argentine Tango for the Community Mar. 5, 7 p.m. – Open Mic Poetry Series featuring Noah A. Smith Mar. 6, 6 p.m. – Wide Open Mic Mar. 9, 10 a.m. – Sunday Music Brunch with Eric Farmer Mar. 11, 7 p.m. – Argentine Tango for the Community Mar. 16, 10 a.m. – Sunday Music Brunch with Richard Sleigh Mar. 19, 7 p.m. – Old-Time Music Jam Mar. 20, 10:30 a.m. – Storytelling with Miss Betsy Mar. 22, 8 p.m. – Atmorays! Dance Party Mar. 24, 6 p.m. – Science Café: Stress with Ph. D students Lauren Chaby & Gail McCormick LOCAL EVENTS Mar. 1, 7:30 a.m. – Camp Eder: Mount Hope Maple Madness Mar. 1, 9 a.m. – Penn Skates: Dr. Suess Breakfast Mar. 1, 10 a.m. – Discovery Space: Space Carnival with the Penn State Lunar Lions Mar. 1, 11 a.m. – Philipsburg Holt Memorial Library: Used Book Sale Mar. 1, 1 p.m. – Spring Creek Homesteading: Soap Making Workshop Mar. 1, 5 p.m. – Penn Skates: Roller Derby Bout, SCAR Derby vs Iron Mountain Roller Girls Mar. 2, 1:30 p.m. – Paterno Library: Sports Archive Open House Mar. 2, 3p.m. – Friends & Farmers Food Co-Op: Membership Kick-Off Celebration Mar. 3, 10:30 a.m. – Mount Nittany Medical Center: American Red Cross Blood Drive Mar. 3, 6 p.m. – Foster Auditorium: Public Lecture: Research Integrity: Individual Decisions, Global Concerns Mar. 4, 6 p.m. –Public Lecture: The Nelson Mandela Lecture with Jonathan Jansen, Ph.D.
Mar. 5, 10 a.m. – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center: Kids Corner Mar. 5, 12:05 p.m. – EMS Library: Film series: Secret Life of Materials – Plastics Mar. 5, 7:30 p.m. – Pennsylvania Military Museum: Richard Koontz Memorial Lecture: “An Army of Lions: The Union Army at Gettysburg.” Mar. 7, 12 p.m. – Discovery Space: Homeschool Days Mar. 7, 8 p.m. – Penns Valley Thespians: Bye Bye Birdie Mar. 8, 11 a.m. – Spring Creek Homesteading: Seed Exchange and Milk Jug MiniGreenhouse Mar. 8, 1:30 p.m. – Pennsylvania Military Museum: Military Movie Madness Festival Mar. 8, 3:30 p.m. – Millbrook Marsh Nature Center: Adam Swartz Puppet Show Mar. 8, 4:30 p.m. – New Hope Lutheran Church: Roast Beef Public Supper Mar. 8, 5 p.m. – Penn Skates: Roller Derby Bout Mar. 9, 12 p.m. – Free event, Pennsylvania Military Museum: Military Movie Madness Festival Mar. 9, 2:30 p.m. –Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center: Spring Hike Mar. 12, 10 a.m. – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center: Kids Corner Mar. 14, 6p.m. – IngleBean Coffee House: Game Night Mar. 15, 1 p.m. – Spring Creek Homesteading: Bread Baking Workshop Mar. 15, 6 p.m. – Spring Creek Homesteading: Homesteaders’ Potluck Mar. 15, 6 p.m. – Crystal Lake Ski Center: Nordic Moonlight Ski Tour Mar. 12, 7 p.m. – Free event Penns Valley Community Garden: Film screening of One Man, One Cow Mar. 19, 7 a.m. – Nittany Valley Writers Network: Early Risers’ Breakfast Mar. 19, 12:05 p.m. – EMS Library: Film series: Geologic Journey II - Tectonic Europe Mar. 19, 6:30 pm - Millbrook Marsh Nature Center: Organic Gardening Workshop Mar. 21, 7 p.m. – Park Forest Elementary School Drama Club: The Hobbit Mar. 22, 10:30 a.m. – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center: 2014 Maple Harvest Festival Mar. 22, 1:30 p.m. – Pennsylvania Military Museum: Film screening: “You Enter Germany – Bloody Huertgen and the Siegfried Line” Mar. 22, 7 p.m. – Park Forest Elementary School Drama Club: The Hobbit Mar. 23, 10:30 a.m. – Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center: 2014 Maple Harvest Festival Mar. 23, 2 p.m. – Park Forest Elementary School Drama Club: The Hobbit Mar. 25, 6 p.m. – Public Lecture: Affirmative Action around the World Mar. 25, 7:30 p.m. – Penn State Centre Stage: Blood at the Root Mar. 26, 12:05 p.m. – EMS Library: Film series: Geologic Journey II - Along the African Rift Mar. 26, 7 p.m. – State College Bird Club: March Meeting Mar. 27, 6 p.m. – Public Lecture: The Persistence of Discrimination in Post-Racial America LOCAL MUSIC Mar. 1, 9:30 a.m. – State Theater: Happy Valley’s Got Talent Auditions, Piano Only Mar. 1, 10:30 a.m. –Indigo: Happy Valley’s Got Talent Auditions Mar. 1, 7:30 p.m. – Schlow Library: Aborea, Alexander Turnquist and Daniel Bachman Mar. 1, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: Public Domain Mar. 2, 4 p.m. –Indigo: Happy Valley’s Got Talent Auditions Mar. 2, 8 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: JT’S Jammin’ Open Mic Mar. 5, 7 p.m. – Govenors Pub: Biscuit Jam Mar. 6, 10:30 p.m. –Dark Horse Tavern: SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE Mar. 7, 6:30 p.m. – Bremen Town Ballroom: Polish Dinner and Polka Dance Mar. 7, 9 p.m. – Otto’s Pub & Brewery: Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats Mar. 12, 7 p.m. – Govenors Pub: Biscuit Jam Mar. 13, 10:30 pm - Dark Horse Tavern: SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE Mar. 14, 9 p.m. – Otto’s Pub & Brewery: Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats Mar. 15, 7:30 p.m. – Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center: Lonestar Mar. 15, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: Public Domain Mar. 16, 8 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: JT’S Jammin’ Open Mic Mar. 19, 7 p.m. – Govenors Pub: Biscuit Jam Mar. 20, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE Mar. 21, 7:30 p.m. – State College Friends School: Contra Dance Mar. 21, 9 p.m. – Otto’s Pub & Brewery: Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats Mar. 22, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: Public Domain Mar. 22, 7:30 p.m. – Acoustic Brew Concert: David Francey Mar. 23, 8 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: JT’S Jammin’ Open Mic Mar. 26, 7 p.m. – Govenors Pub: Biscuit Jam Mar. 27, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE Mar. 28, 9 p.m. – Otto’s Pub & Brewery: Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats Mar. 29, 10:30 p.m. – Dark Horse Tavern: Public Domain
20 | Opinion
Be heard in Voices with a letter or column By MARILYN JONES VOICES Opinion Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
MARILYN JONES OP-ED EDITOR What an interesting name this paper has: Voices. I love that. I’ve pondered its meaning many times. It sounds radical to me, free, compelling. But what does it mean to you? Does it mean that you will read articles representing various concerns and interests of the residents of our county? Does it mean that there will be diverse points of view? Does it mean that underrepresented voices will be heard? Does it mean that we all have an equal stake in this publication? Does it mean that anyone can submit something? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. It means that there is an alternative here, a place to find in-depth reporting on issues that affect your daily life, a place to hear voices that otherwise may be ignored or suppressed, a place to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves, a place where you can say something meaningful and share it boldly and responsibly with the public. Everywhere you look someone has a blog or a web page or is making outrageous comments anonymously. Although anonymity is sometimes necessary, often it is just a way to freely spew venom without taking the heat in return. It can draw forth the worst, most extreme parts of people’s imaginings and can lead to hurtful and threatening diatribes. To me, this paper, Voices, our paper, is about just the opposite: it is about our voices being heard in a way that encourages meaningful dialogue, produces useful solutions and binds
people together to support and fight for causes they truly believe in. It is about having the guts beneath your statements and the nerve to stand up and be seen. It is not easy. It is not easy to have convictions and stand behind them. It is not easy to say what you mean and open yourself up to public scrutiny, but this is what the opinion section of this paper is about. As the new Opinion section editor, this is what I am looking for: your opinion, your opinion about local
issues or other issues that you are educated about. You can submit as either a guest writer or by a Letter to the Editor. Think about who you are and what you stand for. Consider sharing your ideas with others. It’s important. This type of a public forum sustains a democracy and allows us all to take ownership of our community in a proud way to achieve one of our most important goals: to be heard.
Voices encourages letters to the editor and opinion pieces commenting on local issues. Send submissions to email@example.com. Letters should be a maximum of 250 words; opinion pieces should be a maximum of 800 words. We reserve the right to edit for length. Because of space limitations we cannot guarantee publication. Letters become the property of Voices.
Opinion | 21
SOLKOFF: ACA robs children of dental care By JOEL SOLKOFF Guest Columnist firstname.lastname@example.org “More than 16 million children in the U.S.—22 percent of all children--live in families with incomes below the poverty level,” notes Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty. Because of low income one out of every five children go without dental care every year according to Dental Crisis in America, The Need to Expand Access, a report from a subcommittee chaired by Senator Bernard Sanders [I Vermont]. The American Dental Association’s report Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: Repairing the Tattered Safety Net stated, “As the economy has worsened and stagnated, and safety net dental programs suffer cutbacks, hospital emergency departments increasingly bear the burden of oral health emergencies, a large portion of which are preventable… “Approximately half of these ‘emergencies’ resulted from preventable conditions which, owing to the lack of regular dental care, deteriorated to the point where the patient was in sufficient pain to seek emergency care. The worst part of the equation is that most of these patients do not receive dental care during these episodes. Instead, they typically are given antibiotics and pain relievers, which relieve the symptoms temporarily. But absent dental treatment, such symptoms generally return, often engendering the same fruitless cycle, not solving the real problem while contributing to the to the continuing increases in health care costs borne by all.” The Surgeon General of the United States and others have concluded poor oral health care can lead to stroke, heart disease and other serious physical problems. This brings us to Obamacare and the pretense of
The reality is that if you are poor and a child, your ability to see a dentist and receive the care available to the rich and middle class is negligible. There is widespread recognition across the political spectrum that pediatric dental care should be a priority and that our children in the U.S., in Pennsylvania, and in Centre County ought not to be in pain. caring about pediatric dental care. The official name of the legislation, signed by the President in March, 2010, is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148). The law defines the 10 Essential Health Benefits the law is intended to provide; namely: “(A) Ambulatory patient services. (B) Emergency services. (C) Hospitalization. (D) Maternity and newborn care. (E) Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment. (F) Prescription drugs. (G) Rehabilitative and rehabilitative services and devices. (H) Laboratory services. (I) Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management. (J) Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.” The problem is while pediatric services are defined as “essential” virtually no attempt is made to make sure children in need actually see a dentist. No real attempt is made to reduce pain and restore smiles to poor children. A family selecting a plan on the Health Care Exchanges is required (the relevant word is “mandated”) to select insurance that includes, for example, hospitalization but there is no mandate for families to obtain dental care for minor children. Colin Reusch, Senior Policy Analyst at the Children’s Health Project, explains that the dental mandate for children, “Only applies to individual and employer-based plans.” Regarding small business employer plans implementation has been extended to 2016. Worth noting, the low income family of minor children may not be employed. If purchasing an independent insurance plan—going directly to the insurance company and avoiding the exchanges entirely (the probability of which is extremely low)--the family is mandated to make sure minor children are covered by a dental plan. Last year, State College’s Mount Nittany Medical Center performed a study on access to health care here in Centre County. The study concluded: “There is a shortage of dental providers
SUDOKU by PETER MORRIS
JOEL SOLKOFF Voices Guest Columnist who accept Medical Assistance. Even among providers who do accept public insurance, not all are accepting new patients. CVIM [Centre Volunteers in Medicine] provides free primary medical and dental care to Centre County residents who pass a meansbased test …. CVIM‘s services are in demand; there is a waiting list of over 2,000 individuals in Centre County…. “ The reality is that if you are poor and a child, your ability to see a dentist and receive the care available to the rich and middle class is negligible. There is widespread recognition across the political spectrum that pediatric dental care should be a priority and that our children in the U.S., in Pennsylvania, and in Centre County ought not to be in pain. ++++ Author’s note: I started writing about children because I thought promises raised by the Affordable Care Act were real and because children are so vulnerable—especially to pain. I will publish another article on dental care after I receive the resources to obtain the critical dental care I require to continue to be productive. You may donate by going to my website: www. joelsolkoff.com; click on “What is the meaning of this?” ++++ For over a year, Joel Solkoff was a monthly columnist on disability issues for Voices of Central Pennsylvania. He is a paraplegic.
22 | Opinion
EDITORIAL: Grad students give more than they get By SEAN FLYNN Managing Editor email@example.com @VoicesPAEditor Penn State’s working graduate students give a lot more than they get. In fact, the closer you look, the more they look like underpaid employees. They write and publish papers just like full-time university faculty. They perform experiments and conduct the much of the research supporting Penn State’s $800 million annual research budget. They teach the same classes as fulltime university faculty, sometimes to hundreds of students per class, and sometimes without any pedagogical training, or even personal experience with the skills they’re trying to teach. Graduate students on assistantships are expected to be researchers, teachers, and students simultaneously, and they’re expected to do it for salaries so low that many of Penn State’s 14,739 graduate students qualify for food stamps. MIT’s Living Wage Calculator says that a living wage for one adult in State College is $18,469 — and even that salary would make its recipient eligible for food stamps. According to The Graduate School’s website, the median assistantship appointment is a half-time grade 12 assistantship paying $17,316/yr. The university adds full-time instate tuition and fees to that figure, and says that in-state graduate students are actually compensated to the tune of $32,316/yr, and even more for outof-state students. But Penn State paying tuition expenses to itself doesn’t put food on a graduate student’s table, fix their car, or pay their rent, and it doesn’t make $17,316/yr a livable wage. In return, graduate students perform the daily work of the university, but for a fraction of the cost of a new professor (average salary: $71,500 for an assistant, $86,000 for an associate, $129,700 for a full professor). According to The Graduate School’s website, students on assistantships are generally expected to work an average of 20 hours per week, in addition to the classes and publishing required to earn their degree. When shown that figure, a graduate student in the sciences responded “I want to live in the world that author is in.” Penn State graduate departments
Graduate students on assistantships are generally expected to work an average of 20 hours per week, in addition to the classes and publishing required to earn their degree. When shown that figure, a graduate student in the sciences responded “I want to live in the world that author is in.” and programs are supposed to provide students with “the necessary training and mentoring to perform effectively and to make the assistantship a positive learning experience.” Sometimes this happens. Often it doesn’t. Graduate students have complained about being not just underpaid but undertrained, working for faculty who seem to have been hired for their skills in grant writing rather than training or mentoring. And effective representation in the wider university community appears slim. Penn State graduate students have the Graduate Student Association, an organization whose website boasts a free “Investment 101” workshop for grad students — again, many of whom are getting paid so little that they’re eligible for food stamps. Penn State recently announced an increase in graduate healthcare costs. In an email to graduate students, GSA president Scott Rager wrote that the Penn State Budget Office was still determining whether the university could afford the recommended graduate healthcare plan, and whether it could continue subsidizing health insurance premiums at the 80 percent / 70 percent historical rate. He stated that the GSA was seeking a “compromise of sharing increased costs across the University and graduate students.” He wrote that the GSA would “work with the administration” to reduce the stresses of grad students bearing increased healthcare costs, which come both in premium increases and copay increases. Rager makes laudable promises, but his ability to fulfil them is entirely predicated on the university’s willingness to compromise other budgetary priorities to keep the graduate students he represents from going further into poverty. Judging from the tone of his emails, that doesn’t seem likely. Neither the GSA nor the single graduate student representative in the Faculty Senate have any effective leverage or bargaining power with the university beyond what the university
is willing to grant at any given time. It’s time to consider a different model. By contrast, the University of California’s graduate students have unionized. Their union, UAW 2865, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement protecting working graduate students and classifying them as Academic Student Employees (ASEs). That contract grants ASEs many of the rights of university employees — including the right to participate in university childcare, employee parking and transit programs, and healthcare programs. Through direct action, UC graduate students have also secured tuition freezes, 100% healthcare premium payments, and job security. Just as importantly, graduate students in the University of California system have an avenue to appeal unfair or inequitable working conditions to
someone who isn’t in direct control of the future of their career. The agreement also guarantees graduate students personal illness leave, and guaranteed maternity/ paternity leave. UC students are working for more affordable housing, better childcare support, and access to other rights and privileges granted other university employees. And those rights and privileges are protected by more than just the hope that the university’s definition of ‘compromise’ is one that graduate students can live with. Penn State gets far more from its graduate students than it gives. It’s time for that to change. It’s time to recognize the contributions of Penn State graduate students who teach, research and publish by treating them like what they are: university employees.
Opinion | 23
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Goodwill can be a secret no longer Thank you for writing the recent article concerning used clothing donation bins (“For-profit clothing ‘donation’ boxes flourish in Pa.,” Feb. 2014 issue). The competition for gently used textiles is growing in north central Pennsylvania and threatens the services not-forprofit organizations provide. It’s imperative we continue to spread the word about how important donated clothing is to the people we serve. Goodwill is so much more than a resale or thrift store. At times, those working for Goodwill will chuckle while saying “We are still the best kept secret”. We can not afford to stay a secret any longer. Thank you, Anne M. Ziegler Goodwill Industries of North Central PA
Whitey Blue shuns the opera By DAVID SILVERMAN VOICES Satirist email@example.com I was talking the other day to Whitey Blue, longtime Centre Region resident and hardnose. What do you think about showing broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera at a local movie theatre?
“I don’t think we need it. The attendees are a bunch of old fogies. Let ‘em go to the Met in New York City.” What would you have at the theatres that now put on the operas? “Something more modern. Operas were mostly written in the eighteenhundreds. We need shows with more pizzaz!”
Like what? “Modern music. Shows that are more risque. That have a college town based venue.” — David M. Silverman (An attender, with his wife, of the operas at the State theatre.)
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Published on Mar 3, 2014
Published on Mar 3, 2014
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