Civic Project story wins another Keystone Award

Cody J. Benjamin, IUP junior Journalism major. Photo by David Loomis.

Cody J. Benjamin, IUP junior Journalism major. Photo by David Loomis.

The HawkEye online newspaper  has notched another award for its reporting, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association  announced late last month.

Journalism student Cody Benjamin, a junior from Lititz, Pa., won honorable mention for sports reporting. His Dec. 18 story reported favoritism, financial contributions and family connections in IUP’s NCAA Division II  football program. Benjamin contacted more than 40 sources for the story, including nearly two dozen current and former players, seven university administrators, four coaches and seven other sources, to verify allegations made by the program’s players.

Readership statistics show that the story is the most-read in The HawkEye’s history.

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IUPatty’s 2015 foretold

An opinion

Samuel Posega, journalism student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Photo by David Loomis, March 3, 2015.

Samuel Posega, journalism student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Photo by David Loomis, March 3, 2015.

By Samuel Posega

Coming soon to Indiana University of Pennsylvania: the March 2015 edition of IUPatty’s, an annual off-campus revel that last year gave the university a big black eye.

Late last summer, Pittsburgh news media drew additional attention to the evident behavioral problems by focusing on discount-coupon books distributed free to IUP students. WTAE-TV reported that Robert Muir, an Indiana lawyer, advertised in the coupon book by offering 10 percent discounts on alcohol- or drug-related offenses, plus arrest-record expungement.

Given IUP’s reputation as a school for party-inclined students, these coupons naturally raised a tumult, with some claiming that the coupons promote partying.

Another Indiana lawyer who advertised in the coupon book recently speculated that Muir may have worded the coupons to reach students ignorant of legal terminology. The lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous, also blamed much of the media controversy on “poor word choices.” And the anonymous attorney suggested that the coupon semantics simply may be a way to drum up legal business.

While IUP may have a problem with its reputation, lawyers trying to drum up business by catering to the marketplace is the least of the university’s concerns.

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Favoritism, finance and football at IUP

A Civic Project story: Tales from the huddle

By Cody J. Benjamin

INDIANA – James Griffin Jr., of Wallingford, Pa., attended a team meeting shortly after three of his fellow Indiana University of Pennsylvania football players were arrested in September 2012.

James Griffin Jr

James Griffin Jr. All photos: IUP Athletics Department, except where noted.

Griffin, a former defensive back, said he remembers when Errol Brewster, De’Antwan “Rocket” Williams and Jerell McFadden were detained on suspicion of drug activity.

Four days after the incident, Brewster was off the team.

Head coach Curtis J. “Curt” Cignetti, in his second year with IUP at the time, told players it was “Errol’s final straw,” Griffin, who now lives in Philadelphia, said in a Nov. 4 phone interview.

“We hold our student-athletes to a higher standard,” Cignetti said, a remark reported in The Indiana Gazette.

But in this case, only one of the three athletes was held to the higher standard, players say. And Cignetti’s standards have prompted many players — current and former, starters and backups alike — to speak out about double standards and favoritism, some of it linked to financial contributions and family connections, some to influential alumni.
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On campus: sex assault; activism; sports

The Hawk Report, Dec. 7, 2014, WIUP-FM

Jillian Fanty photo pixilated

Pixelated selfie of IUP rape survivor interviewed by reporter Casey Lemmons for an upcoming story in The HawkEye.

Since the start of the year, President Barack Obama has made college-campus sexual assault a top domestic issue. He has cited studies that figure nearly one in five women -– 19 percent -– are assaulted while enrolled in college. (The data are disputed.)

Hawk Report producer Kelsey Breunig has a local angle. Last week, she interviewed IUP journalism student Casey Lemmons, who has been reporting on the issue for an upcoming story scheduled for publication in the online newspaper The HawkEye.

Lemmons’ story reports an alleged rape that occurred in a new residential and recreational complex built by the IUP Student Cooperative Association with student-activity fees. The incident allegedly occurred during the rowdy March 2014 IUPatty’s weekend. Lemmons interviewed the survivor of the alleged assault –- a 22-year-old IUP senior criminology major with a double minor in women’s studies and psychology -– who said she hoped to empower survivors of college-campus sexual assault.

Lemmons also conducted an online survey of IUP undergraduates about their exposure to sexual assault on campus. Preliminary results suggest that the rate of sexual assault among IUP students may be significantly higher than the national average cited by the president.
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‘Fahrenheit 451’ heats up Waller Hall

A theater review: ‘Fahrenheit 451′

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Montag (Hannah Kate Simon), left, amid a stare-down with Mildred (Hannah Misera), center, while Clarisse (Olivia Anna) enjoys a book in a scene from “Fahrenheit 451″ at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Waller Hall, through Nov. 16. Photo by Ethan Brogan.

By Ethan C. Brogan

INDIANA – Writer Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian story “Fahrenheit 451” opened last week on Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Waller Hall stage two days after American voters told a similar unsettling tale in the Nov. 4 midterm elections. TV pundits diagnosed the returns as an expression of fear and loathing amid a profoundly unsettling period.

Bradbury, who died in 2012 at age 91, would have appreciated the timing of the IUP stage adaptation. He wrote his most popular story – about book-burners (the title is a reference to the temperature at which paper combusts) – a half century ago at the height of the 20th century’s second Red Scare. The experience contributed to American historian Richard J. Hofstadter’s famous 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”
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Oak Grove preachers

The Hawk Report, Nov. 9, 2014, WIUP-FM

Longtime Oak Grove preacher Timothy Melcalf, pastor, Lord Jesus Christ Assembly, Indiana, Pa., stands on his customary knoll in the campus common, Nov. 19, 2014. Photo by Dave Loomis.

Longtime Oak Grove preacher Timothy Melcalf, pastor, Lord Jesus Christ Assembly, Indiana, Pa., stands on his customary knoll in the campus common, Nov. 19, 2014. Photo by Dave Loomis.

Oak Grove preachers at IUP come in two varieties. One is the gypsy variety – itinerants whose visits to the Oak Grove in November 2013 and again last week sparked raucous debate with students who passed by between classes.

On Nov. 4, Election Day, a group of evangelists swept back onto the university common to rail against evolution and sin. The Bible-thumpers told students that they were “evil” and “going to hell” and that “evolution is a lie.” Students railed back.

Campus administrators and police have kept their distance as the visitors vigorously exercised their First Amendment rights in the university’s public space.

But there is another variety of Oak Grove preacher –- namely, Timothy Metcalf, the soft-spoken pastor at Lord Jesus Christ Assembly two blocks north of the Oak Grove. For more than two decades, Metcalf has preached the Gospel outdoors to students in a tone better suited to a confessional than to a crowd.
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Governor candidate flips burgers, talks issues on IUP campus

Tom Wolf Flips Burgers Jen Bush 102514 copy

Democratic governor candidate Tom Wolf flipped grilled meats at a union-sponsored, get-out-the-student-vote tailgate rally on Pratt Drive in front of Wallwork Hall on Saturday. Photo by Jen Bush.

By Jen Bush

INDIANA — Tom Wolf, Democratic candidate for governor, flipped burgers and delivered an order of campaign rhetoric for a come-and-go crowd at a union-sponsored get-out-the-student-vote rally at Indiana University of Pennsylvania around midday Saturday.

The aroma of grilled hotdogs and hamburgers filled the crisp autumn breeze on Pratt Drive in front of Wallwork Hall as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and rap music blared from speakers mounted on an AFL-CIO recreational vehicle emblazoned with union insignia. The traveling union sponsors billed the stop as a “Burgers and Ballots Election Tailgate,” part of a tour of college campuses.

Wolf, who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, arrived separately before noon on a big blue charter bus bearing a “Fresh start for Pennsylvania” banner. The candidate’s wife, Frances, and daughters, Sarah and Katie, accompanied him. Borough Mayor George Hood welcomed him with a handshake.
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Candidates campaign on campus

Kevin Freeberg, Democratic candidate for 62nd state House Legislative District, Wallwork Hall, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 2014. Photo by Dave Loomis.

Kevin Freeberg, Democratic candidate for 62nd state House Legislative District, Wallwork Hall, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 2014. Photo by Dave Loomis.

The Hawk Report, Oct. 26, 2014, WIUP-FM

We report two stories on local campaigning for the Nov. 4 election:

First, in the 62nd state House Legislative District, two Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduates are running to represent the county in Harrisburg. Seven-term incumbent Republican Dave Reed graduated in 2000 with a degree in math and economics. His Democratic challenger, teacher Kevin Freeberg, graduated in 1980 with a degree in education.

On Wednesday, the candidates are scheduled to debate at their alma mater in the Eberly College of Business and Technology in Room 101 at 5 p.m.

State Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana. File photo by Kenny Oldham.

State Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana. File photo by Kenny Oldham.

In recent weeks, Hawk Report producer Kelsey Breunig interviewed both candidates on the campaign trail. Among the issues: taxes, Marcellus shale drilling and public funding of higher education.
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Homecoming 2014

The Hawk Report, Oct. 12, 2014, WIUP-FM

Photo caption: Indiana University of Pennsylvania students gather on the 400 block of Fisher Avenue, Oct. 5, 2013, for a Homecoming party. Photo by Caitlin Birch, from file.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania students gather on the 400 block of Fisher Avenue, Oct. 5, 2013, for a Homecoming party. File photo by Caitlin Birch.

This weekend, IUP hosted Homecoming 2014, a tradition intended to cement links between generations of the university’s students and their alma mater. Last year, however, the cement was mixed with too much alcohol, officials said. This year, university administrators worked overtime to prevent a replay. Early reports in local media indicated that they were successful –- aided by chill weather and a secret number of police reserves – in preventing what local authorities feared would be a recurrence of “mob mentality” among revelers.

In the days leading up to Homecoming 2014, The Hawk Report’s Kelsey Breunig spoke with an IUP administrator who has been working to chill out the celebrations. And she interviewed faculty members with expertise and perspective on alcohol.
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From Ferguson, Mo., to Indiana, Pa.

The Hawk Report, Sept. 28, 2014, WIUP-FM

Rennell Roby yells "Hands up, don't shoot" over the sound of honking horns in Ferguson, Mo, August 14, 2014. (Dave Gershgorn, with permission)

Rennell Roby yells “Hands up, don’t shoot” over the sound of honking horns in Ferguson, Mo, August 14, 2014. Photo by Dave Gershgorn, with permission.

The semester’s first show featured an exclusive report and interviews by SPJ President Kelsey Breunig on an NAACP-sponsored Sept. 24 community discussion in the Hadley Union Building Delaware Room of issues arising from recent violence in Ferguson, Mo., and how those issues affect Indiana, Pa.

The show also included a feature by SPJ member Juliette Rapp on members of the IUP chapter of the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity who periodically perform an impromptu  a capella series called “Singing in the Oak Grove.” The group performed Friday, Sept. 26, accompanied by warm sunshine, and Rapp was there to interview group members.
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