The Snapchat photo, revisited and reconsidered

A Civic Project story

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania student Katelyn J. Hecei. Photo taken and provided by Hecei.

By Emilee Larkin

INDIANA — Katelyn J. Hecei was a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Dec. 8, 2015, when her roommate took a photo of a group of African-American students in the Stapleton Library, posted it to the video-messaging application Snapchat and labeled the students as “monkeys.” The image and caption went viral on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

Hecei (HE-see), 20, of Warren, Pa., said she was a friend of her roommate and expressed shock that she would do something like that.

“The way her post made my friends feel broke my heart,” Hecei said in a March 6 Twitter message. “A campus where diversity was celebrated was tainted by one person.”

Hecei said she faced some backlash, too. She said some people on campus assumed she felt the same way as her roommate because they were friends.

“It went on for about a week, the messages to me and the random bangs on the door at night,” Hecei said. “But after I reached out to some students, I felt cleared of any issues.”

Hecei lives in Phoenix, no longer an IUP student.

“I stopped attending IUP because the environment wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of,” said Hecei in a March 30 Twitter message. “The whole place felt so toxic. The people were rude and didn’t care about other people.”

Hecei said she still thinks about the Snapchat incident and its impact.

“I still think about how much what one person says can hurt another, or a whole race,” Hecei said.

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IUP Punxsutawney’s racist past and present

A Civic Project story

Khandice J. Hampton, 20, of Philadelphia, outside Wilson Hall on Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s main campus, March 29. Hampton, a junior, spent her freshman year at IUP’s branch campus in Punxsutawney. Photo by Alexandria Mansfield.

By Alexandria M. Mansfield

PUNXSUTAWNEY –- On a Friday night in early April, students at this Indiana University of Pennsylvania branch campus do not roam the streets looking for their next party. No, students at this vintage-1962 institution burrow in their rooms like the town’s most famous mammal, celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

Why? Because they have been warned by friends, family members and administrators against walking at night. Students don’t feel safe here.

“People would roll by and yell racial slurs out of their cars,” said Khandice J. Hampton, 20, of Philadelphia, in a March 29 interview in the Stapleton Library on the main IUP campus in Indiana. “It put a piece of fear in me. You see it on movies and TV, and you just don’t really think about it until it actually happens to you.”

Hampton, who attended IUP’s Jefferson County campus from the summer 2014 semester until the end of the spring 2015 semester, said she is just one of many black students at IUP who have experienced racism at Punxsutawney. Hampton, now a junior, plans to graduate in May 2018.

“There was stuff that was unnecessary,” Hampton recalled. “We were walking to a store, and a guy just rolled past and screamed, ‘N****rs!’”

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A talisman for public-school teachers

Whit W. Watts. Photo by David Loomis.

An Opinion

By Whit Watts

INDIANA — Years ago I was given a talisman in the form of a Saint Christopher medallion. At the time, I had no idea who Saint Christopher was. I was told the medallion would protect me on my travels. I can’t say I believed it would do so, but it was a gift and somewhat fashionable at the time. So, I put it on my key fob anyway.

I carried it for many years. While I was never the superstitious type, I must admit that in an odd sort of way I did derive a kind of empty comfort from it.

Today, many people take talismanic comfort from concealed weapons. We harbor vain hopes that concealed weapons will protect us in our travels, that they will serve as invisible deterrents and, if the time came, allow us, flat-footed and alone, to control the uncontrollable.

Such comfort is easy to obtain. If you can purchase a gun in Pennsylvania, then you can obtain a permit to conceal and carry it — no training or additional checks required.  I have no problem with that. As long as you’re sober, that’s fine by me. That’s your individual right.

As state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, has pointed out,  Senate Bill 383, authorizing public-school personnel access to firearms, has nothing to do with individual rights. Carrying deadly force to protect the public is an entirely different matter.

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Reaction mixed to IUPatty’s prohibition proposal

State Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana. Photo courtesy of

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA –- Two weeks ago, state Rep. Dave Reed called for an end to the annual IUPatty’s revel and ruckus and invited “all in our community to make it happen.” Reaction among local officials, university administrators and students has ranged from support to opposition.

Kaycee E. Newell, a member of the borough council, is skeptical.

“If Dave Reed has some magic solution to stop 18-to-24-year-olds from partying, I’d love to hear it,” wrote Newell in an April 3 email. “I think Rep. Reed needs to reevaluate his priorities.”

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Whatever you call it, IUPatty’s 2017 was busy

The 200 block of South 10th St., Indiana, Friday afternoon, March 24, 2017. A tenant at one of the parties reported that the landlord posted the no-parties sign earlier in the day and asked tenants to observe a no-beer-kegs rule. Photo by David Loomis.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA – A concerted public-private effort to dampen what Indiana University of Pennsylvania officials describe as “celebratory tendencies” among students in early spring met its match against warm dry weather for most of the IUPatty’s 2017 party weekend.

Swarms of student revelers and party tourists drawn to the day-and-night “alcohol culture on campus,” as one university administrator put it in a March 21 email, overflowed sidewalks and streets from Frat Row to Grandview Avenue in seas of shamrock-green T-shirts and go-cups.


On Grandview, four police cruisers and eight or more officers rolled up at 1:25 p.m. on Saturday to break up a party attended by roughly 250 people. Police arrested one young man as he crossed the street.

At 2:30 p.m., a party drew between 250 and 300 people to the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at 220 S. Seventh St. Fraternity members asked a photographer and a reporter to leave the property. No police were in the vicinity.

IUPatty’s crowd on the march at Maple Street and South Sixth Street, 1:30 p.m., Saturday, March 25. Photo by Cody S. Minich.

On Wednesday, Indiana borough police reported weekend assistance from state police, campus police, the county sheriff’s office and officers from Punxsutawney, Homer City and Blairsville. “There were no significant shifts in manpower or assignments from years past,” Indiana police Lt. Justin Schawl wrote in a March 29 email.

But police were “unusually busy” during the weekend revel, The Indiana Gazette reported. Police reported one man shot dead and three people wounded by gunfire in two Saturday morning incidents off-campus.

The bad news ran counter to coordinated efforts by university administrators, various police agencies, landlords and others to prevent the sort of mayhem that has bruised the campus’ public image over the six- or seven-year run of unsanctioned annual celebrations that have coincided with dwindling enrollments.

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IUP, FIUP struggle with declining enrollments

Susan Snell Delaney Hall, constructed during Phase I of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Residential Revival project. Photo courtesy of IUP.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — Declining enrollments have created a financial squeeze at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as President Michael A. Driscoll reviewed in a 75-minute semi-annual “briefing” from Sutton Hall on Wednesday.

But the president did not mention another institution squeezed by sinking numbers of students — the Foundation for IUP, an independent, nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 1967 “to promote and support the educational purposes of IUP.”

The foundation’s most ambitious purpose has been the Residential Revival. Starting in 2006, the quarter-of-a-billion-dollar building program began demolishing 14 IUP dormitories and constructing eight new “suites.” The university described the public-private project (the private foundation owns the buildings; the public university manages them ) as “’the largest of its kind in the nation.”

The price tag for students was similarly big-ticket: The new suites doubled their rents.

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The HawkEye wins watchdog award

Ethan C. Brogan

Logan R. Hullinger

Staff report

The HawkEye has won awards for its public-service investigative reporting and for its ongoing coverage of issues involving racism, diversity and inclusion, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association announced Tuesday.

Two Indiana University of Pennsylvania journalism-student reporters for the online newspaper shared both honors.

Ethan C. Brogan, a senior from Pittsburgh, and Logan R. Hullinger, a junior from Clarion, won first prize from the statewide press association in its annual student Keystone Awards competition for their investigative story about Indiana County’s coldest homicide case, the 1985 murder of drug informant David John “Dave” Alexander. The 5,000-word story, based in part on confidential state police documents released by an anonymous whistleblower, implicated authorities in the highest echelons of the county courthouse.

The story was published as part of The Civic Project, a decade-long, community-focused, watchdog-journalism initiative rooted in News Reporting classes taught by David Loomis, Ph.D., in the IUP Department of Journalism & Public Relations. It ranks as the most-viewed story in The HawkEye’s history.

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‘Mega-school’ project ‘misstatements’


Thomas R. Harley, former president, Indiana school board.

Thomas R. Harley, former president, Indiana school board.

By Thomas R. Harley

INDIANA — Regarding the story “School board president: ‘Misinformation’ spurs opposition” published Feb. 15 in The HawkEye, Indiana school board president Doug Steve is the source of most of the misinformation that surrounds this project. In this one article he makes three misstatements of the facts.

First: There is certainly no evidence that the majority of business people support his $32 million plan. And I suspect the teachers will be less than enthusiastic about the project should it cause an increase in class size, a decrease in support staff or a negative impact on their wages.

Second: The governor’s 2017-18 budget is $2 billion out of balance, yet only carries about $29 million for PlanCon reimbursement for the entire state. We may be in line, but it is a very long line, and we have not even finished the paperwork.

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IUP students, faculty protest Dakota pipeline

The Public Sphere




INDIANA — On Wednesday afternoon, Indiana University of Pennsylvania students and faculty members rallied in support of a simultaneous event near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. As IUP students held signs outside Stapleton Library, protesters in North Dakota were leaving an encampment they had occupied for nearly a year in an effort to prevent construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the Associated Press reported.

Anthropology professor Abigail R. Adams, chair of IUP’s Native American Awareness Council, organized the campus event.

“I think it was helpful for many of us involved in native issues to make a public statement,” Adams wrote in a Wednesday email. “This is one of the most significant pan-native movements in our nation’s history, and I really wanted the student body to be aware of the ongoing struggle of indigenous peoples.

“For me, this is environmental racism 101: A majority white city (Bismarck) rejected the original pipeline route that would have placed it near their community, and it was re-routed straight through sacred native lands.”

— Photos by David Loomis

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School board president: ‘Misinformation’ spurs opposition

Doug M. Steve, president, Indiana Area School District board of directors, Feb. 7, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

Doug M. Steve, president, Indiana Area School District board of directors, Feb. 7, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

 INDIANA – Doug M. Steve, head of the local school board, has a simple explanation for why a costly and controversial plan he favors to shutter two elementary schools in the borough and to build or rebuild two others outside town has spurred resounding opposition from a bipartisan array of civic groups, taxpayers, planners, petitioners, editorial writers and elected officials:


In an hour-long Feb. 7 interview in his Philadelphia Street insurance agency, the president of the Indiana Area School District board of directors said citizens are being misled.

“People are being fed the wrong information and don’t realize the benefits of the construction and renovation project,” said Steve, a former IASD employee who resigned in 2005 after 12 years in the classroom. “I think if people were exposed to facts, there would be much less of this opposition we are seeing.”

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