Beer cups, Indiana borough and the experience economy

An Opinion

By David Loomis

INDIANA – For its preview of the sixth annual Northern Appalachian Folk Festival earlier this month, The Indiana Gazette went with a conflict angle in the headline: “Dueling folk festivals scheduled this weekend for downtown,” it read.

The “duel” was between two local volunteer and non-profit groups that teamed on earlier festivals but split after last year’s NAFF. In the breach were financial and creative differences, duplicate claims to the name, fears of public confusion, possible litigation, etc.

Logo for Northern Appalachian Folk Festival Inc., sponsored by Jim Dougherty.

The epilog: Except for wet weather on Saturday, Sept. 8, peace and harmony reigned, according to organizers of the twinned events.

“Most people didn’t know the difference,” said Jim Dougherty, a former Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor who launched his brainchild in 2013.

Ditto for an organizer of the other festival, sponsored by Downtown Indiana Inc., the borough’s business-district interest group.

“It’s a small town,” Linda G. Mitchell, executive director of Downtown Indiana Inc., said during a Sept. 17 phone interview. “We all have to get along.”

Logo for Northern Appalachian Folk Festival sponsored by Downtown Indiana Inc.

Both organizers said their events tallied in the black, and they pledged a reprise for next year’s seventh edition.


MAYBE BALANCED BUDGETS make good bedfellows. But on one element, organizers have no dispute:

The borough’s open-container ordinance is a success in its first season.

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Indiana High School’s ‘Indians’

Logos for the Indiana High School Indians

An Opinion

By David Loomis

INDIANA – Good for Indiana High School students lobbying to change its athletics nickname from “Indians” to something less offensive.

Their effort deserves recognition for media savvy and political initiative. The controversy vaulted from social media to the front page of the local daily newspaper three times during the slow-news month of August. And students, pro and con, expended shoe leather by taking the virtual debate to actual school board meetings, in-person.

Despite default stalemates in polarized debates, hopeful signs can be seen in this one. It’s not yet the activism of the #NeverAgain movement among Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. But it’s way beyond the capacity of the somnambulant U.S. Congress. And recent public comments at school board meetings even exhibited some of what the late U.S. Sen. John McCain’s prescribed for what ails us and stalls us.


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Student newspapers: mightier than bean-counters’ swords

A recent front page of the online edition of the IUP student newspaper The Penn.

An Opinion

By David Loomis

INDIANA — When the fall semester resumes this month at IUP, the student newspaper will disappear from racks across the campus and around the town. Readers will find it online only.

The announcement that the 94-year print run of The Penn would stop caught some people by surprise, including the incoming and outgoing student editors, they told interviewers. Their surprise is revealing: They were not a top priority among the paper’s managers.

 Instead, management’s top priority was the company paid to print the free twice-weekly tabloid. That printer is owned by The Indiana Gazette, the local daily. The Gazette saw news in the cancellation of the contract and published it June 16 on Page One. Editors at The Penn got scooped by their own bean-counters.

 The editors said declining ad revenue – a commercial publication’s life blood – appeared to be the cause. Joseph J. “Joe” Lawley, the student paper’s longtime director, didn’t deny it but offered no specifics.

“Ad revenue has decreased a little bit over the years,” Lawley said in a July 26 interview in his office at The Penn.

However, a source familiar with The Penn’s finances estimated that ad revenue dropped by about 40 percent in the most recent year alone. The source requested anonymity to preserve career prospects.

 Lawley did not respond to an Aug. 8 email seeking reaction and clarification.


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Fake justice: the Fogle trial transcript, 36 years later

A Review

Actress Meryl Streep and exoneree Lewis James Fogle at an Innocence Project fundraiser, New York City, 2017.

By David Loomis

INDIANA – The DNA profiling that made Lewis James Fogle a compelling story of forensic science and do-it-yourself lawyering also made him a minor celebrity. But he’s short on the public support that matters. Three years after his exoneration for a 1976 rape and murder of a Cherry Tree teen, he is unemployed.

But he is not unmotivated. Between working the legislature, the justice system and the court of public opinion, Fogle focuses on re-balancing Pennsylvania’s scales of justice that denied him 34 years of his prime and that owes him for it. He works out of a trailer here stacked with boxes of legal documents and populated by his wife, Deb; a hyperactive dog, Zoey, and several cats.


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The First Amendment, FERPA and ‘The IUP Way’

Chalk Walk, IUP Oak Grove, May 3, 2018. Photo by David Loomis.

A Mulitmedia Analysis

By Dylan Lyle and The HawkEye staff

INDIANA — On April 5, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted a forum on the First Amendment and the public university. Much of the discussion focused on recent free-speech and free-press issues on the IUP campus.

One of the issues was FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a federal statute widely misinterpreted on college campuses nationwide in efforts by administrators and other university officials to evade accountability or avoid embarrassment, according to one expert April 5 panelist.

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Lake Ingle: The HawkEye interview

By Dylan Lyle

INDIANA — On April 16, Indiana University of Pennsylvania religious studies student Lake A. E. Ingle sat for an interview about the events in a RLST 481 Self, Sin and Salvation class taught by professor Alison J. Downie on Feb. 28.

That was when Ingle, 24, got kicked out of the class and into conservative opinion media circles as a poster child of censorship by a liberal professoriate.

Ingle acknowledges that commercial media emphasized one angle — “Gender Madness: Student ejected for telling prof there are only 2 genders.” He describes the media focus as one-sided and added that his classroom remarks addressed such other issues as gender wage gaps, biology and white male privilege.

As for IUP, Ingle says he felt threatened by Downie’s “extreme” disciplinary approach and confused by what he says was the administration’s “vague,” if understandable,  response to the controversy.

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A match on Tinder, a #MeToo moment

Taylor Allison, 25, a funeral director from Indiana, Pa. Photo taken from Facebook, posted Nov. 18, 2017.

A Civic Project story

By Paige Johnson, Terra Neary and Angie Prencipe

INDIANA — On Feb. 10, Taylor Allison, 25, a licensed funeral director in Indiana, tweeted screenshots of a series of messages from an Indiana University of Pennsylvania fraternity member. His messages insulted her weight, appearance and intelligence.

He called her a “cow,” a “heffer” (sic) and said she was “not only fat and ugly, but also a dumbass,” according to the screenshots supplied by Allison on her Twitter account.

The screenshots went viral on Twitter and gained more than 40,000 retweets within 24 hours. Hundreds replied, some supporting Allison, others supporting the frat member, IUP history major Steven M. Pedersen. He had messaged Allison on the dating app Tinder after the app indicated they were a match — they were interested in each other.

Allison later changed her Twitter username and made her account private. She was messaged on Twitter via direct message and responded April 24, but she declined comment on the incident.

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Who wants to weaponize the college campus?

A Civic Project story

Dakota E. Rossmiller, IUP criminology and English major, has a concealed-carry permit but chooses not to carry her firearm on campus. Photographed in Stapleton Library at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on April 25. Photo by Samantha Kahle.

By Samantha Kahle

INDIANA — Dakota E. Rossmiller, 22, a senior criminology and English major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, supports the Second Amendment, and she exercises that right with her own concealed-carry license. However, when it comes to carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses, she said she is an “iffy” advocate.

“I lean towards not supporting it,” Rossmiller said in an interview April 19 at Stapleton Library. “Certain people are responsible, but not enough people are.”

Rossmiller said she obtained her permit in Pittsburgh, but she doesn’t bring a firearm to IUP. She said the university’s party atmosphere is why she does not support guns on campus.

“Putting guns with drinking is a bad idea,” she said. “I think with IUP having a lot of partying, things could go wrong easily.”

Rossmiller said she is a responsible gun owner. But strong opinions others have about guns deter her from carrying.

“There’s too much conflict on college campuses,” she said. “I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone who’s against it.”

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Race coverage nets awards for four at The HawkEye

Staff report

PITTSBURGH — For their news reporting about race, diversity and inclusion at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, four student reporters for The HawkEye were honored by the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation on Thursday at its annual awards banquet at the University of Pittsburgh.

Three students won first-place honors, and one took second-place in a category for online collegiate news media.

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The life sentence of Aaron Seidel

Aaron David Seidel, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, March 30, 2018. Photo by David Loomis.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — Aaron D. Seidel is busy.

The fifth-year Indiana University of Pennsylvania undergraduate triple-majors in geoscience, environmental engineering and applied mathematics. In March he won a prestigious  Goldwater Scholarship. As an April  18 IUP news release reported, the award is the preeminent honor of its kind, given to outstanding STEM undergraduates nationwide to encourage careers in their fields.

On April 17, Seidel presented his research in Harrisburg. He was the first IUP student to place at the annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol Pennsylvania poster competition, an annual event that invites students statewide to pitch their work to lawmakers.  Seidel’s poster, “Application of Ground  Penetrating Radar and the Complex Refractive Index Model to Estimate Methane Dynamics of Semi-Natural Environments,” placed third.

Seidel studies geoscience for “the betterment of humanity” and seeks to conduct research in arid regions to maximize access to clean water through irrigation and agriculture engineering “to optimize water efficiency and improve crop yields in African countries.”

In his spare time, Seidel established and manages a nonprofit that collects surplus IUP textbooks and donates them to Nigerian children.

He is a member of IUP’s Cook Honors College, and he is a McNair Scholar, a program to prepare undergrads for doctoral study. He maintains a 3.96 grade-point average on a 4-point scale.

He volunteers at a local animal shelter.

Faculty mentors use superlatives to describe his scholarship, his service, his work ethic. One faculty collaborator said Seidel was a model and an inspiration, and he expressed pride in what Seidel has achieved and what he can accomplish in a promising career.

But there is one catch:

Seidel is a convicted felon.

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