IUP students, faculty protest Dakota pipeline

The Public Sphere

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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.”

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— 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:

“Misinformation.”

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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Indiana mayor seeks sixth term

Indiana Mayor George E. Hood in his borough office, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

Indiana Mayor George E. Hood in his borough office, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — On Jan. 20, Mayor George E. Hood announced he would seek a sixth four-year term in this year’s municipal elections.

Hood, the borough’s Democratic mayor since the presidential administration of Bill Clinton, announced his campaign for re-election in a release published in The Indiana Gazette. He is unopposed in the May 16 Democratic primary. The deadline to file is March 7. No Republican has filed to run against him.

County courthouse records are easily accessible back to only 2003. But an administrative assistant in the police department, the municipal office the mayor oversees,  reported that Hood, 83, has served longer than any other mayor in the borough’s 200-year history.

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The new taxi in town

Uber driver Robert G. Bonnet, Indiana, Pa., Jan. 24, 2017. Photo by David Loomis.

Uber driver Robert G. Bonnet, Indiana, Pa., Jan. 24, 2017. Photo by David Loomis.

By Ethan Brogan

INDIANA – On Aug. 4, San Francisco-based internet taxi service Uber arrived in Indiana County. Drivers and riders alike have hailed the company’s new — if non-descript — cabs.

For Uber drivers, the service has become a lucrative source of supplemental income.

Robert G. Bonnet, 64, of Marion Center, signed up to drive for Uber as soon as he heard it was available in Indiana. Bonnet recounted a time in Pittsburgh when he called a traditional taxi company the night before catching a morning flight out of the steel city’s international airport.

Even after the appointed pickup time passed, the dispatcher repeatedly promised a driver would arrive, Bonnet recounted. The hack never arrived. Bonnet called a friend and narrowly made his flight.

When Uber arrived in Indiana in early August, Bonnet promptly signed up to drive.

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All-original artistry of Alyssa Hankey

Alyssa R. Hankey, Stapleton Library, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jan. 2, 2016. Photo by Ethan Brogan.

Alyssa R. Hankey, Stapleton Library, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jan. 2, 2016. Photo by Ethan Brogan.

By Ethan Brogan

INDIANA – The Dec. 16 open-mic night at The Artists Hand Gallery drew a respectable crowd. As the evening began to wind down, Alyssa R. Hankey stepped to the front of the house, set down her tie-dye and peace-sign-covered guitar case and took out a pick and a brass slide. The coffeehouse chatter faded as she tore into a half-dozen songs from her new album, including “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

He’s a shadow on the street,
Six-foot-four and wears a black suit
He’s tall, dark and handsome with eyes pale blue
He’s looking for a little corruption, seduction on the street
He ain’t got no fear, ain’t got no regrets
He just smokes them left-hand cigarettes.

A month earlier, Hankey, 23, of Rural Valley, released her second album, “Shadowlands,” showcasing her solo singer-songwriter cred with an even-dozen original songs, all studio-recorded locally. Hankey defines her music as folk-rock with blues and country mixed in.

In interviews, Hankey is spare with comments about her performances.

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Payroll and perks for IUP student pols

A Civic Project story

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Student Government Association executive board, left to right: Caleb N. King (chief Justice), Carson F. Nicholas (vice president), Brian H. Swatt (president), Vincent Lowerre (treasurer) and Brandon H. Rager (secretary). Photo from IUP SGA Facebook page, Oct. 16, 2016.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Student Government Association executive board, left to right: Caleb N. King (chief Justice), Carson F. Nicholas (vice president), Brian H. Swatt (president), Vincent Lowerre (treasurer) and Brandon H. Rager (secretary). Photo from IUP SGA Facebook page, Oct. 16, 2016.

By Allyson Rae Null

INDIANA – Maria J. Donofrio, a 22-year-old hospitality-management major, expressed surprise and concern when she learned that Indiana University of Pennsylvania has a Student Government Association whose leaders are elected — and paid — by students like her.

“It actually scares me that I’m giving these guys my money when I have no clue what they do for us students,” said Donofrio on Nov. 28 at her Wayne Avenue apartment.

Donofrio may not be alone in the dark about SGA’s existence. A recent unscientific Facebook poll asked IUP undergraduates about the elected government of, by and for the students. Fewer than a dozen responded.

Like Donofrio, unfamiliarity may breed contempt among students who discover that SGA officers occupy salaried positions that are funded by activity fees paid by every student.

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An Indiana-area medical-facilities report card

A Civic Project story

Lindsey C. August, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo by Nicolette Querry.

Lindsey C. August, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo by Nicolette Querry.

By Nicolette Querry

INDIANA – During Homecoming weekend 2016, Lindsey C. August, 22, an accounting major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, sought treatment for head pain at Indiana Regional Medical Center after the campus clinic told her she needed care it could not provide.

August went to IRMC that Sunday morning, Oct. 16, she said. Later that morning, she left with a bill but without a diagnosis.

The community hospital’s nurses told her she should receive a brain scan, August recounted later. But the IRMC physician who examined her ignored symptoms of concussion.

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The face of heroin addiction at IUP

A Civic Project story

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania freshman Kira Jadann Marie Heitzer, March 2016. Photo by Kira Heitzer.

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania freshman Kira Jadann Marie Heitzer, March 2016. Photo by Kira Heitzer.

By Victoria Moran

INDIANA— Kira Jadann Marie Heitzer was 18 and a first-year freshman archaeology/anthropology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania when she dropped out of school two months into the fall 2016 semester.

Heitzer, from Somerset, Pa., had been struggling with drug use and heroin addiction since her sophomore year of high school. After attending rehab for two months in 2014, Heitzer said she was using only on occasion.

Until she arrived at IUP.

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Student anxiety, depression trend upward

A Civic Project story

Autumn E. Race, child development and family relations major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in her off-campus apartment, Dec. 5, 2016. Photo by Nina McNavish.

Autumn E. Race, child development and family relations major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in her off-campus apartment, Dec. 5, 2016. Photo by Nina McNavish.

By Nina McNavish

INDIANA¬ — Autumn E. Race, 20, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania junior, child development and family relations major, was a freshman when life took a turn for the worse.

“After going through the craziest break-up of my life, I had no idea what to do or who to talk to,” Race said during an interview Nov.1 at her off-campus apartment.

She had trouble sleeping, she said. She had no desire to attend classes. She lost her appetite.

She was clinically depressed.

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Weapons policy challenged at IUP

A Civic Project story

Indiana University of Pennsylvania student Rita M. Cramer holding her 40-caliber, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield pistol at an off campus apartment in Indiana, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Photo by Lynette Larssen.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania student Rita M. Cramer holding her 40-caliber, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield pistol at an off campus apartment in Indiana, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Photo by Lynette Larssen.

By Lynette Larssen and Mackenzie Winebold

INDIANA — Rita M. Cramer, 21, an interior design major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, exercises her Second Amendment right every day. During the fall 2016 semester, the exercise included carrying a concealed pistol to class four days a week.

Cramer’s weapon is a 40-caliber, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, a 6-inch, one-pound, stainless-steel-and-polymer model with a capacity of up to eight bullets. She conceals it in the small of her back in a holster clipped to her waistband.

She carries it for the personal safety described on the permit she recently acquired at the Indiana County Courthouse.

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