A night at Phi Kappa Psi

A Civic Project story

Deandre L. Easterling, a defensive lineman for Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s football team. Source: IUP Athletics website.

By Rachel Brieve, Madison Longenecker and Laura Scott

INDIANA –  On Saturday night, April 29, Deandre L. Easterling, a defensive lineman for Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s football team, attended a party at Phi Kappa Psi, a social fraternity at 220 S. Seventh St.

It was the last weekend before the final week of spring-semester classes. Music was blaring. Guests were drinking. Another party night on frat row.

Shortly after midnight, the scene turned violent.

In the early hours of Sunday, April 30, a fight broke out between fraternity members and football players. Police came. They issued citations. They left. A melee erupted. Police returned. Then left. Then returned a third time.


THE STORY OF THAT early Sunday morning, as told by witnesses, university officials, borough police officials, police documents and court records, provides a local look at a widening national narrative of the troubled relationship between Greek social fraternities and college campuses around the country.

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The racial climate on campus, and off

Race and IUP: a Civic Project story

Indiana University of Pennsylvania student Justin G. Cobb at a rally sponsored by The Racial Justice Coalition for Change, Stapleton Library, Nov, 1. Photo by Tiffany Brisbon.

By Tiffany Brisbon

INDIANA — For four years, Justin G. Cobb, a senior communications media major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has heard people talk. Racist talk. On campus.

“I’ve heard some things you wouldn’t believe,” said Cobb, 20, as he held a “no hate” sign at a Nov. 1 rally against racism in front of Stapleton Library.

His African-American friends have been called the “N” word, he said. But that’s only part of the problem.

“I’m looked at as your typical white male,” Cobb said. “Fine. My black girlfriend is looked at with disgust.”

The issue goes beyond the personal, Cobb said.

“There is racism on an institutional level,” he said.

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On being black at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Race and IUP: an opinion

Septima Simpkins at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, Indiana University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony, Dec. 16, 2017.

By Septima Simpkins

INDIANA — Growing up in multicultural neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn, I never paid much attention to racism. That was a gift and a curse. I often was oblivious.

Even when I moved to Tobyhanna, Pa., in 2009, I had yet to understand what it felt like to be discriminated against. That first feeling occurred while I was at college.

I arrived at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014. I was swept away. It was like something out of a story book.

But the beautiful façade soon faded under an uglier appearance.

I began to feel the weight of my race as I became active on campus. I attended diversity events and NAACP meetings, only to find that these organizations were underfunded and undermined by school officials.

I began to feel the racial disparity and prejudices personally. For the first time in my life it sunk in that I was the only black person in my classes. Hearing about acts of racism on campus made my stomach turn. To think that peers harbored hatred toward people because of the color of their skin was eye-opening.

And the administration played a role in spurring these divisions, as I witnessed.

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One year later: Trump, news media and Indiana County voters

An analysis

By The HawkEye staff

INDIANA — Half a small sample of Indiana County voters say they maintain a favorable view of President Donald Trump after his tumultuous first year in the job. However, a third of county voters hold a “very unfavorable” view of him.

These local voters also express skepticism about promises Trump made in an Oct. 21, 2016, campaign speech in Johnstown.

And news-media usage among these sampled county voters is fragmented in ways that do not support stereotypes of conservatives watching Fox and progressives watching MSNBC. For example, equal numbers of these survey respondents watch CNN and Fox.

These tentative findings are drawn from a project undertaken by Indiana University of Pennsylvania students enrolled in a fall 2017 undergraduate journalism and political-science course.

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A revolving door for TPUSA faculty advisers

Alexi S. Thompson, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania economics professor and former faculty adviser to the IUP chapter of Turning Point USA, in his McElhaney Hall office, Dec. 5, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA – Last week, the Turning Point USA chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania lost its faculty adviser. This week, it acquired a new one, retaining its status as an officially recognized student organization.

 On Nov. 29, TPUSA faculty adviser Alexi S. Thompson, an IUP economics professor,  resigned his position with the group, one day after a news story profiled the campus chapter, the national organization and their leaders.

Thompson’s Nov. 29 email described his brief association with the student group, beginning in fall 2017, and his decision to dissociate himself from it.

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IUP library ‘weeding” opposition spreads beyond campus

Charles D. Cashdollar, former Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor of history and distinguished university alumnus. Photo from IUP website.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — Opposition to an administration plan to remove more than a third of the books in the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library has spread beyond the campus. Opponents now include alumni and a distinguished former faculty member.

The “weeding” project – which supporters call “deaccessioning” — seeks to rid the building of 172,161 of its 486,000 books by spring 2019, under a plan initiated by library dean Luis J. Gonzalez. That’s the equivalent of clearing out the second story of the four-floor facility.

On Nov. 15, former faculty member Charles D. Cashdollar, a retired IUP history professor and distinguished alumnus, addressed an eight-page, single-spaced letter to university President Michael A. Driscoll and Provost Timothy S. Moerland.

A whistleblower provided a copy to The HawkEye. On Dec. 1, Cashdollar confirmed authorship but declined comment in a brief phone interview.

The forceful letter described the weeding project as a “knife through the heart,” especially for the social sciences.

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Suppression of public information at IUP: a case study

A drop of blood on a handrail in a stairwell of the IUP humanities and social sciences building, Sept. 13, 2017. Photo by Justin G. Cobb.


Editor’s note: A clarification/elaboration has been appended at the end of this story, Dec. 8, 2017.


By Nathan Zisk

INDIANA – Campus police at Indiana University of Pennsylvania arrived at the humanities and social sciences building at 3:54 p.m. on Sept. 13 to find a professor whose shirt was spattered with blood. A student who witnessed the scene was hiding behind a hallway couch in fear of an active shooter after calling university police minutes earlier.

There was no shooter. The cause of the commotion was William N. Oplinger, 23, of New Kensington, who the university lists as an English major. He was drunk, police said.

Oplinger declined to respond to Sept. 19 email inquiries.

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A new political player on IUP’s campus

IUP communications media student Brandon T. Uhalik, president of the campus chapter of Turning Point USA, in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Nov. 14, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — There’s a new political group on campus, and it’s not your parents’ Democrats or Republicans.

Turning Point USA, a nonprofit founded in 2012 by conservative wunderkind Charlie Kirk, of Wheeling, Ill., claims chapters at more than 1,000 college campuses and high schools nationwide. Among its most recent beachheads is Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Kirk, 24, son of Robert W. Kirk, a project manager for Trump Towers in New York City, is a frequent guest on Fox News, a supporter of candidate Donald Trump and a contributor to Breitbart.com.

Turning Point, known for such slogans such as “socialism sucks,” “taxation is theft” and “communism is evil,” has won support from such conservative figureheads as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; conservative mega-donor Foster Friess (who spent $2.1 million on a failed GOP presidential bid by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.)  and Donald Trump Jr. The political group focuses on conservative ideology and targets collegiate millennials.

Photo from the Facebook site of the IUP chapter of Turning Point USA. The caption reports that the photo was taken during an Oct. 3, 2017, recruiting event in the Oak Grove.

At IUP, the Student Government Association officially recognized the Turning Point USA chapter in September. The recognition means Turning Point may hold fundraising events on campus and may request money from the Student Cooperative Association, which receives funding from student activity fees paid by every IUP student.

The Co-Op doesn’t offer funding to political, religious or academic group, Louis F. “Lou” Garzarelli, Co-Op executive director, said in a Nov. 27 phone interview.

The IUP chapter of Turning Point was recognized not for its beliefs but for its organization, said SGA senator Jesse J. Brown in a Nov. 19 email.

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‘Shhh!’ happens at IUP library over ‘weeding’ debate

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA – Debate over a plan to rid the library of more than a third of its books has spread to nearly every corner of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania librarian Susan S. Drummond, Stouffer Hall,, Nov. 2, 2017. Photo by David Loomis.

Since September, the controversy has cropped up on the agendas of student government, the University Senate, a council of academic-department chairs and an ad hoc committee appointed by administrators to study the issue.

But as the debate has grown campuswide, a silence has descended on the library and the librarian at the center of the controversy.

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Library ‘weeding’ endorsed by IUP SGA on split vote

IUP Student Government Association members SGA member Jesse J. Brown, left, and Jonathan A. Biller, Stapleton Library, Nov. 3, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger..

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA – Student government representatives voted Tuesday to endorse a controversial plan to remove a third of the books from the campus library to make room for more student study space, according to two senators. The proposal has sparked opposition from librarians and faculty members campuswide.

Members of the IUP Student Government Association were divided, too. They voted 12-5 to support the “weeding” process ordered by Dean Luis J. Gonzalez, who asserted in September that his plan was a response to student demand. However, neither Gonzalez nor student government representatives produced data to support the assertion.

On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 26, SGA representatives distributed questionnaires in the library between noon and 4 p.m., according to student patrons. Some student government representatives said the survey was rushed and flawed.

One student senator said he voted against the SGA’s Tuesday resolution to endorse the survey, and he raised doubts about it during discussion.

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