A Civic Project story
By Pete Sirianni
INDIANA –- The story of Khaliq J. Coleman, a football player for Indiana University of Pennsylvania, tells two different tales of undergraduate student life at the school.
Coleman, a tight end who wears No. 80 and the IUP logo on his helmet when he suits up for a game, appeared in a recent video promotion for the university. “Find Your ‘Road Less Traveled’ at IUP,” posted March 26 on IUP’s official YouTube page, shows Coleman in a frame at the 1:43 mark of the video. He is seen in the center foreground of a locker room shot, helmet off, suited up, focused.
But Coleman, a redshirt freshman, has as many career receptions for the Crimson Hawks as underage drinking violations. His second run-in with the law resulted in a March 8 arrest by IUP police for underage drinking, according to Indiana County Magisterial District Court documents.
Saturday, March 8, was the peak of the annual IUPatty’s party weekend. Coleman was cited by IUP campus police for underage drinking at 1:01 a.m. in Stephenson Hall, according to a published police log.
He has since been dismissed from the team. The commercial was still available for viewing as of June 6.
FOR ADMINISTRATORS at IUP, the struggle to distance the university from the events surrounding the student-organized, pre-St. Patrick’s Day IUPatty’s party weekend of March 7-8 is a difficult one, especially when a representative of the university’s student body is seen in such contrasting lights.
During the party weekend, the university’s image was bruised in news reports on Pittsburgh TV network affiliates, which covered what WTAE described as a “brawl that played out in the middle of Seventh Street.” South Seventh Street is known as Frat Row.
IUPatty’s 2014 celebrations, in their third year, escalated to what some media accounts described as “mayhem” on Saturday, March 8, when a crowd estimated at 400-500 students blocked Seventh Street traffic. In the four-day period from Thursday, March 6, to Sunday, March 9, 107 people were arrested on 138 charges by Indiana borough officers, according to Police Chief William Sutton.
Borough police continued to investigate activities that occurred during that weekend. Arrest numbers for that weekend are still being calculated, according to Sutton.
“The number of additional arrests specific to the period have not yet been compiled,” Sutton said in an April 23 email. “There has been several investigations related to the activities during the period of IUPatty’s celebration, and any resulting arrests are calculated in the monthly statistics.”
Viral video, which showed students dancing on top of a car stopped among the students, was quickly uploaded to urban entertainment website WorldStarHipHop.com and male storytelling website BroBible.com. As of May 9, the video, shot by IUP student Patrick J. McCafferty, was viewed more than 131,000 times on YouTube and nearly a million times on WorldStarHipHop.com.
Videos shot by students during the weekend of parties — notably the three-minute, 16-second YouTube video shot by McCafferty that appeared in news broadcasts — helped “sensationalize” the actions taken by a minority of IUP students, according to IUP spokeswoman Michelle S. Fryling.
The university was “very disappointed in the few individuals that were rowdy, that chose illegal behavior and chose to not be very good citizens of the community,” Fryling said.
“[Videos do] nothing but sensationalize activities,” Fryling said in a March 13 phone interview. “It just builds on a reputation that we don’t want and don’t deserve. The students don’t really get that when you do this, and it compromises the institution, it’s really a bad thing.”
The university did not endorse the weekend of partying and is trying to change IUP’s reputation as a party school. However, the work required to change the campus culture is reflected in T-shirts that spell out the IUP acronym as “I Usually Party.”
“It’s a slow culture change,” Fryling said. “We need to change that culture.”
THOSE SLOW changes included Spring Fever Week, IUP administrators’ counter-cultural initiative that featured various alcohol-free programs. Among the events highlighted in IUP’s daily email newsletter The Beak as safer alternatives to drinking were dances, bingo, trivia night, a forum on safer sex, laser tag and open recreation at the HUB Fitness Center and Gymnasium.
IUP President Michael A. Driscoll frequented many of the events during the weekend, Fryling said.
The university, through two new commercial spots featured on IUP’s official YouTube page, will try to take different approaches to market IUP as a school where students can thrive. Pittsburgh-based Vinegar Hill Creative, a company that has received about $50,000 from IUP over the past year or so to create the commercials, was co-founded by 2006 IUP alumnus David M. Altrogge and counts Jack Daniel Distillery, Procter & Gamble Co., the Discovery Channel and Netflix among its clients.
“We’re going to continue to pump out the good information,” Fryling said.
“I think those speak louder than any kind of advertisement or videos we can do,” Fryling said.
OTHER STUDENT actions, however, may require the university to pump harder with its p.r. effort. For example, a shirtless Coleman is identified in the opening of a video uploaded March 10 to YouTube by IUP junior Mario S. Sanders, a communications media major. The video, “IUPatty’s 2014 ‘The Movie,’” shows apparent pot-smoking and binge beer-drinking, plus crowd shots and interviews from South Seventh Street on March 8.
As of June 2, the video had been viewed more than 6,000 times.
Peter M. Sirianni, a sophomore majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Kane, Pa.
Sidebar: Rowdiness Rx
INDIANA – How can authorities rein in rowdy student behavior? Some officials hope to enlist landlords in the effort.
- IUP accounting major David P. Phelan, president of IUP’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity, said in an April 16 interview at Stapleton Library that off-campus, student-housing landlords could take preventive measures, such as restricting parking during party weekends and monitoring rental properties to enforce lease provisions and prevent gatherings from getting out of control.
- Phelan’s suggestion echoed Indiana borough Council President Nancy Jones, who described landlords as one of borough council’s best assets. Jones said five landlords called her on April 6 to offer assistance with preventing further disturbances.
- A dozen student-housing landlords are participating in borough Council’s efforts to enact changes to ordinances before students return for the fall, Jones told local news media in early June.
Bigger fines also are under consideration, Jones said.
Phelan said all stakeholders need to be brought to the table to prevent disruptive behavior.“It will take everyone coming together in a cohesive manner to solve this issue,” Phelan said.
Sidebar: IUPatty’s by the numbers
INDIANA — The number of IUP students whose public behavior has been described in such terms as “brawl,” “mob,” “chaos,” “mayhem” and “riot” has been a staple of town-gown talk at least since fall 2013. That’s when the annual Homecoming weekend stirred controversy during a borough council election .Council President Nancy Jones won re-election Nov. 5 following a campaign that emphasized college-student misbehavior during the Oc. 3-5 Homecoming weekend. But she added that such students are a minority.
“Our residents have said that 95 percent of the IUP students are wonderful,” Jones said in a pre-election interview at a coffee shop near campus. “It’s the 5 percent that give IUP students a bad image.”
In fall 2013, IUP undergraduates numbered 12,471. So, by Jones’ calculations, 5 percent would be 623 students who give the school a bad rap.
IUP President Michael A. Driscoll presented a different set of numbers in a Feb. 23 interview aired on WIUP-FM. Citing police records, Driscoll said “about 92 students” were charged during the fall 2013 Homecoming weekend — fewer than 1 percent of IUP undergraduates. He added that the number had dropped from the 2012 Homecoming weekend, when 114 students were charged.
During the three-day IUPatty’s weekend in early March, borough police issued 96 citations – 50 to IUP students and 46 to non-students, according to Chief William Sutton. Of 42 serious charges, half went to IUP students, the chief reported.
The non-student ratio of those charged also has been a theme of IUP administrators, who have cited anecdotal evidence.
— by Michael Kiwak
Sidebar: Survey samples student opinion on IUPatty’s
How do Indiana University of Pennsylvania students regard their own behavior during the early-March, pre-spring-break-2014 party weekend known as IUPatty’s? In late April, a month and a half after the public disturbances, a 12-question survey was emailed to 1,500 undergraduate IUP students using the Qualtrics survey tool supported by the IUP Applied Research Lab. (See text of questionnaire, below.)
From 332 responses (response rate: 22 percent; margin of error: 4.75 percent) the following findings emerged:
- 60 percent of respondents said they consumed alcoholic beverages at off-campus parties during the IUPatty’s weekend.
- 9 percent said they attended university-sponsored, alcohol-free “Spring Fever” events during the weekend and the preceding week.
- 49 percent said they attended off-campus parties during the IUPatty’s weekend on more than one day.
- 52 percent said they invited personal friends not enrolled at IUP, and those friends attended IUPatty’s parties. One respondent put the number of personal invitees who attended at 30.
- 52 percent agreed that “negative perceptions” of IUP students held by some Indiana borough residents are misplaced; 39 percent said the negative perceptions were deserved.
- 63 percent said more IUP students should make an effort to counteract negative public perceptions.
- 76 percent said “off campus residents” were responsible for most of the non-university-sponsored parties during IUPatty’s, and 67 percent said “Greek social organizations” hosted most of them.
The suggestion that Greek fraternities were responsible for IUPatty’s parties is undeserved, said David P. Phelan, an IUP accounting major and president of the campus chapter of Phi Delta Theta. He added that non-Greek students were responsible for most of the major parties during the weekend.
“It starts with off-campus housing throwing huge parties and then just going from there,” Phelan said in an April 16 interview at Stapleton Library.
Elizabeth E. “Betsy” Sarneso, assistant director at the Center of Student Life who works with Greek organizations and on community engagement, said the Greek community represents only a fraction — 8 percent — of IUP’s student population.
“It’s not fair to generalize that every Greek student was involved that weekend, just like it’s unfair to generalize that every IUP student was involved in that weekend,” Sarneso said in an April 23 interview in Pratt Hall.
— Qualtrics survey reporting by Michael Kiwak, of Sweet Valley, a sophomore majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Sidebar: The Qualtrics survey questionnaire
Following is the text of the 12-item questionnaire emailed in late April to 1,500 undergraduates enrolled at IUP:
Michael Kiwak, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania journalism student, is researching IUPatty’s Day and public perceptions of it. This survey is being conducted for a reporting project for the News Reporting class taught by IUP journalism professor David Loomis, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Survey response data may be published in the award-winning online newspaper The HawkEye, published by the IUP Journalism Department. Your responses will be anonymous. Neither your name nor your identity will be revealed, and they will be unknown to the reporter.
However, if you would be willing to be interviewed about this issue by the reporter, Mr. Kiwak, please provide your name and email address at the end of this questionnaire. The survey takes about 5 minutes.
1. What is your age?
2. Did you participate in any off-campus IUPatty’s Day events—that is, events not sponsored by the university — during its three-day period of March 6-8, 2014?
3. Did you participate in any alternative, university-sponsored “Spring Fever” events during the five-day period of March 5-9, 2014?
4. How many days during the three-day IUPatty’s period (March 6-8) did you participate in off-campus party-related events?
More than 3
5. Did you drink alcoholic beverages at any of the off-campus party-related events you attended during the IUPatty’s period (March 6-8)?
6. How many days during the five-day, March 5-9 “Spring Fever” period did you participate in the university-sponsored activities?
7. Do you believe that IUPatty’s Day draws more people to IUP and Indiana, Pa., than annual fall IUP Homecoming celebrations?
8. How many of your personal friends — those NOT enrolled at IUP – came to participate in IUPatty’s Day parties off-campus during the March 6-8, 2014, period?
More than 6 (specify)
9. Do you believe the negative perceptions some Indiana residents have about IUP students due to events like IUPatty’s and Homecoming are misplaced, or do you think they are deserved?
10. Do you believe more IUP students should be making an effort to counteract those perceptions?
11. Where do you believe most of the non-university sponsored, off -campus parties occurred during the March 6-8, 2014, IUPatty’s Day events? Multiple choices are permitted.
Off Campus Residences
Greek social organizations (fraternities, sororities)
12. If you would like to be interviewed by Mr. Kiwak, please enter your name, email address and phone number. (Providing this information will not link you to your responses on this questionnaire.)
Sidebar: For more information/To get involved
For more information on this story, or to get involved in issues involving conflicts between Indiana borough and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, contact the following sources:
Michelle S. Fryling
Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations
Communications & Media Relations
316 Sutton Hall
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pa 15705
Phones: 724-357-2302 (office); 412-309-1530 (personal)
Indiana Borough Police Department
80 North Eighth St. Indiana, Pa. 15701 724 349 -2121
Elizabeth E. Sarneso
Center for Student Life
Pratt Hall, Room 307 201 Pratt Drive
Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, PA 15705
Student Government Association
212A Hadley Union Building
Indiana University of Pennsylvania