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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The man behind Indiana County Parks & Trails

Edwin R. Patterson, director of Indiana County Parks & Trails, Cummings Dam, Blue Spruce Park, Sept. 25, 2017. Photo by Cara Mehalek.

By Cara Mehalek

INDIANA — Edwin R. Patterson, 62, an outdoor enthusiast from Armstrong County, always thought it would be neat to work at a park. Still does. Forty-one years ago he started working for the budding Indiana County park system. For the past 35 years, he has served as the 50-year-old system’s director.

“Where I hung out at as a kid was a lot like this,” Patterson said in a Sep. 25 interview at the Indiana County Parks & Trails office in Blue Spruce Park.  “There was a small dam. It was in a little valley.”

When he started working for Indiana County Parks & Trails, the system had three parks – Blue Spruce, Pine Ridge and Hemlock Lake.  Now, it operates 14 sites. The only comparable neighboring county is Westmoreland, which operates 15, according to its Parks & Trails webpage.

“I used to tell people years ago, ‘Come to Blue Spruce on Friday evening because there’s nobody here,’” Patterson said.

No more.

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Return of the perennial Oak Grove preachers

Keith Darrell, an itinerant preacher from Ohio, spoke to a responsive and occasionally angry crowd on Monday afternoon in front of Stapleton Library at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — A group of traveling preachers drew a crowd in the Oak Grove on Monday, and some students gave them hell.

Christian itinerants perennially visit the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus to preach the Gospel and test the public institution’s acceptance of the First Amendment right to free speech.

Three preachers were present during Monday afternoon’s raucous revivalism, but only one attracted an animated — and occasionally angry — crowd. That was Keith Darrell, a self-proclaimed “Christ ambassador” from Ohio.

“I’m not out here for things like sexuality, because the root issue is worship,” Darrell said during his sermon. “If I had an agenda, Page One would be ‘who’s a living God?’”

Darrell, however, did emphasize sexuality. He spat out a sermon condemning the “sins” of homosexuality, drug use and premarital sex.

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IUP flood trackers document local changes in storms, climate

Indiana borough flooding I

Katherine L. “Katie” Farnsworth, a geoscience professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is studying how to slow the amount of rainfall that flows into Marsh Run in Indiana, Pa. Photo by Cara Mehalek

By Cara Mehalek

INDIANA — Several short intense storms flooded streets and homes here in June and July. For affected residents, that’s not news. It’s been a dispiriting routine for decades.

But a new political reality has floated up in the wake of the summer floods. After hearing citizen complaints about chronic flooding and borough inaction, borough officials announced Oct. 3  that they will go door-to-door in flood-prone neighborhoods to gather data for municipal flood maps.

Meanwhile, additional data are coming from Indiana University of Pennsylvania geoscience professor Katherine L. “Katie” Farnsworth and her students, who have been measuring municipal surface water trends, too. One tentative conclusion Farnsworth draws from the data is that local flooding may have a link to global climate change.

The summer 2017 storms “produced what we consider very intense rainfall,” Farnsworth said in a Sept. 7 interview in her Walsh Hall office. “The last time we saw rainfalls of that intensity – that much rain, even – was in the late ’70s.”

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Budget swamped, taxpayers may foot flood funds

Indiana borough flooding II


By Logan R. Hullinger

INDIANA — Lee C. Vest is no stranger to flooding. As a longtime resident of the 300 block of Water Street and as a neighbor of Marsh Run, she’s been urging the borough’s council members to do something about recurrent floods for 30 years.

“I can’t tell you how many washers, dryers and sump pumps that I’ve had destroyed,” said Vest, secretary in the Journalism and Public Relations Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, during a Sept. 19 interview. “The ground is literally caving in where Marsh Run goes underground. The whole thing is collapsing. I took photos to a borough council meeting in 2015. But they said they didn’t have money to fix it.”

Vest has documented flooding in her neighborhood since 2012 on a Facebook page titled “Flooding (Marsh Run) Indiana, PA 15701.” It includes posts about her experiences with accompanying images.

Vest said she has urged council members to buy houses near Marsh Run and turn the flood plain into park land. Council members have not acted on the proposal.

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Homecoming 2017: town and gown gear up


The Indiana Area Collaborative Team rallied on Monday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, Oct. 2, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan R. Hullinger

INDIANA – A wide cross-section of the local town-and-gown community met Monday to discuss carrots and sticks to prod the coming weekend’s Indiana University of Pennsylvania Homecoming celebrations to pass with safety, sobriety and a positive spin.

About 60 public-safety representatives, campus administrators, students, landlords and others attended the hourlong late-afternoon meeting of the Indiana Area Collaborative Team at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. The by-reservation-only gathering allowed limited public view of a group that has been quasi-secretive from its start three years ago.

On Monday, IUP President Michael A. Driscoll recalled the formation of the I-ACT group in the aftermath of the March 2014 IUPatty’s weekend that drew widespread headlines for its frat-row rowdiness.

“I-ACT started after very unpleasant activities in the community fueled by alcohol and lack of common standards,” said Driscoll.

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