Campus Connection, Oct. 20, 2010

The Merciad has partnered with student newspapers at Gannon University (The Gannon Knight) and Penn State Behrend (The Beacon) during the 2010-11 school year.

Our goal is to bring you the most important news happening on local college campuses each week.


Promised renovations still incomplete at PSB

By Julie Morrissey, assistant news editor

Two years ago, Penn State Behrend’s Division of Student Affairs and the Student Government Association provided students with a survey of what new services and provisions they would like to see occur on campus.

These “future” provisions included many entertainment-based facilities, on-campus services, and additional exercise rooms.

Many current students, however, are unaware of these improvements, especially those that are still in progress. Currently, the copy center, Jageman Fitness Room, DVD Kiosk, and an additional game room are still under way.

Behrend’s copy center, for instance, is not yet fully up and running. This may be surprising, as many students already have the opportunity to copy magnets, t-shirts, and easily access the copier through the Rub Desk.

Directors are hoping to move the center to the Reed Union Building, where students would be able to further enjoy these advantages with more space and a more centralized location. Penn State is now waiting for a publicity license to complete the move, so the deadline is still unclear. The future Jageman Fitness Room also has not begun its renovations, because Behrend is currently looking for funds to finance the project.

This fitness center would be constructed on the ground and second floors of the back entrance of the Reed Union Building. The center would be roomy and open, as the wall facing the Union parking lot would expand outward and have floor-to-ceiling windows on both floors. Ken Miller, the Director of Student Affairs, infers that this renovation will be completed in approximately four years.

Even though there are no present renovations occurring, Behrend is actively looking for funds to finance the Jageman Center. In addition, our campus is still waiting for the much-anticipated DVD Kiosk, which would also be located in the Reed Union Building.

With this upcoming service, both students and staff would have the chance to watch movies on Pay-Per-View and rent DVDs free of charge. An update on the DVD center is that Behrend is currently saving money and working with Time Warner as a means to provide the movie selections.

The good news: Behrend’s chancellor is aware of our growing anticipation, and, as Ken Miller put it “wants it done sooner rather than later.”

Lastly, Behrend is still in the process of creating the game room for Lawrence Hall.

The renovations were set to take place last year, but have been delayed because of last fall’s fire accident at Dobbins. For now, the game room resides in Erie Hall and the renovations within Lawrence have been set back.

On a higher note, Ken Miller assured that the Behrend directors “…set up a meeting a few weeks ago to discuss future renovations.”



By Brenna Peters, managing editor, news

An unfounded report of shots fired near Gannon University residences has some students up-in-arms about the emergency alert system.

James Waldon, director of Gannon’s Campus Police and Safety, said Erie police received a call of shots fired just after midnight on Oct. 12. The police investigated and discovered the call was unfounded.

Gannon students, faculty and staff received an e-mail around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday that said: “This message is to clarify an incident that occurred overnight. Erie police were called to W. 7th and Chestnut streets at just after midnight for a report of shots fired. Their investigation determined that the report was unfounded. No shell casings, victim or witnesses were found. The campus emergency alert system was not put into use because police quickly determined that there was no danger to the campus community.”

Karla Wludyga, director of public relations and communications at Gannon and special assistant to the president, said the message went out when the university realized there was no emergency and that students may have thought there was one. The message was intended to clear up rumors.

Despite the message that clarified that there was no danger, some students said they think Gannon did not perform the way it should.

“If we are going to have an emergency alert system and taut how great it is, then we should certainly use it,” senior pre-med/biology major Joe Uhing said. “Rumors that I cannot substantiate have alarmed me, with individuals telling me that there have been unreported security threats. I guess the question is, ‘What isn’t the university telling the students?’”

Uhing also said he feels that telling students that they have no business knowing about a potential safety risk is a “completely inexcusable mentality.”

“It should be a top priority to report all security threats, no matter how small,” he said.

Corinne Kimmet, a freshman physician assistant major said that she had to find out from her roommate what was going on that night.

“If they sent out an alert, there would be no need for rumors and everyone would be on the same page,” Kimmet said. “Even if it’s not an official emergency, we as students should be notified.”

Students may want more updates and alerts, but Wludyga said one can’t be sent out for every call that the Erie or Gannon police receive.

“I don’t think students would understand how many alerts they would get if alerts were sent out for every call,” she said. “The majority are nothing to be worried about. But we want their attention when they should be worried. We don’t want students to be desensitized in case something happens.”

Wludyga said that although people expect constant quick answers, these sometimes aren’t available.

“The quick answer this time is that there was no shooting,” she said, “but the police had to finish their investigation. We had to wait to send the alert to make sure that the correct information was sent out.”

Students may have been confused because there were multiple things going on in the vicinity which were all unrelated. Waldon said the Gannon University police were called to Sixth and Chestnut streets about a man yelling. Gannon’s officers went to the Seventh and Chestnut streets scene and that is how they found out about the call of shots fired, he said.

Wludyga said the Erie police took the time needed to investigate.

“They quickly realized there was no danger, but had to stay on the scene to finish their investigation,” she said. “I think that students were upset to see the police investigating something and didn’t understand they had to do an investigation even if there was no danger.”

Waldon said that before sending out any kind of alert, the university wanted the police to make sure everything was OK because “if we didn’t, someone would ask why didn’t they make sure it’s OK.” He added that the police had to do their due diligence.

Waldon also said that there is no concrete definition as to what constitutes an “emergency” that requires alerting the Gannon community.

“What may be an emergency in one instance may not be the same in another,” he said, “but anything that could be a threat to the community deserves an alert.”

Wludyga explained how the alert system works: when an alert is typed into the system, it is sent out via e-mail, voicemail and text message, she said.

Wludyga and Waldon recommend that everyone sign up to receive the alerts and update their phone numbers if necessary on the My Gannon portal. If someone does not have a cell, they can designate a landline as a way to receive alerts.

“The safety of our students is paramount,” Waldon said. “I’d rather receive a thousand calls that aren’t real than one that is, and I’d rather we investigate nothing than not investigate something that’s happening.”