A Lesson In Trump-ism

via WNEP

via WNEP

A new course at Penn State focuses on the political rise of Donald Trump. The McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s one-credit class is simply called “Trump” and has been offered since mid-September.

According to WNEP, the course on the Republican nominee for the presidency will end one week after Election Day. Dr. Christopher Beem, the Institute’s managing director, said that the course wants to try and answer several questions regarding Trump, including why his campaign has succeeded despite being unorthodox and what a Trump loss this November would mean for the future of the Republican Party.

According to WNEP, the Institute is offering this course as a test run to gauge whether “students are interested in taking a class on short, contemporary topics on a regular basis.”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 29, 2016 at 11:43 am 2 comments

Keegan-Michael Key Wins An Emmy

Keegan-Michael Key ’96g took home a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series for Key & Peele on Monday night. Key & Peele, which celebrated its final season in 2015, won over shows like Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, among others. Key accepted the award alongside co-star Jordan Peele.

This marks the first Emmy win for Key, whose show was nominated each of the last three years. Key & Peele won a Peabody Award in 2014.

Asked about the win, Key explained that he was so excited that he has “no sense” of what he or Peele said while accepting the award.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm 1 comment

Jill Stein is Coming to Happy Valley

Photo via Jill 2016

Photo via Jill 2016

Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee for the White House, will host a rally in State College on Wednesday afternoon. The rally will take place in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stein will talk policy and attempt to get volunteers for “the fall campaign, and beyond.”

Stein is the first candidate who will be on the ballot in November to make it to Penn State. She is not the first person who sought the Presidency to come to State College, though, as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders made an appearance in Rec Hall back in April. Additionally, Ohio governor John Kasich held an event at Penn State Brandywine.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 19, 2016 at 11:54 am Leave a comment

A New Semester Brings Changes to the HUB

HUB roof The new school year has brought a handful of welcome additions to University Park. One of the most noticeable changes is the HUB’s green roof terrace, which opened earlier this summer.

Originally part of the $44.6 million renovation which was approved in 2013, the green roof received additional funding from the 2014 senior class gift that helped “enhance and expand” the project. The green roof provides an outdoor seating space and has a handful of environmental benefits, like reducing the heat island effect (which means that areas covered by pavement are warmer than areas covered by grass) that is caused by traditional roofs. And, of course, the view of Mount Nittany is wonderful.

HUB roof

Full disclosure: I was a member of the class of 2014 and voted for something other than the green roof, so I wasn’t too keen on heading up there. But after reading about the environmental impact and seeing that, you know, it’s a really nice place, I managed to come around. A word to the wise: most of the seats are made of metal, so if you’re going up on a hot day, don’t wear shorts.

If you get the chance to enjoy the new seating area, you might as well do it with lunch from the HUB’s newest restaurant. Grate Chee, a grilled cheese and tomato soup spot, opened up for the fall semester, which is why our deputy editor Ryan Jones didn’t mention it when he ate his way across campus last fall. As HUB Dining Associate Director Vincent Raco told Onward State, the decision to add the restaurant came after feedback said that people wanted more “comfort food options.” By the looks of the menu, Grate Chee is absolutely a comfort food restaurant.

Grate Chee Menu

I picked up a grilled cheese with cheddar and added turkey, and like basically every other grilled cheese sandwich that you’ve ever consumed, it was pretty good. The two criteria for a good grilled cheese are that the bread isn’t burnt and there’s plenty of melted cheese, and this checked both of those boxes. We’ll head back when it’s not 90 degrees outside to try out the soup – and, as we explained in our Nov./Dec. 2015 issue, every restaurant on campus is open to the public, so you can try it out yourself the next time you’re in town.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 16, 2016 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

Shawn Morelli Takes Home a Paralympic Gold

It took one day for a Penn State alumna to win a gold medal at the 2016 Paralympics. Shawn Morelli ’98 Behrend, a member of the United States Paralympic Cycling Team, took home the gold in the C4 classification of the 3,000 meter individual pursuit on Thursday. Athletes who compete under the C4 classification suffer from upper or lower limb impairments and low-level neurological impairment.

Morelli, an Army veteran who made her Olympic debut on Thursday at the age of 40, began cycling in 2009 after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. While serving as an engineer officer in 2007, Morelli suffered neck and nerve damage, brain trauma, and blindness in her left eye due to an IED explosion.

The gold medal came somewhat comfortably for Morelli, as her time of 3:59.407 was more than five seconds faster than her closest competitor. It was just below the world record time of 3:55.006—which Morelli set earlier this year.

UPDATE: Morelli won her second gold medal on Wednesday, as she came in first place in the road cycling time trial C4 classification. Her time of 29:45.40 was 30.32 seconds faster than the competitor who won the silver.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

September 13, 2016 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

On Kelly Ayotte, Penn Stater in the U.S. Senate

Our September/October issue includes a profile of Kelly Ayotte ’90, the U.S. senator from New Hampshire who is in the midst of a tough reelection battle. Outside of the presidential campaign, Ayotte’s race is one of this election year’s most intriguing: A working mother and her state’s first female attorney general, she is among the most prominent female Republicans in the nation, widely seen as one of the party’s bright hopes. She’s got strong conservative credentials, but also boasts one of the more bi-partisan records in the Senate.

For all that, she’s in a virtual dead heat with her challenger, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. (New Hampshire holds its Senate primary next Tuesday, Sept. 13, but Ayotte is expected to easily defeat her challenger, former state senator Jim Rubens.) It’s a race that’s drawing attention well beyond the borders of the Granite State, as the outcome could decide control of the Senate. The ad below offers a look at how Ayotte is handling the challenge.

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has become one of the defining issues of Ayotte’s campaign. She’s tried to walk a fine line with regard to the GOP presidential nominee, publicly calling him out for his comments about the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and saying more than once that she won’t endorse him; still, she has reiterated that she plans to vote for Trump in November. In a state with a strong independent streak, Ayotte’s ability to balance party loyalty with public sentiment may decide the election.

Party loyalty and public sentiment were two factors we had in mind when we scheduled this feature to run just a couple of months before the election. Not surprisingly, we’ve heard from a handful of readers who took issue with both the subject and the timing of our story, essentially accusing us of promoting a partisan agenda. For us, the subject—the highest ranking alumnus currently in public office, one whose name has more than once been connected to potential presidential tickets—makes Ayotte an obvious choice for coverage in The Penn Stater. Alumni don’t get much more prominent than sitting U.S. senators.

Regarding the timing, we discussed our own concerns about running the story in the run-up to the election, and knew at least a few readers might see it as something akin to a campaign ad. Ultimately, we felt that the timing—the fact that Ayotte’s in a neck-and-neck battle to keep her seat, and the implications for both her party and her career—is part of what makes the story compelling. We’re also confident that, when it comes to a national politician with strong feelings on issues like gun control or abortion, some readers won’t want to read it no matter when it might run.

As for accusations of bias, we know that comes with the territory. In the past year, I’ve had the chance to profile union leader Richard Trumka and conducted an interview with a group of Penn State’s Muslim students; after each story, we received letters decrying our obvious liberal bias—and, in some cases, much worse. We trust that most of our readers will appreciate our desire to tell good stories about interesting Penn Staters, no matter their political ideology or religious beliefs. And that we’ll continue to get your letters when you disagree.

Ryan Jones, deputy editor

September 7, 2016 at 2:22 pm 4 comments

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