Petition Demanding Penn Mental Health Reform Approaching 5,000 Signatures

On April 11th, Penn junior Ao “Olivia” Kong was killed by an oncoming SEPTA train near 40th Street Station. The death was later ruled a suicide. Now, a week-old petition imploring university officials to address the problems plaguing the school’s mental health resources has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.

Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price released a statement addressing the community’s concerns and providing updates on the steps the school is taking to ramp up its mental health resources. Gutmann has called for the school’s Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare to reconvene — it completed a year-long study on the subject in 2015 following several high-profile suicides at the school. The school had vowed to fight a culture of “destructive perfectionism.”

“We have asked the chairs of the Task Force, Anthony Rostain and Rebecca Bushnell, to immediately reconvene the Task Force to determine as expeditiously as possible what additional steps can be taken to help ensure the health and well-being of our students,” Gutmann and Price’s statement reads. The school has extended the hours of its counseling service (CAPS) in the wake of Kong’s death, but some Penn students have expressed extreme discontent with the school’s ability to treat students effectively.  Read more »

Woman Killed by SEPTA Train Was Penn Student

By I, Mtruch, ">CC BY-SA 3.0,

40th Street Station on the Market Frankford Line. Photo | Mtruch via CC BY-SA 3.0,

Around 7 a.m. this morning, a woman was pronounced dead at the 40th street SEPTA station after being struck by an oncoming train on the Market-Frankford line. In an email to Wharton undergraduates from Vice Dean Lori Rosenkopf, the victim has been identified as 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Ao “Olivia” Kong, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Read more »

What Villanova’s Win Means for a Philly Hoops Fan

Former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino (right) with head coach Jay Wright after the Wildcats beat North Carolina in the NCAA championship game.

Former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino (right) with head coach Jay Wright after the Wildcats beat North Carolina in the NCAA championship game.

The very first time I went to the Palestra, I almost got run over by Bill Cosby.

My dad took me to the Atlantic 10 tournament. This was a doubleheader with a TempleSaint Joseph’s game and another quarterfinal. As we went up the walkway toward the gym, an older man was laughing with his friends and clowning around. He crashed into me. It wasn’t a big deal — I wasn’t knocked over or anything — but my dad turned to the guy ask him to knock it off. When he did, he realized it was Cosby.

I guess I eventually got Cosby back for this, but I remember what happened afterward much better: Temple beat Joe’s by 15 points, and I got my first introduction to Big 5 basketball.

That was not my only Atlantic 10 tournament. My dad took me again the very next year. St. Joe’s looked like they were going to lose to Rutgers. They trailed by 13 at one point. But the Hawks rallied and won it on a Bernard Blunt three-point play with just seconds left. I had never heard a louder crowd. Read more »

Study: Yelp Pretty Good at Helping Patients Pick Hospitals


Want to figure out how to get the best health care in town? Check out Yelp.

New Penn research — published in April issue of the journal Health Affairs — suggests the crowdsourced review site offers hospital assessments that line up closely with more formal, government-approved appraisals, and is often more comprehensive in its outlook.

“Yelp reviews are in real time and often written by patients for patients,” Dr. Raina M. Merchant, director of the Penn Social Media and Health Innovation Lab, said in an announcement of the research results. Read more »

65 Years Ago Today, Philadelphia Helped Birth the Commercial Computing Revolution

UNIVAC I control station on display at the Computer History Museum. | ArnoldReinhold, shared under a Creative Commons license.

UNIVAC I control station on display at the Computer History Museum. | ArnoldReinhold, shared under a Creative Commons license.

Today is the anniversary of a major development in computing history — and it happened right here in Philadelphia.

On this date in 1951, the U.S. Census Bureau signed a contract for the first commercial computer in the U.S. with J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly, who had designed the ENIAC computer at the University of Pennsylvania for the U.S. War Department toward the end of World War II. The two formed their own company after the war, which became the Philadelphia-based subsidiary of Remington Rand Inc., where the computer was developed and manufactured. Read more »

Med School Deans Criticize Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot”

Vice President Joe Biden, pictured with Penn's Dr. Amy Gutmann, launches a "moonshot" initiative to hasten a cure for cancer at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia on January 15, 2016.

Vice President Joe Biden, pictured with Penn’s Dr. Amy Gutmann, launches a “moonshot” initiative to hasten a cure for cancer at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia on January 15, 2016.

A coalition of medical school leaders have joined to criticize Vice President Joe Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative — a plan he launched in January at Penn.

In an open letter to Biden, the med school leaders say that resources would be spent on finding ways to prevent cancer rather than cure the disease.

“Since the beginning of the “War on Cancer,” the most notable cancer successes have been due to the power and efficacy of prevention,” the letter says.  “The massive reductions in lung, cervical, colorectal and gastric cancer mortality rates are almost entirely due to a focus on public health and prevention approaches.” Read more »

Penn Prof: “Don’t Grade Schools on Grit”

Angela Duckworth |

Angela Duckworth |

There’s probably no person in America who has done more to popularize the idea of “grit” as an essential component of a child’s success than Penn’s Angela Duckworth — she even won a MacArthur “Genius” grant for her work a couple of years back.

Now, though, she’s worried that her work is being misused — and she’s speaking out.

In Sunday’s New York Times, she writes that measures of grit and character are increasingly being tested in the nation’s public schools — and, in turn, being used to judge the progress of teachers leading those students. That’s not right, she says.

“A 2011 meta-analysis of more than 200 school-based programs found that teaching social and emotional skills can improve behavior and raise academic achievement, strong evidence that school is an important arena for the development of character,” Duckworth writes.

“But we’re nowhere near ready — and perhaps never will be — to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools. We shouldn’t be rewarding or punishing schools for how students perform on these measures.” Read more »

How Penn Parties Now

Photography by Evan Robinson.

Photography by Evan Robinson.

It takes three seconds for the champagne to spurt out once the bottle’s opened — four and a half if you’re lucky. Minutes before midnight, the foam will sop the flatiron-burned hair of girls in tight black dresses, splatter their dates’ Burberry ties. The floor — of a downtown club with bribable bouncers, a Center City ballroom, sometimes even the mansion of a frat on the University of Pennsylvania campus — will slicken and stick. The revelers are Penn students, some of legal drinking age, others not. They’ll roll their eyes, clutch their drinks, whisper to each other that the boy with greased-back hair showering the crowd with Dom Pérignon is such an idiot, God, who does that? But in those three seconds, the flash on Evan Robinson’s camera will go off 10 times.

after the jump »

These Are All the Times Big 5 Teams Squared Off During March Madness


As you probably know by now, there’s a chance that Villanova and Temple play each other in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

As if the tournament wasn’t wild enough, now two Philly schools could be facing off against one another to not only gain their usual bragging rights but also end one another’s season. This got us thinking: When has this happened before?

In earlier eras of the NCAA Tournament, teams were actually placed in the region that they hailed from geographically. This meant that it was a little more likely that Big 5 schools would play one another. Still, it’s only happened five times in the history of the NCAA Tournament, with all five matchups taking place between 1970 and 1978.

Here’s a look at each of those games: Read more »

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