On Nov. 21, the Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery will be opening its doors to artist Rodrigo Valenzuela, with a show curated by Professor Jayne Struble and presented by the Department of Art.
A native of Chile who immigrated to the United States and currently resides in Los Angeles, California, Valenzuela is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Art at UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.The goal of his work is to “construct narratives, scenes and stories, which point to the tensions found between the individual and communities.”
The name of the exhibition is not on display, yet, but will be announced at a later date.
Valenzuela’s aesthetic of his work leads the viewer to see alienation and displacement. Using photographs and videos, he strives to make the images relatable and familiar but have something about them feel distant. He makes the viewer ask questions “concerning the ways in which the formation and experience of each work is situated, how they exist in and out of place.”
The exhibition will most likely feature a type of landscape with tableaux of people who are day workers or Valenzuela himself. He often explores how landscape is inhabited and how the people and objects in that certain place are translated into the image, often bringing a political aspect into the pieces he creates.
This political aspect works well with The Miller Gallery, as it states, “We strive to challenge assumptions and stimulate discussion by presenting artwork and programs relevant to the social and cultural life of the general and special populations within our service area.”
Valenzuela believes his works are an expression and intimate point that connects the broader areas of subjectivity and political contingency, which hopefully will add to the Miller Gallery’s statement of challenging assumptions and sparking discussion among students and professors.
The opening reception will take place on Nov. 21 from 4–6 p.m., with an appearance by the artist and many of the art faculty to officially open the exhibition.
The show will remain open until Feb. 9. Hours for the Miller Gallery are as follows: Tuesday though Friday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday-2 p.m.–4 p.m. The show will be closed over winter break and university holidays.
For the first time in a little over a decade, a regional geography conference came to KU on Oct. 18-19.
The Middle States Division of the American Association of Geographers (MSDAAG) held their annual conference in both the Boehm Science Building and McFarland Student Union over those two days, featuring a pair of field trips, a host of paper sessions and a Geography Bowl.
“I think it’ll have a huge impact by having [the KU campus] recognize the importance of geography and how we are an essential part of the future of America and the world,” said Dr. Michael Davis—KU professor, organizer and president of the division—regarding the impact of the event on the university.
The event, he said, highlights geography’s importance and gathers academics from the mid-Atlantic region.
As president, Davis hosted and organized the event. Regarding what goes into the strategizing of the conference, he stressed planning the different parts of the event.
“For paper talks and poster talks, they are about a whole different variety of physical, human, social, economic, political, mapping and other types of papers,” said Davis. “It brings us all together to share that knowledge we may or may not have exchanged otherwise.”
One of the first portions of the event on Oct. 17 was a field trip to the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. When “The Keystone” stopped by for photos, the tour was in the home at the site, though only one person was on the tour. Center Director Patrick Donmoyer said the tour had originally been canceled, but the one attendee wasn’t aware, so the tour continued anyway.
The papers presented at the conference ranged from a variety of topics. KU geography professor Steven Schnell presented a paper entitled “Wakanda Forever: Black Panther’s Imagined Africa,” which explored the fictional universe of the blockbuster Marvel film and comic book series. Taylor Wieczerak, from Montclair State University in New Jersey explored combined sewer overflows in that half of the state through an analysis paper, and Jonah Walters, from Rutgers University, analyzed Nicaragua’s economy.
Tianna Andrews, a senior environmental science/geography major at KU, presented a paper analyzing thunderstorms and severe weather in the mid-Atlantic region from 2003 to 2012.
“I enjoyed the conference a lot. I’ve been to other regional meetings in the past and presented either a paper or poster at them, but I was really excited for this one since it would be happening at Kutztown,” Andrews said. “I started my research in Fall 2016 with Dr. Davis and it evolved into a much larger project that I really fleshed out in my Research Methods and Senior Seminar classes.”
In addition to presenting her paper, she also volunteered her time to help the conference run smoothly.
“Something I’ve always loved about attending and presenting at the MSDAAG conferences is that the atmosphere is very calm and welcoming; undergraduate research is heavily encouraged, and you can find a lot of support from the region’s geographers there,” Andrews said. “After my talk, I was able to talk to and network not only with other undergraduates but with professors who have been doing research for years. I have always felt a strong sense of belonging with the MSDAAG community, and it was reinforced when I presented on Saturday [Oct. 19].”
She added that she intends to publish her paper in MSDAAG’s journal, “The Middle States Geographer.”
By DJ Greenzweig Recruitment and Retention Manager
KU celebrated its LGBTQ+ community on Oct. 10 through an awareness fair for National Coming Out Day, held in the Old Main concourse.
Decked out in rainbow, the concourse had a variety of displays and activities hosted by campus organizations such as It’s On Us, Allies and the GLBTQ Resource Center.
Students could decorate a rainbow cookie, spin the wheel to test their knowledge of pride flags, collect flags or buttons with their preferred pronouns, and write messages of support to sexual assault survivors. The displays were interactive and provided insight into the coming out process.
“It’s important to have this event, to get together all of the LGBTQ+ members and Allies at Kutztown to strengthen our community and show others that acceptance is really our focus on campus,” said GLBTQ Resource Center intern Storm Wright.
One of the primary symbols of the event was a large black door with a rainbow heart painted on it. Students and faculty could write positive messages on the door or simply sign their names to show support.
Some of the most notable messages were that of encouragement such as, “Love conquers all” and “Say it clear, say it loud; gay is good, gay is proud.”
The celebration continued at night with speaker Jason Landau Goodman, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress. The Pennsylvania Youth Congress is the statewide youth advocacy organization. To wrap up Kutztown’s day of inclusion, Goodman led a presentation on the current state of LGBTQ+ rights both in Pennsylvania and nationally.
As stated by a KU Instagram post about the event, “Our highly diverse community is committed to inclusion, open conversations, and sharing the message: you are never alone.”
In their attempt to address a rising rental vacancy rate in the borough, a task force and consulting firm are putting together a plan and seeking input and feedback in a variety of ways.
Last May, the Borough of Kutztown appointed the Kutztown Housing Strategy Plan Task Force and hired Lackawanna County-based Hailstone Economic to develop a “comprehensive Rental Housing and Downtown Business Strategic Plan,” according to their website: http://www.kutztownhousingplan.com.
In the past month or so, the two groups have conducted research, analysis and community outreach, which included a community meeting on Sept. 25 at Kutztown Area Middle School and a visit to KU Student Government Board on Oct. 22.
Kutztown Borough Manager Gabriel Khalife said the plan will focus on housing and economic development in the borough and added that the community outreach efforts are intended to let the community know what the task force, borough and consultant are doing.
The community meeting was designed to be an interactive, information-gathering meeting, comprised of six different stations, through which attendees gave input on a variety of aspects of the borough: quality of life, community assets, university and community, vision, housing, small business and food.
“People [got] to wander to the six different stations and give us their feedback,” said Sara Hailstone of Hailstone Economic. “We want the public’s feedback on what matters to them as we’re putting this plan together.”
Some stations included boards with different options to vote on, using dots given at the beginning of the meeting. The dots were color-coded to signify if participants were a student at Kutztown Area School District or KU, a non-student borough resident, a non-resident working in the borough or a non-resident altogether. Other stations, like the vision station, involved writing individual feedback.
One station involved writing things they’d like to see in Kutztown on a sticky note, which was then placed on a wall. Examples included, “Unity between University and Kutztown,” “No more pizza” and “Responsive Police.”
“This is part of the consultant’s work in the strategic development process,” said Khalife. “This is one of their strategies to bring out the community and get ideas from the community as to what they think the borough should look at.”
“I really appreciate it,” said Dr. Andrew Vogel, Chair of the English department who lives in the borough. “I like how strategic they’re being, so instead of a conversation where louder voices can dominate, everybody has an opportunity to share within the framework of these general areas.”
The meeting in September was largely attended by borough residents, so on Oct. 22, Hailstone visited the SGB meeting to solicit further feedback from KU students. She asked the student representatives for their input on Kutztown borough, what they want to see change, what issues might exist and how they view the borough itself.
One question posed by Hailstone pertained to what sort of businesses are missing in Kutztown.
SGB Treasurer Isabelle Waddelow stressed diversification in the borough’s business district.
“Lay off pizza joints,” Waddelow said. “If we’re looking at food places, [we need] stuff that has more diversity in it. There were rumors that we were going to get an Ethiopian place, and people were excited, but that never happened.”
Visual and Performing Arts Representative Peyton Williams suggested a store that’d help music majors, like herself.
“Speaking on behalf of the entire music department, [we] would appreciate a little music store, so we could have in-Kutztown music repairs,” said Williams. “It could be something really small, like fixing a pad on a clarinet, or just a place to go and buy reeds or get valve oil.”
“That stuff isn’t available for us in the bookstore, so we don’t want to have to drive half an hour or wait on Amazon to get that stuff,” Williams added.
Williams also suggested converting student housing units into single-family housing, speaking as a soon-to-be graduate.
“I’m considering staying in Kutztown after I graduate, but I don’t necessarily want to still live with students,” Williams added.
President Braden Hudak cited difficulties since the Bieber bus company folded.
“I think a huge loss to the borough has been the last year or so since the Bieber bus station failed,” Hudak said. “That’s a complaint I hear a lot from students. There’s a lot of students who used to rely on that to get to Philadelphia or New York or closer areas.”
“It’s disappointing that the borough hasn’t been more aggressive in trying to get another company in here,” Hudak added.
The task force, according to its website, hopes to have the draft plan completed in November and the final plan approved by the borough council in December.
On Oct. 16 and 17, KU hosted the quarterly meeting of the 20-member board that oversees the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The board holds at least one meeting out of four each year at one of its universities, and this quarter, the meeting was held in the multipurpose room of the McFarland Student Union.
During the Oct. 16 meeting, Chair Cynthia Shapira described the state system redesign as “a complete cultural change” and “the most important and exciting and difficult work [she’s] ever done.”
She outlined efforts to create a “sharing system.”
“It’s going to require a cultural change among all of us and how we think about our universities, which have individual identities and are also part of a system,” said Shapira. “The point of which is to benefit the greatest number of students through the ability to work collaboratively.”
Chancellor Dan Greenstein said that threats to the health of the universities are now “impossible to be addressed at the university level.”
“They must be addressed systematically. They need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, and they need to be addressed courageously,” said Greenstein, “because they will force us to set aside everything that we have learned and to relearn again what it means to lead in higher education.”
Greenstein described that the development of the system redesign plan will “develop a system that doesn’t just survive into the 2020s but thrives in the 21st century.”
Some of the plans discussed at the meeting related to the system redesign pertained to the development of a “shared services consortium,” which would provide “common services, systems and expertise… across the system.” Services under the consortium would include Information Technology.
The board discussed a request for funding from the Commonwealth to support the redesign efforts, planning to ask for $100 million over five years.
Shapira said she believes the number isn’t enough and asked for $300 million.
State Representative Brad Roae (R-Crawford County), who also serves on the board, expressed concerns that such a high number might not be approved by the state legislature.
“I fully embrace the $100 million that was talked about previously. I really think my colleagues in the legislature would go along with that,” said Roae. “$300 million, I’m just afraid that with such a big number a lot of legislators won’t even hear what you’re saying when you’re talking to them.”
Vice Chair David Maser asked the representative if the legislator could bind themselves to a multi-year allocation, to which Roae said no. Maser then questioned the point of asking for a five-year allocation.
During the Oct. 17 meeting, the request was approved at a total of $100 million over five years. Greenstein and the state system executive board can decide how much to request for each year.
Four people are behind bars after Fleetwood police ambushed a courier at an adult bookstore about two miles from campus at gunpoint.
The robbery occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Cupid’s Treasure in Richmond Township, on Route 222, two miles west of KU.
According to Fleetwood Police Chief Steven Stinsky, Teejay Sanabria, a 36-year-old Richmond Township man, orchestrated the robbery with three co-conspirators: Coty Kellem, 23, of Kutztown; Amon Evans, 22, of Maxatawny Township and Nafeese Devastey, 22, of Maxatawny Township. Sanabria is a former employee of the store, Stinsky said.
At the store, Evans and Devastey waited for a courier who was picking up business proceeds, while Kellem served as lookout. The three were dropped off by Sanabria, who never returned to the scene.
When the courier exited the business, Evans and Devastey rushed him, pointed handguns in his face and forced him to the ground. They took the proceeds and fled in the courier’s truck northbound on Kutztown Rd.
Kellem fled on foot across Kutztown Rd. and was caught in a field between Oakhaven Rd. and Kutztown Rd. by a KU Public Safety officer.
Sanabria’s car was found outside his house in Richmond Township, and he was arrested without incident. A search warrant was executed there, as well. Police found evidence related to a separate robbery at Cupid’s a year ago, which remains unsolved.
The stolen truck was found by Kutztown Borough Police on Jennifer Drive about a mile from Cupid’s.
On Oct. 16, police took Evans into custody with the help of the Berks County Emergency Response Team. There was an outstanding warrant on Evans for a traffic violation, and arrangements were made through a constable for him to come to Magisterial District Judge Gail Greth’s courtroom in Fleetwood to pay the fines. There, Fleetwood Police and BCERT members were waiting, and he was taken into custody without incident.
BCERT, Fleetwood Police and KU Public Safety, according to a KU crime alert, found that one of the suspects, who they did not name, was visiting a student at Dixon Hall. Officers went to the location to no avail. The suspect, they said, was later apprehended in Kutztown borough without incident.
Fleetwood Police said the fourth suspect, Devastey, called Fleetwood Police to arrange his surrender at his residence on Oct. 17. Prior to that, police said they searched the residence, which he shared with Evans, where they found two firearms, a “substantial amount of the stolen money,” marijuana and related paraphernalia.
All four were turned over to Berks County Sheriff’s for processing and arraignment on robbery, theft, assault and drug related offenses.
Stinsky said in a media release, “The Fleetwood Police would like to thank the assisting police departments and the members of the public who assisted with this investigation to bring it to its successful and safe conclusion.”
Devastey, Sanabria and Evans were all committed to Berks County Prison, unable to post $50,000 bail. According to court documents, Kellem was initially committed to Berks County Prison but is free on bail as of Oct. 17.
A preliminary hearing for all four is set for Oct. 23 at 9:30 a.m. at Magisterial District Judge Gail Greth’s Fleetwood courtroom.
It was standing room only on Oct. 2 at Kutztown Tavern when PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group, brought “Climate on Tap” to Kutztown.
The one-off event was intended to bring the community together with environmental groups, local elected officials, and Senator Judy Schwank to discuss the current impacts of climate change and to promote Pennsylvania transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
The event consisted of speeches given by various organization leaders and Senator Schwank followed by a community Q&A with Senator Schwank.
“This is an ideal opportunity to learn how folks feel about key environmental facts,” said Schwank. “Many of the people at these events have considerable knowledge, and I like to get their feedback.”
Organizations that attended the event include Citizens’ Climate Lobby, The Climate Reality Project, Conservation Voters of PA, the KU Geography Club, Mid Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (MAREA), Moms Clean Air Force, Reading for 100, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement.
Many KU students came out to show their support, as well. Olivia Storms, a KU student, said, “It is important to know what’s going on in the community. We all have a responsibility to do what we can on this planet to protect generations to come.”
The first speech of the night, given by Flora Cardoni, Climate Defender Campaign Director at PennEnvironment, shared the main aspects of climate change affecting Pennsylvania: increasing torrential downpours, rising temperatures and growing food insecurity.
“Climate on Tap” emphasized these points because crops, such as barley, which is used to make beer, are being affected by these changes as are cocoa and coffee.
“Climate change is the biggest existential threat facing us and we have the solutions; but what is missing is the political will, and events like this help create that will,” said Cardoni.
Following Cardoni, Schwank took the floor to speak on her recent actions to help the community fight against climate change. Schwank is currently working on passing legislation to improve air quality in the Commonwealth and bringing regenerative agriculture to Pennsylvania.
“All of [the issues] surrounding us become real when you see it happening right in front of you,” she said.
After Schwank, many of the organizations spoke including the KU Geography Club, where club President Celeste Pachella said, “Events like this help spread awareness and create a deeper connection with students who [climate change] will eventually fall upon.”
Photo by Kaylee Lindenmuth
State Senator Judy Schwank speaks at the Climate on Tap event – Photo by Kaylee Lindenmuth
Helping to create community, the GLBTQ center, among other clubs, hosted PrideFest on Sept. 12 in the Recreation Center.
The event had food, live entertainment, an inflatable obstacle course and booths held by other campus organizations.GLBTQ and Women’s Center Director, Christine Price said the event was in collaboration with the Student Government Board (SGB) and its president, Braden Hudak.
“The concept of a pride-themed event was an ongoing conversation for years,” Hudak said, “and I noticed that the goal was never achieved. So, I decided to take the initiative and lead the planning.”
According to Price, planning for the event took “several meetings” that began before the end of last spring semester.
“We had a group of students become the PrideFest committee, and [we] reached out to other organizations to see if they were interested in sponsoring or participating in the event,” Hudak said.
For those involved, PrideFest was a way to welcome and celebrate students in the GLBTQ community.
“I think it means a lot to have a space to come, outside of the GLBTQ center, that is so welcoming of LGBTQ students,” said Price.
The reactions from those who attended the event were overall positive. According to sophomore Kamelle Copeland, she enjoyed all the booths the event had.
“There’s so much to do. They have stands set up so you can play games and make your own button,” Copeland said.
Sophomore Joseph Figueroa said he enjoyed the live performances.
“It’s a good show so far with the live acts,” Figueroa said.
Copeland believed that PrideFest was important in bringing representation to campus.
“[Representation] is important to have no matter what sexuality, gender or race. I get to express myself, and I’m so excited,” Copeland said.
Figueroa said the event helps to unite diversity groups.
“I think it helps to build a bridge between the different groups and allows everyone to have some freedom,” Figueroa said.
Due to the success of PrideFest, Hudak has high hopes for the event to continue in the future.
“It is my hope that PrideFest will become an annual event at Kutztown and that it will be a collaborative effort funded by many different groups,” Hudak said.
On Sept. 20, members of the KU community gathered in the Alumni Auditorium to hear from Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), in an open forum regarding the future of the system.
Greenstein began his introduction to those in attendance by outlining his passion for higher education.
“I do this because college higher education is a pathway to social mobility. It’s probably one of the most reliable. I do this because, without a strong higher education sector, it’s impossible for me to understand how we can continue to maintain a strong economy,” said Greenstein.
He made sure to also highlight the importance of all jobs in Pennsylvania’s economy, especially jobs that do not require a college education.
“I’m not saying that everyone needs to go to college. Pennsylvania is kind of a unique state in a variety of ways because it has a very strong agriculture, manufactur[ing] and public transportation sector,” said Greenstein.
When addressing the issue of economics within the nation he said, “We need to work at the equity issue if we’re going to solve our economic one.” Greenstein thinks this can be achieved by making college more accessible for everyone.
He wasn’t afraid to be straightforward with his audience stating, “There’s a vastly higher number of new jobs, virtually all of which require some college. It’s true nationally, that if you are rich you are five times more likely to go to college by the age of 24 than if you are poor. Five times, that’s not acceptable. If you are black or brown, the numbers look more or less like that when you compare them to white.”
He continued, “Colleges and universities are one of the last places in this country where people from very different walks of life and different backgrounds with different perspectives can engage with each other and learn in an experiential way about things like tolerance, which is sorely lacking in our political and our civil society. In that regard, for me, higher education is about social justice.”
In an effort of making college more affordable for everyone is freezing tuition, “The board took a tuition action in July, freezing tuition for students, which is absolutely the right thing to do,” Greenstein added. “We cannot continue to put the cost burden on our students.”
The PASSHE redesign project, which started less than a year ago, includes engaging in transparent and open dialogue with faculty, sharing academic programming and improving student enrollment.
Greenstein’s visit ended with a Q&A, which allowed faculty and staff to dispel rumors and clear up uncertainties with how to move forward with the redesign.
The lot at 22 South Whiteoak Street, bounded by Sander Alley, Herring Alley, Whiteoak Street and the Young Ones/Feed and Read bookstore building, has been converted to “metered parking, with the use of multi-space parking kiosks,” according to Eric Boyer, community service officer coordinator with Kutztown Police.
“The downtown area surrounding the lot is a heavily populated region of the Borough of Kutztown with many residences as well as businesses,” Boyer said in an email. “As such, parking is an important resource, which must be managed to accommodate the needs of this area.”
The lot is located in the heart of downtown Kutztown, with a multitude of businesses within a few blocks including Letterman’s Diner, Mamma’s Pizza, the Kutztown Tavern and Kutztown Printing, among others, as well as apartments and homes. Public parking is at a premium in the neighborhood.
Because of this, parking in the neighborhood has historically been restricted to specific time limits: two hours for Main Street and the Whiteoak lot.
“The downtown area has long been restricted to two-hour parking to require people to move their vehicles and give an opportunity for others to find an open parking space,” Boyer said. “However, during that time we have received many complaints from people who wished to be able to park longer for various reasons or not being able to find a parking space because vehicles remained past the two-hour limit.”
“For several years now, the options for addressing these concerns have been discussed at borough committee meetings, community organizations and with citizens,” Boyer added. “Metered parking is successfully utilized in many other municipalities in the region to manage various parking needs.”
According to borough meeting minutes, the matter was discussed at the June 2017 meeting of the borough’s Community Development and Public Safety committee and later approved at the April 2018 committee meeting. That month, the borough council unanimously approved the kiosk parking.
At the monthly council meeting on Sept. 17, an ordinance amendment was approved to set the fees for the lot and penalties for nonpayment. According to the ordinance, the first 15 minutes in the lot are free, and each 15 minute duration after costs 25 cents. There is an option to pay by credit card or by phone as well.
“The change in this lot will diversify the availability for parking in the Borough by maintaining the turnover of available spaces while adding the option to stay longer should you wish,” Boyer said.
Kutztown councilman Scott Piscitelli added at the council meeting on Sept. 17 that the borough has no plans “at this time” to install parking meters on Main Street.
Chris Holt, owner of Young Ones, said that spaces are usually available, if not plentiful, in the lot with the exception of dinnertime and Saturdays. In the six years his business has been open, he’s seen the use of the lot decline, which he believes is a result of enrollment declines at KU.
“It’s not a problem except for dinnertime. Saturdays, all day, can be a problem, but they don’t enforce it on Saturdays,” said Holt. “Students would leave their car Friday night until Sunday. If they just enforced on Sundays, that would take care of that problem. They didn’t need to do this to take care of that problem.”
Holt added that the metered parking may drive away business from downtown or lead people to park elsewhere, based on feedback from his customers.
“People that don’t want to pay, they’re either not going to come into town, or they’re going to try to find a free spot to park, but where is that free spot going to be?” Holt said. “I think it’s going to force a lot of people to park on Main Street.”
“Theoretically, instead of my customers parking here [at Whiteoak], and the Tavern’s customers parking here, they’re going to park on Main Street and take up the parking in front of those businesses,” Holt continued. “You’re going to have to count on people being willing to pay or to walk to those businesses.”