a walk down memory lane

 In  2009 I documented through photographs the last few months of architect Addison Mizner’s famed La Ronda in Bryn Mawr.  The tale of La Ronda even made the Wall Street Journal back then.

Putting all the drama of the La Ronda and her demolition and the upheaval the demolition caused in Lower Merion Township and across the country aside, the saddest part of the tale of La Ronda is there was a man willing to have the mansion moved brick by brick, who was willing to buy it fairly. Only he was denied that by both the seller of the property and buyer of the property.  Those people sold La Ronda to be torn down and tore down La Ronda because they could and that is kind of sad especially since they were players in the socioeconomic levels where they could actually afford to be more preservation minded.

I am not getting into some protracted discussion about property rights, what this demolition has done is leave a lasting impression on me regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania.

Historic preservation in Pennsylvania remain a lofty ideal, but is seldom a true reality. So when you hear on rare occasions that you might not like what a developer is doing, but they are saving and preserving a historic structure on a property they bought? Well that my friends is huge and doesn’t happen very often. See ( Linden Hall post July 24  and Farmhouse Post on July 27 and Adaptive Reuse from April 2013 )

Truthfully, all these years later and salvagers are still selling bits of La Ronda. And people still write about La Ronda and what happened (reference Proper Philadelphia in 2012 )

I watched and documented the last sad few months of La Ronda, and to me it is a glaring reminder of  what   lip service preservation is. In 2009, Lower Merion Township Commissioners (including the current Board President Liz Rogan) did much beating of the collective breast and waxed long and poetically on how they were going to do things differently and how they were going to preserve historic assets.

Flash forward to 2014 and well, much like other places, it’s all been talk. Or political gob smacking…. take your pick. Now the William Penn Inn is under a 90 day stay of execution err demolition, which means it will inevitably come down.  And that is the case even though people are saying it may have had something to do with the underground railroad (and see cool photos of the place here thanks to Main Line Media News.)

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Also facing an uncertain future is the historic Odd Fellows Hall and property and United Methodist Church and property in Gladwyne.  People have said for decades that there are Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.  Famous Phillie Rich Asburn is buried there and heck some of my friends have all their family buried there.  So Odd Fellows is in limbo. What is historic will survive if  the developers who are the owners, Main Line Realty Partners, do the proper preservation.  They can do the right thing if they want to.  They have in the past and truthfully the partners in these projects have done beautiful work.  Last I heard that Odd Fellows plan was tabled, but these same developers have now purchased another church, First Baptist in Ardmore.  They also bought the United Methodist Church in Narberth Now the developers are calling themselves Main Line rebuild.

3941005703_d390c4249e_oBut like I said, adaptive reuse and historic preservation by developers are the exception rather than the rule.

I do not know a lot of the preservation groups throughout Chester County as I have not lived here that many years yet .  I love the  Chester County Historical Society and they have lots of neat stuff in their headquarters in downtown West Chester and they do fun things like walking tours.

Also worth noting is the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. Their 10th annual house tour is September 27th, 2014.

 

And if you like house tours you should also consider signing up for Chester County Day which benefits Chester County Hospital.  They have preview lectures starting in September which are open to the public.

Anyway, remember the La Rondas…once they are gone, they are gone.

Thanks for stopping by today!

are you thankful?

 

thankfulWhat is the thought process behind being thankful?

Are you thankful?  Why are you thankful?

I saw this quote the other day about happiness and being thankful. It is above, super-imposed over one of my photos.  It got me to thinking. (Yes, advanced warning this post is a flowing stream of consciousness.)  How is it we are thankful (and happy) and why?

Being thankful for what you have can be paid forward quite simply.  Human kindness, for example.

At fifty, have I lived a perfect life? No, but seriously, who here is without flaws on this planet? Life is a giant learning curve and we learn from our experiences good and bad, right?

I am thankful for my life, especially because it could have ended up so differently than it is now.  I got through the ending of an unfortunate relationship (and that is putting it kindly), survived breast cancer, and found the love and life I deserve.

If God and fate hadn’t done a literal lift-out for me a few years ago, I would have been quite literally stuck in a life that would have become rather unpleasant and devoid of love and affection. So I am honestly and truly thankful.

I have discovered that truly unhappy people are quite often very angry people.  They have a limited sense of personal accountability and are hyper-critical of everything and everyone around them.  The ex-factor and one of his sisters are prime examples.  I am truly sorry they aren’t happy, but their continued fascination with my life is well, psychologically interesting while also being creepy and pointless. It’s like they live on their own planet.

Obsessing over me is not only bizarre, but how can they waste so much negative energy? It’s just not healthy and well, life is short and they need to be responsible for their own happiness.   It has been almost five years, so why bother? Who cares? I sure don’t.

Will I reference things that occurred during a relationship that spanned nigh on a decade? Sure, it is part of my life experience. I write about all sorts of life experience and other relationships.  But why am I responsible for their happiness and/or misery of other people not part of my world? The answer is I am not, but  I have accepted they will probably never move on. However, that is their stuck, not mine.

People who are oddly warped like this make me really think about what it is to actually be thankful and happy.  I see what my life could have been and what it is now.  I have someone who loves me and shares their life with me and are committed to our family.  That is a far cry from being with someone who expected commitment but not only couldn’t really share their live, in the end even commit to a cell phone plan.

I am not the only person male or female my age (or younger or older) who has going through good and bad relationships. It’s life.  But for some reason, the simple act of being thankful and happy just drives some people cuckoo. Probably because they aren’t either thankful or happy.

The thing about being truly thankful is acknowledging what it took to reach the path of happy.  As human beings we are a work in progress, but to be able to roll with life’s punches and blessings is an acquired talent.  For me, for that light bulb to go off truly, it took having breast cancer. Having to face your own personal sense of mortality shows you what your true mettle is. It also made me dig deep and look at what I wanted out of the rest of my life and the type of people I wanted to surround myself with.

A dear friend from high school asked us her friends, something interesting today:

 “If you were on of 10 people still alive on the planet, how would you live differently?

Would you still wear make up, get dressed up in fancy clothes, put nice things in your home?

In other words, do you do the things you do now to make yourself happy or others happy?

 

It might seem overly esoteric and philosophical to some, but you know, I get it.  So what would you do? I would continue to  do everything possible to make myself and my loved ones happy.  I would be thrilled to give up make-up for the most part.

Another quote I read made me think:

 “Life isn’t all about the happy times we have.  It’s about living through all the challenges life has given us, and all we have ever been through.”

And then there was this cool thing I found on the Tiny Buddha website:

Why the Grass is Never Greener and How to Be Happy Today

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown

Lifestyle. Opportunities. Wealth. Just think how far we’ve come in the past 100 years—especially when you look at what we have today compared with our great grandmothers’ generation.

My great grandmother married very young, lived in the same place her whole life, and had 11 children. She never had a “career” and never got a chance to go on a vacation. Her life was hard, poor, and lacking in any real opportunity.

I wonder if she ever dreamed about moving to another city, or transforming her life, or about seeing the world with just a backpack. I bet she did, but back then there weren’t as many opportunities as we have today…..But when there is a wealth of opportunities, choices, and places where we could choose to live, you’d think we’d all be happy, right? Wrong.

…..We can’t settle on what we already have or be satisfied with what we’ve got because we’ll always be wondering about the next big thing.

It’s called “the grass is always greener” syndrome. We think someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness.

We lie awake at night torturing ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important.

There’s also this sense of time pressure, particularly with my generation who had the saying “The World is your Oyster” drilled into us from a young age.

This means there can be a sense of urgency, because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.

We also think we’re special and that our lives are destined to be adventurous, thrilling, and hugely successful. And when they’re not turning out that way? We become depressed. We want more. We get “grass is greener” syndrome.

….Focusing on things we don’t have is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to a miserable existence and causes us to forget what’s most important—and that’s what’s happening right now.

As John Lennon once said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And that’s certainly true……Mindfulness helps you to appreciate life as it happens. It stops us from agonizing over what might’ve been or what could be. It just brings us back to the present.….But whenever you feel yourself losing focus and wondering about where you’ll be happy next, bring yourself back to the present, look at what you already have, look around you and enjoy the moments that are happening right now.….Happiness is a state of mind.

Out of the mouths of others, but oh so true.

Life is an evolution. Part of that evolution is how we grow, how we love, how we appreciate life, and a sense of spirituality.

Thanks for joining me on my random flowing stream of consciousness.

Enjoy your weekend and be happy!

linden hall has a savior finally?

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I have written about Linden Hall on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer a few times the past couple of years.

Linden Hall has been rotting month by month, and becoming more and more vine covered. In recent months driving by , I have noticed more broken panes of glass.

According to eastwhiteland.org it was also know as “Wayne Tavern”. Although this location has some historic importance, I can’t find much about it.

On TEHistory.org I found one mention a while ago :

…at the end of #352, and again on the north side, stands the General Wayne Tavern, now a private residence. In 1777 Washington’s troops camped near the General Wayne.

So anyway….there was a Planning Commission meeting in East Whiteland last evening and Linden Hall was on the agenda:

5. Subdivision and Land Development: The Benson Companies, LLC, renovation of Linden Hall and the development of 60 townhouses on two parcels on the north side of Rt. 30 opposite the intersection of Rt. 352 in a VMX – Village Mixed Use Zoning District.

The site is 8.7 acres I am told. I don’t know if all of the land is usable, so I am not sure if 60 townhouse development is incredibly dense for the site, or moderate. It would be nice to get an online peek at the plans, but I don’t know if that will happen. And East Whiteland neither records nor televises meetings.

Previously I saw the property being marketed as things like “Linden Hall Shopping Center” which made me shudder because how many bad strip malls and mish-mosh shopping centers is needed along there, right? (But given what is up the road a bit, I guess everyone is lucky the site never became another run-down trailer park.)

There has been a Linden Hall Development LLC registered in PA since 2000 (Entity Number:2936326 , Entity Creation Date: 4/14/2000), and I found that mentioned in archived East Whiteland meeting notes from 2010.
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I think if a developer is offering to restore and do an adaptive reuse of the actual Linden Hall it is far better a choice than what was once contemplated. Reference please the article from the Daily Local circa 2001:

E. Whiteland OKs exception to moratorium By Pateen Corcoran
POSTED: 05/28/01, 12:00 AM EDT | 0 COMMENTS

Though some questioned the waiver, a proposal to start the planning process for 50,100 square feet of commercial space on Route 30, known as the Linden Hall development, was unanimously approved.

Officials have defended their decision to allow the developer to submit a new plan despite the building moratorium since a similar proposal had been given final approval before the moratorium was enacted.

“The moratorium allows exceptions to previously approved subdivisions,” said Supervisor Virginia McMichael. “This project falls under that.”

“In the moratorium ordinance there’s a provision for this exception,” said Township Manager Terry Woodman.

Residents, however, questioned the exception.

“Everybody’s much concerned that they allowed the exception to the moratorium,” said resident Renee Mott…..Originally approved at the site was about 60,000 square feet of commercial space to include a Super Fresh supermarket.

“We’ve had an approval for over a year for a shopping center and a couple of shops,” said Linden Hall attorney Wendy McLean.

The proposed development will be located on about nine acres on the north side of Route 30, opposite Route 352.

The new plan proposes smaller shops, while eliminating the supermarket. A Class One historical building on the site is proposed to be used for offices, said McLean…..The sudden death of the project’s developer caused a delay. “It took the family quite a while to figure out what to do,” said McLean. “In the meantime the supermarket backed out and we haven’t been able to get another supermarket interested.”….Davis and McMichael voted to approve the waiver. Chairwoman Michele Vaughn was absent.

(Yes, the same Michelle Vaughn who just finished her time as head of the Chesco Dems.)

Linden Hall has been on and off East Whiteland Township agendas over the years and as time has passed it has fallen into more and more disrepair. So with cautious optimism I am pleased to report that Benson Companies apparently presented what were described to me as “very nice sketch plans.” It appears to be a much better use of the property that planners are hopeful will clean up that particular area, which quite frankly looks like crap.

Discussed in conjunction with the plan were proposed crosswalks to be installed across Lancaster Avenue (Lincoln Highway, Route 30- take your pick) and Route 352. Traffic improvements there I am sure would be welcome, and hopefully that might deter drivers playing beat the light as well as running that light.

As for the actual adaptive reuse of Linden Hall on the site, my sources tell me the developer will actually make the historic structure his new offices (he is currently on Phoenixville Pike). Apparently (and welcome news as well), Benson Companies has been working with East Whiteland’s Historic Commission to keep the historic look of the structure, while modernizing and adding onto the back.

I had heard of Benson Companies before because of a development they are doing on Strafford Avenue near the farmers market in Wayne, PA. That development is the old Chef Tells/Villa Strafford site, which has been another somewhat concerning and contentious development site for a few years. The contention there started several developers ago on that site in 2011. I had no idea until recently that this was the developer that ended up with this site as that location has been a case of whose on first the past few years. However, in all fairness, I have heard that this development site is finally not as contentious.

Fingers crossed on this one. I am glad someone wants to save this old structure. After all, you don’t hear news like this very often when development news occurs, do you ?
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life is good

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Life is good in a summer garden.

Morning is filled with the sounds of bird song . I can smell the garden phlox and roses as I water the rest of the plants. The garden is exploding with the colors of the end of mid- summer.

In the background I can hear my neighbor’s chickens clucking with some indignation of an inter-chicken family squabble.

A brave jack rabbit hops tentatively up a garden path.

A hummingbird along with a hummingbird moth flit from flower to flower in the main perennial bed.

I can now also hear in the background the hum of cicadas. To me, that is always the signal that another stage of the season called summer is about to begin.

The day started out with a heavy humid dampness, and is no doubt going to be somewhat of a scorcher before all is said and done and the sun is down. But these are the beautiful days we should cherish in the middle of winter and in our memories forever.

People often mock anyone who refers to life’s simple pleasures, but this is indeed one of them. To be able to sit in a porch chair and look at what you have created and what is growing is such a rare treat.

It may be an old cliché that people need to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes you just have to. With all the ugliness that exists in this world, there’s nothing more beautiful than a garden in bloom. I feel really sorry for people that are so miserable, mired down, and stuck that they can’t experience the simple goodness of things like this. Gardening truly is good for your soul.

Thanks for stopping by!
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a garden for all seasons

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Since I began this particular garden, as part of the creation process what I have had as one of my goals is simple: to create a four-sided, four-season garden. I want to be able to look at a garden from every window, and I want a garden that has interest four seasons of the year.

Basically, creating a garden is a layering process, as well as trial and error. From daffodils in spring, to lush summer color, to the panorama of fall, and the garden in winter, it is about layering. There is nothing instant about a good garden. It takes years, and constantly evolves as you figure out what works, what doesn’t, what you like, what you don’t like.

I am getting to the point where I am four seasons. I research what I am looking to achieve and scope out the plants. The colors I choose are complimentary for the most part, and I will group and mass plantings for a more uniform and flowing effect.

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This garden was in part inspired by the bones of the garden of the former owner of our home, the garden of my childhood, and gardens I have created for myself and others over the years.

The first garden I remember was the garden my father created in the walled in back yard of our then house in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. I remember him planning it, and he laid out the curves of the brick patio and the flower beds with a string and a compass. It was like a secret garden come to life and he planted trees, shrubs, a John F. Kennedy white rose, annuals and perennials.

There was a shady side garden, and then the main part of the garden was quite sunny. The general idea of the garden my father planted still exists in parts today. I recently stumbled upon a realtor listing for our first home. It was kind of weird to look at the listing photos and see the house inside and out after all of these years, but it was also marvelous to see how these people loved the house over the years. Definitely a far cry from the home my parents sold in August, 1975, it still had the basic bones of my father’s original garden. I am guessing they really aren’t gardening folk because while the trees are still there, far less in the way of flowers and shrubs exist in that garden today. And it looks like an addition swallowed a good bit of the side yard and piazza. But it stopped being our garden decades ago.20140722-135414-50054333.jpg

The garden I remember will always be in my memory. And that garden of my early childhood fostered my love of gardening as an adult. As a child I helped my father plant that garden with his father. I know most kids don’t like to garden as it equals work, but I did. And watching what you plant grow and even bloom is still almost indescribably cool.

People have happy places in their life where they like to go. One of those places to me is my garden. My garden today has bits and pieces of every garden I have ever had or helped create. It also has where my creative side has taken me, and will continue to grow.

I learn from reading and talking to horticulturists and plants people, and also looking at the gardens of others for inspiration. Taunton’s Fine Gardening is one of my favorite resources. The magazine and the website are very helpful, as well as contain many beautiful things to look at.

I also found a web article on four season garden planning recently I found helpful. It is on a website called Gardening Know How. I do have quite a collection of gardening books I refer to, and among them are a few from Rodale which are basic and helpful. As a matter of fact, Rodale Institute has a pretty cool website. I also love the books written by garden writer Suzy Bales. She also has many gardening articles still available on Huffington Post . She also used to have a website.

As of this summer, my garden has become four-sided. As I keep planting it I strive now to make it four-season. I want to be able to look at something no matter what the season. Even the sparseness of winter should be beautiful.

What are your plans for your garden? What inspires you in your garden? Tell me in a comment!

Thanks for stopping by today. I am off to find more Caladryl Clear to put on the side of my arm to combat the reaction I am having to whatever stung me in the garden yesterday.

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survey time!

cluckSo there is this survey this blog created. It is about Chester County municipalities. It’s called:

Are Chester County Municipalities Responsive to Residents

It is anonymous and some of the answer choices are tongue in cheek.  Please take a minute to take it!

If you want to see the questions on the survey, check out this PDF: Chester County Residents Survey

Responses are one per computer user and results can be seen BY CLICKING HERE – I am not taking it as this blog created it.

There is nothing scientific.  I am merely curious about how people feel about their local municipality. Maybe municipalities can learn from this and this is not geared towards any municipality in particular.  It is an across the board, every municipality kind of thing.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

heightened awareness

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This post has nothing to do with Chester County, per se.  It is just one of those things that makes me think. It made me think of a girl who once lived in Bryn Mawr. A girl who was raped and murdered in her dorm room at prestigious Lehigh University in 1986.  Jeanne Clery.

At the time, it shocked everyone who heard about this even if you had never met the girl. She was the same age give or take a year as my own sister who attended another not so far away prestigious Pennsylvania college. This girl was also but a few years younger than I was and was from the same area I grew up in: the Main Line. You just don’t think about nice Main Line girls from Main Line prep schools going away to college and getting raped and murdered do you? Especially at schools like Lehigh, right?

The story of Jeanne Clery galvanized the greater Philadelphia area and the country.  Eventually, on July 22, 1988, the murderer of Jeanne Clery was sentenced to death after being convicted of her murder.

In the years which have followed, Jeanne Clery’s parents Howard and Constance Clery have devoted their lives to campus safety. As People Magazine wrote at the time:

During the trial, he and his wife learned about the lapses in security at Lehigh, and shortly after the verdict was announced, they filed a $25 million suit against the college for negligence. It was to be the first round in a campaign that would touch state legislatures, colleges and concerned parents across the country. The Clerys had lost a daughter, but the loss ignited a cause.

The suit was settled out of court (the family is prohibited from disclosing the amount), but the Clerys were not ready to close the book. They used the cash, as well as their own money, to launch Security on Campus, Inc., a nonprofit clearing house for information and advice. They began lobbying state lawmakers for statutes requiring colleges to publicize their crime statistics—not a detail generally found in cheery recruitment brochures—and in May 1988, Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey signed the first such bill mandating that all state colleges and universities publish three-year campus-crime reports. In addition, schools are required to have clear policies regarding alcohol and drug consumption on campus. Three more states have followed Pennsylvania’s lead, 21 others have statutes in the works, and the Clerys have already begun campaigning for a federal bill as well.

 

It is because of the perseverance of the Clery family that the Jeanne Clery Act came to be. As per The Clery Center for Security on Campus: 

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.

The law was amended in 1992 to add a requirement that schools afford the victims of campus sexual assault certain basic rights, and was amended again in 1998 to expand the reporting requirements. The 1998 amendments also formally named the law in memory of Jeanne Clery. Subsequent amendments in 2000 and 2008 added provisions dealing with registered sex offender notification and campus emergency response. The 2008 amendments also added a provision to protect crime victims, “whistleblowers”, and others from retaliation.

 

 

What made me think of Jeanne Clery and all her family has accomplished after all of these years? Two disturbing stories of sexual assault on college campuses.  One from May 2014 in Philadelphia Magazine about Swarthmore College and a recent front page story in The New York Times on Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Excerpts:

Rape Happens Here PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE

For 150 years, leafy, progressive Swarthmore College tried to resolve student conflicts in the best Quaker tradition — peacefully and constructively. Then came 91 complaints of sexual misconduct. In a single year.

BY SIMON VAN ZUYLEN-WOOD | APRIL 24, 2014

In the early 1980s, staff members in one of Swarthmore’s libraries began hanging reams of white computer paper in the bathroom stalls, which students would use to gossip about cute boys or gripe about homework. A few years ago, pieces of white paper of a different sort began appearing in campus bathrooms. They’re printed up by the administration and emblazoned with the words SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES…

As the issue of campus assault gains national media traction, stories about incompetent or callous administrators have become bleakly — almost numbingly — familiar. ….The unrest that’s roiled the little U.S. News & World Report juggernaut 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia over the past year — including dozens of allegations of student-on-student sexual assault, two federal investigations, two student-filed federal lawsuits, and four (unprecedented) expulsions for sexual misconduct — nominally revolves around a campus rape problem and an administration accused of abetting it. But the conflict in fact runs deeper: Swarthmore’s 150-year-old Quaker-inspired governing philosophy has collided with the far less forgiving demands of contemporary campus life.

….ON APRIL 25, 2013, Swarthmore sophomores Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson stood on Independence Mall in Philadelphia and told assembled media that the college had badly mishandled claims of sexual assault; in response, they were bringing a Title IX complaint to the federal government. This was just days after the duo filed a separate Clery Act complaint alleging that Swarthmore had systematically underreported such incidents. The complaints were part of a larger strategy — they later met with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred — in which Brinn, Ferguson and a couple dozen co-complainants aimed to use their personal stories to shame and ultimately reform their college.

Ferguson, from Brookline, Massachusetts, wrote an op-ed, “Raped and Betrayed,” for a student newspaper. Brinn, from Wilmington, Delaware, stood before the school’s board and told how she was sexually assaulted, stalked, and then met with “grave indifference” by the administration. Within a couple months, the Department of Education began investigating the school for Clery and Title IX violations. The controversy only increased when the New York Times ran a story in which Ferguson suggested that she had been denied a campus job in retaliation for her activism. By the end of the year, it seemed everyone was lobbing one accusation or another at Swarthmore. In 2012, 11 incidents of sexual assault were reported to the school’s public safety department. In 2013, that number — covering everything from harassment to rape — spiked to 91. (One-third of them concerned incidents from previous years.)….“Sally,” a 2012 graduate, said she was at a party in the fall of her freshman year when a fellow student cornered her, pushed her against a wall, and began to kiss her…Later that night, Sally awoke to find the same student had entered her room and climbed on top of her. She managed to push him off. When she told associate dean Myrt Westphal she wanted to pursue charges through the College Judiciary Committee (CJC), she says, Westphal asked her to say “harassment” rather than “assault,” and questioned whether she really wanted to “pit her two friends against each other.” Discouraged, Sally declined to pursue judiciary action. (Westphal, who retired last spring, declined to comment.)

Similar stories are legion. Jean Strout, a 2010 graduate now studying at Harvard Law School, says that after she was pinned to the ground by a naked, drunk rugby player, she spoke to a male administrator by phone, who told her it sounded like a “misunderstanding” and that she should ask the offender for an apology.

A recent graduate who now practices law in New York City says that when she told an administrator she had been raped, the administrator said, “You don’t sound as if you were raped,” and, noticing the cross hanging around her neck, asked if she wanted to see a priest…..However, after months of conversations she calls “frustrating” and “invalidating,” she ultimately declined to pursue it: “I was tired of fighting, and wanted to focus on healing.”

Another student, according to the Title IX complaint, was raped in her dorm room by a friend of a friend with alcohol on his breath. Before he left the room, he looked at her, smiled, and told her, “It’s your word against mine.” After she recounted the incident in a long email to a member of the administration, her complaint says, school officials never got in touch with her or did any investigation.

 

 

(in both publications, these are HUGE articles, click on the hyperlinks above each excerpt to read then in their entirety.)

 

The New York Times:

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t
How One College Handled a Sexual Assault Complaint
By WALT BOGDANICHJULY 12, 2014

GENEVA, N.Y. — She was 18 years old, a freshman, and had been on campus for just two weeks when one Saturday night last September her friends grew worried because she had been drinking and suddenly disappeared.

Around midnight, the missing girl texted a friend, saying she was frightened by a student she had met that evening. “Idk what to do,” she wrote. “I’m scared.” When she did not answer a call, the friend began searching for her.

In the early-morning hours on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York, the friend said, he found her — bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be sexually assaulting her from behind in a darkened dance hall with six or seven people watching and laughing. Some had their cellphones out, apparently taking pictures, he said.

Later, records show, a sexual-assault nurse offered this preliminary assessment: blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.”…It took the college just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences — threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus….

At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.

Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.

 

For women to report sexual assault at any age is traumatizing.  Read articles about the topic and you learn the common denominator: victims are often victimized again through any judicial process. But what we are talking about here is on college and university campuses. Which in my mind is always geared first to protect the school and administration.

So as far as we have come in this country with things like the Clery Act and heightened awareness on the topic, it seems like many colleges and universities are still treating issues like this poorly if not sweeping them under the carpet? Remember the 2007 front page stories of the Villanova football players accused of raping a girl in her dorm room? Remember but a few days later the victim halted the rape case?

The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time reported on it and said in a July 27, 2007 article: 

A Villanova University student who told the school that she had been raped by three incoming freshman football players, who have since been kicked out of school, does not want to press charges, Radnor police said yesterday…..Villanova’s department of public safety does not have arrest powers, he said. Radnor police are working with the District Attorney’s Office to clarify Villanova’s obligation to report allegations of serious crimes, he said.

……For colleges, whose capital lies in their reputations, the only thing worse than a scandal is getting caught trying to hush one up.

At Eastern Michigan University, president John Fallon and two other senior officials were fired last week for covering up the rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman in her dorm room in December. The university denied knowledge of foul play for 10 weeks to protect the school’s image, according to a federal investigation.

Schools typically “keep as quiet as they can” about crime on campus, said Kathryn Reardon, senior lawyer at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, which provides legal aid to alleged sexual-assault victims.

Villanova’s handling of the matter “seems pretty speedy,” she said.

 

The Swarthmore College article by Philadelphia Magazine and the New York Times article on Hobart William Smith has ignited this topic once again.

In 1986 I was much younger and what happened to Jeanne Clery was seen from the scary perspective of that girl was my sister’s age and only a few years younger than me.  The recent Philadelphia Magazine article and New York Times article hits me as an adult who not only had friends that attended both of those schools but have friends who have kids of their own or nieces and nephews and even grand children at these schools today.

The Hobart and William Smith article in the New York Times was very hard for me to read. I remember going there back in the day to visit friends from high school and I remember how much my friends loved the school.  I remember how terrific I thought the school was and how pretty the campus was.  And now, decades later, these same friends, male and female are horrified by the New York Times article.

So is this a case of everything that is old is new again? Even as far as we have come with raising awareness on college campuses and laws on the books about how and what campuses must report and so on, are we still dealing in the murky waters of reality versus the veritable machines that are colleges and universities?  After all, negative little things like crime can really hurt the old ratings, rankings, grants, and donations right?

But as a newish parent person  now I have to ask, would you rather deal with a school that tells the truth and acknowledges issues or covers it up and makes everything seem all ivy walled and bucolic with Skip and Sissy walking down a brick lined path to class holding hands?

As someone who was a young adult when Jeanne Clery was murdered I think I would rather have the truth, please.  After all, for what parents fork over in tuition, don’t they deserve the truth? And our kids, don’t they deserve the truth and don’t you want them to feel and be safe, especially if they have to report something heinous like an assault?

Anyway, this made me think about this topic again, and I guess I just don’t get these schools.  I get they want to protect their hallowed halls but the truth shall set them free, right? It makes me wonder how honest schools around this country are with their Clery Act reporting.

Also worth reading? A great piece on the topic in Slate.

Excerpt:

Slate: New York Times Reports Another Campus Sexual Assault Horror Story. Now We Need the Data.
By Emily Bazelon

Can universities handle their role as independent investigators and adjudicators of sexual assault? You may conclude that the answer is no after you read Walt Bogdanich’s big story in the New York Times about the aftermath of an alleged assault at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. It’s called “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” because from the point of view of Anna, the student who says she was victimized, her school did almost everything wrong….What a disappointing, dismaying mess. And yet, I’m not ready to give up on the whole university adjudication system. People ask me all the time why universities have any responsibility for dealing with rape accusations in the first place. These are serious allegations. Shouldn’t they be in the hands of police, prosecutors, and judges? The answer is that there are supposed to be two parallel tracks. It’s not either/or. In passing and enforcing Title IX, the federal law that’s a shield against sex discrimination in an educational setting, Congress gave schools an independent obligation to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t also be a police investigation.

 

Stories like Anna’s make the schools look at best bumbling and insensitive, and at worst like craven slaves to their own images and, too often, their athletic departments. I should also say that male students have complained of being falsely accused, railroaded by school judicial procedures, and unjustly expelled. Still, before we give up on colleges, Congress and the Department of Education, which oversees Title IX, should demand transparency. We hear horror stories about individual cases but we don’t have the data to know what’s happening across the board.

 

Then of course there is the rather predictable I-really-didn’t- beat-my-spouse response in the New York Times from Hobart and William Smith’s Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees:

Re “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” (front page, July 13):

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges community is heartbroken by our student’s experience, and we deeply regret the pain she has suffered. Her experience does not reflect the environment, values and traditions we have built and maintained for nearly two centuries at Hobart and William Smith. As an alumna, a proud mother of a daughter who graduated from HWS, and chairwoman of the board of trustees, I write with a heavy heart.

Like all colleges and universities, HWS is challenged to ensure that we are meeting the demands of a shifting legal landscape — especially in the area of sexual assault — as we also work to meet the needs of students while fostering a safer and more collegial learning environment.

We welcome the conversation about whether higher education should even have a role in adjudicating cases like this one. However, until federal law changes, we are required to carry out internal investigations and adjudicate cases based on the preponderance of evidence standard, as we did in this case.

 

….MAUREEN COLLINS ZUPAN
Chairwoman, Board of Trustees
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, N.Y., July 15, 2014

There are more letters underneath that one, but that was enough to share. I hate to say it but it seems that Maureen Collins Zupan has more empathy for a Somalian refugee that was cleaning her office ladies room in September 2011, than she does for women on the college campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges?

She wrote about that Somalian woman:

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 12.54.08 PM (2).png

 

In all fairness I wouldn’t want to be president of the board of trustees of this school right now for all the tea in China, and perhaps her response was in part crafted by the college’s spin doctors and image consultants?  It’s not as if all she was saying is wrong, to me it was kind of sort of HOW she said it. She calls herself a feminist, mother, daughter, and so on.  I have never met a true feminist yet who would sit still for something like this do you?

Also worth reading? A June 10th essay in The Atlantic.

All She Said Was No
A dangerous misunderstanding of sexual assault
JAMES HAMBLINJUN 10 2014, 1:35 PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday that being sexually assaulted has become “a coveted status that confers privileges” such that “victims proliferate.” His remarks hit at the core of the misunderstanding and denial that condone sexual assault in its most common form:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”…Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped.Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol, and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

That Swarthmore vignette is sexual assault—not “sexual assault.” Most sexual assault is perpetrated by an acquaintance, not a masked man in the bushes with a knife, and its definition hinges not on physical force but absence of consent. This is a quintessential example of the shape sexual assault takes when it goes unreported and unpunished. Apart from editorial missteps like using skeptical quotes around sexual assault, and accusing an entire generation of faux sophistication while using “herewith” in a thoughtless take on a critical public-health issue, citing the Philadelphia rape story is fraught in that its resonating importance comes in the paragraphs just after Will stops quoting it.

….According to a report today from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses increased by 50 percent between 2001 and 2011—from 2,200 to 3,300 cases. That’s actually more heartening than disconcerting, in that it’s unlikely that sexual assault increased by that much; rather, more victims are coming forward. They come forward when they don’t feel they’ll be blamed for being raped, dismissed as drunken sluts, and when there are appropriate outlets for reporting and justice. But it’s still underreported and underpunished, thus condoned.

 

 

James Hamblin makes a whole lot of sense.  The US Department of Education and US Department of Justice report can be found by clicking on this link here.

We can’t and shouldn’t helicopter parent  and can’t wrap them away from the world in cotton wool, but kids should not only learn quite clearly that no isn’t necessarily a negotiation and should mean NO, but they should be as safe as humanly possibly on college campuses.

Remember Jeanne Clery.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

home eclective is open in downingtown

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They are open! Vintage fun and
imaginative repurposing ! If you love Garage Sale Chic Chester County and fun new businesses like Vintage Chicken this is a business you are going to want to get to know!

This group of local artisans travel around Chester County looking for treasures to reimagine, repurpose, and gussy up for your home!

It’s so much fun!

And…even better is they will be doing demonstrations and little “how to” classes too!

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If you like vintage fun like you can find at Brooklyn Flea or Clover Market, you will enjoy this business tremendously!

Home Eclective
236 J Brandywine Ave
Downingtown, PA

484-888-5460

They are open until 6 pm today! Contact them directly for hours and other information – and you can “like” them on Facebook!

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penelope is back….and she had a salad

 

DSC_4276Ah yes, Penelope the young doe is back….and yes, she allows me to be this close.  She had a salad today , though, so she and I had words….of course, she just looked at me as if to say “Hostas, it’s what deer eat.”

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