- Class: Freshman
- Major: History
- Gender: F
- High School: Derry Area High School
- Transfer Student: Y
Indiana (the town) has a love-hate relationship with IUP. Businesses with a high percentage of students as customers deflate into husks during the summer and swell during the spring and fall terms (I drove a taxi here for a while, and believe me when I say it's a night and day difference.) Many businesses cater to students, who represent a large chunk of spending ability in this town. On the hate side, there's an ongoing zoning war in regards to student housing-- Much of the student housing in the boro is transformed from what was initially single-family dwellings, and many of them look pretty shabby. It's next to impossible now to convert a house in a residential district into student housing, but the residences grandfathered in are a sore point for the residents. (On my block we have one, and the smell of pot often drifts this way when the wind is blowing in the right direction.) On the student side of things, the entire central part of the boro is pretty much considered 'residential', now, with the exception of frat row and some of the other huddled buildings near campus.. So anything new (and therefore not trashed) is away from the main part of campus. Much of the student population lives increasingly in apartment complexes now-- Closest to campus are the Lazor brothers buildings, and up Oakland avenue a little ways is Carriage House and Essex House (Carriage house is considered one of the 'drug centers' of the area.) If you don't mind the noise from neighbors, Copper Beech is a really popular place to stay.. For quieter fare, try Spring Meadows, Westgate, and Hampton Court. IUP's last president (Lawrence Pettit) received a vote of no-confidence from the faculty-- Frankly (and personally speaking) I think Atwater is really doing a lot to make IUP a respectable university again. Still, The Penn (student newspaper) is awash every issue with DUIs, disorderlies, and underaged drinking reports. The team used to be called Indians, by virtue of being in a town called Indiana. A few years back it was renamed to the Crimson Hawks. Why people didn't google it first, I'll never know-- Crimson Hawks is the name of an adult comic, although they were kind enough to change their name. (The Gazette article about this is at http://www.indianagazette.com/index.php?Itemid=39&id=2095&option=com_content&task=view ) What part of IUP you go to makes a big difference. The business college, Eberly, is flat-out gorgeous for a college of this size. The computer labs are top notch, many interesting lecturers come to speak there, receptions with white table cloths and fancy food from the culinary students are served. In wood-trimmed cases, piles of Wall Street Journals are there for the free reading pleasure of anyone promenading the smart, tidy halls of the building. If you're in the college of humanities and social sciences like me, well, I hope you like dixie cups. Keith hall (once the Keith School) is one of the oldest buildings on campus-- It's lovely in another way, with huge windows and 1900-something architecture. The only problem is, the paint on those windows outside is peeling, and has been since I started here at IUP. I want to know why, if Eberly gets wood-grain newspapers and housing gets the Suites, IUP cannot scrape the peeling paint off and re-paint some damned windows on one building. In the next few years IUP is planning on deciding whether to rennovate Keith or tear it down. I think I'd be devastated to see it go and be replaced with something modern that'll fall apart in a decade, but at the same time I seethe every time I look at those windows, which are an outward symbol of the esteem (or lack therof) that IUP's administration looks at the history department with. Business is where the money is, I can't deny that.
I have to date only met one professor that I felt was incompetent, and he was a doctoral student teaching an intro class to make ends meet. For the most part I have been pleased and impressed by the level of professional standards that the professors exhibit. Many classes that I didn't think I would like ended up being completely enjoyable by dint of a skilled educator. As for the student response, I cannot say many flattering things. Although it gets better as you go to higher levels of curriculum (200's and up), the lower level classes tend to be a giant pile of apathetic goo sometimes known as students. As a dean's list student myself, I find myself frequently being heaped with responsibility in groups of people who couldn't care less about the class when group-based evaluation activities occur. There's usually one or two people who participate in intro courses, and the sullen silences that result when a professor asks for feedback are thick, lengthy, and unpleasant. The academic requirements aren't unreasonable at all. If anything I wish there were more of a challenge. Competitive and intellectual interaction only really occurs in the higher level courses. This does vary greatly between the different majors, though. My main complaint is the difficulty of navigating through the red tape to even get into these classes, though. I went through orientation when I started same as everyone else, but even now many of the hoops I have to jump through seem convoluted and needlessly complicated.
The campus is not particularly liberal or conservative, or even all that politically active (In general, mind you.) There is some latent racial tension, which is hard to describe-- The best I can say is that there's a large disparity in the socioeconomic background of many of the students. A good-sized number of African American students come to Indiana from Philadelphia and there is some culture shock involved, for both them and for Indiana (which is not even remotely racially mixed.) IUP's been recently tearing down old dorms and putting up suites, such as the completed (and pretentious) Upper and Lower Suites on Grant. The facilities are nice even if the walls are too thin, so if you're rich, that's where you want to live. If you're like the rest of us, you get stuck in the remaining dorms with cinderblock walls, terrifying bathrooms, and a general miasma of body odor. (This particular summer semmester as of the time of me writing this, most of the summer students have been crammed into Lawrence hall, which lacks air conditioning. Great idea.) For all of that, though, I do find the campus generally pretty friendly and pleasant. I /do/ like the changes being made to the housing, but if the other stuff being built is as expensive as the suites, I worry that IUP may be catering to the rich students and leaving the rest of us out to dry. I'd also like to note that there's an initiative known as IUP Safe Zone, with the idea of making the campus a secure environment for LGBT folks, but I've noticed a serious undercurrent of homophobia that I find disturbing.
The Best Things
The Worst Things
The administration and party students