Bras, Druids, 7-Eleven: Our most-read stories of the decade


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The Pitt News was founded in 1910 and has been publishing daily since the 1970s.

By Elise Lavallee, Contributing Editor

The Pitt News celebrated 100 years of student journalism in 2010. Now, we’re 10% closer to our bicentennial. Here are some of the stories that our readers found most intriguing and thought-provoking — or at least clickable — over the past decade. 

April 18, 2010: “15-minute rule myth busted”

Can you really leave class if your professor is more than 15 minutes late? The rumor still persists today, but in 2010, Tony Jovenitti went looking for answers.

“Is the top floor of the Cathedral really haunted? Does stepping on Forbes Field’s home plate really give you good luck on your exams? Can Dave Wannstedt’s mustache actually fight crime?

We might never know the answers to these questions.

But there is one campus legend that definitely isn’t true: The 15-minute rule.”

Feb. 13, 2012: “Boys, bras and boobs — five stories under the collarbone”

“For many girls, starting to develop breasts is a sign of becoming a woman. But for those who mature early, it can be a source of trauma with long-term effects.” In this piece, five writers considered what it was like living in the world when you have breasts. The answer? It’s complicated.

April 10, 2013: “Druids dominate student government: Members of secret society continue to deny involvement”

The Druids are a secret society that has operated on Pitt’s campus since the 1920s. In 2013, six of the nine students elected to Student Government Board belonged to the Druids, but this information wasn’t disclosed until after the election, inviting scrutiny from the student body.

“[Former Druid and then-student Rose] McKinley, who left the group in the fall of 2012 because of disagreements with other members, believes the Druids are exerting undue influence on SGB politics. She recalled the experience of her first meeting as a member of the society in October 2011 after having been ‘tapped’ — or initiated — into the group about two months prior to the SGB election that year.

‘The first meeting after my initiation was all about getting James Landreneau elected president,’ she said.”

Aug. 24, 2014: “Capitalism: The worst economic system, except for all the others”

Former Assistant Opinions Editor Matt Barnes got a lot of attention for his take on the U.S. economic system. Barnes said he’s happy to live under a system granting him so much freedom and commended the capitalist system’s ability to bring people out of poverty.

As an American, I am incredibly fortunate to live in a nation whose economic tradition centers around capitalism,” he argued. “It has made this nation prosperous and provided me with opportunities unrealized in centrally planned economies — a thriving free market in which I am free to use my earned money as I wish, enroll in the university I wish to attend and lead the life I wish to lead — unburdened by the dictates of inefficient and ineffective central planning. All of this stems from the economic freedom and choice that capitalism, not socialism or Marxism, provides.”

Aug. 23, 2016: “Pitt student gets stuck between buildings trying to impress woman”

This headline says it all. 

“Instead of going into a restaurant on a Monday night date, a Pitt student tried to woo the object of his affection by jumping over them,” then-news editor Lauren Rosenblatt wrote.

He was stuck for more than four hours, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., until emergency response personnel were able to cut a hole in the wall of the building now occupied by CHIKN — then home to a Qdoba.

Sept. 8, 2016: “Sandusky saga has no place in Pitt-Penn State rivalry”

A tradition that began in 1893, the Pitt-Penn State football rivalry, finally returned in 2016 after a brief hiatus. But playful banter got out of control when students started to bring former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky’s history of child abuse into the conversation, according to sports writer Dan Sostek.

Imagine a sexual assault survivor walking Downtown, or watching television, and hearing a Pitt fan gleefully chant that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno knew and ignored sexual abuse committed by a member of his coaching staff. Imagine how a mom would feel, scrolling through social media to see Sandusky’s grinning smile cropped into a photo of a Penn State locker room. There’s nothing funny about it, and it won’t create any productive dialogue,” he wrote.

Nov. 16, 2016: “Voter suppression helped decide presidential election”

Former Opinions Editor Henry Glitz presented an argument that voter suppression played a key role in the 2016 election, but nobody was talking about it.

“There’s one narrative that’s received surprisingly little post-election attention from the media, despite the fact that it may have decided the election: voter suppression,” Glitz wrote. “Ahead of Election Day, media outlets expressed some concern about the topic, but the analysis has all but disappeared since Trump won the Electoral College.”

April 13, 2017: “Silhouette: Jack Stauber”

Before topping spotify playlists with close to four million monthly listeners, Jack Stauber was playing the saxophone, shirtless, on an Oakland fire escape. The profile — one of The Pitt News’ most-read pieces online ever — follows Stauber through creating his album “Pop Food.”

“The 21-year-old creative whirlwind isn’t messing around about staying firmly outside the box. In fact, as he tackles music, movies and live performance, he seems to wear his distinctly scatterbrained process proudly on his sleeve,” Henry Glitz wrote of Stauber.

“‘I take goofing off very seriously,’ [Stauber] said, in an abruptly dour tone.”

Now his song “Buttercup” — featured on “Pop Food” — is a popular sound byte on the Tik Tok app.

July 29, 2017: “Letter to the Editor | Grad student: How can I produce my best work if I can hardly afford to eat?”

Andréa Hanna’s letter to the editor arguing in favor of graduate student unionization, particularly to help grads cover costs of living, remains one of TPN’s most read stories of the decade.

“I have struggled massively this past year to literally eat. If it weren’t for the Pitt Pantry I would genuinely have starved … I have had to sell clothes and furniture to ensure I can cover food and utility costs,” Hanna wrote.

Sept. 20, 2017: “7-Eleven to close with Oakland Bakery moving into Forbes location”

It was a dark news day when the much-beloved 7-Eleven on Forbes Avenue announced it was shuttering its doors.

“The owner of the 7-Eleven franchise location, Don Young, said Pitt owns the property and 7-Eleven will move out Sept. 29,” then-News Editor Rachel Glasser wrote.

“‘We’re leaving because they want to move their bakery shop here. Corporate told us we had to go,’ Young said.”

Sept. 9, 2018: “Op-ed: Pitt alumnus, former New York Times sports writer says time’s up for Pitt football”

1950s Pitt sports editor Murray Chass weighed in on the state of Pitt football — it had to go.“Sixty or so years ago, I was first sports editor and then editor of The Pitt News. During my tenure in one of those positions I took the drastic step of writing an outrageous column about the Pitt football team. The team was so bad, so consistently bad, I recall writing, that there was only one step for the team and the school to take,” Chass wrote.

“The University of Pittsburgh, which would soon be my alma mater for life, had to do something to erase the stain that the football team was inflicting on the school. The solution I suggestedde-emphasize football and play on the level of its Oakland neighbor, then known as Carnegie Tech, now named Carnegie Mellon.”

After The Pitt News ran Chass’ column, another former sports editor, James S. Urban — who worked at TPN in the 1980s — wrote in with a rebuttal.

Sept. 8, 2019: “Everything we know about the Starship food delivery robots”

Before Starship launched testing of its delivery robots around campus — leading to a disability rights controversy — details about when, what and how the robots would deliver weren’t quite clear. This story got attention in part because of its later inclusion in wheelchair user Emily Ackerman’s viral Twitter thread in late October about her experience crossing the street and finding one of the robots in her way. 

Starship announced in August that it will partner with Pitt and its dining contractor Sodexo to allow customers to order products from campus vendors like Forbes Street Market for home delivery via the robots,” News Editor Emily Wolfe wrote.

“The delivery robots move at a maximum of 4 mph to fill orders placed through the Starship Deliveries app. They’re 98% autonomous, according to Starship, monitored remotely by humans who can take control if necessary, and each is equipped with its own locks, GPS and camera.”