HUB–Robeson Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Hetzel Union Building shooting)
Jump to: navigation, search
Pennsylvania State University
HUB–Robeson Center
The Hub
Penn state hub building exterior.jpg
North Plaza Area
Former names Hetzel Union Building
General information
Type Student union
Location University Park, Pennsylvania, United States
Opening 1955
Renovated 1973, 1983, 1997
The first floor of the HUB.
Interior space of several HUB floors.

The HUB–Robeson Center, commonly referred to as the "HUB" is the student union building centrally located on the University Park campus of Pennsylvania State University. It was originally built in 1953 and had major renovations done in 1973 and 1983. The most recent round of expansions and renovations was begun in May 1997, adding 91,000 square feet (8,500 m2) to the existing 154,000-square-foot (14,300 m2) building. The building was originally named the Hetzel Union Building for Depression-era President of Penn State Ralph Dorn Hetzel.


On the ground floor is "Union Street", a collection of eateries that provide an alternative to the on-campus dining halls. There is also a set of aquariums (donated by the Class of 1999) and a pool hall/arcade ("The Corner Pocket") on the ground floor. Next to the aquarium is the home of The Lion 90.7FM, Penn State's only student-run radio station, which moved to the HUB on April 24, 2003. On the upper floors are lounges, dedicated study spaces, an auditorium, and the HUB-Robeson Galleries; in addition, many of Penn State's student-run groups have offices on the upper floors, such as UPAC, NRT, and the Penn State Thespians. The HUB is directly connected to the on-campus Penn State Bookstore (run by Barnes & Noble) as well as the Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

The following eateries can be found in the HUB:

  • The Blue Burrito (Formerly the Wild Cactus until August 2014, and before that Casa Ortega until September, 2007)
  • Chat's (cafe)
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Higher Ground (coffee shop)
  • McAllister's which replaced HUB Subs (formerly Joegies) [1]
  • Mixed Greens
  • Panda Express
  • Piccalilli's
  • Jamba Juice
  • Diversions
  • Sbarro
  • Starbucks
  • Burger King (Opened January 2012 - replacing Nathan's Famous and Arthur Treacher's.)

The lawn in front of the HUB, commonly called the "HUB Lawn" features a gazebo and is popular with students playing frisbee and sunbathing. As of 2013 much of the HUB lawn has been cordoned off while renovations surrounding the HUB area take place. The bookstore connecting to the HUB was in temporary mobile units on the lawn during this period; it was moved back into the HUB-Robeson Center in spring 2015.

1996 Shooting[edit]

The lawn was the site of the 1996 shooting that resulted in the death of Melanie Spalla, a 21-year-old undergraduate journalism student from Altoona. The perpetrator of the shooting, Jillian Robbins, was a 19-year-old non-student resident of State College. At approximately 9:30 AM on September 17, Robbins was positioned outdoors at the northwest corner of the HUB Lawn, where the HUB pool room now stands. She fired five shots in the general direction of College Avenue using a 7 mm Mauser rifle. Nicholas Mensah, a 22-year-old student from Ghana, was also wounded in the shooting, but was not killed.[2]

Of the five bullets fired, two struck victims, one was recovered at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, and another on the eighth floor of Penn Tower Apartments. The fifth was found on the ground. On their paths, two of the bullets grazed two students' book bags.

At that morning hour, during the middle of a class period, there were few students on the lawn, and police managed to identify only 15 witnesses. One of these witnesses, student Brendon Malovrh, is credited with wrestling the gun away from Robbins just after she loaded a second magazine. In response, she pulled out a knife and attempted to stab Malovrh. When Malovrh dodged out of the way, Robbins accidentally stabbed herself in the thigh, after which Malovrh used his belt to try to stop her bleeding. Robbins was arrested at the scene, and Mensah and Robbins were taken to Centre Community Hospital for treatment following the shooting.

Following her arrest, Robbins spent six months in Norristown State Hospital, an in-patient psychiatric hospital that treats both voluntary and court-committed patients. Robbins never offered a reason for her actions, but did say that she had intended to kill herself that day. She later pled not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Village (2001)[edit]

In 2001, the HUB was the site of a 9-day student sit-in demonstration called "The Village". The Village began as a community response to death threats received by African American students at the University. In support of better diversity programs at Penn State, more than forty student groups participated along with many other students and community members.

Occupy Penn State (2011)[edit]

In 2011, the HUB saw another student demonstration which paralleled the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations happening concurrently. The demonstration lasted nearly 5 weeks and included many core occupants remaining in the HUB during its entire duration. During its five weeks Occupy Penn State brought student's attention to pressing issues in today's society including, but not limited to, financial inequalities, tuition, corruption, social injustice, and more. After the onset of the Jerry Sandusky Scandal and the subsequent firing of President Graham Spanier, the Occupy Penn State movement decided it was best to disband. Occupy Penn State still has members having active roles across campus and the community, however they have since vacated the HUB as a whole.


  1. ^ [1] news article, accessed August 1, 2012,
  2. ^ unk. "Penn State Shooting Is Fatal to Student; Woman Is Arressted". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 

Coordinates: 40°47′54″N 77°51′41″W / 40.7982°N 77.8615°W / 40.7982; -77.8615