The Penn State Experience

This September marks year three for me at Penn State. As I reflect on the past two years and the future, I concede that my time here has not gone as planned. When accepted to Penn State, I knew I would major in business. What I didn’t anticipate was that my real major would be the student body.

I started off my Penn State career in the summer of 2006, longing to be down the Jersey shore with the rest of my recently graduated friends. I ended up adjusting and sticking through it, and by the time fall rolled around, this place felt like home. In high school I played football and rugby, and felt like I would play rugby up here. That was until I tore up my knee at the end of senior year and decided against it. Instead I happened to attend the involvement fair, and signed up for information from the now defunct Undergraduate Student Government (USG).

It turns out that I knew the president and vice president loosely through attending the same high school, St. Joe’s Prep. The two of them took me under their wing and I became entrenched in the state of the student body. Back then, everything was a struggle, and all student government was doing at the time was trying to get a message out through organized chaos.

The following year I became involved with Safeguard Old State, who wanted to move away from the organized chaos into constructive dialogue. Many times we were successful in sparking dialogue, and we had a promising start to last fall. But our message became skewed at times, with many casting us off as a negative presence simply there to cause chaos.

In our first year truly reaching people, it became quite a struggle to achieve the purpose of creating a forum without creating negative chaos. The message we were bringing wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t complicated either. Simply put the state of the student body needed to drastically change, and if it required bold moves then we were prepared to do it.

In reality last year ended up being chaos, even though we set out to do just the opposite. Student Affairs changed drastically, student groups were twisted around, and the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), our current student government, was simply trying to find a foundation.

There is one thing I am sure of about last year and that is people began to think about issues that they might not have previously.

Sometimes we weren’t the best at sparking that forum of dialogue and I will be the first to admit that at times we lost focus of our true goals, and became more involved in what would be news worthy.

At the end of the day though we learned a great deal from last year about what it means to spark constructive dialogue. I am confident that with the new leadership, we will see a more mature Safeguard Old State, with a very focused mission, not about making headlines, but more about promoting positive change.

Moreover I am certain that the students of this university, regardless of affiliation, are undergoing the beginnings of a metamorphosis intended to transform us all into one collective student body.