Safeguard Old State, in light both of recent downtown events and a broader need for a more robust line of communication between town and gown, is proposing the creation by the State College Borough Council of a Student Relations Committee.
SOS Executive Director Chris Morell first discussed this idea publicly last month, and we have since put together a straightforward, one page proposal for the purpose and scope of such a student relations committee, meant to be chartered as an advisory subcommittee of the borough council.
We firmly believe that such a committee, while certainly not the ultimate desired means or end to fostering a healthier dialog in the borough, is a legitimate and modest first step in renewing lines of communication which have become frayed and fractured over the course of the past few decades.
In terms of student behavior downtown, it’s become clear to the majority of student leadership at Penn State that we have failed as students to inculcate the idea of a Penn Stater as a respectable and respectful member of the wider community.
On the other hand, recent comments by State College Councilwoman Theresa Lafer to the effect that, “I have neighbors who are thinking of using violence against students [in response to the recent downtown incident],” are both chilling and as discouraging to an open dialog as the actions of student malcontents.
Such a student relations committee would be well positioned, by its proposed membership, to tackle fundamental questions about the nature of the town-gown relationship, perhaps even diving into questions that examine the root causes of events and manners.
So, it is our small hope that Penn State Student Body President Gavin Keirans can work with State College Mayor Bill Welch and Borough Council President Liz Goreham to work toward a more healthy and fruitful dialog through our community’s first student relations commiteee.