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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


A Fresh Look At The Face Of Student Representation

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared on the website of “Safeguarding Traditions Of Penn State,” which was the precursor to Safeguard Old State. It appears here for posterity.

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As promised, today we’ll be looking at three articles published yesterday by The Daily Collegian on the changing face of student representation at Penn State. Since The Daily Collegian is a newspaper, they could only continue to advocate for USG, the only genuine student government, for so long. With yesterday’s articles we’re already seeing their coverage of USG and the old student-run institution’s leaders decrease.

In this post I’ll cover the first article, “USG members find fault with UPUA,” where the nature of UPUA is discussed. Andrew Reeve, who we’ve discussed here on Safeguarding Traditions of Penn State in the past, is chairman of the UPUA transitional authority, an organization consisting of students, yes, but students appointed undemocratically by the administration. Reeve was in Galen Foulke’s pocket since before last year, and he’s largely a pawn of the administration at this point, as is Foulke.

“All our power comes from the students,” said Andrew Reeve, chairman of the UPUA transition group. My question to Reeve is this: what real power does the UPUA have? It doesn’t have the powers that USG had, before being stripped of them by Student Affairs and Dr. Vicky Triponey. UPUA sure doesn’t have the power to recognize student organizations; that power in now in the hands of the administration-controlled Center for Student Engagement.

The problem with UPUA, as we’ve been saying for a while, is that it is not a government of any kind. UPUA is an advocacy body with no more power than to lobby the administration to consider the student voice. USG, on the other hand, was in the past a fully functional, bicameral student government.

Whereas USG functioned on an equal level with equal authority in years past, UPUA functions something like a toddler’s sandbox; the students play in the sand while the adults in the administration look on bemusedly. It was once said at Penn State by a former university president that Penn State actually has two presidents: himself and USG student body president.

There was a time when students were respected and viewed as equal partners in university actions, but those days are gone and many students seem not to care or understand what has been lost. Like the frog in the pot, students are comfy in their warm environment with new toys in the gyms and constant new building projects, oblivious that the heat will soon reach a paralyzing point when they’ll be unable to escape, when tuition is even more out of hand, when they have no relevant student leaders and when, worst of all, they’ll have no way to rectify things.

Still, many students in leadership roles are, at this point, in the administration’s pocket:

Stathes, however, said the problem isn’t just about the administration’s defined role in the constitution. He said UPUA also represents a reduction in students’ power.

“UPUA accepts that students don’t have power on this campus,” he said. “If the students in UPUA had this power, I would turn around and support UPUA in a second.”

The change from a “government” to an “advocacy” organization is something that UPUA’s creators acknowledge — and say is a good thing.

Isn’t that astonishing? UPUA’s creators say that it’s a good thing not to have an independently functioning student government! UPUA’s creators prefer the sandbox. With UPUA, student “leaders” are, in fact, led by administrators. Their hands are held and their voices essentially impotent to effect any kind of concrete student representation.

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