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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

An Open Letter of Warning: Dangers Facing The Daily Collegian

Dear Collegian,

Hats off to you. I extend the hand of friendship from me to you on a personal level–not as the President of The LION 90.7 FM (although we’re faithful readers), not as co-director of PSU Stop! (although we owe you a lot for making our presence known), not as the musician from The Reagan Eighties (where’s your article about my band..?).

This is me, Brandon W. Peach, the brash and bombastic critic of last year, who swore vengeance against the editors, who orchestrated hundreds of letters of protest at the disposal of Bryan Peach (no relation), who gave countless interviews to organizations like Students for Academic Freedom regarding the inexorable links between Collegian staffers and the administration. I’ll admit, I got a lot wrong. I was the farthest thing of a fan of your paper last year, and I’ve made a 180-degree turn due to the quality of writing and reporting this year. I tell my friends and classmates to read. I wait for the next great opinion column.

I’m not sure whether it’s the EIC, Erin James, her indispensable counterpart Krystle Kopacz, spot-on columnists like Andrew Hanelly, fantastic reporters such as Lauren Boyer, or just the “new look.” You guys are getting stuff right.

I’m not saying I’ve agreed with everything you’ve written; in fact, far from it. On the other hand, there’s a balance evident that didn’t exist before, and the Collegian has done a bang-up job spreading the voice of the students. For that, the student body is grateful to you. I’m grateful to you.

For the record, loud and clear: I love the Collegian. Good job, everyone!

Now for the hard part—spreading the word without repercussion. The Collegian is the messenger. But as far as the administration here is concerned, killing the messenger means silencing the message. Your stories have been in-depth and interesting, and covered from the angle of student representation. The opinion columns have done the same. I guarantee the administration doesn’t like it. I’d be willing to bet that administrators—one in particular—will be doing their best to keep you from saying what you want to say, they’ll be trying to sway the news toward PSU’s formerly-sterling reputation instead of exposing the sordid story regarding student activity fee cuts, rising tuition costs, and an ever-present stifling of student organizations like The Lion 90.7 FM, the Undergraduate Student Government, the Graduate Student Association, and UPAC. I’d be surprised if such intervention into your articles didn’t occur on some scale. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t already occurring.

Has Dr. Vicky Triponey tried to put the lid on any of your stories? Has she prevented you from contacting her or any of her fellow administrators in student affairs? Have interviews repeatedly turned to “well, you’ll have to ask Ms. Triponey,” or “Ms. Triponey asked me not to comment…”? Has she intervened in any way? If not, I’d be utterly shocked.

You’ve seen what’s happened to tenured student organizations when they’ve been inwardly critical of the administration. They’re shut up. I want to let you know that there’s been talk recently of our call letters, WKPS, and our federal licensure, being revoked and given to the Comm department. I have faith that I can hold the station together until I’m gone, and afterwards I’ll become a distinguished alumnus whose support for the school is directly proportional to the utility I’ve derived from just such an activity. But when I’m gone, there’s no guarantee that Penn State won’t try to take the radio station away.

This is a forewarning. It’s just a matter of time before they try again, with my organization and with others. The future’s looking rather bleak for a radio station to which the University has repeatedly denied monetary or even verbal support and one that’s been on the brink of destruction time and again. As you may or may not know, the station (which has, by the way, a squeaky-clean public record) is currently being audited. The auditor won’t tell us who requested the audit or why… (It’s reasonable that I have an idea who might be behind the ordeal.) What’s evident is that they’re looking for something, anything, that will allow them a reason to take it away from the students.

Collegian, I’d urge you to continue writing scathing reviews of the administration and supporting the students in their quest to run operations traditionally controlled by the students. But please be aware that you may be next in line to be silenced. The administration won’t stop at a radio station or a student government. Anything is up for grabs. This means you.

Please, Collegian—proceed with caution.

Brandon W. Peach
President, The Lion 90.7 FM
Co-Director, PSU Stop!

For some interesting postscript reading, Google “Vicky Triponey” for entertaining and informative slideshows like this one.

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One additional note: You might want to read this article from the UConn Student Newspaper before saying “we’re untouchable”. Remember, the Collegian would be in serious trouble without the sweetheart subscription deal with the Board of Trustees, which could easily find some way to empower Student Affairs to do some sort of editorial oversight. Believe me when I say “you’re next”.

Thanks for the insight, Andy!

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