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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


How The Administration Plans To Silence Independent Student Radio

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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For regular readers of Safeguarding Traditions of Penn State and many informed students at Penn State, it’s no great secret that the guys and gals in Old Main want independent student radio eliminated. The LION 90.7fm (WKPS) represents much of what the administration most loathes.

Not only does the station broadcast provocative public affair talk shows like Radio Free Penn State (airing weekdays from 5-6PM on 90.7fm or online), but it is managed entirely by independent student leaders and aided by – gasp! – volunteer alumni advisers.

So, The Lion serves a vital student and community need, but many administrators dislike its frankness in conversation and its refusal to be censored and administered by Student Affairs and Dr. Vicky Triponey. Currently, The Lion is managed by some of the most dedicated and civically concerned student leaders in years.

Keep this in mind, because we are continuing down a dark and dangerous path as we attempt to outline the administration’s next comprehensive assault on The Lion 90.7FM. I say “next” assault because they have already tried twice – and failed twice – to silence this student station in the past.

The first attempt came when Dr. Vicky Triponey first arrived at Penn State as Vice President for Student Affairs in 2003. Triponey famously threatened student management at the radio station, warning that “the first thing to go will be Radio Free Penn State” if the students did not hand over direct control of the station to Student Affairs.

The next, far more serious and temporarily debilitating attack came shortly thereafter. Dr. Triponey, having spoken too brazenly about her anti-student agenda, realized that she needed to act swiftly in retribution for the students’ refusal to hand over their student-run radio station.

Dr. Triponey, acting through Student Affairs, cut all funding for The Lion 90.7FM despite the fact that page five of the Student Activity Fee handbook explicitly states that it exists to help support “campus activities such as media and campus radio stations.”

Students and the surrounding community reacted with outrage at this patently anti-student decision by Dr. Vicky Triponey and The Daily Collegian ran articles helping illuminate the radio station’s then-dire situation.

The Lion 90.7FM, which just the previous year had received $25,000 per year from Student Affairs as per the Student Activity Fee handbook, now was receiving no money from Penn State University.

Student leaders in the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC) rode to the rescue of the station and allotted the embattled volunteers in student radio a whopping $36,000 in funding for the next year. This bold statement in support of a student-run institution did not go unnoticed by Dr. Vicky Triponey.

(Dr. Triponey, who is in charge of the Student Activity Fee Board, or SAFB, is able to decide how the Student Activity Fee is allotted to UPAC. After UPAC’s generous allotment to the radio station – an institution Triponey was determined to see snuffed out – she worked to drastically cut the operating budget of UPAC so that as of 2006 they are only now able to allot a total of $1800 to any student organization for a given year.)

Thanks only to the tenacity of the student leaders and volunteer alumni advisors of The Lion 90.7FM, the station continued to operate even without any funding from its university.

Her first two attempts having been thwarted by an unexpectedly concerned student body in organizations from The Daily Collegian to UPAC, Dr. Triponey retreated into the halls of Old Man to devise her next, possibly fatal attack on student-run radio station.

What is that attack, you ask? Though we manage to find out more than is good for our health here at PSU Stop, we only have so much to go on at this point. Still, we can say with relative confidence that Dr. Triponey’s next assault on The LION 90.7fm will be her most comprehensive yet.

We have received news from reliable sources that administrators in Student Affairs and in the College of Communications are conspiring to snatch The LION 90.7fm’s terrestrial transmitter signal and call letters, WKPS.

You see, the College of Communications runs something it calls “ComRadio”. ComRadio was begun in 2003 – the same year Dr. Triponey arrived at Penn State – and is run by paid staff in the College of Communications. Despite its name, ComRadio is not, in fact, a radio station. It is broadcast only online, and sometimes on campus television.

Even aside from Dr. Triponey, there are those at Penn State University who resent the sway that The Lion 90.7FM has on engaged students and the surrounding community and who believe that the students who run The Lion don’t deserve to have a radio frequency or call letters while their own pet project, ComRadio, is relegated only to the internet.

As a result, the next identifiable threat facing The LION 90.7fm and its student leaders is the unjust usurpation of its radio frequency signal and FCC licensed call letters. This is not as unlikely as it sounds, because the Board of Trustees of Penn State are the ones that legally hold the FCC licensure of The Lion.

If Dr. Triponey and her faculty enablers can successfully mislead the Board of Trustees into the thinking that the College of Communications and paid faculty should run student radio rather than independent and fully qualified, dedicated students, then such an usurpation is not out of the question.

Especially when considering that Dr. Triponey has effectively silenced all other outlets of student-run organizational defense through the marginalization of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC) and to some extent, the student newspaper The Daily Collegian, it would not be very hard to act without regard to student-interest without fear of major repercussion.

Of course, there is one problem that Dr. Triponey has not taken into account over the course of her Machiavellian plans: PSU STOP. We exist primarily to ensure the survival and long-term prosperity of student-run organizations like The Lion 90.7FM and The Daily Collegian, as well as a reinstatement of student-run groups to ensure real student representation and real student-led activity fee allotment.

As organizations within Penn State were targeted and eliminating in one way or another by Dr. Triponey, a woman who has repeatedly evidenced her anti-student policies, PSU Stop has arisen to defend and protect the great and proud traditions and institutions within our beloved and unique university.

Our fight will not be an easy one, and as The Lion 90.7FM faces what could be finally a fatal blow to its mission of student-run student radio, we need your help. Get out the word on these dark and dangerous times for students at Penn State University, and help us any way you can, whether through volunteering, financial support (of which we’re always appreciative) or simply by telling all your friends and directing them to PSUStop.com, we’re grateful.

Anti-student interlopers at Penn State like Dr. Vicky Triponey need to be shown the door, and if no one else is going to do it, we as proud Penn State students and alumni must.

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Note: The Safeguard Old State Executive Staff does not moderate the comments posted by the public to blog entries. The comments of Safeguard Old State readers do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Safeguard Old State.

Comments

I really dont get this “KPS can do no wrong” mindset. Well, i guess i get it from brandon, since he runs the place apparently.

Im all about independent student run media. and I think the more of it the better, but like it or not, KPS is not independent. Its license is owned by the university and it aspires to be funded, in large part, with university funds.

During the time I was involved with KPS, I have seen KPS officers (as a matter of fact, the president of the station at the time) start fist fights in the studio, send actually physically threatening emails to individuals on as representatives of the station

my last interaction with KPS was about two years ago. At the time i sent several emails to the contact email on the website, the president of the station, and the department head asking for what tapes they still had from the shows i had been on. I even offered compensation beyond the cost for the stations time and trouble since i was asking for a lot of tapes. I was never even afforded the curteosy of a response.

Unless things have changed drastically since then, id say KPS needs more, not less accountability and supervision, especailly if its going to get student money.

All this notwithstanding, i think the stations ongoing fight for survival is noble, but its methods to secure funding are myopic and misguided. The stubborn insistence that you are entitled to tens of thousands of dollars regardless of your benefit to the student body at large, regardless of wether its right or wrong, is just doomed to fail. If you sat down and said “im going to figure out a way to try to get my station funding that is most likely to go down in flames” id say you couldnt do a hell of a lot better than the one you have.

Lest you accuse me of not understanding the proccess, by the way, i should point out that there have been 5 student-written rule changes adopted conerning the way funds are allocated out of the SAF…. They all have one thing in common. I wrote them and coordinated their passage.

JC,

Your personal history with The Lion aside, the current officers of WKPS, myself included, are doing a hell of a job trying to save their station and totally repudiate bullshit things like studio fist-fights. I take exception to your claim that The Lion is not independent; I think that’s not only wrong, but dishonest. Sure, we’re asking Penn State for money and the Board of Trustees holds our license, but ultimately the pressure they try to put on us we repel totally; at least in my experience with the station.

We work damned hard to makes sure students have an environment in WKPS that is conducive the hands-on learned in a student-centered environment, and while we hope to again receive university funds we remain independent because of the construct that we operate within. We are not like organizations like The Daily Collegian where the university buys all of their copies to provide it to students for free.

Penn State gives The Lion 90.7FM no money whatsoever, and while you’re right in saying we’re not necessarily entitled to unending tens of thousands of dollars in support for the station, it would be prudent for the university to open its eyes and say, “hey, these students provide a service for the students and community, so maybe we should give them even a few thousand dollars.”

Like it or not, WKPS is a federally licensed radio station that requires, at a bare minimum, roughly $15,000 to operate yearly. We are federally required to stay on the air and follow regulations, which we do, but that the university provides no funding for us at all, despite the fact that we are registered as a student organization and not only eligible for funding through the Student Activity Fee, but explicitly referred to as an organization entitled to funds according to page five of the Student Activity Fee Handbook, I would say that we’re not being that outrageous in expecting even a modicum of support from Student Affairs.

When the College of Communications gives ComRadio, which isn’t even a real radio station in that it only streaming online, over $50,000 per year in funding, it’s a clear affront that WKPS is not similarly supported by its counterpart jurisdiction of Student Affairs.

I hope you can appreciate what I’m saying, because I believe your comments of late regarding The Lion 90.7FM WKPS have no only been under-informed, but unintentionally misleading to readers of PSU Stop.

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