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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Students Sound Off With Discontent In The Daily Collegian

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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It’s been a whirlwind week here at Penn State, particularly at the student radio station, The LION 90.7fm, but I’ll get to that tomorrow. Students sounded off today in two powerful letters to the editor in the pages of The Daily Collegian.

In the first letter, penned by newly appointed UPUA On-Campus Representative Kate Holmes, students are called to address “real issues” in the editorial pages of the newspaper. I was really impressed by how well Holmes presented her argument against the mindlessness of what’s recently been discussed in the pages of the newspaper, particularly over the manufactured controversy over the so-called “Chicken Man” around campus.

How many times have you felt so passionate about an issue that you wrote to the Collegian? Yet 14 times in the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to read a student’s position on the Chicken Man. Congratulations, Chicken Man – you are officially a public controversy.

During his annual “State of the University” address, President Graham Spanier stated an array of reasons why he felt Penn State is a student-centered university. What prompted our president’s remarks? Perhaps it was the censorship of student artwork or the lockdown of Old Main. Maybe it’s AD-51 and our free speech zones.

What’s the true comedy of the situation? The majority of the student body doesn’t have any idea what I am talking about.

I am by no means opposed to the discussion surrounding the Chicken Man. But imagine. What would happen if we diverted a portion of our conversation to address student involvement and activism?

Who knows what might happen next? We might even have a student-centered university.

Congratulations for being honest and hard-hitting, Ms. Holmes. You’ve done us proud here at PSU STOP. The second excellent letter today was written by Danielle Traister, USG Supreme Court Chief Justice. Traister attacks what see essentially labels as group-think within the newly formed UPUA that continues to struggle as it nears a level of functionality.

At a UPUA meeting, Vice President Mitch Belding said, “It sends a mixed message to the student body during our meetings to say ‘Here’s the opinion,’ and ‘Now, here’s the dissenting opinion.'”

Did everyone catch that? The guy we all elected (and by all I mean 758 of us) to be the vice president of our student advocacy group has summed it up. Debate at UPUA meetings isn’t a good thing! It sends a mixed message. And what’s that mixed message? Probably something like “Some of our members don’t always have the same opinion on everything. Sometimes they even – gasp – have the tenacity, the temerity to disagree with Chamberlin and Belding!”

Concealing debate in committee meetings will be an excellent way to avoid that mixed message, and maybe even avoid the accountability that comes with those pesky town hall meetings.

That sure was a close call, and I wish Belding and friends all the best in their attempt to silence the student voice by homogenizing it.

Kudos goes out to students for continuing to be vocal about the decrepit state of affairs here at Penn State University. The more of you who speak up the sooner we can reverse course and make this a truly student-centered university once more.

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