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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

What Kind Of Diversity Does Vicky Triponey Foster?

We hear a lot about the value of diversity here at Penn State, about the value of fostering a tolerant and welcoming community. In practice, though, do the posters and the press releases really foster a truly diverse community? Pennsylvania is a predominantly white state, and one of the many things that makes Happy Valley special is that we’re blessed to enjoy a community that is, statistically speaking, very diverse. At Penn State, you can find people from almost every corner of the globe, and we’re undeniably better because of the kind of cultural and racial diversity that the Penn State admissions office has ensured.

Once enrolled, though, what kind of diversity do the administrators inside and outside of Old Main foster? Once they’ve filled their quotas and printed up their posters for the sake of public relations and appearances, do our administrators really continue living with the attitude they work so hard to promote on paper? We’re an extremely diverse community, culturally speaking, but I don’t believe that the administrators who run this University really give a damn about real diversity unless something negative hits the press. Jen Harris, of course, comes to mind.

We need to embrace the fact that diversity is not just an issue of skin color. Penn State needs to understand that real, meaningful diversity comes only when it’s willing to tolerate and — in some cases — even help promote the causes that it might not have a vested financial interest in. Take, for instance, the plight of the student radio station, The Lion 90.7FM.

When Dr. Triponey arrived at Penn State a few years ago, she declared in a meeting with the station’s then-faculty advisor that there would be a lot of changes at the station, and that “the first thing to go will be Radio Free Penn State”. The Daily Collegian even reported on this in an April 26, 2004 article entitled “University cuts Lion’s funds”. Radio Free Penn State is The Lion’s popular public affairs talk show that is widely known and listened to for its frank and critical conversation on the Penn State administration.

As egregious as this threat by the Vice President for Student Affairs was to the station and the listening community as a whole, she did something even worse when she realized she couldn’t force Radio Free off the air — she cut all $25,000 in annual funding to the station. “If you can’t beat ’em, starve ’em,” was apparently her thinking. When an administrator like Triponey is so overt in her dislike for diversity of opinion and thought in the form of a legitimate student voice, do he or she really deserve to keep his job?

The radio station, though, was just the first in what has become a frighteningly long list of student organizations and causes marginalized at Penn State by Vicky Triponey. Each marginalization represents not just a lack of respect for the student body’s expression of diversity of thought and action, but an active agenda to destroy those unique forms of diversity on campus.

The Lion 90.7fm, Paternoville, the student government in USG, the student activity fee in UPAC, free student legal services in the form of Mr. Jose Texidor, food and drinks in the classroom, the allocation of student club space in the HUB…the list goes on. What they all have in common is having been marginalized, or in some cases destroyed or banned outright, but a power hungry, anti-diversity Vicky Triponey.

If we want to solve the problem of minorities and their groups being oppressed at Penn State University, it begins with the dismissal of Vice President for Student Affairs Vicky Triponey. This is a truth around which we should all be able to unite.

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