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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Vicky’s Frankensteins: Student Programming Association (SPA)

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of four articles to be published this week on failing and wasteful departments created by Vicky Triponey in the Office Student Affairs.

Of all the things Triponey has done to set back the legacy of student affairs in her time ruling over Student Affairs, the Student Programming Association (SPA) is probably one of the most ridiculous, asinine and utterly intolerable faux-student organizations.

SPA was established last spring by administrators as a student organization. Read that again: Student Affairs administrators decided what was good for students, and found a few kinds to “officially” register the club so as to make it appear a typical, organically founded organization.

A lie, of course. In SPA’s short time, Triponey has already shown it such love and dedication that one could be forgiven for thinking that Vicky actually wanted student organizations to have much-needed finances. SPA was allocated an enormous initial budget over $100,000, and has been further ordained for this academic year with a similarly astounding budget directly from Triponey’s Office of Student Affairs.

No other student organization, other than Vicky’s UPUA, has received this kind of treatment. Remember, for instance, what she did to student radio, The LION 90.7fm, in cutting all funding in 2004 because she didn’t like their public affairs talk show? Remember how she directed the destruction of shared governance in USG, thereby giving rise to contrived things like SPA? In Student Affairs under Triponey, some groups are more equal than others. SPA falls into the “more equal” category.

One of SPA’s initial student members confessed to Safeguard Old State that SPA was, in fact, managed and directed by administrator Darcy Rameker and Vicky Triponey directly. Students had no authority even during his role as a supposed executive leader of SPA. Does that sound right to you? It certainly doesn’t sound right here at Safeguard Old State.

Further, SPA has done nothing of note for students, even with budgets surpassing the $150,000 mark. Remember Vicky’s penchant for doing less with more? Here it is, in action once again. SPA might as well be a type of Gestapo, the way it’s run. “We were just following orders,” students will say. “We just did what they said was best for us,” when asked why so much money and time and so many resources where utterly squandered.

SPA exists, In theory, so that students with ideas for programming events but no money to make their plans reality can go to SPA and have those in SPA basically steal their idea and put on the event for them, having SPA take the credit and the student or student club that initially presented the idea serve as a mere “co-sponsor” of the event. How nice. Of course, the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC) already exists to help student organizations do what SPA helps them do, and without taking credit for their ideas.

Even more, SPA occupies the former office of USG – where UPUA should be now. Instead, UPUA, and organization of nearly 50, is stuck upstairs in a more cramped, less equipped office space. The official “voice of the students” gets far less in financial and institutional support than Vicky’s beloved SPA, which received half a dozen computers, micro-fridge, a dozen desks, food, Frisbees, two copiers and most astoundingly, a 42” flat-panel plasma television.

The Student(-Administrative) Programming Association is the antithesis of an organic, student-created organization, and its very existence further reinforces the problem with Triponey: she does what she wants, results be damned, and no one dared question her motives or call her actions what they are: failure to truly serve students interest. No more.

As we progress down the road toward renewed student shared governance, SPA is yet another one of Vicky’s Frankensteins that needs to be eliminated for the financial and operational good of Penn State students and for the peace of mind of concerned alumni.

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Okay…so why exactly does an office dedicated to student programming need a 42″ flat panel plasma TV? Is this where our student activity fee is going? If so, I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!!!!!!

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