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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

UPUA Needs Dedicated Resources

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA)’s latest attempt to establish itself as a legitimate student government failed due to lack of voter turnout, according to today’s article in The Daily Collegian.

UPUA Game Proposal Fails (TDC) — A week of gauging student interest in opening the Bryce Jordan Center for the football game against Purdue University ended Friday with responses from about 0.36 percent of students.

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) created a Facebook group, distributed fliers and made computers available to the public last week in an effort to survey student interest in the initiative.

UPUA needed 1,500 positive responses to further discussions with the athletic department and university officials but obtained only 151 votes, UPUA marketing director Lacey Johnston said.

It’s easy to look at this and say that the UPUA isn’t serving its mission of representing students at University Park, but such an analysis would be cursory and meaningless. To get to the heart of the problem, we have to answer a more difficult, less apparent question. “Did the UPUA fail in this even as a result of their own inaction or due to a lack of resources?”

Student apathy is talked about way too often here at Penn State, and it’s frustrating because it’s simply a way to dodge the fundamental problems plaguing Student Affairs. Apathy exists everywhere — not just Penn State. Look, for instance, at the voter turnout at the typical national primary or general election. We regard 60 percent turnout as a good thing.

At Penn State, then, when things like this latest UPUA initiative fail, we have to figure out why it failed. Apathy was certainly a big part of it, but apathy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Apathy occurs as a result of students being dis-empowered from real decision making in context of their everyday lives. Who has dis-empowered students? UPUA? No. Student Affairs.

It has occurred for years, and it needs to be turned back, because it’s poisoning student life as a whole at this University. The UPUA initiative, specifically, failed because the organization is not yet empowered by our administrators — they have no dedicated staff assistants, secretaries or other resources — all things essential to a successful and functional student government at any major, leading public university.

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“Apathy occurs as a result of students being dis-empowered from real decision making in context of their everyday lives. Who has dis-empowered students? UPUA? No. Student Affairs.”

this makes me kind of curious. You can see both Penn State and the boroughs constant desire to eliminate alcohol and attacking the drinking culture from these parts, yet you also see student affairs fighting this battle to keep students from being involved. This brings me to the question, according to the university and the borough, what should college students be doing? If their involvement in their own affairs is limited and filled with apathy, and drinking culture is purged entirely, what is John Q. Student to spend his time on? Perhaps re-reading every chapter of their textbooks all weekend long? Or working longer hours in a vain attempt to afford the smothering cost of tuition?

It seems to me that the powers that be desire a student body that sits quietly in on weekend nights, reading and doing little or nothing while flinging mass amounts of tax and other dollars into the local economy. Guess what Fellows…you can’t have it your way. This isn’t Burger King.

P.S. One final comment: If the local powers are so opposed to the drinking culture, should not they be attempting to get students off the drinking and into more civic or club oriented affairs?

If the borough was soooo worried about the drinking culture, maybe they would permanently shut down one or more of the 20+ bars. But wait, THAT would lower their tax revenues which would be totally unacceptable.

Here’s an idea: use a percentage of the alcohol tax to investigate and institute REAL solutions in the downtown area. Find out what students want to see in State College (after all, if it weren’t for us, no one around here would have a job). Think about that…students would be paying for the services, albeit without really pledging the money openly. And maybe they would be able to enjoy what their money is spent on. Talk about proactive. That’s more than the university can say about tuition money spent on things like, oh I don’t know, HUB LateNight?

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