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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Anti-Student Bias In The Borough?

I spoke at last Monday night’s State College Borough Council meeting on the issue of anti-discrimination laws in our community. The borough council is discussing the coming implementation of broader anti-discrimination laws based on one’s gender identity and marital status. I spoke out on behalf of Safeguard Old State, calling for one’s student status to be added as another so-called “protected class” within our borough.

Out of roughly a dozen other speakers from the borough, only one actively opposed the expansion of the anti-discrimination policies. What makes the Safeguard Old State proposal to include students as a protected class interesting, though, is the almost vehement, negative reaction of Liz Goreham, one of the seven on State College Borough Council.

The Daily Collegian covered this story the day after:

Council Debates Proposed Policies (TDC) — Tom Shakely, founder of the student advocacy group Safeguard Old State (SOS), said students should be included as a protected group in the ordinance. Shakely said other towns with a strong university presence, such as Ann Arbor, Mich., have similar laws that protect students from discrimination.

Shakely said one regulation, which prohibits three unrelated people from living in the same house, is an example of anti-student policy.

However, Council President Cathy Dauler said the rule was intended for the protection of students from landlords who could “victimize” them.

Council Member Elizabeth Goreham said the regulation was “not intended as anti-student, but for the protection of our neighborhoods and tax base.” Goreham said it was “unfortunate” that Shakely felt there was anti-student bias in the borough, adding that it was something council should look into.

Isn’t that nice of Liz? Anti-student bias is “something to look into” in a town that was specifically founded because of students, and where the majority of informed students downtown would likely agree that students are consistently steamrolled either by their landlords or by the borough’s unwillingness to let them live freely in the downtown community.

You can also hear a segment of The LION 90.7fm‘s popular public affairs talk show, Radio Free Penn State, from December 5 where we followed up on the issue in a heated debate about student interests and who is really working to foster more tolerance in respect to them. I’d highly encourage you listening to this 15 minute excerpt — it’s conversation you won’t hear anywhere else.
[audio:http://www.safeguardoldstate.org/media-player/audio/dec5rfps2007excerptontheborough.mp3]

At best, the State College Borough Council just doesn’t get it when it comes to student rights, and, at worst, actively works against the interests of their constituency when they push bad legislation like the so-called “three unrelated” rule. Students rights will continue to be threatened and rolled back until we decide to collectively wake up and do something about it.

There’s something that we definitely should “look into”.

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Comments

Who’s got two thumbs and knows where the borough council can stick it? This guy.

Just curious, but do you think the council is even aware of the fact that as these apartments that we so willing pay ludicrous amounts of money to live in are depreciating quality, and yet somehow INCREASING in value. I’m not sure, but isn’t that a rather paradoxical situation. Appliances crap out halfway through the year, maintenance seems to be trained to mask the problem not fix it all the while sabotaging something else, realty companies specifically look for ways to rip students off, and the market value of apartments is inflated beyond belief.

AND THEY STILL RAISE THE PRICES EVERY YEAR! I was told my rent would not increase if I agreed to stay an extra year; guess who’s rent increased at lease renewal time. Yep…that’s right, me.

With all these brand new apartments going in, it seems these property owners and realty companies are trying to match their costs. Explain how living in a 40 year old dump of a house, or a first generation apartment complex, warrants spending as much as a much newer and better equipped one? Or why these new apartments are made to look like the taj mahal (a guilded one at that) so they can force students to pay upwards of $650 a piece. I have friends at other schools that pay FRACTIONS of what I do for larger and nicer accommodations.

So it makes me wonder if this behavior is encouraged by the council, or just simply overlooked. And if it is the latter, I wonder if there are other things the council is ignorant to because they just don’t bother to look.

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