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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Unfortunate: Old Main Remains The Student Puppetmaster

Safeguard Old State received word late last night from an anonymous tipster about a controversial e-mail sent to various administrators in Old Main from December 7. We’re happy to see both The Daily Collegian and the Centre Daily Times covering this story, but unfortunately The Daily Collegian goes way too soft on what this incident from Old Main represents visa vis the state of student life at Penn State.

The e-mail, sent by Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers, is as follows:

From: Lisa Powers
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 11:02 AM
To: Gail Hurley; Robert Orndorff; Joe Puzycki; Philip Burlingame
Cc: Tom Poole; Bill Mahon
Subject: VT fallout
Gail, Bob, Joe, and Philip: Would it be possible to get a group of students (maybe student government leaders) to “spontaneously” put together a Facebook site for Penn Staters to go to and show their support for Virginia Tech. (Not a site to bash the two students who have been identified, but more of an outpouring of compassion to show that not all Penn Staters are as callous and insensitive as those who dressed up). It would be the “Penn Staters who care about Virginia Tech” group or some other appropriate name the students choose. It would be good to get this up over the weekend and have hopefully thousands join.

We are getting hammered by the Virginia television station and it’s only a matter of time before it takes on a bigger life. The postings to the television station’s web site related to this are numerous and all talk about Penn State’s responsibility (unfortunately). The audio interview with Nathan is appalling as he says “he doesn’t care what people think etc.”

Do you think one of you can get a student group to take on this challenge?
Lisa Powers
Director, Department of Public Information
Penn State
312 Old Main

Of course, the Facebook group that Lisa Powers was e-mailing about, hoping to have a student “spontaneously” create ended up being created by senior Jay Chamberlin, ex-President of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) and Lion Ambassador. You can check out the group by clicking here.

It’s highly unfortunate to see Old Main continue to act as puppet master over the lives and actions of so-called “student leaders” within the realm of the Office of Student Affairs. I know it’s Lisa Powers’ job to direct the Old Main spin machine, but usually e-mails like this aren’t nearly as damning. To say outright that they needed to get a student to act as their tool for media relation purposes is borderline sickening, and displays a disingenuousness that we fear is systemic within the climate of Old Main.

I know that kids like Chamberlin will claim that it was totally spontaneous, but, of course they’ll say that — it’s precisely what they were directed to say by the information control tactics employed by Lisa Powers and Bill Mahon from deep inside of Old Main.

The Safeguard Old State view was captured nicely in this excerpt from the Centre Daily Times article:

Tom Shakely, a student who leads the advocacy group Safeguard Old State, said he was distressed but not surprised by the Powers communication. He said it signified “the decayed state of student life.”

“This from an administration that always talks about how student-centered it is?” Shakely said. “What about students are they centering on? To use them as tools? … It’s reminiscent of Soviet-style directives: ‘No one do anything until we get word from Old Main.’ It’s crazy.”

This is a shocking example of the extent to which administrators (usually more subtly than in this case) control major “student leaders” through “suggestions” and “advice”, and it further goes to show how decayed the state of genuine student life is that even Facebook groups that are saying the right things are only saying them because they’ve been told to — or because they’ve been approved to speak out — by Bill and Lisa in Old Main.

Next time we see some “spontaneous” display of student pride, we’ll unfortunately be wondering just how genuine that display of pride really is.

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I’m shocked. Wait, no, I’m not. This is yet another damning episode in the quest to play dictatorship over the student body.

So Yesterday I sent a rather scathing email to Powers over this item. I’ve yet to get a response, and I’m pretty sure its not coming. I’m willing to lay a few bucks that she’s gotten slammed with hundreds of raging emails from Alumni and other livid students. If it does come I’m betting it will be some form letter crafted by Billy Mahon’s Department of Propaganda.

[…] Story Link: ‘Spontaneous’ Response Planned, Old Main Remains the Student Puppetmaster […]

I can’t believe that this is what passes for competence in our administration. This sucks.

I wonder if Galen Foulke “spontaneously” created UPUA?

a glimpse behind the curtain, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Galen Foulke…I still remember back in April 05 during USG elections…someone came by with the Lion and asked me who I was voting for. When I replied (Someone other than Foulke) they said something to the tune of: Thats like putting squirrel poison on the HUB lawn!”

Foulke was the poison, USG turned out to be the squirrels.

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