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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Upon Further Review: Constitution Follow-Up

Another stride towards shared governance was completed last week on December 11th, 2007 as the second administrative Special Committee on UPUA Constitutional Review voted 3-0-2 to adopt the UPUA Constitution: Revised 2007 (with both the administrative and faculty representative abstaining from voting).

This was the last major hurtle that had to be jumped in restructuring the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA).The history of this document dates almost a year ago when the first UPUA Assembly, under then President Jay Chamberlin, formed an ad hoc committee to review the UPUA Constitution: Origin 2006.

As the Chair of the committee it was soon realized that the entire UPUA Constitution: Origin 2006 needed to be redone as the basis of the organization was flawed, structure unbecoming of a student government, and the document was simply confusing and poorly written.

The Association for Big Ten Students had twice condemned the UPUA and its Constitution as such.

For nearly two months the ad hoc committee and the Internal Development of the UPUA spent writing the document, bringing in the original authors, researching other Big Ten universities and Commonwealth Campuses, as well as examining the numerous and very well-founded democratic principles of the former Undergraduate Student Government (USG), taking the good from both the UPUA and the USG.

Despite this hard work and the unanimous passage of the UPUA Constitution: Revised 2007 by the UPUA Assembly, the first administrative Special Committee on UPUA Constitutional Review that was convened in the Spring of 2007 rejected the document by a 1-4-0 vote, on nothing short of illogical and policy motivations which clearly violated not only the Constitution: Origin 2006 and the spirit of shared governance.

A response was needed for this clear abuse by the first administrative Special Committee on UPUA Constitutional Review, which members included Mr. Galen Foulke, Mr. Nicholas Tates, Mr. George Khoury, Dr. Stanley Latta, Professor Margaret Brittingham, and the nonvoting chair Dr. Felicia McGinty.

I then authored Resolution # 2: Refutation of the Special Committee on Constitutional Review: Preparation for the implementation of the UPUA Constitution: Revised 2007 and supplemental report outlining the clear abuse and logical fallacies of the rejection by the administration of the UPUA Constitution: Revised 2007.

After much controversy the UPUA adopted the motion invalidating the administrative action and forming the second administrative Special Committee on UPUA Constitutional Review composed of Bobby Casiano (student member #1 – member of Cabinet of Student Leaders), Jeremy Corbett (student member #2 – member of Cabinet of Student Leaders), Stephanie Gilmour (student member #3 – at large student member), Bob Ricketts (Faculty Senate member), Stan Latta (Administrative member), and non-voting Chair Robert Orndorff.

Many criticize the UPUA for spending the time on revising the Constitution and not focusing on the important “student issues.” More still criticize the act of addressing Constitutional revisions as internal squalling and meaningless.

But the fruit of these revisions were to clearly challenge the administration on fundamental issues of shared governance as well as clearly state the objectives, goals, and expectations of the UPUA as a student government.

How can an organization assert itself and gain credibility from students and frankly administrators without first resolving the major disputes regarding philosophy that the new Constitution addresses?

While the constitutional revisions were internal, the result was a clear distinction of what the UPUA is and in my opinion the two most fundamental clauses are the preamble principles of establishment make clear the students’ intentions:

“In the belief that active participation in the governance of our university is a fundamental right of students, essential to the health and well being of our community, and best realized through a democratic student government, We, the undergraduate students of The Pennsylvania State University – University Park, being duly elected andappointed by our peers, do hereby establish through this Constitution the University Park Undergraduate Association to serve the undergraduate student body of The Pennsylvania State University – University Park.The UPUA recognizes the interdependence of all members of the Penn State community, including the students, faculty, and administration of Penn State.In that spirit, all authority delegated to the UPUA is accepted under the principles of equal and equitable shared governance.A true partnership, built on communication, cooperation and compromise, requires all parties to be effective advocates. Therefore, the UPUA asserts and maintains its independence over all matters within its jurisdiction in the belief that only an independent student government can best represent the diverse interests of students at University Park.”

Equally as important was the statement read into the record by the administrative representative Dr. Latta that expressed the new administrative objectives of shared governance and the respect newfound respect of elected student leaders, ultimately resulting in both Dr. Latta and Faculty Senator Ricketts abstaining from voting.

Thus, recommending, as the UPUA Constitution: Revised 2007 does, that the administration be completely removed from all internal processes of the UPUA.

The conduct of second committee took into account all the concerns raised by UPUA regarding the first committee’s abuses and thus should be commended.

While words on paper are just that, words, now that the students and even administrators have resolved a major philosophical dispute and have written down intentions, expectations, and a democratic structure the door is wide open to greater reform of the decentralized student government network that has resulted in chaos and confusion among students and the power grab by administrators.

What should be clear is this was a necessary first step toward meaningful reform as it has laid the bedrock upon which shared governance can now grow.

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hmmm, Jan 24, nearly a month after this posting, and i still get to be the first comment? i guess people just aren’t as enthusiastic as ralph is.

speaking of timing, one wonders wtf ralph is doing posting this award to himself a day after xmas? perhaps jacob marley kicked him out? quite sad really.

having said all that, rarely, if ever in my life, have i read such a self-congratulatory unabashedly blowhard boasting pat on one’s back as this! perhaps ralph, you should consider a course in humility? one simply can’t help but be taken aback by how great you think this thing is you’ve done… now, normally i love it when someone acts gregariously and larger than life and boasts about their giant manhood, but one fears that in your case you are actually serious?

frankly, its quite off putting and distasteful.

but none of that is the substantive part of the issue, is it? so lets look past your solo high fives and actually critique what you’re claiming.

you start by saying:

“Another stride towards shared governance was completed…” and clearly then, you and i agree that true “shared governance” is and should be the goal of the student body vis a vis penn state admin.

i also hope we share the same idea of what the term means. in layspeak, i would define it as meaning a situation where admin, faculty, and students have equal say over macro policies and the mission of the university, extending into broad ideas about how the mission and policies are to be enacted.

a good overview of the concept can be found here:


in any case, so far so good, yes?

i would also hope that we would agree that however woefully ineffective and awful USG was, and it was in fact worse than that, it at least existed legitimately and represented shared governance principles in some sense, yes?

finally, and most importantly, i hope we agree that exercising total control of our own SAF is paramount as to our own self rule, and as an indicator of the admin’s respect for shared governance, yes?

so the question comes in when your claim that a “stride” towards achieving this goal via upua constitutional brik a braking is an accurate one.

there is at heart here, a definite philosophical difference of opinion between ralph and i. he seems to believe you can turn chicken shit into chicken salad, and i disagree. i’ll expound on this in a moment, but first i want to say that this is strictly a point of strategic dispute between us, not at all personal, and so i in no way let his snivelling, whining, bloviating, boot licking, admin enabling, self glorifying persona influence what i say here.

seriously, i think ralph thinks he’s on the right path, that he is working from the inside, doing what he can do.

the problem is it just isn’t true. he has deluded himself, and he deludes anyone who listens to him, and in his defense, i am sure he is ignorant and unaware that he is lying to himself and anyone who listens. its a real shame, b/c i do, in all honesty, think his heart is in the right place… just as i’m sure neville chamberlain did. (any relation to jay?)

the heart of the issue, as i told ralph (any relation to the piano playing muppet?) in email, is that upua is not legitimate, (remember – triponey and the shameless traitor galen foulke created it out of thin air) and even if you could somehow make it legitimate, you still HAVE NO LEVERAGE with the administration, and YOU NEVER WILL as long as this is the way you try to gain it.

Lets keep in mind, that this is the same ralph, (who some of you may recall) ‘didn’t think it was a big deal’ for our own school’s admin to secretly plot a “spontaneous” STUDENT response on facebook by their toady of choice, jay “neville” chamberlain, to the virginia tech debacle. so egregious was this bill mahon et al orchestration, that the collegian, the cdt, and even dear old safeguardoldstate, OF WHICH RALPH IS A PART, published the story as a scandal, (and rightly so since now all future “spontaneous” student acts will now be suspect as admin PR prompted, except of course for galen foulke “spontaneously” creating upua)…

and what was ralph’s infamous take on it via rfps? it was just “admin advice.” direct quote, and he forcefully repeated that stance.

so yes, ‘admin apologist’ and ‘admin enabler’ do apply by playing in the upua sandbox that THE ADMIN THEMSELVES CREATED, NOT THE STUDENTS, and also by coming to their defense when their blatantly patronizing attitude towards students is diplayed, are then indeed accurate descriptions for ralph mouth.

ralph says he can bring back shared governance by working from the inside, by playing ball, by “queering the system.” bullshit. all he is doing is WASTING TIME, and wasting others energy.

you HAVE NO LEVERAGE. what do all these changes, however good they may be on whatever abstract level you conceive them to be good, how do they give you leverage? how do they change the systemic pattern and issue at hand, which is that students are totally and completely systematically disempowered and disenfranchised by admin ON PURPOSE?

ralph you’re trying to play checkers when the admin are playing chess, you don’t have a chance in hell with this strategy! don’t bring a spork to a gun fight!

as i said to you before, get your head out of your ass and realize that you can’t do anything MEANINGFUL that will last even a year “from the inside.” Begging and bargaining are not one and the same and he should realize all his efforts are essentially begging to bargain. Its weak and pathetic. What leverage does he have? The homeless are more powerful.

i have no beef with gail hurley, (she is in fact, imo, honest and forthright), but lets call the situation for what it is… she is a placeholder until PSU decides on her replacement, starting next fiscal year, about 6 moths from now. she can’t do squat for you and so she’ll let you do whatever makes you happy while stopping short of making any actual commitments or promises beyond her tenure. i mean, how are you confident in ANY of these things that you do lasting longer than a fart in a hurricane?

the new person could come in and just as easily as triponey swept away the decades long [longer even?] tradition of USG without hardly a whimper, could wad up your sparkling brand new “constitution,” wipe their giant ass with it, and flush it down the toilet! it wouldn’t even make a sound, let alone clog the drain.

and even if they don’t, even if they are reasonable, what makes you think anything you’ve done helps students or somehow brings back legitimacy to true actual shared governance here at psu? where do you get off thinking that?

even if the new person WANTED to do that, the corruption at psu is so severe in my estimation, that he/she would not be allowed to.

lets remember, this isn’t just about “student government” which in recent years was hijacked by nerds and dorks and special interests and oppression politics and kids wanting to pretend they were their national counterparts and that they had power of some sort… these kids couldn’t even pass themselves off as harry potter’s sister, thats how limp their wands were…

what this really and truly is all about, and has ALWAYS BEEN about, IS MONEY $$$.

as i detailed in my “follow the money” post on this very site, students have NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER over their own SAF. do you think ralph you can trick the admin into suddenly giving you that power over our money back??? do you think you can trick them into giving you the power of true shared governance back if they don’t want you to have it? and why would they? you guys beg and whine BUT YOU NEVER BITE. you’re like a bunch of little girls arguing over hopscotch. do you think you can beg for your life from your executioner?

the bottom line is that whatever your intentions, good or not, you enable the admin by playing along in their sandbox, you’re singing their tune. upua is THEIR BABY, NOT YOURS. and you’re all to happy to squat in it.

you have no leverage with them, and at this rate, you never will. you thinking the constant whine of your bitching matters to them?

you have done nothing to secure control of the FAB, and thats the big enchilada. shared governance STARTS with that. student gov’t is first, just the necessary body required to make the SAF function properly and legitimately.

if upua died tomorrow a grisly death, no students would even notice or care!

the only way to get what the student body deserves is to FIGHT FOR IT LIKE A MAN, (or to be PC, a big balled butch woman), and take PSU on IN THE COURTS.

short of doing that, you’re just a little doggie barking up the wrong tree.

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