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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Why Not A Student Mayor?

The current Mayor of State College, Bill Welsh will have his term end in 2009, In a borough where in student dominated districts there are over 10,000 students registered to vote, I ask why not a student for Mayor.

Collegian Picks up story- Student Mayor.

In looking at the Mayor’s Welcome on the State College borough website, he makes it known the fact that State College is more than half students. In a city whose economy is dependent on students, why do we have such little power?

In the last election in which Welsh won, he accumulated a whopping total of 2,506 votes. This may seem like a tough number to beat, but all it would require is matching the number that many past student government Presidential Candidates have garnered for a student to win.

To win, we as students would need to come together as a collective whole in order to promote one candidate. It would not need to be a party affiliation, but rather the right ideals that are designed to encompass the betterment of all students.

I propose running one student every four years for Mayor. Have a caucus between all the political groups on campus, the student governments (CCSG, GSA and UPUA), the minority and LGBT groups and any other influential groups on campus.

Choose one candidate and work on an epic campaign to get students registered to vote in State College.

The process could start this year in 2008 being that is a Presidential election year. Focus on freshman, sophomores and juniors. Then come 2009, those people will already be registered to vote.

All you would then need is to ensure students show up. In two years I truly believe that we could get 3,000 votes which would be more than enough to win. There are over 40,000 undergrads and graduate.

If about seven percent of them vote for a student candidate, then we could take back our rights in the borough.

All the student government elections may be important, but they would mean nothing compared to having control over real government.

Penn State may not be a Student Centered University, but State College sure as hell would be with a Student Mayor.

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Note: The Safeguard Old State Executive Staff does not moderate the comments posted by the public to blog entries. The comments of Safeguard Old State readers do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Safeguard Old State.

Comments

I assume some type of investigation into the election law would need to occur. A massive portion of the students claim their permanent address is in some other area, right? I know I’m fro out of town and I’m registered elsewhere, even though I’m here for maybe half the year. I vote via absentee ballot.

Naturally, though, a campaign that got a majority of PSU students behind it would be a force to be reckoned with even if those students couldn’t vote. Perhaps a partnership with State College High? A big pool of potential (or soon-to-be) voters, right there.

I think a student Mayor would be perfect to tip the balance of power in this town towards the students. It would give us a little leverage on Old Main as far as getting our voices heard, and it would also be a beneficial lesson to those in political power who deem it acceptable to run roughshod over the interest of the greater part of their constituents. I think that most of the residents would be exceedingly infuriated by such a turn of events, but the bottom line is, if all the students vanished tomorrow, their town would not exist.

I think you underestimate your power in the community. The students do monopolize and rule this town. Being an alum and a resident of State College, I find it disturbing that you would like to control more.

Run for a borough council position if you want to effect change but only if you plan on being here ALL YEAR LONG. The fact of the matter is that most students leave town when semesters end. Only some stay to take summer classes, most are off doing internships or back home with their families. Surprisingly enough, this town continues on without you. Bars and businesses are slower. The buses do not operate on full service. And overall, the town is quieter apart from that “Arts Fest.” Certain things have happened over the years which led to current policy.

I encourage you to take some time and try to view this situation from the resident’s viewpoint. Make this your permanent address and register to vote here. Pay the taxes.
We live here year round, we pay our taxes here, our children go to school in this town, and to suggest that our voice does not count because we are not a majority is severe hypocrisy.
And as I read on, I think most of your ideas are based on snobbish intolerance for those who are not like you.

[…] for instance, the comments of one local resident on Gavin Keiran’s Safeguard Old State blog post on the subject: I think you underestimate […]

Kate,

As someone who did register to vote in Centre County, made his permanent residence in Centre County, and was employed by Penn State for nearly two years, I humbly suggest that “snobbish intolerance” can best be seen in policies like the “Three Unrelated” ordinance and the increase in rental taxes which disproportionately affected students. Moreover, comments from the “real” permanent residents, i.e. who hold the same anti-business, anti-student views as Elizabeth Goreham, publicly refer to students as “miscreants”.

Certain things HAVE happened over the years which have led to a decidedly anti-student policy. Students, when treated like disfavored children, have acted like children. But when students have acted in a civically engaged manner, like when USG members gave both principled and pragmatic opposition to the installation of surveillance cameras in Beaver Canyon, council members didn’t just disagree. They flagrantly ignored all opposing comments, and sneered their disrespect.

Kate, I think it’s very telling that you would actually believe a student would run for council and not stay to fulfill his duties. Perhaps you should also admonish us to stay out jail, do our homework, and refrain from illicit drugs. Students, unfortunately, have become so accustomed to paternalistic and economically exploitative policies that many ARE now unfit for meaningful civic participation. You can only call John Student a drunken, good-for-nothing lout, tax him to death, and go out of your way to ostracize him from the “permanent” community so many times before Johnny becomes…a drunken, antisocial lout who bears a grudge against “permanent” residents.

I’m sorry that your interactions with students appear to be all negative. Perhaps you’ve only seen the drunken children tailgating or carousing on a Saturday night on Calder Way. As an alum, I’m not proud that THAT is the perception of students for some people. But students also run THON, various student government organizations, and are incredibly active in local politics. Students attend the churches, work in the businesses, and contribute to the local organizations that make State College my favorite place in the world. And yes, I think many of those students could run State College far more effectively than the current disastrous crew, particularly in regard to economic progress and a basic understanding of local development principles. One need only look at the Fraser Street debacle to see that wisdom does not necessarily flow from age.

I am glad that you visited the site, and hope that SOS has earned your readership and continued engagement with students on the topic of civic and community participation.

Well put, Andy. As someone who has spent time on both the Town and Gown sides of this issue, I do understand the reluctance of many borough residents to embrace the idea of student participation in the political process. That said, your arguments are not only well-formulated, they are also correct.

I have observed that in Happy Valley, the residents’ attitude toward the students and University in general (dismissive at best, bigoted at worst) often plays the “cart” to the undergraduates’ behavioral “horse.” And just like in the old saying, the order of the two is often confused.

A perfect case in point can be found in one of the examples you cite above: “Students attend the churches… ” Yes, they do, unless they happen to be Catholic students. Who can forget the embarrassing, two-year court battle fought by College Heights residents to keep a Catholic church that would minister to PSU students out of their neighborhood, one that unquestionably validated your charges of unreasonable anti-student bias and raised the specter of religious intolerance? You reap what you sow.

So while Kate’s concerns do have merit, the knife cuts both ways.

[…] Mayor’s office or the Borough Council. This past week, SOS Executive Director Gavin Keiran’s ruminations on the subject were covered in The Daily Collegian here at Penn […]

i think kate is out of her mind and off her rocker.

i was surprised she didn’t just say “let them eat cake!”

kate says:

“I think you underestimate your power in the community. The students do monopolize and rule this town. Being an alum and a resident of State College, I find it disturbing that you would like to control more. ”

‘monopolize? rule?’ how? you say that without a single example.

‘disturbing?’ how? i find it disurbing thats how you view it. what are students, cannibals?

“Run for a borough council position if you want to effect change but only if you plan on being here ALL YEAR LONG. The fact of the matter is that most students leave town when semesters end. Only some stay to take summer classes, most are off doing internships or back home with their families. Surprisingly enough, this town continues on without you. Bars and businesses are slower. The buses do not operate on full service. And overall, the town is quieter apart from that “Arts Fest.” Certain things have happened over the years which led to current policy.”

first of all, the town gets by b/c the town knows we’ll be back. what are you trying to assert, that SC wouldn’t be another podunk nothing hickville in central PA without students? b/c thats lunacy. it wouldn’t even be a blip on the map without students.

secondly, you say “certain things” happened leading to the current policy…. well maybe certain policies led to certain things happening. chicken and egg. psu wasn’t always an alcohol haters paradise, and when it wasn’t, the problems weren’t as severe.

“I encourage you to take some time and try to view this situation from the resident’s viewpoint. Make this your permanent address and register to vote here. Pay the taxes.
We live here year round, we pay our taxes here, our children go to school in this town, and to suggest that our voice does not count because we are not a majority is severe hypocrisy.
And as I read on, I think most of your ideas are based on snobbish intolerance for those who are not like you.”

pot.
kettle.
black.

without PSU, there is NO 100 million dollar HS renovation. i’ve been a townie and i’ve been a student and i can say without hesitation that students are treated like a commodity both by people like you and some other indignant townies, and by PSU. all this article was suggesting is that students shouldn’t allow themselves to be treated like cash cows and should put a civic stake down, and maybe that would help curb attitudes like YOURS kate, that say its ok for the borough to call students miscreants, impose discriminatory leasing rules, and fight against student spiritual centers off campus.

fix the mirrors in your house kate, they’re all broken.

[…] office or the Borough Council. This past week, SOS Executive Director Gavin Keiran’s ruminations on the subject were covered in The Daily Collegian here at Penn […]

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