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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

UPUA Enacts Key Plank of The Roadmap for Change

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) enacted a key plank of Safeguard Old State’s report issued last September, The Roadmap for Change in Student Affairs.

I had the opportunity to present legislation for the student government to consider, to which five of the student representatives signed on before it was considered by the UPUA Assembly of Representatives. After rather heated debate about just how transparent student elections should be, the student government voted overwhelmingly to enact The Open Voter Records Act of 2008.

Specifically, this followed up on the final point of the Safeguard Old State Roadmap:

16. Administrative Transparency & Accountability in Student Elections – For all electronic votes by the student body (UPUA, ARHS, and UPAC elections, referenda, etc. – vote.psu.edu), a complete list of the user ids for every student who voted must be published no later than 24 hours following the closing of the polls. This model is no different than what is used for every local, state, and national election in the country, and it further fosters an atmosphere of transparency, one that lends an air of legitimacy to the election process and combats any perception of impropriety.

We are generally pleased with the efforts of the representatives in student government over the past year. While it should go without saying, there is always room for improvement.

Fundamentally, too much blind trust in administrative policies remains in the “student leader” mindset on-campus. Coupled with the fact that the vast majority of alumni and trustees are blinded to the most vital issues and threats to Penn State University by this administration, this is a potentially deadly threat for everything that the students in the UPUA have worked diligently for over the course of this past year through the restructuring of the government in their constitutional changes and their external efforts to improve student life on ticket sales and fees.

President Spanier has acted from day one with a blank check for accruing ever-greater power in Old Main, and until a student leader returns to campus that understands and lives the example of the “two presidents” model — the idea first articulated by Penn State President Walker that the University President and Student Body President were, in fact, equals — then Dr. Spanier will continue to treat his job as merely a corporate executive than a University shepherd.

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I enjoy hearing of the mindset of President Walker, but I guarantee you Graham Spanier would never deign to “lower” himself to that. As it is, he enjoys far more power than there is any wisdom in allowing him to keep, charging roughshod over the backs of students to whatever end he feels like. Change would be greatly welcomed, but until the administration is changed over to a better one, things are only likely to get worse.

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