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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Our Funds & The Student Programming Association

I’m on the Student Programming Association (SPA)’s mailing list, and I got this e-mail yesterday on a trip that has been set to New York City, specifically to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

From: spaevents@psu.edu
To: L-PS-SPA@lists.psu.edu
Date: Thur, Apr 3, 2008 at 5:34 PM
Subject: Few seats left for NYC TRIP

Still want to go to New York City and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art?  Well now is your chance to go!  Enjoy a round-trip bus ride to New York City for the day.  The bus will leave around 6:00am and return around midnight on Saturday, April 5th, 2008.  You will arrive for an exhibit at the Met but then will have the rest of the day to enjoy the rest of the city.  Tickets will be only $20 for University Park students (one ticket per ID).

The SPA NYC TRIP with Visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 10 seats left. If you would like to go or have friends that would like to go with you please stop by 230 HUB by 4pm to get those last seats.

Now, I don’t know how much money the folks in SPA are spending on this trip for interested students, but I do know that to charter a bus and subsidize the overall costs as much as they have, an amount at least in the low thousands has been allocated for this trip.

I don’t have a problem with trips like this being paid for with funds from the $68 per semester Student Activity Fee. What I do have a problem with, though, is that the SPA receives nearly $1 million of the nearly $3 million in annual activity fee dollars.

Out of more than 660 student organizations at Penn State University, this one programming focused club is awarded nearly a third of the entire student activity fee. Even further, there are no checks on how the money is spent, aside from the money specifically designated to fund Late Night Penn State, the weekend anti-drinking program that has failed from Day 1 in its mission of deterring underage drinking.

The SPA needs to be reformed to become at least marginally accountable to the student body. First, its leadership must be democratically elected by the entire student body, not appointed by administrators as the group is currently operates.

Second, in order to receive student activity fee dollars from the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC), they must prove that their programming initiatives from the previous year were successful, whether in terms of attendance or general efficacy. This is something that every other student organization must do when applying for student activity fee dollars from UPAC. SPA should not be treated any differently.

No matter what your view of the Student Programming Association is, it’s time that the group that spends nearly a third of our Student Activity Fee became accountable to all of us who pay their bills through the annual fee.

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