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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Student Groups Without Advisers To Be Dissolved

Yet another policy put in place by Vicky Triponey during her time as Vice President for Student Affairs is coming back to bite the students of Penn State University. You see, when Vicky created the bloated “Center for Student Engagement” a few years ago, she implemented a policy that prohibited any new student clubs from forming unless a faculty or staff adviser agreed to supervise the activities of the club.

Any student organizations that existed prior to this policy change in 2004, though, were grandfathered in and not required to maintain an adviser in order to exist through Penn State. Unfortunately, I’ve learned from a source in the Office of Student Affairs that this will all be changing when the fall semester hits.

Beginning this fall, all student organizations will be required to take on an adviser in order to maintain their student as “officially recognized” student groups at Penn State. Now, a good many of the roughly 500 or so active student clubs at University Park were chartered prior to this 2004 rule change by Triponey. How will this process of forced-advising work? Is it really something that will benefit the student clubs?

I don’t believe that forcing students to essentially obtain a permission slip from a faculty elder to start a student organization is necessarily a good idea. Students need to be able to continue to define leadership themselves, surely with the help and advice of faculty, but not through an administrative department like the Office of Student Affairs imposing its will upon the students and faculty alike.

If the students and the faculty are to have a healthy relationship together, that relationship must evince itself naturally on campus, and have grown organically out of a sense of respect for our faculty, out of a desire for more learned mentors; out of the students’ pure desire to learn from and be further educated outside the classroom by their professors and teaching instructors.

This policy, unfortunately, was most likely put into place as a means of further control over both students and faculty by an administrative body in Student Affairs. The purpose is control, but a pleasant by-product of this control is that Student Affairs can now seem ever more relevant, as their department is now required to certify clubs as “official” or to reject them as non-compliant.

Before Student Affairs took student club registration from the now defunct Undergraduate Student Government (USG), it was students alone who recognized and registered the clubs and initiatives of their peers. By taking this out of students’ hands under Dr. Triponey’s realm, the administration has done great harm to what was once a more student friendly area of campus in the HUB-Robeson Center.

The adminstration should abandon its plan of forced advising for the good of the students and faculty alike, and it should ultimately hand over student club registration and discipline to the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) so that students can once again learn how to govern themselves and be more independent, spirited leaders.

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