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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

‘Student Activities:’ What’s In A Name?

I received an e-mail earlier this week from administrators at Penn State in Student Affairs that unintentionally underscored the unimaginative thinking that is crippling our administrators and inflating the operating budgets of our University.

As President & General Manager of The LION 90.7fm, I receive updates on the “President’s Listserv” for all student groups at Penn State. In this week’s update, we received word that the Center for Student Engagement (CSE) and the Center for Student Activities & Programming (CSAP) are headed toward the dustbin of history in the Nittany Valley.

Student Organization Presidents Listserv Announcements: June 9, 2008
From: Brian Petrosky <bjp157@sa.psu.edu>
To: L-SOPRES@lists.psu.edu
Date: Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Dear Student Organization Presidents,
I am writing to let you know of some important changes that will take place over the summer that are important.  The first is that the Center for Student Engagement and the Center for Student Activities and Programs is being combined to form what will be called “Student Activities”.  The functions of both of these areas will not change immediately, just the name.

Keep in mind that these two departments didn’t exist 15 months ago, but quickly exploded across the second floor of the student union building — our HUB-Robeson Center — gobbling up more than five offices that were previously reserved for student clubs.

Indeed, many of the services now performed by salaried “Student Activities” administrators, such as student club registration and regulation, were performed at no cost the the student body by volunteer students through the now defunct Undergraduate Student Government (USG).

Perhaps this is Vice President for Public Information Bill Mahon’s idea of doing “more with less?”

Now, as newly appointed Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims arrival is imminent, the Triponey-created departments are quietly merged and renamed, wiping away some of the last vestiges — though only in name, unfortunately — of Vicky’s controversial time at Penn State.

At any other university, this would present a fine opportunity to examine the real worth of these departments in terms of fostering a genuinely student-centered environment. Penn State, though, has embraced its role as maverick of American public education, refusing to heed basic economics by leveraging certain economies of scale and consolidating the operation of these departments to give office space back to the students.

It was the students, after all, who are still directly paying the mortgage on the HUB-Robeson Center.

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