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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Professor Slams Spanier Over ‘Chronicle’ Article

Penn State President Graham Spanier wrote an article for the most recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “Is Campus Activism Dead – Or Just Misguided?” Mr. Spanier’s column has already drawn criticsm from United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) at Penn State, who feel they have been unfairly targeted on a national level.

In what has to represent a rather unique accomplishment for Mr. Spanier, I have heard over the past week harsh criticism of his views on activism expressed by citizens from across the political spectrum, from far left to right of center or moderate Penn Staters. Even the leftist Future Majority thinks his column “crashes and burns.”

Politics aside, though, another Penn Stater has chimed in to the debate today in The Daily Collegian. Anthropology professor Paul Durrenberger hits hard in his critique of Mr. Spanier:

Graham Spanier has criminalized student activism and made a mockery of the legal system by bringing exaggerated charges against members of the group United Students Against Sweatshops that forced students to spend time and money to defend themselves.

What other purpose could he have except to discourage student activism?

Aptly stated, Professor Durrenberger. Indeed, Mr. Spanier has only made things worse at Penn State a generation that has grown up in an all too litigious society. When students stayed in Old Main past closing hours to make a point about sweatshop labor and apparel production, Mr. Spanier chose police and lawsuits over dialog and conversaton about the nature of their activism.

Spanier has repeated ad nauseam that DSP doesn’t exist, but other university presidents share the delusion that it does, at least to the extent that they can write letters to support it. Didn’t he check?

The Penn State campus community, at this point, can only be left with the impression that Mr. Spanier knows many of his peers have signed on to support the creation of a Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), but frankly just doesn’t seem to give a damn.

No wonder campus activism at Penn State seems dead.

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