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Trustees Discuss Alcohol, Money, and Other Things

President Graham Spanier, was given the floor first to give a quick update on the University. Among other things, he highlighted the fact that applications for admissions were up at about 115,000 applicants. Not to mention, application increases were seen in Penn State’s graduate, law, and med schools.

Spanier concluded his address with the premiere of his State of the University Address. While some may not agree, when the lights came on, the entire room gave Spanier a giant congratulatory applause.

The next item on the agenda was Penn State and it’s drinking problem. Damon Sims, co-chair of the Partnership-Campus and Community United Against Dangerous Drinking, recalled some of this past year’s unwanted alcohol-related publicity. The Board was reminded of the tragic death of Joe Dado, the This American Life broadcast, and the hullabaloo of State Patty’s Day.

Along with Sims, was a panel of four others, including student representative and IFC President, Max Wendkos. The group addressed the room with an in-depth, 30-component strategy that emphasizes such areas as education, enforcement, and intervention.

Here are some highlights from their plan of action:

-Eliminating Senior Week: Cutting the time between finals and Commencement (essentially your last week of freedom and no responsibility) in attempts to downsize the amount of bar tours.

-Mandatory BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) Participation for all students cited for on and off campus alcohol violations, or treated at Mt. Nittany Hospital for alcohol-related emergencies, oh, and it’ll cost you $200.

-ALL off-campus underage consumption or possession charges will go to Judicial Affairs.

-Parents will be notified in any underage alcohol violation.

-Breathalyzers: For anyone removed from a football game for alcohol-related reasons won’t be allowed in at other games without first passing a breathalyzer test.

-Responsible Action Protocol: Students who contact the appropriate authority when “seeking medical assistance for peers suffering from alcohol-related problems” will not face University judicial action, but will be required to attend BASICS.

-More Po-Po downtown.

-Raised court fines.

And the list, as ambitious and excessive as it is, goes on.

After the discussion of alcohol abuse concluded, committee members from the Board came up to discuss other areas of business. Renovations for patrons with disabilities at Beaver Stadium plans were approved. Construction of the new Bio-behavioral Health Building, near Old Main Lawn, has just started. And, at upcoming commencement ceremonies, honorary degrees will be awarded to Norman R. Augustine, Wolf Blitzer, Ronald Ehrenberg, and Linda Greenhouse.

Penn State’s 2011-12 budget plans were voted on as well. The University is asking the Commonwealth for a 5%, or $17.2 million, support increase. If they are able to meet the University’s budgetary needs, it is expected that at branch campuses, tuition will go up 2.9% for in and out-of-state students. While , at University Park, in-state tuition will go up 4.9%, and out-of-state 3.5%. Even though it sucks to hear about the increase next year, Spanier promised, “…to strive to cut costs where we can.”

As the meeting neared adjournment, Spanier approached the podium to make one final announcement. The air in the room was excited as G-Span, back facing the room, slid on a Penn State Hockey jersey, and called Terrence and Kim Pegula to the front.

Spanier announced the Pegula’s had donated $88 million, “the largest private gift in the Univeristy’s history,” to “fund a state-of-the art, multi-purpose arena” and help establish an NCAA Division I men and women’s ice hockey team. The entire room rose and applauded in gratitude the extremely generous Pegulas.

And that concludes the Fall 2010 Board of Trustees meeting.

How are you feeling about the efforts to curb the alcohol problem?

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