Penn State President Rodney Erickson spoke to the UPUA and briefly took questions at the beginning of Wednesday’s legislative meeting. Erickson touched on a number of topics, most notably his disdain for our pseudo-holiday State Patty’s Day.
“One of the things that does concern me is State Patty’s Day and the potential adversity,” Erickson said. “The biggest thing that all of us can do is try to get other students and alums and think about what this does to the image of the University. The most important thing we can do is speak out against this, and think about what the implications are.”
Erickson also said he is still not aware of any student who has lost an internship or job opportunity as a result of the fallout from the Sandusky scandal. He told a great story about a student who recently went into a job interview and was inundated with questions about the scandal. “The interviewer wanted to talk about [the scandal]for the first twenty minutes. The student said ‘I’ve been here twenty minutes and you haven’t asked me about myself, I don’t think I want to work with you,’ and got up and left. I thought, ‘That’s a good way to handle it.'”
Transparency from the administration was also addressed, to which Erickson responded with the same stale answers he’s been giving for nearly three months. “I think the challenge of a University as big as Penn State is communication,” Erickson said. “This is an opportunity to seize the moment and for students to have their voices strongly heard.”
Perhaps more substantive was the announcement that all future Board of Trustees meetings would be streamed live, and available for viewing afterwards. The most recent BOT meeting on Friday was streamed online for the first time, following high demand from alumni. Erickson also reiterated that he wants to host at least one town hall meeting every semester throughout his presidency, where students can ask questions and get to know his administration.
After Erickson addressed a few budget concerns, Representative Brenden Dooley asked the final question, “Why do you love Penn State?” Erickson said that when he came to Penn State, he only planned on being here “maybe four or five years.” Then something changed. “There was something special about this campus and community, a lot of other universities you go to, the campus is intermingled with downtown and here it’s quite different. I’ve visited a lot of campuses around the country, and this is one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere in the world.”
He added, “There’s a sense of pride that everyone cares about each other. It all comes down tot he people. The longer you’re here and the longer you’re involved, the more you appreciate it.”
After Erickson finished, President T.J. Bard delivered a heartfelt statement on the life of Joe Paterno. “I can honestly say I don’t think there is any student body in this world or group of 100,000 people closer or more bonded than what we have been this last year,” Bard said. “[Paterno’s] values will live within the heart of Penn State forever.”
Bard also announced that UPUA would be hosting two more fireside chats with President Erickson, which will be held February 29th and March 26th this semester. He encouraged students to come for free food and “have dinner with the President.”
Bard, along with Academic Affairs Chair John Zang, will meet with new BOT chairwoman Karen Peetz and vice chairman Keith Masser on Thursday, marking the first time ever that board members will meet with members from UPUA in this setting. Bard hopes to address the issue of transparency and student influence in the board during the meeting.
The first order of business was electing the head of the elections committee. Chairwoman of the Assembly Kelly Terefenko was the only individual nominated, and was approved by a vote of 25-3. Terefenko is running on three main initiatives: to increase competition in elections, to increase voter turnout with publicity, and to create a more efficient transition process for new members.
Agricultural Science Representative Spencer Malloy then addressed changes to the 2012 election code, which would pass quickly and unanimously, a stark change from years past when the elections code was a source of much consternation. Several minor changes were recognized, including the process used to register polling places, a random name/category generator on the ballot, and requiring two full semesters in order to be eligible for the presidency.
Another interesting change was the allowance of any media organization to attend ballot counting. Previously, only the Daily Collegian was permitted to witness the counting process. As Malloy put it, “Even The School Phillly can show up if they want.” There was no mention if sobriety tests would be administered for media to attend, however.
Malloy was then nominated to be UPUA’s senator–the students’ representative to the faculty senate. Representative Eli Glazier praised Malloy with the following words: “He’s really smart, and I like him.” With that powerful endorsement from Glazier, there was no question of the outcome, and Malloy was approved unanimously, 30-0.
Representative Glazier also requested an official count on the number of iClickers that have been rented from UPUA. After an initial non-answer, it became known that only 61 of the 200 iClickers have been rented so far. If my math is correct ($6500 allotted for 215 clickers), that’s $4,202.33 of our money sitting there in the form of dormant plastic rectangles. At least we can wear sunglasses, right?
After Representative Elias Warren called for a moment of silence to honor Joe Paterno, the meeting was adjourned. Just another galvanizing week in student government!