Blue and White Print Outlines Ideas for Change
Walking around campus this week, you may have seen copies of the “Blue and White Print: A Plan for the Future of The Pennsylvania State University” lying around for students to pick up. The nifty 16-page booklet includes suggestions for improvement in five aspects of university life including tradition, academics, shared governance, Board of Trustees, and student government.
The document was published without an author — although it’s not hard to figure out what group on campus operates anonymously, exhibits strong Penn State pathos, and is concerned with university governance. But the point of the document is not the “who” but the “what.”
“The Blue and White Print is a call to Penn State’s students, alumni, educators, and administrators to transition their focus onward to the future,” the author(s) write in the forward. “The key to Penn State’s success will not come from retribution against the Board of Trustees or the NCAA, nor from the return of Joe Paterno’s wins and courtroom settlements. It can only come from a unified dedication to improving all aspects of the university. From administrators to students there are things we can all do to ensure that Penn State moves forward.”
It includes mostly vague, unquantifiable — but certainly valid — recommendations like “Penn Staters must hold a reverence for the history of the university but a progressive viewpoint for the future,” and “Penn Staters must be the change,” along with some more measurable requests, like “Replace two Governor-appointed Board of Trustee members with faculty members, immediately,” and “Administration-Student relations should not be limited to “student-leaders”. The University President and Vice President of Student Affairs should conduct monthly meetings with randomly selected students.”
While I am a fan of the document’s Oxford Comma use, it’s not yet clear what impact it will have. Not including the forward, the first edition of Blue and White Print contains less than 2,000 words, or roughly 3-4 pages on Microsoft Word. It’s impossible to outline any meaningful change in that brevity, let alone for an institution as complex as Penn State.
The spirit of the document is well-taken though. Penn State is indeed in an “enviable position,” and one that should be leveraged to foster meaningful change. We need a legitimate student government. Our faculty should have more say in how the university is governed instead of the ramshackle Faculty Senate. Tradition is something every Penn Stater should grow to know and love (and no I’m not talking about restoring Sweet Caroline).
I don’t know if this will be a one time thing or a recurring publication, but you can read the first Blue and White Print below.