We’re Down With OPP

Student activism is both the sign of a healthy university and of a malfunctioning one. That’s why this year has been so confusing.

To recap: Graham said that student activism is dead, but then decided not to meet with the student activists who were staging a peaceful demonstration mere feet from his office about Russell Athletic’s unethical labor practices at a Honduran plant. The university dragged its feet on the issue, announcing it had signed a contract with Knights Apparel, but waiting to see how the Russell situation would play out before making up its mind. It has only made significant statements on the issue in the past week, after a number of other universities had already acted. It was then that Penn State put Russell Athletic on probation.

All this paints a dismal picture of student activism at Penn State. There’s hope though.

Onward State accompanied Eco-Action to a meeting it was holding with OPP (Office of the Physical Plant) about the Kleer-Cut Campaign. In short, the meeting focused on how to best position Penn State in its switch to a more renewable paper source as its contract with Kimberly-Clark nears its end.

We were expecting a frustrating meeting of passion on one side and corporate doublespeak on the other. Instead, what we saw was a genuine collaboration between two groups with slightly different missions, but similar ideals. We won’t get into specifics here– the conversation got pretty wonky, including one nice discussion about how best to test the different toilet paper options– but it was cool to see. Paul Ruskin, the Communications Coordinator for OPP, even brought tea for the group.

Though nothing really got decided at the meeting, the two groups did come up with a framework for long-term collaboration between Eco-Action and OPP in the transition to more renewable paper sources.

Take a look at the pictures– it was a cool trip.

About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters. Now at Fusion.


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