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Is Penn State Too Student-Friendly?

Jeff Kern of the CDT seems to think so. In his most recent column, he suggests that, like a good parent, Penn State needs to crack down on its wayward charges. Apparently Penn State has been codling students, reducing 8 a.m. classes and allowing 21-year-old students to have alcohol in their dorms.

A former Borough Council member, Mr. Kern cares about the State College community, and in the wake of recent events, he has decided Penn State needs to start punishing its student body for their bad behavior. Forget the fact that a majority of these students do not engage in risky behavior, you have to go after the whole lot to get your message across.

College should be like work, Mr. Kern suggests. Make classes early and mandatory, just like the office work week. Keep students who can drink legally from having alcohol in their dorms, because that will keep the underage kids, who are real problem, from drinking.

With his proposals, I believe Mr. Kern has shown a lack of understanding about the differences between college life and a career.

Most importantly, we’re paying for college. Students are not employees of the university, we are consumers of the services it offers. Kern also seems to be under the impression that classes are not mandatory. While there is no universal policy, most professors have worked out systems to encourage students to attend. In IST 110, you lose a letter grade for each class you miss beyond the second. In ECON 002, extra credit is offered to those who attend class. Students are then responsible for choosing how much they value their free time and weigh it against the various costs.

Adding extra 8 a.m. classes will also affect more than just students. Many professors commute long distances, and the difference between getting up at 6 a.m. versus 8 a.m. can make a difference in the quality of their teaching as well. As professors and students alike said in a Collegian article cited in the column, not everyone’s a morning person.

When it comes to alcohol in the dorms, turning Penn State into BYU also seems like a rather drastic recourse. Penn State is a drinking school with a football problem, but adding extra-legal restrictions on a small segment of the student body is not going to fix that.

It is a shame that the actions of a few have done so much to tarnish our standing with the community that individuals such as Jeff Kern feel the need to suggest such draconian measures. By the time next year’s party school rankings come out, I hope we’ve dropped a few (but not too many) places, lest the administration actually starts considering such proposals. Going out and getting plastered on State Patty’s or Cinco de State may seem like fun in the short term, but there are long term consequences that are far less appealing.

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About the Author

Nick Johnson

Nick is a junior majoring in IST (the Internet) and CAS (saying things). He hopes to one day get paid to do this, but for now he is willing to do it for the fame. Besides writing for Onward State, he also puts things on the Internet here.

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