It makes me very proud to say that I attended the 50th Encampment. This is a very big step being taken by UPUA (led by Greg Tallman on the Encampment front) to once again open ties between town, gown and the faculty. At Encampment, we discussed very important matters with some distinguished speakers. We also got free shirts!
So, what exactly is Encampment? It was started during the tenure of President Milton Eisenhower and sought to unite students, faculty and administrators. The Encampment program was initially started to gain student involvement to solve administrative problems in an intimate setting under a policy where no official titles would apply. Through this policy, Eisenhower hoped that students, faculty, and administrators could come together and understand each other’s roles at the University and how to bring together everyone’s passions to make Penn State a better place.
Here were some of the distinguished speakers at Encampment:
- Dr. Jeremy Cohen
- Joe Battista
- Mayor Elizabeth Goreham
- State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
Student leaders broke off into smaller groups to spend time with each speaker. We both learned about the speakers’ roles in the community and educated them about our roles. Joe Battista spoke to us about the importance of alumni and family feeling here at Penn State. Through his great examples, he showed how the huge alumni network of Penn State works to everyone’s advantage, even long after you have left Penn State.
Dr. Jeremy Cohen stressed how students may get involved and get to know members of faculty. This would allow students to both progress in their education and acquire tools to help succeed later in life.
Mayor Goreham explained the perspective of local residents to the students and held a very active discussion with student leaders to further her understanding of the Penn State student culture. She also brought along a notepad and attempted to figure out how the Borough Council may be able to include students and make them feel more like citizens to the town where they reside for majority of the year.
Lastly, State Representative Kerry Benninghoff spoke to us about the importance about remaining active in our local community. He stated that once we get into jobs and acquire leadership roles in the future, it is up to us as leaders to increase the prosperity of the rest of the community around us.
We then broke off into various groups, in which we got to meet people from different organizations and discuss broad topics, such as changing ourselves, our student organizations, and what it means to be involved. I can attest to the fact that these tables were very diverse with executives from groups like the Clown Nose club, UPUA, and Asian Pacific American Caucus being a part of each discussion.
After a break for lunch we got to listen to speeches by President Keirans and the two candidates running for presidency. We also met with three very different groups on campus: Valley Magazine, Eco-Action, and Asian Pacific American Caucus. Each organization shared with the various student leaders the secret behind their successes and how to weed out failures. The day culminated with a discussion about the Penn State community and what sort of legacy we as student leaders would like to leave behind. This was also done in very small groups in order to maximize participation.
Encampment is probably one of the most important traditions at Penn State, and I would like to thank Greg Tallman and his team for revitalizing this. If you are a student leader or someone who is concerned about the future for Penn State and would like to have a say in how our community is run, then you should highly consider registering for the Encampment for next year. This is truly a fantastic experience. Hopefully it can once again become a 3-day retreat in future years, instead of just an 8-hour event.