Voting Begins Today on Crucial Trustee Election

On November 9th, 2011, the Penn State Board of Trustees made a decision — a decision that we all remember, a decision that was widely understood nationally, a decision that incited anger locally.

We are now five months removed from that decision made in the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel. Today, thousands of Penn State alumni are faced with a similar leadership decision. Alumni could cast ballots for the three open alumni seats beginning at 9 am this morning. A record turnout is expected for this spring’s Board election and rightly so; many in the Penn State community simply do not trust many University leaders at this time. Honestly, I can’t blame them after this fall’s debacle and several unanswered promises.

One of the remarkable things about this year’s election is the sheer amount of interest in the decisions. A record 86 alumni have submitted their candidacy for this year’s election. 25 alumni ran in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 elections combined. It’s tremendous that we have 86 people willing to progress the University through these difficult times. However, after reading through several of their platforms, a common question has prevailed for me: are some people running with the primary motive to vindicate Joe Paterno?

If so, this is a problem.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen many of the candidates take a stance that will attempt to make the Board repent their November decision if elected. There have been videos explaining Joe’s tragic downfall and platforms built around how the choice was made. Honestly, more power to them. I don’t have an issue with that pursuit. I’m not writing to argue whether the Paterno family deserves and apology or not. I’m also not here to debate the process in which Joe Paterno was relieved of his duties. I’m here to explain to alumni that voting for certain candidates based on the fact that they promise to vindicate Joe Paterno from the Board is simply pointless and nonsensical.

Listen, I love the late Joe Paterno as much as the next Penn Stater, I really do. Many of you will contend that whole situation was handled poorly and that’s fine. But voting three alumni into powerful positions with the hopes of gaining sympathy from the Board is mindless and essentially useless. Although I understand there are still thousands that would relish seeing the Board formally apologize to the Paterno family, selecting alumni with a primary motive to seek a formal apology from the Board is not what is best for Penn State in the long-run. Since alumni trustee seats are held for three year terms, pollers must consider not only the near future, but the days in the distance as well.

Voting for candidates that mainly wish to restore the honor of the late Joe Paterno would be a short-term gain given the plethora of enduring concerns that are plaguing our University. Currently, there are several urgent issues at Penn State that extend far beyond Joe Paterno. State appropriations, the ever-increasing tuition costs, and external transparency of the administration are all hot topics going into today’s election. Thankfully, a majority of the candidates have given those topics the appropriate attention. The aforementioned issues are the areas that will shape the future of Penn State. They cannot be neglected.

As a student who cannot vote (that’s a conversation for a another day), I urge you, Penn State alumni, to vote for the candidates that you feel have the best plan going forward for Dear Old State. Yes, we do miss our former Penn State patriarch and he is never to be ignored; however, I can not verbalize how is urgent that the three best people fill those seats on the Board.

And here, today, Penn State alumni find themselves in a similar situation. Five months after the events in November, an important leadership decision is looming. This time, the decision is yours.

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About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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