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Penn State Lives…In A Cave

After I wrote last week — mostly tongue-in-cheek — about Penn State’s archaic internet linking shutdown, I received a few emails from folks inside Old Main offering up their own favorite silly Penn State policies. By a large margin, Policy HR34, subsection Other Time Off, #3, sec 5, was the most mentioned. The HR policy stipulates that Penn State employees may receive paid time off, so long as they’re engaged in the emergency rescue of someone trapped in a cave AND are a member of an established spelunking club.

The policy reads:

“The full pay of an employee shall be paid during the time spent by the employee during the employee’s regular work hours when engaged in an organized emergency rescue of someone trapped in a cave, provided the employee is a member of an established spelunking club or organization and the rescue activity is in the area in which the employee’s campus or center is located. (See note below.)”

So what about kayaking accidents, climbing falls, or lost hikers? If, by chance, a Penn State employee were to happen upon any of these other sorts of emergencies on the way to work, would it be permissible for them to stop and lend a helping hand, or would they be forced to channel their inner-Dick Vermeil?

According to Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz, emergency cave rescues are unique because firefighters, police, or other civil organizations might not have the special skills necessary to assist in such a rescue. That’s why spelunkers get a special distinction in Penn State’s HR policy; firefighters and police officers are already covered in other sections of the code.

“If there were some extraordinary event that presented extenuating circumstance where regular employees need to go out and perform these public safety duties, HR or the president surely would be able to grant them an exemption,” Mountz wrote. “In the instance of caving, a rescue likely would require people with special skills not always readily available to police/fire and that’s where the spelunking clubs come in. This policy, as I see it, actually endeavors to cover more possible scenarios for which an employee’s services might be needed, giving University employees as much latitude as practical in helping to serve their local communities.”

So, now you know. If you ever find yourself trapped in a cave, you never know when a Penn Stater might show up to help — at full compensation!

Know of any other silly Penn State policies? Send them my way to [email protected] (anonymity is guaranteed) or leave them in the comment section.

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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