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SPA Releases Statement Responding To Racism Allegations

Penn State’s Student Programming Association (SPA) issued a statement Wednesday responding to a former volunteer’s allegations of racism against the organization.

“We believe the importance of taking accountability and reflecting upon the environment we create not only for the student we program for, but also for SPA’s members,” the organization wrote. “Upon our reflection, we recognize the lack of support given to this student and recognize their position’s unsustainable workload. Moreover, we also realize the environment that was created did not focus on ensuring inclusivity and that all voices were being heard.”

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To the Penn State community

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Additionally, SPA said it will continue working to promote diversity within its organization this year. It also plans to foster conversations about privilege, racism, and bias among its leadership team and implement new training techniques to help members better recognize issues within the organization.

“Racism in any capacity is unacceptable, and we apologize for the way our organization has contributed to the systems that allow this culture,” SPA said. “We are devoted to expanding beyond these primary steps in [an] effort to ensure that our revised goals and principles outlive the current administrative and executive board.”

Furthermore, SPA created an anonymous form to collect students’ feedback and help them voice any concerns or problems they may be having.

SPA’s statement comes after an anonymous student shared an anecdote on Black At Penn State’s Instagram page, which works to anonymously share Black students’ encounters with racism and discrimination on campus. The student alleged they were placed on “probation” after calling out purported discrimination within SPA and subsequently kicked out of the organization.

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Later that day, the alleged student in question anonymously provided additional details surrounding his experiences within the organization.

“I want to make clear that even though I had the best experience as a member and had fair moments as an admin,” the student shared. “I made clear to SPA numerous times about the toxic, isolating environment before we cut ties, and nothing seemed to work until it took me having a temporary backbone for them to see me as a threat. I’m also well aware that I’m not the only former black admin from SPA who feels this way.”

SPA hopes to invite more organizations and offices around campus, especially ones that will help it connect with minority groups, to be a part of the programming process to provide diversity and inclusion.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a junior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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