Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Critical Moment at Penn State

We heard in latest news (CNN.com) that Penn State's accreditation status has been placed on review and the University has been served a warning by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Excerpt from the CNN article: "The commission also said it had insufficient evidence that Penn State officials had followed commission rules about how schools are to be governed and whether it had provided "accurate, fair and complete information" about what was happening at the school, according to the letter.
The commission asked Penn State to report by September 30 on the steps it is taking to ensure full compliance with accreditation requirements, as well as information about the school's financial capacity to meet ongoing obligations considering the potential fallout from civil lawsuits expected over the scandal. " 

Some things have be be taken into account as we delve into this. 
1. this is a warning prompting the University to ongoing as well future steps that establish integrity and accountability.

2. The University already took some actions to dig deep into the cover up by hiring an independent commission headed by Mr. Freeh and co. 

Some of the discussions on online message boards and facebook state that:

 "People in the highest office SHOULD be punished" but also that " current students and alumni just have to deal with the unfortunate situation of going to school at a place where this happened."

When people say that "those responsible for cover up should be punished".

That should mean people in those offices when the crimes and cover up occurred, not any new higher ups who are here to clean the house. Based on my understanding of the US legal system, unless specific actions of those individuals could be proven (the perjury to grand jury trials are going to be held soon) the blame falls on the University overall. 

However, attacking individual students and alums (verbally or god forbid physically) is the equivalent of US tourists being harassed?attacked elsewhere for some (wrong) foreign policy decisions of the Congress or the President. At least, citizens have a say in selecting the Congress every few years. Students have no say in selection of the Upper Mgmt or Board of trustees. The alumni have a small amount of control over selection of some board of trustees..

That is the only way things can change. Also, regarding accreditation being revoked, I find a huge disconnect in that punishment. I would agree if just punishment is handed to the officials who were in charge, after culpability is established. Otherwise, it just affects new students - who are 10 years removed from the crimes and at least 1-2 years removed from the final of the cover ups. 

So if the 43k (actually it is 96k over all campuses) want to save their a$$, they need to ensure accountability at the top level. however, it has to be team work with the management respecting the students' voices all the more and the students should rally to provide useful contributions, than just a few thousand rioting to voice displeasure.

For too long, at Penn State the students were afraid or too reverential of their higher ups. Now, the higher ups have to be afraid of the students and be more accountable. 

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