Members of Safeguard Old State (SOS), an organization that prides itself in "preserving the best of Penn State's proud legacy for its students," met yesterday with interim vice president for Student Affairs Gail Hurley to discuss a proposed "Roadmap for Change."
SOS, which runs a blogging Web site, www.safeguardoldstate.org, submitted its proposed changes yesterday morning in a meeting.
The meeting included, in addition to Hurley, the assistant vice president of Housing and Food Services and Residence Life Stan Latta and Office of Judicial Affairs director Joe Puzycki.
The document, signed and submitted by Gavin Keirans, executive director of SOS, and his five associate directors -- Tom Shakely, advocacy initiatives; Mike Anderson, university relations; Annie Bontempo, alumni relations; Ralph Crivello, business and innovation; and Joe Veltre, student rights -- charts 16 student-centered issues the organization wants addressed.
Four of the issues involve the Student Activity Fee.
The document calls the fee "the biggest mistake of [former vice president of Student Affairs] Vicky Triponey's tenure."
"Today, students no longer control, or even allocate, their activity fee," it reads.
"It is clear at this point that with no control over ... the Student Activities Fee by [the current student government] that students do not have control over what, essentially, is a tax imposed on them."
UPAC allocates funds to student groups; it receives its allotment sum from the Funding Allocation Board (FAB).
FAB allotted $1,099,582 to UPAC for this year, which is $1 million less than has been allotted previous years.
This is the first year that UPAC was not the sole distributor of the Student Activity Fee.
FAB was originally developed by the Office of Student Affairs in January 2006 to allow more groups to use the Student Activity Fee as an alternative to fundraising. Crivello said the Student Activity Fee board's existence is "unprecedented," and no other Big Ten school has one.
The document requests that Hurley "hand absolute and total control" of the Student Activity Fee back to the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC); force UPAC to "make its budget entirely transparent and ... report [funds distributed];" and make the University Park
Undergraduate Association (UPUA) the last body "consulted on all policies of Student Affairs."
Phone calls made to Hurley, Puzycki and Latta were not returned as of press time yesterday.
Crivello said that though the meeting was productive, "you can't just snap your fingers and re-concentrate everything."
"The impression was it was a productive meeting," Crivello said. "[Hurley] was very attentive to the considerations we brought and very open-minded and ... interested in putting the best foot forward and really tackling the issues."
Keirans said that SOS recognizes that not each of the document's requests are guaranteed to be fulfilled.
"There's gonna be disagreement," he said.
"But at the same time, they respect us a lot to create such a detailed plan of action," he added.
SOS scheduled its meeting with Hurley immediately after she replaced Triponey, Keirans said.
"It is probably no big secret at this point that [SOS] ... opposed many of ... Triponey's policies," the document states.
"It is important to realize, however, that we do not inherently oppose administrators ... "
Keirans said the members of the administration were "open to dialogue."
"[They were willing to] move beyond this whole 'Timeline of Terror' thing, which is completely what we wanted as well," he said.
"This is definitely the beginning of a positive relationship."