Thirty-one students involved in a daylong sit-in to demand the university sign onto an anti-sweatshop labor program were arrested and charged with criminal trespass after refusing to leave Old Main when it closed at 5 p.m.
During the afternoon, Penn State President Graham Spanier sat in his office at 201 Old Main, while about 35 people chanted, clapped and danced while holding signs that insisted the university approve the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP).
Among the chants were "DSP what's that sound? Exploitation going down," "Sweatshop free is the way to be. Penn State needs the DSP" and "Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cause the power of the people don't stop. Say what."
The sit-in began at about 11 a.m. yesterday, and those involved were charged at about 5:30 p.m.
Ben Brewer (senior-Spanish), who was handcuffed and charged, said the protestors planned to stay there until Spanier "adopts the DSP or until he has us forcefully removed."
Vice President for University Relations Bill Mahon said last night he was pleased with the attitude of the protestors.
"It's great that they were willing to take a stance on important issues, but at the end of day we have a difference of opinion, and Penn State won't sign a blank legal document," Mahon said.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Philip Burlingame presented the protestors with a statement and information regarding the university's stance during the afternoon. Gail Hurley, interim vice president for Student Affairs, Bob Orndorff, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, and Stan Latta, assistant vice president of Housing, Food Services and Residence Life, accompanied Burlingame.
"We've been asked to hand out this statement that unfortunately says the university is not going to meet the demands and sign the DSP," Burlingame said.
Penn State Police made the arrests with the assistance of the State College Police Department. Officers from University Police referred all questions to university relations.
Various rallies and expressions of support occurred throughout the day on the Old Main lawn, along with the sit-in.
Burlingame told the protestors, before their arrest, that they would face disciplinary action if they did not leave after the building closed.
The university has many issues with the DSP including possible violations of anti-trust laws and the power of the DSP, Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
"We certainly endorse the principles that they advocate. We have worked for fair labor practices for over a decade," she said. "The DSP doesn't exist -- it's simply a discussion."
Spanier issued a statement in Friday's Daily Collegian about the DSP.
"We will continue to rely on the organizations to which we belong to advance this priority, such as the Fair Labor Association and the Worker Rights Consortium, the latter being the organization sponsoring discussions of the proposed Designated Supplier Program," Spanier wrote.
Brewer disputed Penn State's position as a leader in workers' rights issues. Brewer said 42 other universities and colleges, including Columbia and Cornell, have already signed the DSP.
"Penn State is looking at 43rd place, not exactly a leadership position," he said.
PJ Mollica, Class of 1971, who wore a peace sign pin on her shirt, visited her son, David Mollica, inside of Old Main as he contributed to the sit-in. She said she also protested on the lawn of Old Main in 1969 against the Vietnam War.
"If he gets arrested, I would be proud of him for standing up for what he believes in," she said.
In April 1988, another notable protest yielded similar results.
Thirty years ago, 88 protestors were arrested for trespassing in the Telecom Building. According to Collegian archives, the students were protesting then-Penn State President Bryce Jordan's and other university officials' refusal to have an open meeting with students to discuss problems faced by minorities -- specifically black students -- on campus.
Media Studies professor Kevin Hagopian said the DSP is important for Penn State's image, and the issues could be dealt with after signing onto the program.
"Any concerns about language in the DSP can be easily ironed out," Hagopian said. "What can't be easily ironed out is the perception that Penn State is not a leader in the campaign for human rights. That's an image we can't afford."