Tomorrow night marks the third Student Town Hall Forum with university officials since November — the third in recent university history, really. From 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the HUB-Robeson Center Auditorium, a lineup of officials will be on hand for a face-to-face conversation with Penn State students.
It’s encouraging to see that this kind of forum is becoming a repeated event on campus. The University Park Undergraduate Association, Council of Commonwealth Student Governments and Graduate Student Association deserve credit for stepping up to coordinate this event. It’s especially important to make university officials available in this way in light of lingering questions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, the NCAA sanctions and more — but even in the absence of those issues, this would still be valuable.
At the last forum,students from Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses set a solid example: Even though they weren’t on campus, many still submitted thoughtful questions remotely. They’ll have the opportunity to do so again this time around. Attendance at the last forum was down, however, at University Park from the numbers seen at the first one held last November.
We might be 10 months out from the beginning of the Sandusky case, but students in the area should make every effort to attend — simply by showing up, you’re showing the officials present, and the rest of those watching Penn State, that the student body is serious about staying informed and speaking up about the university’s future.
While you’re at it, don’t hold back with your questions or comments — this is a rare chance to offer unfiltered questions to a handful of the most influential people on campus. One of those people, this time, will be Board of Trustees member Marianne E. Alexander. It’s long past overdue to involve a trustee on this panel, and we’re glad to see Alexander make herself available for this forum. It also raises the question: Why not organize a similar event for at least a portion of the board?
The board’s repeatedly stressed goals of fostering openness and transparency. How about giving students, a good portion of the board’s constituency, a chance to talk with the board outside of a few 30-minute public comment sessions at its formal meetings a few times a year?
At this point, it’s clear many are frustrated with the trustees’ leadership and are looking for a way to voice their questions. Once tomorrow’s forum ends, a Student Town Hall Forum with the Board of Trustees should be the next priority.