Let me start with the qualifier that I do in fact love Penn State, but like anything else in the world, it is not perfect. So here’s my list of things that I would like to see changed about “Dear Old State” after three and a half years.
First off, according to the Department of Education, we pay the highest tuition of any public four-year university in the entire country. My parents personally have graciously offered to pay my tuition, but I don’t want them to be getting a raw deal. I believe we go to a good school, but are we getting our tuition’s worth, especially considering all the other qualms that will follow in this column? That is for you to decide.
Besides paying a hefty tag on tuition, we pay for many other amenities that other universities consider it tacit for them to be free. We pay for football tickets — more than 10 of the other 11 schools in the Big Ten, according to The Business of College Sports; basketball tickets, parking, gym memberships and other hidden fees in things such as the meal plans that we don’t realize — and with the exception of football tickets, all of these are basically sub par.
The Penn State men’s basketball team has not put the product anyone expects from them lately, not due to a lack of effort — and coupled with the fact we have to pay for tickets, their games are usually empty. Drop the ticket price for basketball games and I’m sure more people would attend regularly. This is desirable for the basketball team and the rest of the student body alike. Instead of making the student body continually pay extraneous costs for every additional activity we want to take part in or every sporting event we want to attend, the university should try combining some of these costs into one lump sum activity fee. This is something other schools do, and maybe our school should do, too.
We have to pay for parking, if we’re even allowed to park. If there was ever a time when the argument that Penn State treats you like a number and a paycheck — it’s with parking. How ridiculous is it that it is more beneficial to convince the parking attendant that we don’t even go to Penn State so we can park in the parking lots we paid for? Or, we have to wait until everyone is done using those parking lots for us to get a slice.
I also have a problem with our fitness on campus. Aside from having to pay for the memberships, there are simply not enough or big enough gyms on campus. During peak hours the lines are ridiculous and it is difficult to get what you want done in a timely fashion. Sure, there are other options I can tap into off of campus, but after paying the tuition we do, shouldn’t we have better access to something so basically necessary to our personal well -being?
Lastly, and most importantly, where are the mirrors in the White Building? Haven’t we had many student body presidents campaign on this very basic and American principle that all of our gyms should have mirrors for each and every one of us? Is there any progress being made on this that I am missing out on by not reading the UPUA minutes?
These arguments are hardly new and I’ve heard different derivations of all of them during my time here, yet they still exist, nor is it a comprehensive list of things needed to be addressed by the student body.
As long as I’ve been here, I feel like the Penn State student body has been basically powerless when it comes to enacting practical changes around campus. We take whatever our university throws at us as gospel and permanent — instead of trying to improve our basic lifestyle and get more for our over extended dollar.
Do are representatives in student government even have any influence when crafting campus policy? Is this a sign of a larger underlying problem concerning the lack of power and ability to mobilize action in the student body?
Have we become apathetic or did we never really have any power at all? I sure hope it is neither.
Tim Wessel is a senior majoring in a finance and is The Daily Collegian’s Thursday columnist. His email is email@example.com.