Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Lion is Out. The Weasel is In.

Today, in a hastily called news conference, Penn State announced that after serving as the University's mascot for generations that the Nittany Lion was going the way of Coaly the mule. According to Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon, the lion is being retired in favor of a mascot which better reflected what Penn State has become under the leadership of Graham Spanier. Shown to the left is the new mascot the Nittany Weasel.

Okay, I made that all up, but there were two stories today which highlight the weaselly ways of Old Main.

Story one requires some back ground. Penn State played Ohio State at home this past Saturday in a game which started at 8pm. This gave Penn State students plenty of time before the game to do what they do best: get drunk and act like jerks. Well, let's just say that they didn't waste the opportunity. A vice president of a Penn State frat posted a video to YouTube of a group of his fratboys throwing beer at some Ohio State fans. The video has been taken down[Update: the Collegian has a copy of the video on their site.], but here is how the Collegian describes the video.

The video shows a crowd of people, most clad in white Penn State T-shirts, shouting obscenities and throwing beer cans at two passing Ohio State fans.

One man chased the second of the Buckeyes fans and threw an open beverage at him in close range fueled with encouragement from the crowd.
Got that. The video shows Penn State students throwing beer and shouting obscenities at the Ohio State fans. That same crowd of Penn State students encourages an individual who throws beer at close range. Note also that nowhere does it say, nor would you hear on the video-I did get to see it before it was taken down- that anyone in the crowd of, let me remind you, Penn State students yelled, "HEY! STOP YOU IDIOTS!". This is essentially a Penn State problem and Penn State has taken some heat for it both from Penn State supporters and others. What is Old Main's public reaction? I give you the Penn State Propaganda Portal.
University Park, Pa – An investigation into a homemade video posted to YouTube that depicted Penn State fans hurling objects at two Ohio State fans prior to a football matchup on Oct. 27 has yielded information on some of the participants, including the fact that the main actor shown in the video is not a Penn State student.

The off-campus incident, captured on video behind the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house located in the Borough of State College, is being widely condemned by University officials and fans from both schools. Local police have been investigating and have discovered that the person most prominently displayed in the video is a student at the University of Pittsburgh who was visiting for the weekend.
That's right, Old Main's public reaction is that it's not our fault. It's the fault of the Pitt student egged on by the Penn State students and might I add following the Penn State student's example. A most weaselly response, no?

The second story, in the way of the weasel, concerns how Penn State is handling donations made to colleges or student groups.
Beginning this year, donations to colleges and student groups exceeding $5,000 will take a pit stop at the Office of University Development for 90 days while Penn State pockets the interest, a university official said.
Okay, you say, what's so weaselly about that? I am sure other school do the same thing.
Other state-related schools in Pennsylvania handle matters differently.

"Unless we are directed by the donor to put it in an interest-bearing account, we donate the whole amount to the specific fund immediately," said Kris Domingo, assistant director of advancement services at Temple University.

At Lincoln University, Janice Lombardo, manager of gift processing and records, said she has 24 hours to deposit donations in the accounts for which they were intended.

No policies similar to Penn State's exist at the University of Pittsburgh, either.

"We don't keep any piece of it to support our fundraising," said Karen Whitehead, director of advancement operations at Pittsburgh. "It all goes to the allocation that the donor asked for. The university pays our budget, not the donors."

Fine, so it's a novel approach, but at least it was fully debated within the academic community before it was implemented, you retort.
"It's not something, to be perfectly frank, that we wanted to publicize," said Peter Weiler, vice president for university development.


Though the Penn State Board of Trustees approved the initial campaign, Weiler added that he didn't think they "got into details" like this policy.

Penn State President Graham Spanier and Jean Songer, chief financial officer, approved this policy, he said.

Stanley Degler, Class of 1951, who regularly donates scholarship money to the College of Communications, said he wasn't aware of the policy.

"It's news to me," he said. "I'm not sure what I think about it. It doesn't sound like a good idea. Once Penn State gets my check, they've got the money in any event. It ought to go immediately where the donor intended it to go."

Another donor, Marvin Krasnansky, Class of 1952, said the "gift holding" initiative caught him off guard.

"I wasn't aware of this. I have mixed feelings," he said. "I understand the need for it, but, as a contributor, I would feel more comfortable if the organization got the money in a more timely basis."

That's right Spanier took it upon himself to skim the interest on donations which he's parked in an account for three months and he wasn't going to tell anyone including the people making the donations

This is the weaselly way that Penn State has operated under Spanier and why the mascot will now, and for ever after, be the Nittany Weasel.

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