Sunday, February 15, 2009

Penn State, Inc.

Davis at Onward State attended a meeting over the Kleer-Cut Campaign between members of Eco-Action, a longtime Penn State student environmental group, and Paul Ruskin of the Penn State Office of Physical Plant. He contrasted the stonewalling and, more recently disingenuous gestures, that United Students Against Sweatshops has faced from Old Main over the Designated Supplier Program with the openness of OPP toward Kleer-Cut.
We were expecting a frustrating meeting of passion on one side and corporate doublespeak on the other. Instead, what we saw was a genuine collaboration between two groups with slightly different missions, but similar ideals. We won’t get into specifics here– the conversation got pretty wonky, including one nice discussion about how best to test the different toilet paper options– but it was cool to see. Paul Ruskin, the Communications Coordinator for OPP, even brought tea for the group.
What is to be made of the difference in the response of the University to these two groups? Not much, both responses are consistent with the current dominant corporate culture.

When it comes to labor issues such as sweatshops or unions, Penn State  stands with  Wal-Mart and the US Chamber of Commerce.

When it comes to Going Green   , Penn State stands with Wal-Mart, which
... has reduced annual shipping container use by 500 units, preventing the consumption of 1,000 barrels of oil and 3,800 trees while netting $2.4 million in cost savings,
and the US Chamber of Commerce, whose Web site  is chock-full of positive stories about Going Green.

Penn State  is  to be commended for  its commitment to Going Green, as are Wal-Mart and the US Chamber of Commerce, but  this commitement should not be mistaken as an indication that the University is somehow becoming less corporate. In fact, it is an indication of just how corporate Penn State is.

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