Tuesday, October 10, 2006

USG or UPUA? That is the question

Ya wanna get a bunch of Collegian people fired up?

Two ways: One, tell us the local liquor store is going out of business.

Two, start a debate on the role of student government and the merits of putting their "news" on the front page.

You might find a little more passion behind option #2, but you’re sure to get some heated opinions on #1 as well.

It’s a constant struggle at the Collegian to weigh the pros and cons of showcasing USG or UPUA news on the front page of our newspaper.

We know students may be focused more on option #1 than the latest student government news, but our obligation as journalists is to present the information students need.

Students need to know what their student government is doing.

Tomorrow Penn State students are getting the chance to elect the first leaders of the new University Park Undergraduate Association, which has replaced the Undergraduate Student Government as the official voice of the students.

It’s a milestone in Penn State history that most students seem to be only mildly aware of.

But it’s created reverberating effects in the basement of the James Building, where we Collegianites gather to put out a newspaper every day.

The change in student government has resulted in a change in the way we cover student government. At the moment we’re following both USG and UPUA because no one knows for sure which organization will be most effective.

I’ve got my money on UPUA simply because it’s got the backing of the administration. But there are motivated people in USG as well, and they may be able to make themselves relevant once again.

And while this change in student government progresses, the same debates go on every day in the newsroom.

Is UPUA worth front page coverage? How extensively should we investigate the candidates? Are students even aware of what’s going on? And where, in all of this, does USG fall?

I couldn’t say that we have definitive answers to any of those questions, but I do know that student government should be of concern to students at this university.

We might not notice too much when they accomplish nothing, but I’d be willing to bet option #1 that students will notice when student government does something a little out of the ordinary.