Senator Regan Op-Ed: “Woke” Penn State has gone too far

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, Penn State is getting swept up by the “woke” movement, coddling and bribing the young adults they are entrusted to teach and shape into future leaders. And leading the charge is the University Faculty Senate, at this long-cherished institution that receives $350 million a year of taxpayer dollars.

Last month, it was announced that the University Faculty Senate made the decision to do away with traditional terms identifying students as “freshmen,” “sophomores,” “juniors,” and “seniors.”  Instead, students will be referred to as “1st years,” “2nd years” and so forth. 

The basis for this change was the claim that “terms such as ‘freshman’ are decidedly male-specific, while terms such as ‘upperclassmen’ can be interpreted as both sexist and classist.” Of course, since “freshmen” is the only of the four traditional terms to have an actual male reference, they claimed that “terms such as ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ are parallel to western male father-son naming conventions.”

Imagine if a student had written a paper for a college course with such far-reaching reasons to support his or her hypothesis.  Although, this is the same faculty that has a member who emailed his students last year to inform them that he would be “stepping away” from his academic responsibilities for two days as part of a “Scholar Strike” for racial injustice. These professors’ salaries are paid partially by taxpayer dollars and partially by the students who expect their professor to show up and teach them, just as they are expected to show up and learn.

As a father of a Penn State graduate, who could have chosen any other college or university but chose Penn State for its history, tradition, and excellence in academics and athletics, the direction the University is heading is concerning.  From its humble beginnings as a land-grant institution in 1855, Penn State has been a pillar of Pennsylvania that many are proud of, regardless of whether they are a graduate.  My pride continues, especially considering the incredible care I received at Penn State Hershey Medical Center following a recent motorcycle accident.

Unfortunately, decisions for the University seem to made by a faculty unit that is self-serving and advancing a one-sided agenda that are offending so many Pennsylvanians that don’t share the same beliefs – from students and parents to alumni and taxpayers. 

The University Faculty Senate’s most recent resolution is now calling on the University to require proof of having received the COVID vaccine for all faculty, students, and staff.  This negates their embrace of independent, free-thinking students. Or do they only advocate for independent thinking that is in line with their own beliefs? 

Sadly, the University itself is now bribing students – and employees – with weekly prize drawings for those who show proof of being vaccinated. This includes $1000 in cash and $400 in gift cards – each week.

As a State Senator, it is difficult for me to be sympathetic to the University’s yearly budget requests for millions of your tax dollars, supposedly aimed at helping keep tuition down for students, when they are handing out cash incentives and doing exactly what they claim to be against – segregating and labeling using “classist” terms such as “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated.”

Senator Mike Regan represents Pennsylvania’s 31st Senatorial District covering parts of Cumberland and York Counties.

CONTACT: Bruce McLanahan, 717-787-8524

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