Alumni group’s membership explodes, but can it lead?
After Penn State leaders agreed to a fierce beating from the NCAA last week, alumni, angered by the sanctions’ depth, looked for somebody – anybody – to stop the State College train that keeps wrecking itself.
For many, their search ended at Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, the grass-roots, Facebook-centered group whose membership rose by 50% after the Freeh report was released. Its online membership now stands at 7,600, up from about 5,000 two weeks ago.
When it formed last year, PS4RS capitalized on alumni anger over Joe Paterno’s firing. The group moved to to elect anyone to the Board of Trustees other than those who were on the board in November. It also spent the last nine months demanding that trustees apologize for firing Joe, a much tougher endeavor in the wake of the Freeh report.
My disagreements with PS4RS haven’t been a secret. Its most vocal members have lobbed some vile comments my way and embarrassed their group and all alumni in the process. And its “vote the bums out” platform lacks any sort of worthwhile change that could have helped Penn State move in the right direction.
Despite its shallow goals, PS4RS continues to swell its ranks, as well as the power it wields. The group will undoubtedly play a key role in next year’s trustee election, and might even decide its outcome.
But with power comes responsibility. And with its demands for apologies and a dearth of ideas for change, PS4Rs hasn’t served the alumni well.
Will its leaders abandon their platform of anger and retaliation to demand real improvements in the way trustees conduct themselves? Time will tell.