Half way in, the board changes the rules

Published March 6, 2012

Tonight we learned that somebody affiliated with the Board of Trustees has declared that candidates’ website addresses cannot be included in their official bios and position statements. The reason? According to well-placed sources on Facebook, the board wants voters to choose candidates based solely on those statements.

I haven’t been officially notified of this new rule yet, but I’m #62 on the list, and word is probably coming my way.

If you’ve never voted in a trustee election, the bio and position statements are normally the only information alumni have to decide which candidates to choose. Each is about 250 words long, and available to those who go online to cast votes.

Barring a website address from a candidate’s statement might seem like a minor issue. But nobody should be allowed  to change the rules in the middle of an election. It’s never been a rule before, but someone decided it has to be a rule now. If they exclude website addresses this time, what last-minute exclusion will they think of next year? This is censorship, plain and simple. It’s not what universities are supposed to do, and this move should concern us all.

At least one board candidate said he might sue over the matter. As more candidates are notified, this might turn into something bigger. Stay tuned.

Update – 3/9/12

The advocacy group Penn Staters for Reforming the Board of Trustees has called for an end to the prohibition on website addresses.