All of us have learned how to reply with the right words when we hear someone shout “We are…”, but how much effort have we put into spelling out what we mean by that response in a way that enables us to articulate to others precisely why it means so much to us to be able to respond in that way?
This recent post from Onward State calls on Penn State students across the commonwealth to Stand Up and defend the university in the face of what amount to the largest proposed budget cuts (in terms of both percentages and actual dollars) in the history of state-funded higher education. Like all members of the Penn State community, we at the Rock Ethics Institute share in the concerns expressed in that post. We also do what we can to promote an environment in which students will take the suggestions offered there: to read, participate, care, and be heard. In fact, the Speak Up blog and the Rock Ethics Institute Facebook page were created for precisely this purpose.
Thus, it seemed like a good idea for us to add one further suggestion. We hope that students will Speak Up and participate in informed dialogue not only about how to respond effectively to this threat, but also about the core values that are being threatened, the other values that are being prioritized over these, and the place of our various and sometimes-competing values in defining who we are; both as a university community and as a commonwealth that has historically both supported and been supported by its public universities.
We have already posted a couple of topics on the Discussion Board of our Facebook page to get things started. We encourage everyone who stands to be affected by the proposed budget cuts and who has an interest in being heard to contribute their responses, to share them with their Facebook friends, and to create new topics for further discussion there.