This recent action of the Penn State Alumni Association reminded me of the Philadelphia suburban school desegregation war of the 1960s and 1970s.
The battles were led by earnest, well-meaning school board members who were convinced they were doing the right thing by keeping the wrong people out. Discrimination was by that point illegal, so they found other ways to choose who got in the door.
Certain students trying to move to a school just regrettably failed to meet vague and generalized criteria that were only provided in the rejection letter.
Thank goodness everyone called bull on that.
Alumni Council members Katie Smarilli and Kay Salvino have assured us that the candidates were rejected on very solid grounds: not active enough, involved in a lawsuit against the university, and/or already an officer of the university — criteria only announced in the rejection letters.
A nominating committee’s job is to ensure that the candidate is a member in good standing with the organization and the paperwork is in order then leave it to the members to vote in the best candidates.
The upshot of all this is that when you don’t follow the rules you leave yourself open to random people like me with long memories writing things that make everyone queasy.
Don’t like following the rules? Then don’t be a registered nonprofit. Go ahead and become private and discriminate all you want.
But, either way, make a decision, because I’m calling bull on this.