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BENNER v. OSWALD

January 24, 1978

DRIANNE BENNER, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
JOHN W. OSWALD, President of The Pennsylvania State University, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR

 I. Introduction.

 Drianne Benner and three other undergraduate students at the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) have filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the method of selection of the members of the Board of Trustees of Penn State which does not permit undergraduate students to elect representatives to the Board of Trustees violates their constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. On December 6, 1977, all Defendants except Defendants Shapp, Shelhamer, Kline, and Goddard filed a motion for summary judgment accompanied by a brief. On December 15, 1977, the remaining Defendants joined in the motion. On December 20, 1977, Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for summary judgment accompanied by a brief in support of their motion and in opposition to the Defendants' motion. On December 23, 1977, Defendants filed a reply brief. On January 3, 1978, the case was submitted to the Court on the basis of a case stated with all parties electing to rely upon the briefs already submitted. The Court deems this submission of the issues on a case stated basis to constitute withdrawal of the motions for summary judgment. The following are the Court's findings of fact, discussion, and conclusions of law.

 II. Findings of Fact.

 1. Plaintiffs are four undergraduate students enrolled in various courses of study at The Pennsylvania State University. (U)

 2. James Scarantino is twenty-one years old and an undergraduate student at the University, in the College of Liberal Arts. He entered the University in 1974, and expects to graduate in 1978 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. His major fields of study are political science and economics. Plaintiff Scarantino has taken an active interest in the affairs of the University. He was Coordinator of Students for PennPIRG, and was elected Undergraduate Student Government Senator in 1976. He is chairman of the Organization for Town Independent Students and former chairperson of that organization's ad hoc Housing Study Committee. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Skull and Bones Honor Societies. He is also a registered voter in Centre County, Pennsylvania. (U)

 3. Ann Ziminski is twenty-one years of age. She entered the University in 1974, and expects to graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Science in the College of Agriculture in 1978. Her major field of study is Environmental Resources Management. She was the President of Eco-Action and a member of the Free University, both of which are University student organizations. She is a registered voter in Centre County, Pennsylvania. (U)

 4. Jeffrey Glazier is twenty years of age. He entered the University in 1975, and expects to graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the College of Liberal Arts in 1979. His major field of study is Labor Studies. He is a resident of University student housing and Vice President of the Association of Residence Hall Students, an organization of approximately 10,000 student members at the University. He was a member of the Student Litigation Organization and is a member of East Halls Radio, both of which are University student organizations. He is a registered voter in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. (U)

 5. Drianne Benner is twenty-one years of age. She entered the University in 1974, and expects to graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the College of Liberal Arts in 1978. Her major field of study is Political Science and History. She was an active member of Students for PennPIRG, a University student organization. She is a registered voter in Centre County, Pennsylvania. (U)

 6. The Plaintiffs would like to participate in the election of trustees of the University and do not believe it is proper that others whom Plaintiffs believe have little or no relationship to the University, can participate in the election process while they have no such right. They are committed to working to change the election process and to that end intend to pursue this action vigorously. (U)

 7. The Defendants are 32 persons who, at the time of the initiation of this action, comprised the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University. (U)

 8. Defendants Milton J. Shapp, Kent Shelhamer, Caryl Kline and Maurice K. Goddard are ex-officio members because of their status as Governor, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Agriculture, and Secretary of Environmental Resources, respectfully. (U)

 9. Defendants Harry Boyer, Helen Davies, Joseph Rhodes, Jr., Robert L. Ruttenberg, Dion C. Stewart and William K. Ulerich have been appointed to the Board by the Governor. (U)

 10. Defendants H. Jesse Arnelle, Marian U. Barash, Walter J. Conti, Barbara H. Franklin, Ralph Hetzel, Kenneth L. Holderman, Charles W. Schaeffer and Helen Wise are the ...


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