Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

OP-ED: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Gutmann's Campaign for Wellness


Photo from Swordsman1 / CC0

Under the Button dot com is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay sent on specific terms to special correspondent Lea Eisenstein, who has agreed to publish it under her own name. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Gutmann administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.

President Gutmann is facing a test to her presidency unlike any faced by a modern university leader.

It's not just that students are criticizing University restrictions on off-campus events. Or even that the school's national reputation hangs in the balance due to Amy Wax's inflammatory statements.

The dilemma—which she does not fully grasp—is that many of the senior officials within her own Campaign for Wellness are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of her agenda and her worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, this is not the popular "resistance" of the student population. We want an administration hell-bent on building useless new spaces, gentrifying urban residential communities, and inviting Professor Joe Biden to come hang out twice a semester and not actually teach a goddamn thing. We want the administration to succeed.

But we believe our first duty is to Penn's students and their God-given right to jeopardize their health in pursuit of financial success. And the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the hellishly pre-professional environment of our University.

Although she has allowed OCR to begin earlier each year, her support of capping the number of classes students can register for shows a clear committment to healthy time management practices—two policies which are entirely incompatible. She has increased her own salary each year, thereby raising the standards of financial attainment to which we should compare ourselves. At the same time, she has expanded CAPS services, beckoning us to put our mental health before our academic workload.

Gutmann claims to support an achievement-oriented student body that measures its successes in wealth, social-status, and internship offers at Goldman, Bain, and BCG. And yet she has enforced the closure of Huntsman Hall at 2 a.m. to encourage reasonable sleep habits.

(Bet you were wondering who set up that protest. Wink wink.) 

The bigger concern is not what Dr. Gutmann has done to the presidency but rather what we as a university have allowed her to do to us. We have sunk low with her and nearly allowed our discourse to be stripped of our genuine ideals: an elite lifestyle, an identity founded completely on our résumés, and our willingness to sacrifice health and happiness in pursuit of that ca$h money.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put pre-professionalism first. But the real difference will be made by everyday students rising above abstract ideas of "wellness," reaching across Locust Walk, and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Quakers.