Sims Discusses Direction of UPUA
Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims gave a special presentation at Wednesday’s University Park Undergraduate Association meeting. Sims spoke for 45 minutes, chiefly about the direction and role of UPUA and student government in the upcoming era of the university. Drawing on his own experiences with student government and student leadership, he presented some interesting ideas.
Sims said that Penn State and higher education as a whole were falling on hard times. He explained that the University is going to face new contraints that are only going to worsen, and that the university (along with others across the country) is reevaluating and finding out what the future role of American higher education should be. “We have to think very carefully about what we do with our resources,” Sims said.
Sims stressed the collaborative efforts between students and the administration, deeming it crucial that students be a part of the conversation. When it comes time to determine what stays and what goes, “We can always be better,” he said. “But we can only be better if you are a part of making us better.”
He applauded the UPUA’s current accomplishments, particularly the establishment of a non-voting student State College Borough Council member, saying it was demonstrative of how UPUA has been able to establish itself as a presence on campus in a way that will be sustainable where other versions of student government could not (ahem, USG). But he stressed that, to be most effective, UPUA should be student advocates before all else, and not focus on “just programming or handing out money.”
He also discussed how UPUA and other student government organizations could band together and really be a powerful voice for lowering tuition and getting more public funding for the university. Some more minor points that came up in a question-and-answer period were the four codes of conduct, student housing and the ever-popular drinking issue.
UPUA is young and appears to have a strong foundation. In due time, if they carefully yet assertively work with higher powers (i.e., university administration and state politicians), they could become a truly formidable force.