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about 4 months ago

UPUA Coasts Into Winter Break

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Our student government met for the last time of the semester on Wednesday night, and, for the sixth week in a row, the General Assembly was relatively quiet. This has to be some sort of record for UPUA. The decorum was downgraded to permit ugly Christmas sweaters instead of the usual coats and ties, so at least that eased some of the pain.

In her weekly report, President Katelyn Mullen discussed the costs behind the absurd “Penn State Lives Here” marketing campaign and the recent culture survey. According to vice president for business and finance David Gray, “Penn State Lives Here” has cost the university $811,719 to date while the culture survey has set the university back $418,000. That’s just about 8 times UPUA’s entire budget for the year, and we criticize them for dumb spending…

Mullen also announced that her and three other representatives will be to Minnesota for the Association of Big Ten Students conference next semester, at a cost of just over $2,000 of the Student Activity Fee for hotels and flights. That’s a far cry from the $3,600 UPUA almost spent two years ago just on airfare, so apparently the organization has a new travel agent.

As for new business, there were only two:

Policy #10-08 —  Constitution Updates

Coming into the meeting, this was supposed to be a relatively straight-forward piece of legislation. Internal Development went through the constitution, fixed some of the grammar issues, and added a clause that allows the President and Vice President to go part-time on one of the two semesters they have the position (instead of being full-time for both semesters). Both Mullen and Dooley each only need a few credits to graduate next semester, so it doesn’t make much sense to force them to pay full-time tuition just to be in charge of the executive.

That wasn’t the case, however, as Rep. John Wortman was looking to make some serious moves with this policy and proposed an amendment that would allow non-academic representatives to sit and vote on the Academic Affairs Committee, a change that would also affect the Academic Affairs Committee’s by-laws. Currently, only representatives from the academic colleges are able to vote on Academic Affairs — the only UPUA committee with that unique membership structure.

Wortman proposed the amendment because bringing on non-academic representatives would give the committee a more diverse voice within UPUA. Oh, and he wanted to be on academic affairs.

“I don’t see the harm in getting different voices on the committee,” said Wortman. “I think it would be more representative…I am interested in academic policy and I’m still unable to sit on the committee.”

He received a lot of opposition for the amendment, mostly because many were unaware that he intended propose such a change until right before the meeting started. There’s also a few compelling forces at play here. Academic Affairs also sits on Faculty Senate, so extra members would alter that system. The academic reps are also actively involved in their college’s student council and adding representatives to the committee would dilute the vote of each college’s representative.

Ultimately, the amendment failed with a 10-31-0 vote (it was likely doomed from the start; Constitutional amendments need to be passed by a 3/4 majority). The constitution did pass, however, with a 40-1-0 vote.

Resolution #15-08 — Revision to Senate Policy 43-00 Re: Online Syllabi Archive

Currently, there is no online syllabi database for students to use to get a better expectation for their classes during scheduling. UPUA aims to change that by recommending that the Faculty Senate give students online access to a centralized database of archived syllabi for every course. Several other universities like Clemson and Michigan have these systems in place already, so hopefully Penn State can get the ball rolling on this fairly soon. UPUA resolutions are all non-binding, so it’s really up to the administration or Faculty Senate to see whether or not this gets done.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Other News:

Student Life Chair Caleb Fernandez announced that he is stepping down from that role and will continue his UPUA career as a representative. It is expected that Rep. Anand Ganjam, the committee’s vice chair, will assume the responsibility of interim Student Life Chair until the position is filled next semester.

In addition, Panhellenic Council Rep. Katie Quinn announced that she will not be returning to the Assembly next semester, which is concurrent with the PHC calendar. Quinn was one of the most tenured members of the assembly and served under four different presidents. Farewell, Rep. Quinn.

Christmas Sweater of the Week:  Steffen Blanco

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There were a lot of great sweaters in the assembly last night, but Blanco’s was by far the best. Yes, that collar is leopard print. And yes, he wore the hat the entire meeting. You just don’t see Christmas spirit like that too often these days.

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