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about 6 months ago
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After Condom Spat, UPUA Approves Funding for Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Month

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With only two meetings to go and more than $115,000 left to spend, it took a bit of squabbling, but the University Park Undergraduate Association approved, among three other resolutions, a bill giving funding to Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Month, which will take place in April.

Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Month will feature events throughout April, such as banner signings and wristband giveaways, and culminate in a speech from feminist writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman. The events were developed from a roundtable discussion between 29 organizations that started in November.

The measure ultimately passed by a vote of 41-2-0, but not before a bit of lively debate among the Assembly. First, Off-Campus Rep. John Wortman wanted to amend the bill to include a clause prohibiting the use of event reserve funds to purchase contraceptives. He objected on religious grounds, saying that he didn’t think students who are against contraception should have to, through fees, supply it to other students. Several representatives responded, notably Laurel Petrulionis, who emphasized that UPUA should be promoting “healthy sexual relationships.” Wortman’s amendment was soundly defeated by a vote of 4-39-0. “I don’t think we should be making this decision for all students,” said Petrulionis.

Chair of the Assembly Anthony Panichelli finally interrupted to say that the reserve fund would not be used to buy condoms anyway, because that wasn’t what the fund was for. “This is the most ridiculous discussion,” said Panichelli.

Especially at a public university, have you ever heard of a campus sexual awareness event that doesn’t give out condoms? In fact, they will be on hand, as the Centre County Women’s Resource Center has donated them for the event.

Division of Undergraduate Studies Rep. Katie Tully then moved to strike funding for wristbands that say PSU ♥ CONSENT. This sparked more debate on whether wristbands were an effective means for promoting the message, as opposed to t-shirts, and whether the 2,000 wristbands warranted the price tag of $1,355.20. Ultimately, the Assembly voted to keep the wristbands, 16-27-0.

All told, Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Month will cost UPUA $11,810.47, and this money will come from a budget that still has about $104,000 remaining. All leftover funds that aren’t spent by July will go back into the general Student Activity Fee pool to be reallocated next year. So, the Assembly is likely to be freer with their spending. Some representatives, like Stephen Payne and Kevin Horne (also an Onward State editor), addressed the issue of spending just for the heck of it with this much budget room. Horne has a point when he says that being tighter with spending could help prevent further SAF increases, but this Assembly has been more fiscally conservative than others in the past and the wristband price tag, as it is now, is a drop in the bucket. What Horne and Payne raise is part of a much larger conversation.

The rest of the meeting went by much more quickly and smoothly; the Assembly also passed three resolutions by unanimous consent. One supported recreational and club sports being reorganized to fall under the umbrella of Student Affairs from its current place under Intercollegiate Athletics. This would change how club sports get funding and would establish a student-led board that would determine fees among club athletes and how each team would be funded.

Another resolution endorsed a pilot program in Runkle Hall that would supply residents with energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly power strips purchased by Residence Life. The program would hopefully be extended to other dorms and then computer labs as well. The last resolution passed was for cosponsorship of the Community Economics Forum, which UPUA will sponsor alongside the College Independents. That cosponsorship won’t require a financial contribution, but rather assistance in planning the event, which will include local leaders in business and politics.

The Assembly also swore in Theodore Swett, who will serve as the Multicultural Greek Council representative, and viewed a special presentation from Elyse Mark and Arti Patel, two organizers of the inaugural Shaping the Future Summit, a Schreyer Honors College event on April 1 featuring keynote speaker Dr. Peter Diamandis.

Next week, UPUA’s 8th Assembly will have its final meeting before election time. Stay tuned!

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