The Eighth Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association officially adjourned last night at 10:47 p.m. following an emotional final assembly meeting. There were teary eyes throughout the room as a number of representatives and executives would be walking out of 302 HUB for the last time as a member of student government.
President Katelyn Mullen was the most emotional of them all, opening the meeting with a heartfelt speech following her weekly report.
“This assembly has been so inspirational and I never could have asked for a more motivated, hard-working group of people to work with,” she said. “It’s really important to surround yourself with people who know more than you, who will push you to be better.”
You can watch her final address below:
The Eighth Assembly was quite possibly the most successful group in the history of the organization, and its leadership was able to accomplish most things that they set out to do, capped off by a student-selected trustee position. As such, it was only fitting that the assembly went out with a band and six new pieces of legislation.
Here’s the rundown:
Bill 12-08 – Women’s Empowerment Week Co-Sponsorship:
This bill came to be after a representative from the Panhellenic Council approached Rep. John Wortman asking for $5,000 to spent on t-shirts for the event. Wortman decided that didn’t fly, but the event’s organizers reworked the budget, allowing for the money to go towards honoraria to bring in Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman.
The bill passed unanimously.
Resolution 23-08 – Exploration of Diversity in Student Leadership Workshops:
In order to be registered as a student organization on campus, leaders need to apply on behalf of their group and attend seminars or workshops following that process. UPUA’s Diversity Committee wants to work with the Office of Student Activities to include diversity training within these workshops.
The resolution passed unanimously as well.
Resolution 24-08 – Bike Locker Recommendations:
In essence, this resolution moves to recommend that the university appropriate money for more bike lockers on campus. It was added by one of the bill’s sponsors that UPUA could consider paying for the lockers in the future if the resolution is unsuccessful and the university does not decide to fund more lockers.
The resolution also passed unanimously.
Resolution 25-08 – UPUA Support for Network on Child Protection and Wellbeing Event:
Quite simply, the resolution stated its official support for an event on April 23 called “Making a Different, Every Day: Preventing Child Abuse Begins with You” in 117 HUB. UPUA will disseminate information through its various channels to help advertise for the event.
It — you guessed it — passed unanimously.
Bill 13-08 – Penn State History Course:
Rep. Kevin Horne, who also happens to be our Managing Editor, brought this legislation to the floor, which provides funding for the university’s History Department to develop a curriculum for a course on the history of Penn State. Horne is also a member of the Nittany Valley Society, a local non-profit organization that first came up with the idea and approached the department months ago.
“We had the idea that it would be a benefit to Penn State to have a for-credit course to teach the history of the university, which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest stories ever told,” Horne said. “It’s not often UPUA has the chance to impact academic life while also furthering the love we all share for this place.”
He added that the course would be a 200-level, three-credit course taught by Michael Milligan, the director of undergraduate studies in the history department, which would likely start in the fall semester of 2015. There was some contentious debate over academic freedom, as a proposed amendment from Rep. Stephen Payne would have added a recommendation that the university include students in the planning of the curriculum.
Horne, Speaker Anthony Panichelli, Vice President Brenden Dooley, and a number of others asked Payne to withdraw his amendment, explaining that academic freedom is taken very seriously and that the course would never come to fruition if that wording was included in the bill. Part of the agreement with the history department includes a provision that no outside entities will help guide the course curriculum, which is standard practice in higher education. As Horne said, “I will not support my own bill if there is anything in here even suggesting any sort of influence by the Assembly. It’s a complete nonstarter. We write the check, and they give us an awesome history course.” The amendment failed by a vote of 1-42-0, with Payne himself being one of the dissenters.
The bill eventually passed 40-3, allowing UPUA to give the department $6,000 to develop a curriculum for the course over the next year or so. The money will be dispersed, pending departmental approval.
Bill 14-08 – Lunar Lion Funding:
The last bill to see the Eight Assembly floor was this piece of legislation from Wortman, which provided $5,257.75 to Penn State Lunar Lion in order to assist them in promoting events. The funding included more contention items like posters and postcards, plus $40 stuffed animals (that one got the debate going).
It passed 42-1-0.
While the legislation took some time to work through, the highlight of the night may have been the weekly Comments for the Good of the Order, during which a slew of UPUA representatives took the opportunity to thank their committees and praise the strong executive trio of Mullen, Dolley, and Panichelli, all of whom left the room with puffy eyes at the end of the night. Oh, and I should add that Wortman sang a song that he wrote about the assembly:
“Eighth Assembly adjourned,” Dooley said as he banged his gavel one final time.