Just under a month before the Pennsylvania primary, Penn State students will have the chance to cast their votes on another ballot — UPUA’s 11th Assembly elections.
Presidential candidate Terry Ford hails from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is a junior accounting major, and UPUA’s current vice president. He has been involved with the Assembly since interning as a freshman, and has taken a more critical role in student government each year in hopes of enriching the collegiate experience at University Park.
As a sophomore, Ford worked closely with his fellow members of the Student Life and Governmental Affairs Committees as an at-large representative. Ford increased his responsibilities again this year as Vice President of UPUA’s 10th Assembly alongside President Emily McDonald, contributing to the Student Leader Transportation Commission and the Student Engagement Search Committee as its senior director. Throughout his tenure with UPUA, Ford has focused on issues concerning the addition of more street lights to downtown State College and ensuring students have a voice in determining where their fee dollars are spent, among other endeavors.
“For me, the most rewarding part about working in UPUA is meeting so many wonderful people and getting to build a network of peers and mentors that is really just a treasure. By working with them and meeting these people, that’s how we accomplish our goals,” Ford said.
“In order to accomplish the things that we set out to accomplish, we have to build a network of people who can help us get these things done. That’s exactly what I’ve done this year in my role [as UPUA vice president]. I’ve really made strong relationships with administrators, members of the State College community, and faculty that will serve us very well next year,” Ford said. “If we are elected, then when we take office there isn’t going to be a learning curve, there isn’t going to be a moment to lose, and we won’t have to waste a single second reaching out to people and trying to build new connections, because they’re already there.”
Ford’s running mate and vice presidential candidate Katie Jordan is a sophomore public relations and community, environmental and development dual-major from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Jordan also became involved with UPUA at the beginning of her college career by serving on the Freshman Council with the 9th Assembly. This year, Jordan was elected as an at-large representative and currently sits on the Governmental Affairs Committee, following in Ford’s footsteps. Through her involvement with TurboVote and PSU Votes Week, Jordan has showcased her desire to improve student and civic engagement within the community.
“The most rewarding part of being involved in UPUA for me is bettering student life altogether, so whether that be through working with the borough, or working with individual student groups, or working with administrators and faculty, every part of it contributes to students somehow,” Jordan said.
The five main pillars of the Ford/Jordan campaign include Diversity & Inclusion, Government Relations & College Affordability, Student Life & Activities, Academic Affairs, and Facilities. You can find their entire 19-page platform here.
“As a whole, our campaign — the way I like to put it is in three words: experience, vision, results. We have the experience, with myself being the vice president and Katie being an at-large rep, to know how to get things done,” Ford said. “We have a vision that we’ve outlined in our platform, and it’s not just words on paper, but it is in fact a vision. And then results — and that’s the end piece. We’ve seen results this year, we’ve seen a lot of progress this year. Next year is going to be about continuing that and using our experience as leverage in order to achieve real results for students. We have a plan to accomplish each and every one.”
Endorsements from the Penn State IFC and Panhel are major accomplishments for the Ford/Jordan ticket, which also counts 38 individual, 10 mutual, and nine academic college representative endorsements to date.
“It’s very humbling to have both [the IFC and Panhel]endorsements,” Ford said. “We’re so pleased and honored to have their support in the election, but it’s also a responsibility. It means we have their trust. It means they expect us to do great things, and that’s exactly what we’re going to set out to do. Part of that is going to be partnering with them to make sure that all students — including Greeks — are fairly represented and represented well in our State College and Penn State community.”
What separates the Ford/Jordan ticket from write-in campaigns? “Experience. Experience. Experience. It is one thing to have ideas, but another to be able to actually get them done. We have the institutional knowledge required to be able to accomplish our initiatives,” Ford said. “Our team has done this before…for example, we already have a working relationship with our two biggest partners: the CCSG and the GPSA. We believe that we offer the smoothest transition into the next UPUA Assembly.”
The ticket’s campaign — as well as every other campaign — has been under a bit of extra scrutiny in light of the leaked GroupMe messages by The Underground, which resulted in the disqualification of the Agnihotri/Fleming ticket.
“The dramatic events of the past two weeks have not altered our campaign strategy,” Ford said. “From the very beginning, our team has been doing our best to stay above the fray and focus on the issues. At this point, we are working to unite everyone running in this election behind our common goals. Every candidate, including myself, needs to eliminate any aspirations for personal glory associated with this election. Now is the time for all of us in UPUA to move forward, and in doing so, rededicate ourselves to the task of improving the student experience at Penn State.”
As part of the leaked messages, Ford was accused of breaking into UPUA representative Abby Baker’s room and intimidating her. At the time of the GroupMe leak, Ford gave a statement to Onward State. “That is absolutely not true,” he said. “I did not force myself into her room. I did not threaten her in any way. My take on the situation is that she’s exaggerating things right before the election in order to paint a negative picture of me. I’ve heard from a number of people that she has been communicating that to them in order to, again, paint me in a negative light.” He later added, “Abby and I have agreed to drop this issue and move forward on good terms.”
“I’m sorry that this election has been more about personal drama and bickering,” Ford said later. “Katie and I have done our absolute best to remain focused on addressing the very real problems facing students: promoting diversity and inclusion, ending the mental healthcare funding crisis, encouraging civic engagement among students, and combating sexual assault on campus and providing support for victims. These are the issues that matter. I hope that the student body still has faith in us, and trusts us to be able to get the job done.”
Read our profile on write-in presidential candidate Patrick Cines here. Due to the change in the ticket after yesterday’s plagiarism revelations, and his unwillingness to comment on said changes, we could not accurately profile Anthony Mitchell, the other write-in candidate.