UPUA Representative Nearly Expelled
Wednesday night’s meeting of the University Park Undergraduate Association lasted two-and-a-half hours with an agenda filled to the brim. The main event of the evening, however, was the lively, sustained discussion on whether or not to remove Facilities Chair Haley McClernon from the Assembly.
As Chair of the Assembly, Jessica Peliciotta brought forth the removal proceedings because of McClernon’s violations of the UPUA’s attendance policy. McClernon gave a statement before the Assembly explaining her absences, citing mainly the Steering Committee’s difficult meeting time: Sunday at 2 p.m., and that the new time for next semester would work much more smoothly.
“I do understand the importance of attendance. […] If I wasn’t there, I couldn’t be there,” McClernon said in her defense. “It’s never a deliberate choice not to attend anything.”
Members of the Facilities Committee said that they thought meetings without their Chair lacked direction and affected morale somewhat, but that they had no significant effect on the overall committee work and output.
Many were quick to point out McClernon’s three years of experience with the UPUA, and that she had been there since the Association’s inception.
“Her past has proven that she has dedication to her committee,” said Governmental Affairs Chair T.J. Bard. At-Large Representative Ben Pugh added, “I don’t question Haley’s ability as a leader.” That faith kept her as an Assembly member, as the motion to expel her failed by a vote of 9-27-3. A subsequent motion that would have removed her from her position as Chair of the Facilities Committee also failed, but by a slimmer margin.
With no precedent, the UPUA now finds itself in an interesting position in its growth spurt. This decision clearly shows more holistic thinking going into its voting and ruling, as opposed to holding rigidly to hard-and-fast rules, where McClernon would have been immediately dismissed. Some thought that she should have been.
Update 2:26 pm: Pelliciotta informed Onward State that in fact the UPUA has had votes for removal previously, namely with Justin Bish in the last assembly.
“This debate is about a person violating our rules,” said Liberal Arts Representative John Zang. “When her commitments are getting her in the way of her serving in a Chair position, she should have the common sense to resign, and I would hope that, if she didn’t, the Assembly would have the common sense to remove her.” However, the overall consensus was that McClernon’s longtime service to the UPUA had earned her a second chance.
Chair Peliciotta brought up some worrisome statistics about attendance as well. By counting or discounting certain meetings as absences, as many as 20 Assembly members could also be brought up for removal. This prompted many to call for a better attendance system to be implemented.
Other less acrimonious events:
- The UPUA voted to establish a contractual relationship with Princeton Review for subsidized grad school and professional school test prep classes.
- “Know Your Rights” cards are still in the works.
- The Assembly heard special presentations about the 2011 Senior Class Gift from Geoff Halberstadt, as well as recommendations for the Student Handbook from Jessica Peliciotta.
This was the last UPUA meeting of the semester, but the conference at Temple for the possible formation of a unified Pennsylvania Student Association is December 19, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.