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UPUA Elections Code Doesn’t Really Change

Though billed as #UPUAcalypse on Twitter, tonight’s University Park Undergraduate Association meeting only lasted until about 10:30 p.m. instead of the predicted midnight or 1 a.m. The main event was the Elections Code, about which the debate was very lengthy, detailed, and repetitive, for the most part. But though many amendments were on the table, very little about the Code changed from last year’s iteration.

First off, welcome to Malcolm Pascotti, the UPUA’s new Off-Campus Representative. You now see what you’re getting yourself into.

Here’s what the code itself boils down to: a new position has been created, Deputy Elections Commissioner for Events. Since Deputy Elections Commissioners are paid $200 for the job, the total election cost to the UPUA this year is $1,500 instead of $1,300. Also, the minimum GPA required to run is 2.5 instead of 2.0. Finally, candidates will be allowed to set up unofficial polling places (i.e., their laptops) in campaign-free zones, so long as they label that it is an unofficial location and don’t actively campaign there.

That’s it. Here’s what happened: on the original legislation brought to the floor, there was a change from last year’s Code in that academic representatives (i.e., of the colleges) were no longer exempt from collecting 100 signatures to run. The rationale behind this was to create an equal procedure for all candidates. Right off the bat, however, Geoff Halberstadt, Faculty Senate Member (he’s a student), explained that this violates Senate policy, as it is a barrier for entry. Chief of Staff Dustin Dove cited the GPA requirement as another barrier, and that, “as for signatures, we can handle that. It’s not some kind of bureaucratic nightmare.” Ultimately, though, the Assembly realized that the Faculty Senate kind of calls all the shots around here, and took out the signatures provision. DUS Representative Tonia Damiano summed it up best: “When you go against Senate policy, don’t.”

The second, much more contentious amendment, came from Arts & Architecture Representative Christen Buckley. She proposed forbidding undergraduate councils from endorsing a particular candidate, and using academic colleges’ ListServs to do so. The vote on the amendment failed from a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Colleen Smith, though there were strong objections to Buckley’s proposal. “I really can’t stand for that when UPUA decides to assert its own authority over my college’s and my council’s authority,” said Liberal Arts Representative John Zang. Agricultural Sciences Representative Courtney Lennartz agreed that the colleges should decide what to do with their own ListServs, even giving their councils access. Buckley proposed a limited amendment later, just barring endorsements over ListServs, which also narrowly failed.

The maddening aspect of that possibility is that Buckley explained her motivation was personal. Last year, her council sent out an email endorsing her opponent. But she still won. While the councils might have sway over their students, that’s how politics works; it was a very immature amendment.

The main problem with this is that despite a long period of heavy debate, Vice President Colleen Smith had to remind the Assembly of how circular the arguments were, that many points were being made and re-made. That means that Assembly members weren’t listening to what was being said, which is essential in order for the UPUA to accomplish what it needs to do. And it amounted to a lot of confusion in the room.

They did accomplish a fair amount of other legislation, though:

  • A resolution was passed honoring the life and legacy of William A. Schreyer.
  • The UPUA will sponsor a Women’s Symposium on Thursday, February 24. Russ Rose will be the guest speaker.
  • On March 1, several students will travel to Harrisburg to meet with state legislators to highlight the achievements of Penn State students; not to lobby.
  • A measure was approved to include a liaison to the Assembly from the international student community.
  • Dustin Dove was confirmed as Head Elections Commissioner.
  • Katie Perugini, Rob Ghormoz, and Tim Dooley were confirmed as Deputy Elections Commissioners.
  • Jessica Pelliciotta was confirmed as Editor-in-Chief of the S-Book.
  • Dhaval Patel was confirmed as Multicultural Greek Council representative.
  • Kate Malboeuf was sworn in as Panhellenic Representative.

About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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