UPUA Funds More Projects in Final Meeting
Though overshadowed by election news, the 5th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met for the last time Wednesday night. The General Assembly meeting began before a packed house in 302 HUB. It was a time for seniors to give fond farewells, and for others to look forward to what the 6th Assembly might bring.
For President Christian Ragland, Vice President Colleen Smith, and Chair of the Assembly Jessica Pelliciotta, it marked the last time they’d be a part of the UPUA. “It’s been real,” said Ragland. “There have been moments when the Assembly and I didn’t see eye to eye,” he reflected, but added that he would not allow the integrity of the UPUA to be compromised. “I gave it all I had,” he concluded. Ragland was given a standing ovation at the end of his last Presidential report.
Pelliciotta also reflected on the past Assembly, which, she said, saw over 50 pieces of legislation—not counting the ones that failed to pass from debating and bickering. She counseled, “While it is important to look back on these and learn, it is important that we look past them and not let them define the 5th Assembly.”
But despite the pomp and circumstance of the meeting, there was still business to take care of. The Assembly voted on seven pieces of legislation, all but one of which passed unanimously.
The first was a constitutional amendment extending the powers of the Board of Arbitration, which is now specifically endowed with the power to “set rules and procedures governing the adjudication of all UPUA and Student Organization matters including the constitutionality of Acts of the Assembly and decisions of the Executive.”
The rest were co-sponsorship and support efforts of various events: the UPUA will be co-sponsoring the Warrior Games with the Senior Class Gift Committee and the Penn State Veterans Organization, in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy. The Assembly also voted to co-sponsor the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event against sexual assault, for which they will purchase, literally, 100 pairs of shoes. They also voted to support CCSG’s Capital Day on April 5 by chartering two buses to Harrisburg. Let’s hope the turnout is better than the last rally there. And the UPUA passed the funding for the Big Ten on the Hill conference in Washington, D.C.
What caused considerable debate was the piece brought to the floor late which was the co-sponsorship of the Distinguished Lecture Series event for the African American and Africana Studies Student Council, which asked for financial help for the event. The Assembly was all set to grant them the $4,000 needed to cover the cost of the speaker when Pelliciotta pointed out that passing the measure would go against the UPUA’s budgetary policy, since they weren’t involved in planning the event and since the legislation didn’t pass through a committee. The Assembly universally agreed on the worthiness of the issue, but debated on the precedent it would set for the future. Many also said that since it was the last meeting of the year, that they could afford to bend the rules somewhat. Ultimately, however, the Assembly decided it couldn’t go against its policy, and the resolution failed, 13-22-4.
It’s tough to pass judgment on that one because everyone who made an argument was right. On one hand, yes, it would set a bad precedent, because everyone could go, “remember the time we gave money to that…” anytime to bypass the policy, but it also was worthwhile to help out a student council that couldn’t scrape together enough money, especially since the UPUA could afford it. IST Representative Andrew Lentz said it was a case of “tying our hands.” Had the Assembly passed the bill, it could have been overturned by the Board of Arbitration.
The 5th Assembly spent over $6,600, plus funding for the Big Ten on the Hill, in its last meeting. There was a huge budget excess during the latter half of this semester, prompting the infamous quote from Off-Campus Representative Mallory Reed: “If we don’t use it [the budget funds], we lose it!” Extra money left over goes back into the pool for the Student Activity Fee for next year. But considering that the SAF will increase next year, this last-ditch spending strategy doesn’t say much for fiscal responsibility when tuition is expected to rise and the higher education budget set to be slashed. Some UPUA spending this year was worthwhile and relevant, and some of it was not. Hopefully when considering what they can do to help with the cost of student fees and tuition, they’ll consider what they do a little more closely.