UPUA Approves Events in Meeting Devoid of Animosity
Last week’s University Park Undergraduate Association meeting featured a divisive debate, regarding whether the organization should–and could–subsidize test prep options for students. Tempers flared on each side, and the end result was one of the more confrontational meetings in recent memory.
This week, however, the UPUA seemed more eager to dispel any preconceived notions outsiders might have had about it. To those who complained it was out of touch, Chairwoman of the Assembly Kelly Terefenko introduced the “Student Interest Survey,” in an effort to reach out to students.
“We should ask students what they think we should do with our budget,” Terefenko said, and she suggested that this be implemented quickly in the name of good publicity.
“This isn’t something I wanted to take the time to legislate,” she said. “I want them to say, ‘They want our thoughts immediately.'”
Though the proposal wasn’t brought to a vote, the assembly was unanimously positive about the idea. Smeal Representative Elias Warren summed it up the mood succinctly, saying “I think it would suck if we don’t do it. The more we get students engaged the better.”
And to those who suggested the UPUA was bitterly divided, and spent too much time debating minor issues, they need look no further than the four pieces of new business. Hannah Bracale was confirmed unanimously as the new Panhellenic Council Representative to UPUA, and the three pieces of legislation received a total of one ‘no’ vote.
Out of the Student Life and Diversity Committee came the “Penn State Safety Social,” a daytime equivalent to the former “Campus Night Out” initiatives. On Thursday, September 22, an event will be held on the HUB lawn and patio, which will promote “campus safety and student health.” The event will basically be a giant party, with a DJ, and free food and t-shirts, but there will be a conscience to the Safety Social as well. Speakers and individuals representing the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the State College Borough, University Health Services, and the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services will be on hand to promote awareness of “sexual assault, physical and domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and health and well-being.”
Also passing through the Assembly Wednesday night was a piece of legislation continuing “Freshfest” for another year. In an effort to continue outreach events, especially to freshmen, the UPUA will hold a similar party at East Halls, with Ice Cream, Pizza, a DJ, and plenty of publicity for the UPUA. In fact, each member of the Assembly is required to attend the event, scheduled for next Tuesday, in lieu of an office hour.
Kyle Lorenz, chair of the Programming Committee from which the initiative originated, said, “It’s important as student government to reach out to students and help them understand who we are, and how we can act as a resource for them.”
The last piece to pass the Assembly was the most controversial–but it wasn’t until well after it had passed, by a near-unanimous margin, that the UPUA realized that it was violating its own bylaws by passing it.
The Red Cross came to UPUA, soliciting money to help fund publicity efforts for the Penn State-Michigan State blood drive, which is entering its 17th year. Last year, the Fifth Assembly donated $900 to the cause, and there wasn’t much debate about the Sixth Assembly doing the same. But during the closing “Comments for the Good of the Order,” Elias Warren noted that it would be against UPUA regulations for the legislation to take effect.
“After further review of the budget, we just can’t fund this. I’m sorry I abstained, I should have voted no,” he said, as he noted a rule that prevented UPUA from making such donations to charity.
“Our budget is under review this year,” Warren said, “and if we do fund things that our rule say we can’t find, it’s a black mark against our organization.”
He called upon President Bard to veto the legislation, and Bard indicated that he would. Off-Campus Representative Tonia Damiano suggested repurposing the funding such that it would pay for advertisements, rather than be a donation, and Bard indicated that if the legislation were rewritten to that end, it would not clash with UPUA bylaws.
Additionally, the Assembly confirmed the new members making up the Facilities Fee Board, which President Bard explained provided student input on how the $8 million facilities fee is to be spent. Bard, his Vice President Courtney Lennartz, and Facilities Chair Tyler Doppelheuer, as well as Mike Stegura, David Harrington, and Ali Fogarty, were named to that board.
The discussion of subsidizing Princeton Review classes was held at least one more week, because a new issue arose. The room reservations where classes would be taught had been assigned based on scheduling in the fall semester, and that created yet another kink in the controversial legislation.
“It was more than just the issue of Assembly members’ time,” Programming Chair Kyle Lorenz said, “although that’s enough to table it until we figure that out.”
Other items of note came from reports, by the president and by the chairs of individual committees. President Bard indicated that, after discussions with Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and State College Borough Council president Ron Fillipelli, that the Borough would not be pursuing the “party registration” idea, in which individuals who pre-registered parties with the authorities would receive preferential treatment. He did mention that they would be implementing a “party patrol” unit, but failed to specify what, exactly that entailed.
During his own address, Doppelheuer indicated that he was pursuing a name change of his committee, to “Facilities, Housing, and Transit,” which he said would “improve the ability of constituents to explain what, exactly, we do.” He also indicated that he would pursue extending dining hours in the HUB–especially that of Chick-Fil-A, as well as pursuing the removal of bandwidth caps in residence halls.
And Adam Boyer, Chair of Governmental Affairs, indicated that the Borough would not be taking any efforts to publicize the new medical amnesty program passed in Pennsylvania, and took it upon his committee to do just that.
“It’s the law now, and we need to make sure that students are aware of that.”
Speaking of “the law,” Genevieve Farrell, Director of Legal Affairs, indicated that the group would be seeking a name change as well, becoming the “UPUA Student Conduct Advisors.”
It was also announced that Rebecca Alt had resigned her position as an At-Large Representative. Last year, Alt served as the Director of the YOUSRV internship program.