UPUA Heads West for PASS Conference
If you asked Christian Ragland about it, I’m sure he’d look back and say that the formation of Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Schools was the highlight of his tenure as UPUA President. Joining together Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln universities, the coalition took on even greater importance as state appropriations to the four were cut in the spring. Though some may have questioned whether PASS could ever have more than symbolic meaning, it nonetheless spoke volumes about student governments at the four institutions.
PASS will continue to live on, even after the departure of Ragland, and this afternoon, a contingency from UPUA will join their counterparts from the other three universities in Pittsburgh for the organization’s first conference of the year. In fact, according to UPUA President T.J. Bard, chief on the agenda at this weekend’s meeting is exploring steps to ensure PASS’s longevity.
“Not only are we talking about advocacy issues, but we are also going to talk about our formal structure and constitution,” Bard said. “My goal for PASS this year is to make it a sustainable organization for years to come.”
Because PASS is so new, and most of its founders are still involved, Bard said that extending the foundation beyond this generation of student leaders is key.
“I want to make sure we have an internal structure, constitution, bylaws, and written agreements from all the participating universities. PASS has so much potential and I want to make sure we have the proper structure and ground work in place so the organization can adequately grow over the next couple years,” he said.
Bard explained that the defining factor of PASS is that it allows the students of state schools in Pennsylvania to speak with a common voice, especially to the overarching institutions that affect the four schools equally.
“PASS is incredibly important for all the state-related universities because it allows for us to advocate on behalf our student populations collectively,” Bard said. “PASS operates as that organization that is specifically charged with advocating for our state related universities and the issues that matter most to the students.”
Indeed, beyond simply ensuring its own sustainability, there are other issues on the agenda for this weekend’s conference. The group will seek to improve methods of communications between the schools, but also discuss the proposed voter ID bill that the UPUA took on last week. However, while the UPUA is by rule prevented from lobbying or related activities, the extent of its opposition to that pending legislation was in passing a resolution stating its disapproval. PASS, on the other hand, could actually represent student interests in front of the state government.
Bard will be joined by his Vice President, Courtney Lennartz, as well as Academic Affairs Chair John Zang, Vice Chair of Governmental Affairs Candace Fox, Off-Campus Representative Brenden Dooley, and On-Campus Representative Rachel Franceschino. They will discuss the Penn State-specific reaction to the appropriations cuts, and methods of advocating that UPUA has demonstrated effectively.