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Drunk, Sober, High: UPUA General Assembly

Every Wednesday, the UPUA general assembly meets in the HUB to help shape the future of our school and our world. Whether it’s allocating $6,000 for i-clickers, generously granting guest-speakers $3 for two Diet Cokes, or sending students to meaningless conferences in Illinois for $1,200 a pop, UPUA is always looking out for you, the students. Like any transparent governing body, these politicians kindly allow the public to attend their weekly legislative meetings. Below, you’ll read the experiences of three writers who took it upon themselves to have a great night from different perspectives at last nights UPUA meeting.

Drunk:

Let me just sum it all up now, this is the greatest buzzkill you’d ever experience. I would never consider attending a UPUA meeting and with good reason. The entire time, from what I could glean in my state of mind, they discussed what they should agree on, ranging from how to renovate a positive image on Penn State to how to prevent State Patty’s Day.

They all took a tally on small white pieces of paper, which resulted in passing the proposal (what a funny system for a group that seems to be obsessed with i-clickers). I sat there shaking my head waiting for all of this to end and freaking out that my liquor bottle was empty. Thankfully, a fellow Onward State member answered my call and came to the rescue with a flask of God-Knows-What. Since I “broke the seal” before the meeting, I had to take multiple piss breaks because the meeting simply would not end. And it seemed like other UPUA members felt the same way as they chugged their Starbucks and accompanied me to the restroom.

I thought I would be late for this meeting since, like most pregaming activities, I was attempting to accomplish most of my alcohol consumption beforehand. But following people dressed in blazers and ties, I made it on time at 8:00 p.m. At 8:06 p.m. the meeting commenced (for shame). From what I’ve gathered with my impaired hearing, the “discussions” involved bettering commonwealth campuses, meetings with President Erickson and State Patty’s Day task force to prevent the student “holiday.” Some woman spoke too (I think?).

Every discussion that took place after 9:07 p.m. is lost on me. I caught small glimpses of the soft spoken legislation as I wondered to myself, “What the fuck is going on?” I must have taken too many piss breaks, because everything became a broken record of how to better Penn State and how to control the students, which I, for one, have heard enough of in my classes.

What can I say about my first attendance to a UPUA meeting? Oh my God!

Not the type of “oh my God” that would translate into being amazed by what I’ve heard but more by what I’ve witnessed in the past couple of hours; utter loss of interest. As I review the notes scribbled in my notebook, the majority of the pages are filled with “WTF IS GOING ON!”

I was not captivated and, therefore, I give this advice to the UPUA members as an intoxicated bystander:

1) Avoid repetition. I heard so many repeated words in the same sentence, it was worse than an English major saying the word “like” while analyzing the finer points of a novel. I would know; I’m an English minor.

2) Hold actual debates. Your so-called debates are more of agreements rather than debates. You have to ask if anyone opposes a certain viewpoint, THEN have a debate. Stating an opinion that everyone agrees upon doesn’t foster suspense or conversation.

3) SPEAK UP! I sat in the rear rows and couldn’t hear shit. I turned to my buddy High to ask what I missed –who was not a reliable source, I must say. Was Martin Luther King Jr.  listened to by millions of people by speaking softly? NO.

Would I ever consider attending these meetings sober? Probably not. But to see a UPUA member whose nickname is “Dutch,” yes. Even though I was the drunk aspect of this observation, I couldn’t stop giggling at the thought of the word “Dutch” as I glanced over at High. After all the piss breaks I took, I noticed more and more sober people leaving. So being drunk as I was, I definitely wondered what was it that I missed that bored people into leaving. Probable answer: not a whole lot.

Sober:

I guess I picked the short straw, right? Throughout most of the meeting, I couldn’t help but feel envious of my wasted counterparts. Periodically, I would look over at Drunk taking another swig or High’s bright red eyes and think about how much fun I should be having.

The thought kept crossing through my mind, “How much funnier would Elias Warren be if I was wasted?” Pretty fucking funny I’d say, but that answer will have to wait for another day.

My meeting was spent half in boredom and half in fear of Drunk getting thrown out of the meeting. With adviser Mary Edgington only feet away as Drunk transferred liquid from flask to water bottle,  I was constantly worried that we would have to dip into the Onward State PAC fund to pay for their inevitable exuberant court fees.

I personally find UPUA meetings to be humorous affairs, even when sober. With wanna-be politicians converging to do absolutely nothing once a week, the amount of things to laugh about is always considerable.  But I can’t help but imagine how much funnier these things would be if I was baked.

High:

I naturally don’t really give a fuck. But throw a bowl packed full of medical bud and “Bulls on Parade” blasting on 98.7, you’ll have to send out a search party to find a single fuck I give.

I kind of had to give a fuck though, because I was 5 minutes late to UPUA’s weekly meeting and I didn’t want to fit into their stereotype of a loser stoner who is never on time. Thankfully loser rich assholes also usually operate behind schedule and I snuck into 302 HUB just as the shit show was starting up.

My spirit of rebellion carried on as khaki pants and comb overs bullshitted their way through last week’s shitty legislation that absolutely no one gave two shits about. My disdain for the establishment before me was fueled by Rage Against the Machine playing at a low decibel in my head but also because of how many UPUA reps look like they would make great used car salesmen.

Early on in the meeting, some older woman who looked and spoke a lot like Willy Wonka (the Johnny Depp one) gave some spiel about how the university is great because of its “multi-generational,” tight-knit community vibe. “Penn State becomes a part of us,” she stated over and over. She gave an in-depth history lesson about Centre County and how Penn State was born out of a depressed Iron Ore boom and bust. The area would have tanked economically because–let’s face it– there isn’t shit here.

A solution came in the form Lincoln’s land grant act that elevated a community-run farmers’ high school to the professional level of Pennsylvania’s state-run university. It was a clever way to ensure economic security for the middle of nowhere, PA. A boom town was created on an addiction to education and its ensuing financial benefits.

Students built this university, but students also built this area. There wouldn’t be, like, five tanning salons in State College if it weren’t for rich suburban dads sending their “princesses” here for an “education.” State sponsored higher education is the vital life blood that keeps Centre County from just being some farm fields glazed in shit. State College is a hick town importing intellectuals with good credit.

State appropriations account for $272 million in funding for Penn State. That doesn’t mean jack shit when the operating budget for 2011-2012 is $4.1 billion. Even less significant is the $20 million in federal funding for agriculture–the main reason Penn State was set up for in the first place. But even the smallest cuts mean fewer jobs for locals, which translates to fewer people buying over-priced oven mitts at Kitchen Kaboodle.

Besides the area’s dependency on state sponsored education, UPUA discussed how Penn State’s dominance in the area could lead to censorship.

The issue of authoratative power was first discussed in reference to State Patty’s Day. UPUA is working with local businesses to get green “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” shirts yanked from the racks. They’re meeting with the Tavern Association to get bars to restrict operating hours. They’re even discussing possibly taking out anti-SPD ads in other university newspapers and working with transportation businesses to curb State Patty’s Day bus tours in hopes of curbing out-of-towners from wreaking drunken havoc on our beloved college town.

These all sound plausible and oddly Orwellian but by far the most fascist crackdown came in UPUA’s revelation of conspring with realtors to restrict parties in off-campus houses and apartments. They already talked the IFC into axing ragers at frats (…I mean fraternities) but now UPUA hopes to purge Penn State of any liberty to party.

The bad PR of State College’s drinking culture poses too much of a threat to the already tainted perception of Penn State. Underage drinking is cute when alumni are sneaking jell-o shots to freshman at tailgates but when Happy Valley’s alcohol problem makes the nightly news, those with their salary at stake react. The administration sees this made up drinking holiday as a further toxin in Penn State’s pool of revenue. So they use the same silencing tactics that allowed a child sex abuse scandal to linger unspoken about for over a decade. They crack down on expression to make up for Jerry Sandusky being a piece of shit.

Thankfully UPUA passed a CCSG legislation that would urge Penn State to comply with state open records laws. After some weak arguments about the “lawyer costs” of the being accountable to tax payers, the majority agreed that shedding light on Penn State’s internal operations is necessary in the post-Spanier administration. In return for promising transparency, Harrisburg will continue to pledge Centre County’s state-sponsored fix of funding. Imagine that, getting paid for being real.

Fuck I’m baked.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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