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UPUA Tables Vote to Censure Justin Laskowski

Heated debate. Parliamentary procedure. Unnecessarily bureaucratic legislation. These are all regular occurrences at weekly University Park Undergraduate Association’s General Assembly meetings. But a motion to censure a representative? That’s some juicy stuff, and it happened last night for the first time in two years when Internal Development Chair Dray Krishnan motioned to censure Student Life Chair Justin Laskowski for “abuse of the legislative process.”

A policy was brought to Internal Development this past week that would amend the process for interviewing executive nominations (such as the Director of Sustainability). ID voted down the legislation, but Laskowski added some additional stipulations to the original policy and ran it through his Student Life committee, which voted to pass it through to the floor. Chair Krishnan believed that this was a slight directed at his committee, as well as a violation of UPUA rules, and wanted to censure Laskowski — which is the greatest form of rebuke short of expulsion —  as a result.

The question remains if Laskowski actually violated the legislative process. A bill can be reviewed a second time if changes are made it that make it substantially different from the original legislation. The question is, how much of a change is needed to be considered substantial? The assembly decided that until they had an opportunity to review both bills, they couldn’t vote on the censure. Rep. Ryan Cochran motioned to postpone the motion until next week’s meeting, and the vote carried the motion.

Grab a six pack and a Twitter handle — we’re in for a barnburner next Wednesday night in 302 HUB, folks.

But let’s backtrack. The meeting began with a silent open student forum as always. One notable (or perhaps not) absence from the opening roll call was (now Deputy) Director of External Affairs  Vinnie Lizza, who is also the IFC president. Lizza has not attended a single meeting this academic year, though his title was downgraded to Deputy Director so he could avoid showing up to meetings. But Lizza’s one and only project for the entire semester is creating a checklist for fraternity house inspection, which is only loosely related UPUA. Lizza seems to take his position for granted and hasn’t shown up to any Executive Board meetings, either. I’m sure John Zang will he’ll come up with one bad ass checklist, though.

And now on to the less interesting stuff. In President Lennartz’s weekly report, she mentioned that she attended a meeting with the facilities fee board this past week to discuss the funding of the Schwab Auditorium remodeling, HUB expansion, IM Building expansion, and the addition of air conditioning in the White Building. The HUB Expansion will add 7,000 square feet to the building, and come at a cost of $5.9 million if approved, while the White Building air condition will cost $425,000.

Representative Michael Kramer then rose to address President Lennartz regarding the recent discussion of a student-athlete honor code. Kramer voiced his opinion that a separate honor code for athletes is wrong. He is of the opinion that the word “student” in their title comes first for a reason. Lennartz said that she has raised the same concerns with Athletic Director Joyner, though Chief of Staff John Zang noted that the athletic department honor code is part of the agreement the university made with the NCAA.

Policy 05-07 – PASS Delegates Bylaws Amendment:

This policy was created in order to amend the process by which UPUA elects delegates to serve on PASS, an organization that represents the collective interests of Pennsylvania state related schools Lincoln, Pittsburgh, and Temple. The amendment put a cap on UPUA delegates at three and provides a formal infrastructure for the delegate selection process. The problem is, in the words of Anthony Christina, the policy provides “unnecessary bureaucracy.” Why limit the number of delegates to three when the other three schools don’t have similar legislation in place? Why not? The policy passed by a vote of 40-5.

Resolution 09-07 – Funding for PASS Website:

And even more legislation on the multi-university committee. This resolution allocates $500 from the UPUA’s PASS-related budget for the creation of a website specific to the organization. Governmental Affairs Chair Franchesino said that UPUA can’t wait for other schools to help fund the website to move forward. Representative Christina took issue with this, arguing that “Penn State has led the way this entire time and the other schools have flaked off.” Christina went on to say that “we’re being strangleholded again for other schools that haven’t given any lead on this.”

Why UPUA couldn’t just add a tab to their current website, the world will never know. I won’t sleep well tonight because of that very question, and I apologize for passing that burden on to you. This resolution passed — yes, you guessed it — with overwhelming support (39-4-0), because why listen to that crazy Republican Anthony Christina when he makes all of those really good points that should be obvious but for someone reason slip through the cracks during the legislative process?

In other news, UPUA confirmed their two newest members at last night’s meeting: Khaled Rihawi (Board of Arbitrations) and Evelyn Tyan (Multicultural Greek Council Representative). Congratulations to both of you, and good luck. You’ll need it.

Elias Warren Quote of the Week:

During a discussion on one of the two PASS-related pieces of legislation last night, everyone’s favorite UPUA representative Elias Warren broke out his usual showmanship. “If man can jump from 24 miles in the air and survive, I think that we as UPUA can revitalize PASS,” Warren said.

John Zang Tie of the Week (4 out of 5):

The Chief of Staff dressed to impress again this week. Sporting a dark grey suit with a classic white button-down, Zang wore an elegant dark blue tie with my favorite accessory — a tie clip. Like they say: a tie clip a day keeps the bad tie ratings away.

Tune in next week for more ramblings from a student who’s grappling with the fact that he’s actually starting to enjoy these meetings. Oh, and #CensureLaskowksi, if for nothing else but my own amusement.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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