The End Of An Era: UPUA’s 7th Assembly
Last night’s UPUA meeting was nothing short of extraordinary. It was the last meeting for the 7th Assembly and they made sure to make the most of it by passing fifteen pieces of legislation. For all the shit UPUA gets for mishandling situations (see: iPad scandal), last night really showed what an effective student government can do for Penn State’s student body.
Editorializing aside, last night’s meeting started with sexual violence group “Only With Consent” pushing UPUA to pass a bill to fund Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Several speakers from the group noted that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while the number is 1 in 6 for men.
“We don’t stand for this,” commented one student speaker. “It’s not OK.”
In President Lennartz’s final report as president, she offered some advice to the Assembly as it moves forward. “Always look ahead and do what’s best for the organization, and not necessarily what is the best for yourself,” commented Lennartz.
The entire room stood to applaud Lennartz after her emotional concluding remarks, although it’s interesting and not all that surprising to note that Representative Ryan Brown was the only person to refuse to stand or clap for Lennartz during the standing ovation. Brown would go on to abstain on almost every piece of legislation as he made his graceful departure from UPUA.
After liaison reports, the assembly finally moved into the legislation for the evening. Here’s what they were able to accomplish last night:
Policy 16-07: 2012-2013 Budget Revisions
Basically, the budget was revised so that there was a large discretionary fund instead of a number of dispersed funds in multiple accounts controlled by different entities. It sounds like this was done make the budget easier to organize, and the policy passed unanimously.
Bill 04-07: Political Debate Co-Sponsorship
This bill allowed UPUA to partially fund a co-sponsor a debate between well known politicians Robert Gibbs and Newt Gingrich with the College Democrats and College Republicans, respectively. The problem, however, was that only $17,000 was allocated for this debate when in fact the event organizers needed $20,000. The only reason $17,000 was allocated in the first place was because there was no room left in the budget. To obtain the extra $3,000 needed for the debate, the Assembly had some debating to do to find the money.
They all agreed that they would take $1,680 from a less important project, but getting that remaining $1,320 proved to be much more difficult than necessary. One suggestion was canceling the transition dinner for new UPUA candidates after elections, which ended up being a poor idea because canceling the dinner would’ve cost UPUA $500 in cancellation fees. Eventually, they found the $1,320 in a discretionary fund to make this event happen.
Bill 05-07: Sexual Assault Awareness Week
This bill would allocate $26,000 for Sexual Assault Awareness week, which will take place April 8 to April 12. Events that week range from a 4k and 6k race to a “Rock Against Rape” concert, which is similar to a battle of the bands. $23,100 of that $26k is to pay for 6,000 shirts to hand out to students, which alarmed a few assembly members that questioned the effectiveness of the shirts. As representative Rishi Mittal noted, “I wear this [sexual assault awareness] shirt proud, and it’s a great thing overall. The fact that some think it’s just a shirt is malarkey.” He went on to say that he’s been stopped a few times by people asking about his shirt, which makes it great for raising awareness. The bill passed 35-1-0, with only the College of Earth and Mineral Science representative Dan Tauriello opposing. Although Tauriello said he vehemently supported the bill personally, his constituents made it clear that they did not support spending such a large part of the budget on T-shirts, so he was forced to vote no.
Bill 06-07: “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign Posters
The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign is aimed at reducing the sexual assaults that take place at Penn State. Basically, by placing provocative posters (like this one) around campus and throughout town, it will get to the root of the issue by attacking perpetrators. Theses posters were initially put up in Edmonton, Canada, and sexual assaults dropped 10% in one year there, according to the UPUA legislation. The bill proposes purchasing 4,000 posters at a total price of $1,451.80 and passed 35-0-2.
Bill 07-07: Purchase of a Safe
This one’s pretty self-explanatory: UPUA wants a safe to store all their precious valuables (like iPads and sunglasses). For $748, UPUA will get a nice First Alert 3.1-Cubic Foot 2-Hour Fire Safe with Combination Lock from Walmart. The bill passed unanimously.
Bill 08-07: UPUA Retreat
Yes, after all the CCSG retreat issues from a month a go, UPUA wants to go on a retreat to the luxurious Camp Krislund. Unlike their commonwealth counterpart, however, UPUA will not ask CCSG to pay for this retreat and will instead fund it themselves. The retreat will cost the students $3,000 and passed through the Assembly 30-4-1.
Bill 09-07: Capital Day Funding
Every year, Penn State students make the trip to Harrisburg to stress the importance of state funding to the university. Known as Capital Day, all three student governments (UPUA, CCSG, and GSA) plan this event with the Penn State Grassroots Network. Initially, the bill asked for $1,000 for food and transportation to Capital. However, that number was cut down to $700 when — much to the delight of UPUA — it was announced that there would be a free lunch provided at the event. They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but I guess Milton Friedman never went to Capital Day. The bill passed unanimously.
Policy 17-07: Amendment Regarding the Legitimacy of the UPUA
This policy adds phrases to the constitution so it now reflects the fact that UPUA derives its power from the student body and is “legitimized through free and fair elections by the undergraduate student body.” Everyone can sigh a breath of relief knowing that the UPUA elections aren’t rigged, unless you’re like me and didn’t realize that rigging the UPUA elections was even a possibility since it’s the student government of a college rather than elections under a dictatorial regime. The policy passed 34-0-3.
Policy 18-07: UPUA Asset Management and Internal Cash Controls
This adds to the constitution protecting UPUA’s tangible items (like money, a laser pointer, an LCD TV that apparently exists, and, of course, the two iPads) to the responsibilities of the Director of Finance. Thieves beware… The policy passed unanimously.
Policy 19-07: UPUA Asset Management and Internal Cash Controls
This policy tasks the Internal Development Committee with auditing UPUA. Furthermore, Internal Development will assess the physical condition of all tangible UPUA assets and recommend maintenance for them. The policy passed unanimously.
Policy 20-07: Bylaws Revision 2013
This policy updates the bylaws of the constitution to reflect UPUA’s current practices and also revises old policies such as the hours during which office hours can be held, the responsibilities of assembly members during office hours, the procedure for absences, and the number of times an assembly member can speak on a specific piece of legislature. This policy passed 31-1-3.
Policy 21-07: Referenda on the 2013 UPUA Ballot
This policy will add three referendum questions to the elections page when you vote on March 27. Spoiler alerts: The first is about whether or not you want to pay an annual $5 fee to go to permanent sustainability projects on campus. The second is about whether or not you think the student trustee on the Board of Trustees should be elected by students. The third question is whether or not you approve Penn State students getting a voting Borough Council Representative position. The wordings of these questions are to be determined because the proposed wording was apparently biased, although I think the only non-obvious question is the sustainability fee. This policy passed 30-4-2.
Policy 22-07: Fourth Student Representative to the Board of Trustees
There are four non-voting representative positions on committees of the Board of Trustees, but only three student body leaders, the presidents of UPUA, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), and the Council of Commonwealth Student Government (CCSG). The fourth spot was granted on an every-other-year basis to UPUA and CCSG, so this policy states that every other year UPUA will take the representative spot on the committee, alternating with CCSG. The vice president will be this representative. This policy passed unanimously.
Policy 23-07: Governing Documents Revision 2013
This policy charges the executive with revising UPUA governing documents to standardize their formatting and tenses. This policy passes unanimously.
Policy 24-07: Amendment to Policy #02-04: UPUA Budgetary Policy
This policy clarified inconsistencies while updating the budgetary policy to ensure flexible, transparent, and prudent expenditures of funds by UPUA, since UPUA gets its money from the Student Activity Fee. This policy passed unanimously.
Well guys, you can all pat yourselves on the back for making it through the 7th assembly of UPUA and especially for making it to the end of this post. Just know that the only thing worse than having to read this whole thing was having to actually attend the entire three hour meeting.
We’ll debate the legacy and work of the 7th Assembly in another post at another time. It was an interesting year in UPUA — as they always are — and we all had some fun.
That’s a wrap.