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And So It Begins: UPUA’s 8th Assembly


Looking back through the past seven UPUA assemblies, it’s not difficult to find the faults of UPUA. But with every new assembly comes a new hope, and that sentiment dominated the night as the 8th Assembly was called to order for the first time last night in 302 HUB.

The 8th Assembly met with the goal of learning from past mistakes while also moving UPUA in a positive direction going forward. The first order of business, however, was electing the new chairs. Here’s how it all went down during the four hour meeting:

Chair of the Assembly: Anthony Panichelli vs. Dray Krishnan

Winner: Anthony Panichelli (30-5-0)

In Representative Panichelli’s speech, he made his primary goal for the Assembly to increase accountability for everyone involved in UPUA. He intends to put in place an attendance policy that will hold every Assembly member accountable for attending each meeting. Also, he plans to work with committee chairs to create specialized agendas for each piece of legislation so that it can be voted on in a timely matter.

Panichelli did mention that his greatest weakness is “getting a bit intense sometimes.” However, he did follow that up by saying that the Assembly will “never for a second question [his] hard work and dedication.”

Internal Development Chair: Victoria Woods vs. Katie Esarey 

Winner: Katie Esarey (29-6-0)

After this year’s elections code debacle, Esarey’s main goal for the 8th Assembly is to get an elections code approved as early as next fall. Which, you know, is a good idea after UPUA had an 8 percent turnout and an unopposed presidential ticket for the most recent elections. Getting an elections code up and running sooner will allow UPUA more time to promote their elections, and therefore increase the already dismal voter turnout.

Student Life Chair: Caleb Fernandez ran unopposed

Winner: Caleb Fernandez (obviously) 

As Student Life Chair, Fernandez plans to place more of an emphasis on sexual assault awareness. While he was pleased with the plans for Sexual Assault Awareness Week, he wants to make sexual assault awareness a year-long reality. In addition, he also wants UPUA to raise awareness about eating disorders around campus. In reference to eating disorders, Fernandez said “There’s a difference between being healthy and looking good.” With Fernandez as the new Student Life Chair, expect legislation that raises awareness about both of these issues around campus.

Diversity Chair: Dutch Markward vs. Emily McDonald vs. Evan Riddick

Winner: Emily McDonald (22-12-0); Markward was eliminated after first vote

It was surprising to see the incumbent Markward eliminated after the first round of voting. He even brought out the “Diversity was an old wooden ship” line from Anchorman, but I’m guessing most of the Assembly didn’t pick up the reference.

Meanwhile, as Diversity Chair, McDonald plans to increase accountability by forcing members to attend the meetings set with multicultural organizations throughout campus. As she eloquently put it, “If people don’t show up, we’ll call ’em out.” Because, hey, sometimes publicly shaming people is the only way to get things done in student government.

Facilities Chair: Emily Miller vs. Jeff Holzer

Winner: Jeff Holzer (30-4-1)

If there’s one thing Holzer made apparent during his presentation, it’s that he’s a Landscape Architecture major, which is seemingly relevant to facilities and construction initiatives. As Facilities Chair, Holzer will also hold his committee members accountable throughout the week. For example, Facilities meets every Tuesday, but Holzer would like an email every Friday from each committee member detailing the work they’ve done that week. It definitely goes with the accountability theme that UPUA is pushing this Assembly.

Governmental Affairs Chair: Laurel Petrulionis vs. Chase Englund 

Winner: Laurel Petrulionis (27-7-1)

As Governmental Affairs Chair, Petrulionis will use her experience as Borough Council representative (her position last Assembly) to push for a voting student member on the council. She will also work with administration to put a voting student member on the Board of Trustees. Many of her ideas align with the Mullen/Dooley platform, which shows that she’ll be on the same page with both Mullen and Dooley going forward.

Academic Affairs Chair: Melissa McCleery ran unopposed

Winner: Melissa McCleery was voted in unanimously 

McCleery is the only returning chair from last semester, which means there will be very little transtion from the 7th Assembly to the 8th Assembly. As Academic Affairs Chair, McCleery will work with each college to put every class’s syllabus online so that students know what they’re getting into before they take the class. She’ll also work to expand Penn State World Campus and continue to move it forward. As she said, “I think there’s an interesting future ahead for Penn State World Campus.”

Borough Council Representative: Chase Englund vs. John Wortman

Winner: Chase Englund (20-15-0)

This was definitely one of the most intense elections of the evening. Englund was clearly drive after his Governmental Affairs Chair loss, and he said the Borough Council representative was his “second choice.” On the other side, Wortman took the approach of speaking loudly and using buzz words. Unfortunately for him, this approach led the Assembly to believe that he would start a figurative “war” between the townies and the students.

As Borough Council Rep, Englund will continue to voice the opinion of the student body at council meetings and work with others to put a voting student member on the council.

Movin’ On Representative: Rishi Mittal ran unopposed

Winner: Rishi Mittal 

At this point in the meeting, everyone was clearly ready to go so Mittal kept his speech to one line. No one had any questions for Mittal because I don’t think anyone really cares about the position of Movin’ On representative. Even Dooley let out a sarcastic “Congratulations!” after Mittal was announced as the winner.

Other Meeting Notes

  • The front table is extremely intimidating as both Panichelli and Mullen have two of the most piercing stares that I have seen. Dooley needs to work on it though if he wants to join the ranks of Mullen and Panichelli.
  • Ted Ritsick and John Wortman are the new Elias Warren and Anthony Christina. Both Christina and Warren are tough to replace and I know that the wound is still fresh for many. However, Ritsick and Wortman both showed signs of potential at the meeting last night.
  • Bow ties are apparently in for this assembly. Representatives Kevin Horne and J.P. Milton were both sporting one at last night’s meeting.
  • Even if someone is running unopposed for a chair position, UPUA will still vote. It’s stupid for sure, and secret ballot shouldn’t be needed if there’s only one candidate.

Anthony Panichelli Quote of the Week: “Even if you didn’t get the chair position you wanted, don’t worry about it.” You have to wonder if he would’ve said that even if he didn’t win Chair of the Assembly.

Tie of the Week: I’m honestly not sure if this will be a weekly feature yet, but Ritsick’s tie last night was too cool to not share with the world. The design is apparently based off “Drive My Car” by The Beatles:


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About the Author

Greg Schlosser

Greg is a senior majoring in energy engineering at Penn State. He is a big fan of Pittsburgh sports and sandwiches with coleslaw and french fries. You can email him at [email protected] or find him at the Phyrst drunkenly requesting the band to play "One Headlight."


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