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UPUA Considers Stripping Voting Power From Greek Councils

First, pink elephant balloons. Now, this.

In what is likely to be the most controversial legislation considered by UPUA in quite some time, Policy 06-08 “Removal of Greek Council Representatives and Addition of Greek Council Liaisons,” is expected to be voted on by the Internal Development committee tonight. The policy would change UPUA’s constitution and bylaws to strip the four Greek Councils — the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Association (PHC), National Pan-Hellenic Assocation (NPHC), and the Multicultural Greek Council (MCG) — of their voting powers. Instead, it would turn the Greek Councils into liaisons, which gives them speaking privileges at meetings but not a vote. If passed by the General Assembly, these changes would take effect at the beginning of the next assembly’s term.

“The Greek Council seats are appointed, and they’re the only outside org that has a vote,” said College of Communications Rep. Ryan Belz, currently the bill’s only listed co-sponsor in this preliminary stage. “Not even ARHS has a voting position. It’s hard to turn down these other organizations who want a vote when IFC has a vote.”

There has always been a certain amount of skepticism surrounding the existence of the four Greek Council representatives. The UPUA Constitution mandates in its membership section, Article 5 §2.1.1 Part C: “There shall be one (1) Representative from each of the Greek Councils.” The Greek Councils are the only outside organizations that have voting power in UPUA (the rest of the Assembly is made up of elected student representatives from location-based constituencies and academic college representatives).

Belz cites two obvious reasons in his legislation for this move: (1) Students in Greek life are already represented by one or more other constituency groups (for instance, if you live in a fraternity house, you’re represented by an Off-Campus Representative and the representative in your academic college already) and (2) Other student groups have approached UPUA about getting a voting seat, and there’s no good reason why the Greek Councils should be held in higher regard, than say, ROTC.

There have always been murmurs about dismantling the Greek Council votes, but UPUA membership has historically had disproportionately high Greek representation. While there is still significant Greek influence in UPUA — two of the six committee chairs are Greek, along with Vice President Brenden Dooley — it’s a far cry from previous assemblies. For instance, in the 6th Assembly (2011-2012), both President T.J. Bard and Vice President Courtney Lennartz were Greek, along with five of six committee chairs. Could this be the year that UPUA finally has the votes to override the Greek power bloc?

This bill is certain to receive significant and calculated pushback from the Greek community. An IFC-endorsed UPUA presidential candidate has never lost an election. Greeks are easily mobilized in UPUA elections that often struggle to get average students out to the polls. If passed, it could piss off the powers that be in Greek life just enough to trigger an institutional UPUA shunning come election time in March, which would eliminate one of UPUA’s biggest allies and crutches of legitimacy. Either way, this should set the stage for an intense debate when it comes to the floor.

The Internal Development Committee will meet tonight in 331 HUB at 9:30 p.m. Discussion on this bill is scheduled for 10 p.m., and all four Greek Council presidents are expected to attend. Meetings are open to students and anyone is able to speak during the public comment period. If Internal Development passes the policy, it will be voted on by the Steering Committee — consisting of all six UPUA Committee Chairs and Assembly Chair Anthony Panichelli — for competency and policy adherence and then introduced and voted on by UPUA’s General Assembly at a regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting.

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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