UPUA Goes Casual

Rather than the ill-fitting suits and wrinkled collars that usually fill up 302 HUB every Wednesday night, the UPUA dropped the business from business casual and met for a special meeting called Committee of the Whole. COWs, as such meetings are aptly called, are used for UPUA to discuss various issued in a less structured, non-official way when there is no new business for the week.

Before the group could break into COW, Chris Millet, Director of Education Technology Services presented a few IT-related projects to the Assembly. Education Technology Services oversees the Educational Gaming Commons, Media Commons, and the Knowledge Commons. In the coming years, ETS hopes to redesign some of these spaces. “Expect to see more innovation,” Millet foreshadowed.

ETS also handles Penn State’s five Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Three of these courses opened this fall, while “Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques,” and “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution,” have not yet announced opening dates. Millet mentioned that of the 310,000 people who enroll in these courses, only about 10 percent finish them — which isn’t unusual for other schools with MOOCs.

Educational Gaming Commons is also working on a new reward system of digital badges, modeled after Mozilla’s openbadges.org. These badges, similar to Boy Scout badges (his comparison, not mine), will serve as virtual representations of academic achievements for students — equally as useless and half as fun as Foursquare badges. After the standard “ANGEL sucks” remark, the Assembly transitioned into executive reports.

President Katelyn Mullen used her time to talk about, most importantly, State Patty’s Day. Mullen says that student leaders won’t be making a cheesy video this year, but instead will contact local vendors to dissuade them from selling State Patty’s paraphernalia.

The final task the Assembly took on before moving into Committee of the Whole was the swearing in of Tom Orr as Director of Student Financial Education Center. The Financial Education Center provides peer counseling to promote financial literacy in the student body. Orr was approved swiftly and unanimously.

UPUA then broke off into an informal session where the representatives were able to “vent” about how they thought the year was going so far. The meeting didn’t adjourn until after 10:45 p.m., but when all 40+ reps have speaking privileges, things can drag on in COWs.

Tie of the Week

No ties this week, folks. The dress code was casual.

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