UPUA Releases Statement on Closed Meeting

Editors note: UPUA has been criticized in the recent week by Onward State, the Daily Collegian, trustee Al Lord, and others for voting to close part of its meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the possibility of taking an official position on the Freeh report. The student government released a statement today justifying its position to close the meeting to the public and media, which is published verbatim below.

On Wednesday, September 24th 2014 the UPUA voted 30-8-0 (Yes-No-Abstain) to move into a closed Committee of the Whole discussion at the end of this upcoming Wednesday’s (10/1/14) General Assembly Meeting. Since that meeting, there has been much confusion surrounding the upcoming Committee of the Whole, due in part to inaccurate summaries and a multitude of opinions regarding what is actually occurring, and the purposes of the closed discussion.

During this private discussion, no votes will be taken, no legislation will be passed, and no formal stances will be established. Rather, this Committee of the Whole will serve as a forum where representatives can speak openly and candidly about their opinions regarding a specific resolution brought by Trustee Albert Lord addressing the Freeh Report, representatives’ interpretation of their constituencies opinions, and whether or not this matter is even one which the UPUA should involve itself with through a formal legislative stance.

This path is very similar to the normal legislative process, where any initiative begins with a private conversation about an issue, and eventually evolves to become a piece of legislation, written and passed through a committee before finally being voted upon by the entire General Assembly. The difference with the subject matter the UPUA will be discussing is simply the magnitude and potentially controversial nature of these issues many members of the Penn State community are passionate about. Because of the aforementioned factors, the Steering Committee recommended that the very initial discussion be held solely between the elected Representatives and Chief Executives of the UPUA in order to facilitate the most productive and candid initial conversation before any action was taken.

Trustee Lord’s resolution and the potential implications of it is something the Steering committee felt deserved the inclusion of each and every elected member of the UPUA from the onset, before legislation may be drafted by one committee that includes only a subset of the General Assembly, and not each member of the organization. The UPUA’s General Assembly echoed these thoughts when they voted 30-8 to have the very preliminary conversations in a private setting.

After this discussion, the UPUA’s Governmental Affairs Committee has the right to decide whether or not to draft a piece of legislation, following the designed process that every other piece of legislation the UPUA passes should go through. In no way is this discussion intended to replace a formal vote or channel of the organization to pass a stance through a resolution, rather, we hope the closed discussion may help guide the committee as they write legislation, if legislation is even deemed necessary or a smart course of action.

If and when the Committee on Governmental Affairs and the UPUA as a whole discusses actual legislation (yet to be written) related to these issues, all meetings will be public per usual, and the public and media will be welcome. The UPUA values and embraces transparency and in no way is attempting to skirt the public light. Rather, due to the truly unique nature of this subject matter, a closed discussion on a Wednesday evening when all the representatives were in the same room was deemed the best course of action.

Signed,

Anand Ganjam, President

Emily McDonald, Vice President

John Wortman, Speaker of the Assembly

Stephen Payne, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Affairs

Emily Miller, Chair of the Committee on Academic Affairs

Shannon Rafferty, Chair of the Committee on Student Life

Ryan Belz, Chair of the Committee on Internal Development

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