UPUA Speeds Through A Rare Uneventful Meeting

Over the course of this semester, the University Park Undergraduate Association has provided an endless stream of entertainment. From comparing togas and blackface to holding a closed meeting to discuss the Freeh Report, Penn State’s undergraduate student government has provided a good story on a weekly basis.

That ended last night. UPUA passed two pieces of legislation and hosted a solid guest speaker, but when all was said and done the general assembly meeting adjourned after just 59 minutes, the fastest pace during my two-year tenure writing about student government. Perhaps it had something to do with Speaker John Wortman’s absence to go see the Beach Boys. President Anand Ganjam was also absent to attend a sexual assault conference with other student leaders in Washington, D.C.

Despite the lack of noteworthy occurrences in 302 HUB on Wednesday night, I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath to hear about what did go down at the meeting.

Here’s the weekly recap:

Special Presentation on Title IX:

Deputy Title IX Coordinator Danny Shaha, who also runs the university’s Office of Student Conduct, is responsible for ensuring that Penn State complies with Title IX, a federal law that required gender equality within education.

While the law is typically thought to deal with athletics and often does, Shaha made it clear that there’s “a lot more than just sports” when it comes to Title IX.

Shaha said that he deals with “issues up to and involving sexual assault and violence and gender-based discrimination.”

When an incident occurs on campus such as a sexual assault, there are three steps that his office takes. The first is to immediately stop what’s happening. The second is to remedy the effects of those impacted through providing resources and support. Finally, the office works to prevent such incidents from happening again.

While reactionary measures are a large part of Title IX compliance, Shaha said that he also works on preventative measures such as education programs. Through freshmen orientation on alcohol and sexual assault and similar programs, the university is working to reduce the number of Timely Warnings that end up in your Webmail inbox on a regular basis.

And on to the legislation we go.

Policy 07-09 – Change to the Process of Filling a Vacancy:

In case you missed it, UPUA voted down the reinstatement of At-Large Representative Malik Cooper last week after he was banned from the assembly for violating the attendance policy.

This piece of legislation, sponsored by Speaker John Wortman and Internal Development Chair Ryan Belz, moves to change the policies for replacing a member on the assembly. Currently, all applicants are guaranteed an interview, but Policy 07-09 would switch to a vetting process to determine who does and doesn’t get to be interviewed.

At-Large Representative Tim Rinehart motioned to table the bill, citing the fact that there is an active application cycle underway. Rinehart said that it would be unfair to those who applied to change the rules on them and added that there should be specific rules added on how to vet applicants.

The motion to table the legislation until after the application process is completed passed 22-11.

Bill 07-09 – Mental Health & Wellness Week 2014:

While I have had issues with this week of education and advocacy in the past, it has improved over the years from stress balls and massages to a panel of speakers on mental health.

This legislation was a no-brainer and passed unanimously. Mental Health & Wellness Week is set to take place starting Monday, November 11 as UPUA partners with CAPS, the IFC, the Panhellenic Council, and Active Minds. We’ll have more on that closer to the week.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for tuning in and I’m sorry there weren’t any UPUA fireworks to brighten your day.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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