Onward State Endorses Emily McDonald For UPUA President

The UPUA’s Ninth Assembly adjourned for the final time last Wednesday, putting a close to an assembly that was both impressively productive and intensely volatile over the course of the last year. With one assembly coming to a close, another will soon step into office, marking the tenth year of Penn State’s undergraduate student government. The makeup of the Tenth Assembly is yet to be determined, pending Wednesday’s UPUA elections.

The Onward State endorsement committee met with each of the four tickets for UPUA’s executive office, hearing their platforms before debating who is best fit to represent the undergraduate student body. We heard from Ryan Belz, a controversial candidate who is undoubtedly passionate about student government. We listened to Shannon Rafferty, the assembly’s current Student Life committee chair. We spoke to Hamsa Fayed, a newcomer to student government who brings some refreshingly new perspectives to the table.

But in the end, it was the current vice president of the UPUA that impressed our committee the most, and so Onward State is endorsing Emily McDonald and Terry Ford for executive office in the 2015 UPUA Election. The McDonald/Ford ticket brings the most experience and institutional knowledge to this election. McDonald, as the assembly’s current vice president under outgoing president Anand Ganjam, can step into the role of president with little transition, already holding important relationships with Penn State administrators and fellow student leaders. Her understanding of the inner workings of the university and her very tangible record of successful initiatives within UPUA stood out to our committee.

Onward State feels that McDonald has the clearest idea of how to enact all of the campaign platform’s ideas, taking the extra step to plan out the enactment of proposed initiatives. The McDonald ticket would be ready to start tomorrow and hit the ground running if elected, which is invaluable. We met with McDonald just one year ago when she ran alongside Ganjam for executive office, and our endorsement committee feels that she has clearly gained a lot of experience and confidence over the last year. Her work on the Board of Trustees governance committee impressed us immensely, and she played a big part in getting a permanent codified student trustee on the board, something that has been in the works for years.

Among a robust slate of initiatives on the McDonald/Ford platform, a handful stood out above the rest. We particularly like McDonald’s idea to bring the HeForShe gender equality campaign to Penn State. You might recognize the name as Emma Watson gave a powerful speech to the United Nations recently calling for gender equality and supporting the solidarity movement. The McDonald ticket is also stressing financial transparency by the university, especially with things like student fees, which we feel is an important step in the right direction.

McDonald emphasized mental health and wellness more strongly than the other three candidates, stating that she will push for a task force within the university. As Ford said at last night’s debate, it’s important to put the research and due diligence work in first to establish what the real problem is before throwing money at Counseling and Psychological Services. We also strongly support some of the more innovative ideas on the platform, including a campus umbrella rental service that would allow students to check out free umbrellas from places like the library with a student ID. We felt that this initiative, though simple, is both a pragmatic and helpful solution to a legitimate problem. Lastly, though all four candidates emphasized sexual assault, we feel that McDonald is best equipped to work with the university on implementing the 18 recommendations accepted by President Eric Barron.

We have confidence that McDonald and Ford will be able to accomplish their lofty goals and earn more respect and recognition for student government at Penn State. For the reasons above, we offer this ticket our unqualified endorsement.

Don’t forget to vote in Wednesday’s election to choose your next representatives in the UPUA at vote.psu.edu.

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