UPUA Discusses Movin’ On, Questions Ill-Prepared Bill

Welcome to your weekly dose of UPUA goodness. The tenth assembly met in the HUB Wednesday night, and after adding two bills and a resolution to the agenda, spent a considerable amount of time discussing the (noticeably) last-minute additions.

Most of President Emily McDonald’s report focused on her meeting with the Heath Insurance Advisory Board, in which there was discussion of mandating that all international students use Penn State’s health insurance plan instead of an outside provider. Currently, all international students are required to have health insurance of some type, but around 4,000 opt out of using Penn State’s plan, according to McDonald, which is causing the premium to go up. Because of this, students are driven to use a non-Penn State insurance, and end up paying more out-of-pocket when they are ill or injured (up to $6000), even if the plan is relatively cheap when the student is healthy. McDonald said there was also discussion to mandate that all domestic students have insurance that is accepted by UHS, Mt. Nittany Medical Center, and other local healthcare providers if a student chooses not to use Penn State’s insurance plan. On a university governance note, McDonald encouraged anyone interested in speaking at the Board of Trustees meeting during the open forum next week to apply online to do so.

Vice President Terry Ford updated the assembly on the nuisance property ordinance proposal and his meeting with IFC President Rick Groves. Going forward, they are planning to re-assess the proposal to make it more favorable to members of the community as well as borough officials. On the IFC’s end, Groves and his outreach team are creating a presentation that they will share with the fraternities to educate them on the specifics of the proposal and how to avoid being assigned points as well as how to handle a situation in which they are assigned points. Ford also mentioned that he will participate in the Bystander Intervention training program on Friday. See you there Terry!

The majority of the discussion centered around Bill 12-10, “Fall Action Week.” The Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Roundtable proposed a three-day event next week, Nov. 16-18, that aims to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence as well as gather ideas and opinions about what should be done at Penn State regarding these issues. The event will feature a screening of the documentary “The Line,” followed by a presentation from the film’s creator following the showing (which will take place at the State Theatre on Wednesday at 7:30) as well as a “harvest” event where groups will be able to decorate t-shirts expressing their thoughts on sexual violence, which will be displayed in the HUB during Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Week in the spring.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Probably, if this information had been laid out in the bill that was proposed. The first thing members of the assembly noticed was that the showing of the film would cost UPUA $1,000, according to the bill.

“Why is the movie a thousand dollars,” questioned at-large rep Darian Gist, who was in opposition of the bill. “Seems like a lot, I’ve never seen a thousand dollar movie.”

Representative Blanco explained that the movie is very popular, and Representative Leventis clarified that in addition to the movie being shown at the State Theatre, the $1000 would be going toward the speaker who created the movie, not the movie itself, which wasn’t mentioned in the bill.

There were also questions about why the food for the event was already ordered if the bill hadn’t been approved yet and why there was budget allocated for t-shirts when the Women’s Resource Center already has shirts that could, it appeared, serve the same purpose. Before it was made clear that the t-shirts would be designed by participants who attend the first day of the event, there was a (confusing) amendment proposed to remove the t-shirts from the bill and vote on the remainder. This failed, 8-29, and discussion swung to supporting the bill because of the purposed it serves in raising awareness for sexual assault and domestic abuse. The bill ultimately passed, 36-1 (Representative Gist stood in lone opposition).

Overall, it seemed as though the bill was haphazardly put together in a rush so that it could be approved at last night’s meeting, seeing as the event starts next Monday, which led to a lack of clarity. Nonetheless, the intent was obviously there and there will be a “Fall Action Week.”

The other bill, 13-10 “Movin’ On Allocation 2015-16 Academic Year,” passed unanimously after the the assembly discussed some of the safety concerns they have surrounding the festival. The bill moves to allocate UPUA’s $10,000 to a “Middle Agent” who would help Movin’ On in booking big-name acts. Movin’ On Liaison Nikita Page spoke benevolently of the festival and the tradition it inspires at Penn State. He also addressed the safety concerns, such as on-site EMTs, live-feed surveillance cameras, and the fact that it is made clear to students that the event is substance-free. Page admitted, however, that due to the nature of the festival (outside, free, no barriers or crowd-limit), having enough security to catch every person of every illegal thing would be impossible and terribly costly, and that Movin’ On’s policies will be sufficient for the 2016 show.

The final piece of legislation, Resolution 17-10 “Support for the Development of a Student Farm at Overlook Heights,” passed unanimously with little discussion. A member of the assembly asked how this differs from the resolution that was passed in the ninth assembly, and it was explained that this new resolution focuses more on supporting the club going forward so they are able to get conversations with the administration and ultimately get the land they need.

Speaker Emily Miller brought up the smoke-free campus initiative during her report, noting that Penn State is already “behind the 8-ball,” and because so many large campuses have already implemented such programs that it is no longer an innovative idea. Miller said that the assembly should take a stance and make a decision on the issue.

That’s all from 233B HUB this week. Check back next Wednesday as the assembly begins wrapping up some of the initiatives for the semester before heading into Thanksgiving break.

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Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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