UPUA Prepares For BoT Meeting, Recognizes Mike The Mailman In Busy Meeting
The University Park Undergraduate Association’s tenth assembly met in the HUB Wednesday night for its weekly meeting. A short meeting packed with four pieces of hefty legislation, the tenth assembly got down to business as some members prepared to address to the Board of Trustees today and tomorrow and the rest prepared for the end of the term.
The Student Red Cross Club gave a special presentation on the Penn State/Michigan State Blood Drive Competition to begin the meeting. Penn State won the competition, 992-954, and the club presented a plaque to the assembly. “Thank you guys so much for supporting us, it means a lot to us,” a representative from the Student Red Cross Club said. The org said they pushed to get as many student groups as possible involved this year and considered the event a success.
President Emily McDonald gave her report to the assembly next, noting her and Speaker Emily Miller were off to Hershey after the conclusion of the meeting for the Board of Trustees meeting taking place today and Friday, which is final meeting during the tenth assembly. McDonald updated the assembly on what she will presenting to the committee on academic affairs and student life as well as the full board on Friday, which is custom for student government presidents whose terms are ending. The UPUA president also advised the assembly to stay engaged and updated with the Pennsylvania budget stalemate, saying the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students (PASS) will meet in Harrisburg to advocate for students on behalf of the appropriations.
In his report Vice President Terry Ford updated the assembly on conversations with Damon Sims and a “Lion Chat” he participated in with the goal of building conversations between students and long-term borough residents.
After a five-minute caucus breakout, the assembly dove into the first of four pieces of legislation: Resolution 37-10 Support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Allies Report’s Recommendations. This resolution is an extension of the Cultural Climate Report the ninth assembly worked on, expanding it to include the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally community, including support for things like gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Representative Divy Agnihotri said the addition was the culmination of many months of work, and a number of others spoke in support of the legislation.
“I can’t stress the importance of this report enough, making sure everyone at Penn State feels included and a part of the larger Penn State community,” said Student Life Chair (and Onward State photographer) Steffen Blanco. Resolution 37-10 passed with a vote of 31-0-1.
Next up was Resolution 38-10, Recommendations for the Pennsylvania State University Police and Emergency Management Websites. Governmental Affairs Chair Ryan Valencia said the university began looking into emergency management a few months ago following concerns both at Penn State and around the country. The Resolution includes a number of appendages with examples such as “Surviving an Active Shooter.”
“We’re not talking about saving money or student convenience — we’re talking about potentially saving lives,” one member of the assembly said in support of the legislation.
Valencia noted most of these things are already implemented and the Resolution was just a formality, and it passed unanimously (after an amendment to change “branch campuses” to “Commonwealth campuses” on one of the appendages).
Approximately 12 hours before the Board of Trustees meeting, the assembly revisited the Recreational Facilities security update that was tabled in November thanks to efforts from student government with Resolution 39-10, “Support of Amended Proposed Funds for Recreational Facility Access Modifications.” Following modifications, including removing the proposed cost increase for students, UPUA voted 29-3 to support the modifications, meaning Graduate and Professional Student Association President and Onward State General Manager Kevin Horne will share the official student stance in Board of Trustees committee meetings today.
“We’re alleviating the burden of students having to pay for this, making this a lot more cost affective and common sense,” Valencia said. “We have to keep up with our Big Ten peers” (who already have similar turnstile systems in place at recreational facilities). The assembly said the updates quell any concerns they previously had that led to the motion to table in November.
The final piece of legislation, Resolution 40-10 Recognition of Mike the Mailman, was, as Valencia put it, a thoughtful piece of legislation honoring the incredible service of Mike Herr, who announced his retirement earlier this week. “We just wanted to come together and recognize him for his service,” Valencia said. The Resolution passed 31-1-0, garnering a lone “no” vote from Speaker Miller.
Speaking of Speaker Miller, her report touched on the budget stalemate as well and how it’s impacting students. “The longer we go without a budget, the more real these things become,” she said. Miller said it’s important students are informed about the money they need, and though they will be notified via eLion and email, she encouraged everyone to tell their peers to go to the Bursar with any questions.
Facilities Chair Alex Shockley updated the assembly on a number of initiatives, including an airport shuttle that would serve to take students to the State College Airport the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of finals week.
Last but not least, Valencia, who also serves as the Executive Director of PASS, encouraged (to say the least) the assembly to write letters that will be delivered to Harrisburg in hopes of influencing the budget stalemate by showing first-hand anecdotes of the hardships students at Penn State are facing without a budget.
“I want hundreds of letters DUMPED on desks.”
Adam Terragnoli got the idea:
— Adam Terragnoli (@AdamTerragnoli) February 25, 2016
The eventful meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m. As the tenth assembly nears the end, it looks like things are moving, and we’ll be back next Wednesday to see what else UPUA will hammer out before spring break.