UPUA Funds All Kinds Of Things In 10th Assembly’s Penultimate Meeting
The University Park Undergraduate Association met last night in 233B HUB for its second-to-last meeting of the assembly. Before hitting some of its most substantial legislation of the semester, however, the group had election fever.
UPUA campaigning started on Monday, and it quickly became evident it was on the front of the assembly’s mind. Schreyer Representative Zac Cohen moved to add an amendment to the elections code that said if the elections commissioner is found guilty of violations, the general assembly would make the decision on whether or not he or she was guilty instead of the Steering Committee, who currently handles such violations. Cohen argued there’s a bias in Steering, seeing as members of the committee don’t all endorse the same ticket.
Members of the assembly were quick to contest, arguing there is just as much bias within the assembly and it wouldn’t solve the issue. As more representatives began to voice their opinions, Speaker Emily Miller stepped in and told everyone to “take a seat.” Because of the lack of legislation to support the amendment, Miller suggested the discussion be tabled until next week and suggested a special committee which would be selected by the assembly that would handle such violations if they arose.
For the first time in a while, a student came forward for open forum. Brad Stuby, who was a member of the 9th Assembly, spoke in support of Bill 20-10, “Steps for State Funding.”
President Emily McDonald’s report focused primarily on the Greek Life Task Force, which she said will meet to lay out its schedule for the rest of the semester. McDonald also spoke on the Facilities Fee funds, encouraging members of the assembly to voice any final suggestions they have as to how the one-time bonus should be spent.
“We only have this money this year,” McDonald stressed. “This is a special exception for how things will be in years to come.”
In his report, Vice President Terry Ford discussed considerable progress with movement into LionPath and the desire to create a committee within the Office of Strategic Communications that would advocate on behalf of students.
The task following a 10-minute caucus breakout was to reinstate Nikita Page as IST Representative and Movin’ On Liaison. Page was stripped of these roles earlier in the day when he missed Barron’s town hall meeting, combined with other infractions with the attendance policy.
“It’s very embarrassing that I have to be up here in front of you right now,” he said, addressing the assembly. Many representatives spoke on Page’s behalf, and he was reinstated with a vote of 35-1.
From there, UPUA jumped into legislation. First was Policy 05-10, “Establishment of a Community Diversity Liaison.” At-Large Representative Shawn Bengali noted borough participation is low but this policy would ensure there is diversity inclusion in the borough for students. The policy passed unanimously and the next assembly will appoint a liaison.
Next was Bill 20-10, “Steps for State Funding,” which would sponsor and fund UPUA’s third annual walk to Harrisburg for Capital Day, scheduled for April 5. The bill’s funding is slated for things like one bottle of sunscreen (SPF 45) and 48 bottles of Gatorade (lemon-lime). Though UPUA has accomplished this trek twice before, McDonald and other members of the assembly pointed out that, even if the bill passed, it would have to go through Risk Management, which might mandate EMTs take the trip thus raising the bill substantially. McDonald said the assembly isn’t exactly in a place to secure EMTs right now, and the bill was recommitted to Governmental Affairs Committee.
Bill 21-10, “Funding for UPUA Airport Shuttle Program,” does just what it sounds like it does. Representative Alex Shockley introduced the idea a few weeks ago and has since nailed down some specifics. The bus will run in one hour loops during the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of finals week and students will be able to sign up in advance, similar to the Blue & White Brigade. “We have the opportunity to create a great program that will benefit not only out-of-state students but also international students,” said At-Large Rep Brent Rice. “This has the potential to become a staple of UPUA.” The legislation passed unanimously.
The assembly then moved to Bill 22-10, “Funding for What to Fix Awareness Day.” You may remember UPUA’s What to Fix (WTF) program from its suggestion and efforts to remove the Palmer Tiles of Death in 2013. UPUA is hoping to relaunch the program that gives students an outlet to tell their government what needs fixing with a relaunch event in the HUB. The bill passed unanimously and UPUA will be in the HUB on March 22 taking suggestions about what needs attention.
The assembly saved the best (perhaps of all initiatives for the year) for last: Resolution 46-10, “Support of Campus Smoking Policy Report and Recommendations.”
“This is finally here, and it’s been months in the making.”
The legislation supports the university’s transition into a smoke-free campus, an effort Penn State has pursued since the early 2000s and one the 9th Assembly snuck in at the end of its term. The resolution brought out significant, meaningful discussion and ultimately passed with a vote of 34-4. You can find a more comprehensive recap here.
Speaker Miller reported that the General Education report passed overwhelmingly with the Faculty-Senate and she’s beginning to put together her final report which will outline everything the 10th Assembly has accomplished.
The meeting adjourned at 10:26 p.m. According to Speaker Miller, there are more than 10 pieces of legislation on deck for next week’s final meeting of the term, so be ready for a good one.