New UPUA Assembly, New UPUA Budget, And New Haircut For UPUA President Ford
I know what you’re thinking: a UPUA meeting three weeks before the semester ends is probably short, sweet, and generally uninteresting. You’d be 33 percent correct, and no one was passing out candy.
The 11th Assembly met for the second time last night and somehow managed to make the meeting longer than the first despite having only three pieces of legislation and a few elections.
The most important thing on the agenda was the 11th Assembly’s budget, which according to President Terry Ford is the largest of any assembly in UPUA history. UPUA was granted its annual budget of $139,628.55 from Student Affairs, but also received a roll over from the 10th Assembly’s surplus totaling 10 percent of the previous assembly’s overall budget, or $13,962.86. For those of you who aren’t math whizzes, the undergraduate student government has $153,591.41 at its disposal this year.
The budget is broken down into a skeleton, and certain recurring expenses are allocated in advance. For example, there is $8,000 set aside to send assembly members to conferences, $15,000 allocated for the S-Book, and $10,000 for the Blue-White Brigade.
There is also $20,000 allocated as “discretionary” funding that would cover things that UPUA needs; Ford used office supplies as an example. Items costing less than $1,000 dollars don’t have to be brought to the assembly for approval. UPUA could use its thousands of dollars to buy all of these things at Staples essentially without anyone knowing because they cost less than $1,000:
- A case of 100% recycled paper — $61.99
- 175-foot roll of bubble wrap — $9.99
- 64GB Apple iPad Air 2 — $499
- Foam alphabet mat — $15.99
- A wireless mouse for every person in the assembly — $24.99 each
- Stainless steel egg cooker — $11.99
So maybe Terry can’t just walk into the nearest Office Max with the UPUA credit card and buy everyone’s Christmas gift, and I get that they don’t want to have to bring every pack of paper clips up for a vote, but a $1,000 seems a bit excessive. What general office supplies bill would total anywhere close to $1,000 or even $500? Discretionary budgets can be vague, but if the main intention is “office supplies,” I think the amount that requires a purchase be brought in front of the assembly should be much lower.
The money that isn’t used in the “Operational” or “Show-Cause” sub-budgets is left in the Type-40 account for the assembly to use in its bills. This would include things like Gatorade and granola bars for those walking to Harrisburg or chalkboard markers for the WTF suggestion board event. The proposed budget passed unanimously.
The meeting, still only in “old business” at this point, moved to the liaison elections that were tabled last week. During the internal election process for these positions, candidates are nominated (most know the nomination is coming), given a few minutes to speak and field questions, and then they leave the room so the assembly can discuss and vote.
Maybe it’s just because it’s week two and all the new representatives want a chance to say words in a meeting and prove they were elected for a reason, but the discussion was excessive considering the positions and the stakes. It’s understandable that the assembly takes the positions seriously — they’re all important roles that help UPUA function and directly impact student life — but not every person in the room needs to say why they think a certain candidate is a good option.
For some of the elections last night, five or seven people would stand up to voice who they were supporting. While maybe not every member of the assembly has a personal relationship with someone running or don’t really know their work, having multiple people say things like “so-and-so is a great guy/girl who does great work for UPUA” isn’t a helpful testimony.
Another concept that became obvious as representatives stood in support of various candidates was the divide within the assembly, demonstrated in which side of the room people were sitting on and who they supported. Representative Sis-obed Torres pointed this out during the Community Diversity Liaison election as the right side of the room seemed to support Nathaniel Pentz while the left side spoke for Bhavin Shah. Torres said he felt that everyone had their friends in the assembly and that’s okay, but it shouldn’t impact who gets elected.
Speaker Alexander Shockley touched on the idea that people are voting on “sides” during his report, squashing it immediately. However, Shockley did bring up UPUA’s upcoming retreat and encouraged members to sit near people they might not know as well.
Torres clarified his statement, saying “I definitely love all of you — no division, no beef,” but his original comment highlighted the potential for underlying alliances of sorts, so it’ll be interesting to see if this becomes more prominent as the assembly continues.
Ultimately, Pentz won the position, 19-15. Also elected were the new Movin’ On Liaison (Chrishani Boothe), ABTS Liaison (Drew Geller), and PASS Liaison (Isaac Will).
The meeting was adjourned at 11:12 p.m., so I didn’t even get to wish for next week’s meeting to be shorter.