UPUA Gives Summer Updates, Passes Four Bills at First Meeting

The University Park Undergraduate Association met for the first time this semester last night and picked up right where it left off, running through a handful of legislation. Though the eleventh assembly was just getting back into the swing of things, it already had a change of pace by holding the meeting at the Nittany Lion Inn since every sufficiently-sized room in the HUB was booked.

Christopher Beem, the Managing Director for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, opened the meeting with a special presentation. He spoke excitedly about student participation in the upcoming Senate election and asked UPUA to fund a Senate debate in Schwab Auditorium. The increased cost for the event comes from moving the debate from the WPSU studios to Schwab, and Beem said he preferred to ask the students for money via UPUA rather than the College Democrats or the College Republicans. The event will cost between $55,000 and $60,000, not all of which will be funded by UPUA. WPSU will fund $20,000, Beem asked the College of the Liberal Arts to fund up to $30,000, and the McCourtney Institute will cover the rest. When the college balked at the high price, Beem thought of UPUA and requested $5,000 from the student government.

Remember that for later.

In his first report of the semester, President Terry Ford chose to give an overview of which initiatives were completed and which are in full swing heading into the new semester instead of listing every hour he spent doing UPUA work this summer.

Ford said that so far UPUA completed the consolidation of the diversity section of the S-Book, successfully added student seats to the Board of Trustees’ committees, got the Faculty Senate to approve a UPUA panel of multicultural students, and solidified a Strategic Communications Advisory Committee.

For the upcoming semester, Ford touched on plans to focus on some of the biggest overarching initiatives, including mental health.

UPUA hopes to use the Student Fee Board to help fund CAPS, as Ford said that’s what students want their money to be spent on. The additional funds that would go to CAPS would be needed not only to add more staff but also to potentially add more space to the CAPS facility or for other resources. UPUA is still waiting to hear back from CAPS about what it would need the Student Fee dollars for and how it would be spending the money.

In her Vice President’s Report, Katie Jordan also discussed the new Board of Trustees seats.

“This is a really huge thing for us,” Jordan said. “The more student input, the better. The Board seems excited to work with us.”

Jordan also reported on the smoke free initiative, expanding the idea of promoting a healthy campus campaign at Penn State. UPUA also plans to raise student awareness of the resources available for those who want to quit smoking.

After liaison reports, no old business, and a five-minute caucus breakout, the assembly hit the first pieces of new business of the semester, beginning with the reinstatement of the budgetary policy so the assembly can’t go spending money “willy nilly” like it (hopefully didn’t) could over the summer.

In recognition of the special presentation from the beginning of the meeting, the assembly moved to pass the funding for the Senate debate that will hopefully be held in Schwab Auditorium. Beem requested UPUA fund $5,000 for the debate and the the bill passed unanimously.

Speaker Alex Shockely supported the funding, saying that there would be no conflict in UPUA funding such a debate. “We’ve all seen how many times Schwab Auditorium has been packed for events like these,” Shockley said.

UPUA also voted unanimously to fund TurboVote, an online service students can use to register to vote, and for a formal commendation of Vice President of Development Rodney Kirsch, who will retire at the end of the month.

In his report, Speaker Shockley also discussed the smoke-free campus initiative, saying that the assembly will present a forensic report to Faculty Senate in the coming weeks. Shockley also said the administration is on board and  ready to move forward with the initiative.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:56 p.m. UPUA will be back in 233B HUB next week, so if you’re interested in getting involved or checking out the hard work your student government is doing, stop by Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Promotion of the week: Speaker Alex Shockley is looking for a study buddy enrolled in BiSci 003, GeoSci 010, or Astro 001. Are you taking any of these popular GNs? Apply within.

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About the Author

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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