UPUA Confirms Freshman Representation, Passes Four Pieces Of Legislation

The University Park Undergraduate Association met last night in 102 Oak Building and yes you read that right. The assembly convened again outside of its usual 322B HUB due to a reservation mix-up but was inspired by the change in scenery to host some meaningful discussion about the legislation brought forward.

The meeting was again opened with a special presentation, this week from Katie Motycki and Dan Murphy who run New Student Orientation. This is the third year in a row the duo have presented to UPUA about NSO, and this summer marked the program’s fourth.

Motycki and Murphy shared some facts about NSO, including that 8,745 students went through the program this year and, now four years into the program, everybody at University Park has gone through NSO except for super seniors (RIP FTCAP).

Murphy also reported that 308 incoming students took the university up on its 1+3 scholarship offer. He said that NSO will be involved with these students as they transition to University Park after just one year at a branch campus, which is uncommon, and they will be looking at the transition to update the main campus orientation for students coming to UP after any amount of time at a branch.

In his report, President Terry Ford focused on the success of Stand for State’s Action Week so far, noting that as of the meeting last night, just under 8,000 green dots had been recorded so far, which is awesome considering it was only a little more than halfway through the week. Ford also reminded the assembly of the It’s On Us video that will play Saturday before kickoff of the Temple game, featuring the UPUA president himself (and others).

Ford also discussed today and tomorrow’s Board of Trustees meeting, specifically noting the proposal that will be brought up to tear down Fensky Building and construct a new chemistry building in its place. A significant (and costly) project, but apparently one that will get a lot of use.

Vice President Katie Jordan’s report updated on some initiatives that were discussed last week and the assembly had its caucus breakout before confirming the two new freshman representatives. The first, Robert Griggs, goes by Jake, which he clarified is his middle name not just “some random pseudonym” he came up with, and the other Tomas Sanchez. The former was confirmed unanimously and the latter with a vote of 35-2.

President Ford then swore in the two new reps as well as the rest of the (large) Freshman Council, which is pictured above in case you were wondering why it looks like a bunch of unfamiliar faces appear to be sacrificing Terry in some kind of weird student government ritual.

When Ford made it out alive, the assembly jumped into its busiest night of legislation yet this semester. First was Bill 07-11, funding for PSU Votes Week, which will take place from September 26-30. The main idea of PSU Votes Week will be getting students registered to vote in the highly contested presidential election, but will also feature debates between campus organizations and a watch party for the presidential debate. The funding, which passed unanimously, will go toward banners, signage, and rooms for the debates, which are also being co-funded by the College Democrats and College Republicans, among others.

The next Bill is a fan-favorite: The Blue & White Brigade is back. Though short notice, UPUA will again be funding buses to take students to an away football game, and this year decided on Michigan (which is a week-and-a-half away). Always a success, UPUA voted 34-5 to fund two buses to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“This is something students look forward to for UPUA to provide,” Speaker Alex Shockley said. We’ll have some more information once UPUA has things up and running, but if you have a valid Penn State ID and a ticket to the Penn State-Michigan game, you can get a free ride on a coach bus thanks to UPUA.

The final two pieces of legislation, Resolution 08-11 and Resolution 09-11, were presented somewhat in conjunction. The first is “Call for Support of Senate Bill 974, LGBT Nondiscrimination,” and, after being passed unanimously, tasks UPUA with sending a letter to Pennsylvania leaders urging them to pass Bill 974, which would extend fundamental rights to the state’s LGBTQ citizens. These include freedom from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

“As someone living in Pennsylvania who is entering the work force soon and who identifies as gay, I have to worry about if I can tell my boss about the people who I love, and if I can be fired for that,” Representative Aaron Kreider said. “The UPUA needs to consider if we want to be a voice in what’s happening in Harrisburg. Even though we’re not making this decision, we can impact this decision.”

In a similar vein, Resolution 09-11 will have UPUA draft another letter in support of Pennsylvania state legislation, this one for H.B. 218, which if passed would make hate crimes against the LGBT community illegal.

“Someone could come in this room and shoot me right now just for being who I am and I couldn’t sue them for it,” At-Large Rep Michael Straw said. “I’d be laying here dead and it would be murder, but it wouldn’t be a hate crime.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:08 p.m. and if you ask me (which, why would you care what I have to say), UPUA should hold every meeting in 102 Oak Building. The set up was much more conducive of a governmental meeting as all the seats faced one another and were staggered on different levels, making the meeting seem more like a productive discussion than individual representatives just responding to the order of Robert’s Rules.

Quote of the Week: New Freshman Representative Jake Griggs: “I played basketball for all four years of high school, JV and Varsity…although ‘played’ is kind of a strong word.” I think I’m going to like this kid.

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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