UPUA Works Hard And Plays Hard, Passing Five Pieces Of Legislation

UPUA met back in 302 last night (at this point, it should probably just make a permanent switch to the room) for its weekly meeting. The Assembly voted on five pieces of important legislation before proving it can still let loose, even while dressed in business professional attire.

The meeting started with a unique presentation from UPUA itself. Associate Director of Communications Colin Murtha elaborated on the department of communications, its purpose, and what representatives should be doing to best take advantage of it. UPUA has developed its #brand significantly this year, and Murtha encouraged the assembly to share UPUA articles and social media posts.

President Terry Ford gave his report next, touching on his presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting last week about CAPS and how UPUA and ultimately the Student Fee Board can help the service. Ford also commented on Monday’s Borough Council meeting, wherein the council discussed the Nuisance Property Ordinance changes, specifically one that would limit the number of people who can be inside a fence at a given time. Ford said the meeting was a success, and even if the vote doesn’t end in students’ favor, the student attendance and civic engagement is something to be proud of.

Borough liaison Morgon Goranson later elaborated on the Council meeting, saying UPUA and the heightened student attendance did make an impact and the Borough staff noticed the showing. Goranson also said the Council is currently split 3-3-1 on the specific portion of the ordinance, but he will meet with the one member who is on the fence.

“Monday night was a hell of a good showing. We need more,” Goranson said.

Vice President Katie Jordan touched on the success of the WAWF (We Are Worth Funding) Day of Action in her report, thanking everyone who attended. Ford interjected to tout the event’s success as well, noting there was more participation on Friday than there was in Capitol Day last year.

“It shows we really do make a difference and we can find a way to make a difference,” he said.

The assembly took a 10-minute caucus breakout to prepare for the five pieces of legislation that were brought to the floor. The bills and resolutions presented covered a lot of important topics, especially on the day following Donald Trump’s presidential election win, though none of the legislation was intentionally created with the result in mind. Here’s a breakdown of each.

Bill 14-11: Academic Students’ Rights Campaign

This bill, a reinvigorated idea from the 9th Assembly, focuses on informing students of various Faculty Senate policies and other things that impact them directly.

“If you’re not in student government, how would you know these things?” Student Life Committee Chair Kyra Rogan asked in advocating for the legislation, using LionPATH as an example. UPUA will create posters to publicize some of the most important Faculty Senate policies students should be aware of. The bill passed unanimously.

Bill 15-11: Support of the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Transgender Visibility Week

This bill supports both the National Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov. 20) and the candlelight vigil that LGBTQA Resource Center, the LGBTA Student Roundtable, and now UPUA will coordinate on Old Main to honor the transgender individuals who have lost their lives over the last year. Next week will also be Transgender Awareness Week, including events in the HUB and a keynote address Monday in Foster Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. UPUA passed the bill unanimously and will provide 100 transgender flags for the upcoming events.

Bill 16-11: Funding of Mental Health and Wellness Week 2016

Though UPUA has sponsored Mental Health and Wellness Weeks in the past, this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever before. “If we don’t take steps now to make the week bigger and better than it has been in the past, it’s only going to get harder [to advocate for mental health and wellness],” Rogan said. There will be a variety of events and a lot of visibility surrounding the week, including raffles, performances, social media campaigns, and a lot of tabling in the HUB. Rogan said UPUA hasn’t seen the results it’s wanted from Mental Health and Wellness Week in the past and, as Ford also added, this year’s efforts are the most by a significant amount and hope to combat that, going “all hands on deck” for the week. The bill passed unanimously.

Resolution 22-11: Recognition of The Efforts of The Collegiate Recovery Community

This resolution commends the work Penn State’s Collegiate Recovery Community does for those overcoming problems with alcohol and drugs. The department, though very small, helps students significantly, and those who seek the service’s assistance have a higher average GPA than the university as a whole. At-Large Representative Issac Will discussed the resolution, highlighting that Penn State Students are some of the most at-risk of alcohol and drug problems. Smeal Representative Tim Farley asked if there was anything else UPUA could do for the CRC, which said it just wants to let students know it exists. The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution 23-11: Support of Report Bias Resources on Course Syllabi

This legislation supports the Faculty Senate in mandating report bias resources on all syllabi so Penn State students know where to go and what to do should they ever experience or witness a problem with bias in any of their classes.

“There are individuals that fear for their future at this university because of our president-elect,” Representative Jorge Zurita-Coronado said. “I think this is one of the most important resolutions we will pass this year so students know what to do if they are the victim of a hate crime.” The resolution also passed unanimously.

After the legislation, Ford thanked the assembly for its work so far on the Ford-Jordan platform, noting it was large and ambitious but so far everything is going well. “You guys are making it possible,” he said. The meeting adjourned at 9:38 p.m., and then…

Comments for the Good of the Readers: In case you missed it, UPUA did its own version of the Mannequin Challenge last night. Who said governance can’t be fun? Watch the video below:

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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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