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UPUA Funds Coffee For Finals Week Wearing Holiday Sweaters

The University Park Undergraduate Association met last night in 302 HUB to pass three pieces of legislation while wearing their holiday sweaters. We’re not too upset we didn’t get the sweater memo, but we’re a little upset.

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To begin the meeting, President Terry Ford reported on the progress of the Student Fee Board, which will meet for the first time next week. Though CAPS is still a top priority for the Board, Ford said leadership is also currently discussing use of the Student Initiated Fee to finance campus recreational memberships for all students.

You might remember UPUA mentioning the $8.25 million in the Barnes & Noble fund earlier this semester. While UPUA doesn’t directly control this money, it can influence its use. Ford said administrators are looking into options of using a portion of these funds to pay off debts the current Facilities Fee has accrued in recent years through projects like renovating the HUB and the IM Building.

Ford said the Steering Committee is working on a mid-year report to update the student body on progress of UPUA’s initiatives. He also thanked Freshman Council Director Madeline Fortin and Communications Director Logan Echard for their service to UPUA this semester, as they won’t be returning in the spring.

Vice President Katie Jordan reported she met with representatives from Residence Life to discuss gender neutral housing plans and renovations in East and Pollock Halls. Currently, there’s a request form online for gender neutral housing beginning with second-year students. Single-user bathrooms in the renovated South Halls are gender neutral, so they will be implemented in all of the new renovated buildings. Residence Life is working on a video to explain these housing options. New buildings will also feature additional rooms for meditation and for playing musical instruments.

Jordan said President Barron also announced to Faculty Senate that faith-friendly meal options will be implemented in the new Findlay Commons buffet section when it opens.

State College Borough Liaison Morgon Goranson updated the assembly on the Borough’s feelings about the rally following the Big Ten Championship Game (which, understandably, weren’t positive). At the Borough Council meeting Monday, Council finished discussing property maintenance codes. On Monday, Jan. 9, the Council will hold a public hearing on property maintenance codes. Members will likely vote on any amendments to the code in February. The Council also passed a resolution “Commitment to Equity and Inclusion” and one member suggested State College look into becoming a “sanctuary city.”

The assembly then heard a special presentation from Title IX Coordinator Paul Apicella about the implications of Title IX issues (sexual or gender-based harassment/discrimination, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, retaliation) and the responsibilities of the Title IX office here at Penn State.

“A lot of times I hear that people are afraid to report something that happened,” Apicella said, explaining many students think the Title IX office will force victims to call their parents or the police. “We don’t make anybody do anything. We have to assess their wishes.”

Apicella also discussed data from the Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey released in April and compared Penn State figures to those noted in national studies.

After a caucus breakout, the assembly moved into new business:

Bill 20-11: Funding of Event Featuring Patrick and Amy Kennedy

This bill would provide $7,500 in UPUA funding for a mental health education event featuring mental health policy change advocates Patrick Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and son of Ted Kennedy, and Amy Kennedy, a Penn State alumna. The entire event costs $30,000 and will be funded with joint efforts from Student Affairs, CAPS, SPA, and UPUA. The bill passed unanimously. The event will be held March 22 in Eisenhower Auditorium.

Bill 21-11: UPUA Funding for Coffee for Finals

This bill would provide free coffee in the HUB for students studying next week for finals each night beginning Sunday, Dec. 11. Part of the Union and Student Activities budget is also used to fund coffee for students, so the UPUA funding will provide a second coffee station with 35 gallons of coffee distributed throughout the week for a total cost of $455.

Don’t worry — students definitely won’t confuse this UPUA-funded coffee with HUB-funded coffee, because “the UPUA will be using UPUA branded table clothes that the coffee containers will be sitting on top of.” Apparently it’s all about the #brand, and though there was discussion whether or not the table cloths would inform students that UPUA is funding their coffee, the branded table clothes are arguably the biggest waste of money of the whole project, unless UPUA already owns the table cloths from something else, in which case why did they spend that money in the first place? Put a few stickers or signs on the table and students will get the idea. After some opposition based on cost and because the HUB was already providing coffee, the bill passed 29-7.

Resolution 30-11: Support of Undergraduate Criminal Disclosure Revision

In response to students who spoke during UPUA’s open student forum a few weeks ago, this resolution supports a letter to the Office of Student Conduct asking the office to revise the question on applications for Penn State. Here’s the current question on applications:

Have you ever entered a plea of guilty or no contest to, participated in a presentencing diversion program for, and/or been convicted of a criminal offense, or are there criminal charges pending against you at this time?

Here’s the wording the letter would ask the Office of Student Conduct to adopt:

Have you ever entered a plea of guilty or no contest to, a violent crime (such as assault, sexual assault, homicide, robbery, etc.) or are there criminal charges pending against you at this time?

After clarifying some miscommunications with the Office of Student Conduct, the assembly decided to recommit the legislation for further discussion and review,

Resolution 31-11: Commendation of the Director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, Allison Subasic

This recognizes and commends Allison Subasic for her service as Director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center. The resolution passed unanimously.

During comments for the good of the order, Speaker Alex Shockley clarified that last week’s amendment urged the university to create concrete policies to protect undocumented students, but did not lobby to make Penn State a “sanctuary campus” as erroneously reported by The Daily Collegian. Shockley also commended the service of representatives who will not be returning next semester: Aaron Kreider, Rachel Fleischer, and Brad Garrett. Representative Chrishani Boothe also submitted his resignation to Shockley Wednesday morning due to workload commitments.

Representative Isaac Will addressed an issue he saw with the PSU Alerts text messaging system. Although bomb threats around Schlow Library began Tuesday night around 11 p.m., Penn State did not send an alert message until after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. Will said this is inexcusable as a matter of safety for students and other members of the Penn State and State College Communities.

The meeting adjourned at 10:46 p.m. UPUA will not meet next week, but will reconvene after winter break on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Comments for the Good of the Readers: UPUA members wore their favorite holiday-themed sweaters for last night’s meeting. The definitive winner was freshman council member Brad Edwards. A classic holiday sweater, it’s obvious Edwards didn’t pick his up at McLanahan’s before the meeting. The baby blue is uncommon for holiday sweaters, but Edwards pulls it off with a pink UPUA undershirt.

UPUA Freshman Council Member Brad Edwards

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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