UPUA Unanimously Funds Massage Chairs That Will Probably Seldom Be Used

Sometimes in college and in the words of Daniel Powter, you have a bad day. You’re stressed out, behind on work, low on sleep, physically exhausted, and just can’t do it anymore. It happens to the best of us — even the most diligent students get overwhelmed. While there’s no remedy that works for everyone, massage chairs are rarely the solution that comes to mind.

Enter UPUA, where members brought a piece of legislation to the floor last night to fund two massage chairs that would go in the HUB. If passed, the two chairs would be installed in the Break Zone — that mysterious gaming room across from Panda Express that I bet you didn’t know existed — and would be available for students to use for a fee.

Even though UPUA is fronting the money for the chairs, students will insert cash in exchange for a short, automated massage, and then that money will go back to reimburse UPUA. The two chairs cost $3,790 altogether, so it would take more than 13 straight days of five-minute massages for UPUA to make its money back.

You could argue UPUA has money to spend that will go away at the end of the 11th assembly in two months, but it’s getting the money back as students pay for the chairs, so the assembly isn’t even losing anything. Representatives used this as a selling point, highlighting that the chairs come at no cost to the assembly…eventually.

Perhaps the most ridiculous argument for the chairs was pegging them as a mental health and wellness initiative, which is an area of focus on the Ford-Jordan platform. Things like Mental Health and Wellness week, emphasis on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and the treadmill desks are all great ways to improve mental health and physical wellness on campus, but these chairs are nothing more than a novelty that will provide practically no benefit to the student body in comparison.

At-Large Rep. Ben Cutler said “a number of people” suggested massage chairs during UPUA’s What To Fix week, but saying “massage chairs” when someone tabling in the HUB asks what you think needs to be added to campus is kind of like when a high school kid runs for school president and promises to make every Tuesday “Taco Tuesday.” If UPUA wants to tackle WTF suggestions, which it should, maybe it’s time to add some outlets to the library so I don’t have to leave my computer charging on the floor, in the corner, across the room instead of buying vibrating chairs that are normally available in strip malls.

The bill, believe it or not, passed unanimously, and two massage chairs will be installed in the Break Zone in the HUB. This is what your money is spent on.

The majority of the meeting was actually spent discussing the updated Elections Code, which will be adapted as the Elections Commission prepares for the 2017 UPUA elections. The biggest change comes in the penalty system for code violations, which is a little confusing, but will ultimately keep any violation issues better controlled.

The new code features the addition of a points system to the spending limit reduction. Candidates are not allowed to spend more than $600, but technically if they spend nothing and rack up $600 worth of violations, they can still be elected. The points system makes it so a candidate can be disqualified if he or she¬†has enough violations even if the candidate hasn’t spent any money. This way, candidates are still limited for each violation they’re found guilty of. One ticket was disqualified last year when they were handed down a $210 spending limit reduction, but had already spent $431.50, putting them over the limit.

The Code was also updated in the following ways:

  • Two new positions were created on the Elections Commission: The Deputy Commissioner of Finances and the Deputy Commissioner of Records.
  • Students intending to run a write-in campaign must register 24 hours or more before the beginning of election day so they can’t be elected should they violate the Elections Code egregiously. There were two write-in campaigns last year.
  • At-Large candidates only need 100 signatures to run for office (formerly 250).
  • Campaigning will open at 8 a.m. 12 academic days before the election (formerly 5 a.m.).
  • Candidates can now register endorsements with the Elections Commission online at any time of day instead of submitting hard copy forms only when the office is open.


The updated Elections Code passed unanimously. Candidates are able to register for the 2017 elections on February 20 and election day will be Wednesday, March 29.

The assembly also unanimously passed Bill 24-11: Funding of Sheryl WuDunn. The $2,200 from UPUA the bill allocates will cover the expenses of bringing WuDunn, a business executive and author who was the first Asian-American reporter to win the Pulitzer Prize, to speak in Freeman Auditorium during Sexual Violence Prevention and Awareness Week in March.

The rest of the meeting was pretty much business as usual. The assembly presented Allison Subasic with a special commendation for her work and service to Penn State. Subasic was the Director of the LGBTQA Resource Center (until her retirement last November) and was honored to receive the recognition.

“The fact that it came from students means more to me than anything else,” Subasic said.

President Terry Ford said during his report he’ll be appearing in the Grassroots Network video conference this afternoon to talk about Penn State’s funding and mentioned he’ll primarily discuss UPUA’s efforts with We Are Worth Funding and Capital Day. Ford also swore in the new College of Communications Rep. Laura McKinney.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m. If only I’d had a massage chair to keep me comfortable…

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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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