That’s All, Folks: UPUA’s 11th Assembly Adjourns
For the first time in a long time, the last meeting of UPUA’s 11th Assembly actually spanned two days. The meeting began at an untimely 9:17 p.m. Wednesday night after a delay for the lecture from Patrick and Amy Kennedy and did not end until 1 a.m. Thursday because the Assembly heard 12 pieces of legislation and a number of lengthy farewell speeches.
President Terry Ford’s final report dealt with a few business items first, including a recap of last week’s Student Fee Board meetings.
“We’ve now done a considerable amount of work in terms of allocating and approving expenses of the student fee,” Ford said. “All of this will be calculated by us sometime in the coming weeks to determine what the student fee for next year will be.”
Ford also addressed concerns about BugPAC, a new political action committee aimed at reclaiming State College, for which he is the co-chair and treasurer. “To be clear, this is not a UPUA subsidiary. No UPUA or student fee dollars have gone to fund this,” he said. “It just so happens that I’m the UPUA President and I’m very passionate about these issues.”
As is tradition, Ford dropped quickly into the more emotional part of his final report, thanking those who have helped him along the way in his role as student body president. “There is no better listener in the world than Barry Bram,” he said of UPUA’s advisor. “Somebody who knows how to listen knows how to give good advice.”
He thanked mentors like former UPUA President Anand Ganjam, former UPUA Speaker Anthony Panicelli, current GPSA President Kevin Horne (also an Onward State editor), and the UPUA President he served as VP with, Emily McDonald.
“Emily’s the type of person who never really got the credit she deserved,” Ford said. “Before she asked me to be her Vice President, I was ready to get the hell out of [UPUA]…Emily gave me the confidence to know I could do something great here, and I’ll always be grateful.”
Ford also thanked all those who stuck with him through last year’s tumultuous UPUA election, and quoted Richard Nixon to sum it all up: “Others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
He thanked the members of UPUA’s Executive Branch and Steering Committee for their hard work throughout the year and their dedication to the betterment of student life. Ford also spoke of UPUA’s accomplishments this year in his three platform areas: diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, and ending the mental healthcare funding crisis. It’s not hard to see UPUA has made incredible strides in each of these areas this year under Ford’s dedicated leadership.
“To get to where you want to be, you have to work very very hard,” he said. “How can we not aspire to be more when Penn State is the one we’re serving? This is a special place. She deserves your best.”
To recognize Terry’s service throughout this year, members of the assembly presented him with a tiny lion shrine replica, something he’s always wanted.
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you,” Vice President Katie Jordan opened her report. “Spend a lot of time with them, and they will change your life.”
She too thanked the members of the Steering Committee and Executive Board, as she started on freshman council with many of them just two years ago. “The world needs more Jen Heckmans,” she said of UPUA’s Chief of Staff, “but for now, we’ll hold you close and never let you go.”
Of course she couldn’t give a final report without thanking her partner in crime over the past year. “I guess we can go back to the night of February 17, 2016 — the night my life and my Penn State student experience changed for the better. The night you asked me to run was the most starstruck night of my life. THE Terry Ford. Asking me. To run. With him,” Jordan explained. “Thanks for being one of the few in steering to laugh at my jokes, answer any question I have, and participate in our forced group hugs that happen so often. You’ve led this university in more than one way, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Believe it or not, the meeting was more than just final reports and farewells. The assembly also passed 12 final pieces of legislation, so here’s a short description of each to keep you in the loop.
Bill 32-11: Support for the Creation of The UPUA Dogs for Mental Health Program
UPUA will partner with Nittany Greyhounds to hold a Dogs For Mental Health event on April 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the HUB lawn. Be sure to use hand sanitizer after you pet some dogs (not puppies :( ), because your student fee dollars paid $8.01 to fund it. The bill passed 36-1. Oh, and it’s BYOD (Bring your own dogs.)
Bill 33-11: UPUA Subsidization of Student BikeShare Membership Fees
UPUA will provide a total of $10,000 to subsidize membership fees to the BikeShare program, which will officially launch this fall. The bill passed 35-2.
Bill 34-11: Funding for World Cultural Week 2017
The PRCC is no longer able to support a World Cultural Fair, so UPUA will fund and extend this event to a week-long program. The program culminates in a World Cultural Fair on the HUB lawn on April 13. UPUA will provide a total of $2,855.93, leaving a sizable “cushion” in case of rate increases or any other surprises that may come up in planning. The bill passed 35-1-1.
Resolution 48-11: Support of LGBTQA Student Resource Center Expansion Through the Student Initiated Fee
UPUA supports renovations to expand the LGBTQA Student Resource Center in the Boucke Building using student fee dollars and encourages members of the Student Fee Board to vote accordingly. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 49-11: Support for Increased Voting Rights at University Park
UPUA will support absentee ballot reforms across the Commonwealth, including Pennsylvania House Bill 75, which “advocates for a “no-excuse” absentee ballot which will allow individuals to ask for absentee ballots regardless of the reason for asking for absentee ballots,” according to the resolution. The bill would also allow for other early voting opportunities, which UPUA will explore as an option at University Park in addition to the possibility of expanding polling locations. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 50-11: Call on Governor Wolf to Appoint a Student to the Board of Trustees
UPUA urges Governor Tom Wolf to include another student as one of his appointed trustees at the end of Trustee Allie Goldstein’s term. Despite tradition, this position may be in jeopardy as the Board now includes a codified Student Trustee. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 51-11: Recommendations to the Higher Education Act
The Governmental Affairs Committee has prepared a report for Congressman Glenn Thompson on recommended changes to the 1965 Higher Education Act. This resolution urges Congress to pass these recommendations and tasks the Governmental Affairs Committee to collaborate with Thompson to advance the findings of the report. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 52-11: Call for an Increase in the Number of AEDs on the Pennsylvania State University’s Buildings on Campus
There are currently only AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) in 89 buildings out of 947 buildings at University Park (less than 10 percent). This piece of legislation urges Penn State to “take action in obtaining at least one AED per building on campus (especially high traffic buildings).” The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 53-11: Support for Federal Pell Grant Programs
UPUA opposes cuts to federal Pell grant programs in federal budgetary decisions. This resolution tasks UPUA’s Association of Big Ten Students liaison with advocating for this at the Big Ten on the Hill conference. The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 54-11: Support for the Creation of a Textbook Aid Program at University Park
As textbook costs are a growing concern for college students, this resolution tasks UPUA to support the development of a proposal to the Student Fee Board to fund a textbook aid program for students in need. The resolution passed 36-1-1.
Resolution 55-11:Supporting the August Arrival Implementation Committee Update for ACUE
You might remember from freshman year how difficult it can be to attend New Student Orientation in August and schedule your classes last of everyone attending Penn State. A subcommittee of the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE) has created a report on how to mitigate the issues associated with this late transition. This resolution supports the subcommittee’s recommendations and encourages the committee to support the following options:
- The ability to gradually release course seats during course enrollment
- The option to register for courses prior to arrival at Penn State for International Students
- The development and utilization of modules to ease the transition into course scheduling
The resolution passed unanimously.
Resolution 56-11: Support of the University Faculty Senate Report on Engaged Scholarship
Finally, this resolution supports seven recommendations from the Faculty Senate Special Committee on Engaged Scholarship on how to best recognize students for engaged scholarship at Penn State. The resolution commends the special committee and its chair Dr. Nicholas Rowland for their service over the past several years creating these recommendations. The final piece of resolution from the 11th Assembly passed unanimously.
Committee chairs and other members of the assembly largely spent the remainder of the meeting providing final reports and of course thanking the key players who allowed this year’s assembly to reach such success.
“I hope to toast to you one day as, I think, the greatest UPUA President we’ve had yet,” Freshman Council Director Garrett Warmbien told Ford. The two were the last remaining members of their own freshman council.
The meeting adjourned at 1 a.m. That’s all, folks! Stick with us through the week as the student body elects UPUA’s 12th Assembly next Wednesday.
Comments for the Good of the Readers: We’ve received reports that UPUA Facilities Chair Brent Rice and his twin brother Seth shared a prom date. While multiple reliable sources corroborate this report, Rice continues to refute these claims.
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