Countless Farewells And A Roast: UPUA’s 12th Assembly Comes To A Close
The University Park Undergraduate Association’s 12th Assembly met for the final time Wednesday, back in 302 HUB where it all began for this year’s seniors. The Assembly chose to forego a special presentation due to the lengthy agenda and expected farewell addresses.
UPUA President Katie Jordan delivered her report first, highlighting a Student Fee Board steering committee meeting slated for Friday before saying goodbye. After two years serving in executive positions, it was no surprise when Jordan choked up at the thought of leaving the organization.
“Sometimes your experiences at Penn State are very narrow and you don’t get to meet as many people or hear as many stories as you wish, but I’d like to think that UPUA is one of the special groups on this campus that can open your eyes to so many different problems, so many different people, and so many different stories, and we have the opportunity to work to fix them,” Jordan said. “Thinking back four years ago, I can honestly say I never thought I would be here, but sometimes you don’t know where you’re going when you’re already there.”
After thanking each member of UPUA’s leadership for this year, Jordan left the Assembly with a piece of advice:
“At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself that you’re here for the students and are going to make the changes they need. You are the ones that have to look yourselves in the mirror every day and think, ‘Did my ideas change students’ lives better today? Did I make them better?’ No one else can put in the work but you. When you realize the work you do is impactful, you will succeed. You don’t have much time to make a difference, but never be discouraged by that. We are so lucky to be in these positions and you prove that each and every day. Don’t look for the thank yous and the praise; you won’t get them. Look inside yourself and realize that you are doing good work. Penn State deserves nothing better than the best, and UPUA has worked for years to gain respect and to prove that. Uphold the standards of the past and expand them in the future.”
Vice President Alex Shockley gave his report next, plugging the upcoming faculty trustee election that’s expected to be a close race. He reflected on his very first UPUA meeting in the same room — 302 HUB — on September 17, 2014.
“For most students, their weeks revolve around Monday through Friday classes,” Shockley said. “For most of us, our weeks revolve around Wednesday evening…The hardest part of being in UPUA is that your job is to criticize a place that you so deeply love, yet in those criticisms, that’s where you find the opportunities to grow.”
Shockley thanked this year’s committee chairs and his own 9th Assembly freshman council before moving onto those serving closest to him throughout the Assembly, including Speaker Brent Rice, who he described as “one of those rare individuals in this world that truly has a heart of gold.”
“My experience at Penn State has been indescribably beautiful, and I thank each of you for contributing to that,” Shockley closed. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”
The Assembly passed a WHOPPING 13 pieces of legislation, which is a fitting end for a group of folks who’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Here’s what you should know about each policy, bill, and resolution, which all passed unanimously.
Policy 03-12 Revisions to UPUA Constitution
Can we just go with bullets? Yeah, let’s go with some bullets.
- Takes student organization out of judicial board responsibilities
- Adds attending external functions as a responsibility for representatives
- Establishes Chief of Staff as automatic treasurer of UPUA
- Removes Student Financial Education Center, as it’s now consolidated with the Financial Literacy Center
- Eliminates Judicial Board ability to hire “staff”
- Further outlines the strike system for representatives and clarifies resignation process
- Adds that judicial board must review policy changes within 40 days
Policy 04-12 Revisions to UPUA Bylaws and Operational Code
- Simplifies process to create new liaison positions
- Removes seldom-used “clerk” position under the Speaker of the Assembly
- Clarifies external function attendance set at two events every four weeks
- Adds Speaker report to weekly agenda
- Establishes order for internal elections to occur during the first meeting of each new Assembly (including Borough Liaison)
- Further codifies attendance guidelines
- Adds new section for Judicial Board bylaws, establishing formal processes for complaints and hearings
“Before this existed, it’s kind of like the wild, wild, west in hearings,” Rice said, commending Chief Justice Reilly Ebbs and Justice Johnna Purcell for spending their semester benchmarking and creating bylaws for their body.
Bill 23-12 Funding for Solar Charging Station
This bill funds $2,553.05 for a Solar Charging Pole outside Schlow Library. UPUA will fund the actual unit, while the Borough will pay for its installation. Jordan commended the Assembly for promoting continued positive collaboration with the Borough.
Bill 24-12 Establishment of the Red Folder Initiative at Penn State
This allocates $5,000 to fund the printing of Red Folders for faculty, which will include information on mental health resources at Penn State. The initiative is a partnership with CAPS to design, print, and distribute the folders prior to the fall semester. Academic Affairs Chair George Samuel said the hope is to eventually move away from physical folders in favor of an interactive website.
Bill 25-12 Funding for Library Charging Stations
This bill provides $7,500 (matched by University Libraries) for the purchase and installation of portable charging stations in study areas across campus, including at Paterno and Pattee libraries and other remote library locations.
Bill 26-12 Funding for Zagster Bike Share Subsidy
This bill funds $5,000 to Penn State Transportation Services to subsidize Zagster bike share student membership rates with a $5 discount.
Bill 27-12 Funding of Sexual Violence Awareness & Prevention Week Gala
This bill provides $1,000 for the expenses for the Sexual Violence Awareness & Prevention Gala as part of this year’s Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Week on April 13, 2018. The event is a partnership with Lion Ambassadors, which will cover the other half of the total cost.
Bill 28-12 Funding for the EcoCoin Program
This bill provides $408.01 to establish an EcoCoin program at the campus Barnes and Noble Bookstore, modeled after a program at UConn, to discourage using plastic bags. Students shopping at the bookstore can choose not to take plastic bags and will instead receive a UPUA coin worth 5 cents to donate to one of three charities, funded by Barnes and Noble.
Resolution 34-12 Support of Educational Campaign Regarding New Congressional Districts
This resolution recommends the next assembly hold an educational campaign leading up to the 2018 midterms to clarify how the new Pennsylvania congressional map affects elections in State College. The official maps aren’t yet available, but the line between districts will cut areas on North Atherton (like The Pointe and Vairo Village) apart from University Park and the Borough.
Resolution 35-12 Support for UFS Legislative Report on Academic Recovery and Success
This resolution supports sweeping change to Penn State’s academic policies, including:
- In order to measure and monitor academic difficulty, “recovery points” will be created as a quantitative measure of credits which a student must complete with a B or better to return to good academic standing. Recovery points are calculated when the cumulative GPA is below 2.0, using this formula: Recovery Points = [Credits Attempted X 2] – [Credits Attempted X GPA]
- Interventions are necessary to alleviate academic concerns that a student may be showing. Through the use of recovery points (and the extent/depth of academic difficulty), advisers can appropriately determine a plan for the individual student’s recovery. Furthermore, advisers will help guide recovery plans as well as eligibility for and consideration of a successful appeal. Finally, there will be a petition process for students to appeal an academic suspension, targeting those students who have recovery points that could be mitigated within a single semester of successful work.
- All students (including first year students who start in the summer) experiencing academic difficulty should be eligible to be placed on academic warning and suspension. Students with 16 or fewer recovery points are eligible to petition an academic suspension action.
- A suspended student who re-enrolls in the University and is unable to achieve a semester GPA of at least 2.0 will be dismissed. Students with 18 or fewer recovery points can appeal dismissal. Furthermore, only the most recent grade of a repeated course is used in the calculation of their cumulative GPA. All grades will appear on the transcript.
- The number of allowable course repeats will be amended from 3 attempts to 2 attempts while enforcing the “C or better” rule. Both can be appealed to the college of the student’s academic study. For 12 credits that are repeated, the grade will also only be included once in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.
“It’s been a long three years. George and I have worked on this for a long, long time,” Representative Vansh Prabhu said. “This is perhaps one of my proudest accomplishments within UPUA, because this is going to have a profound and lasting impact on all students at University Park.”
Resolution 36-12 Establishment of an Ad-Hoc Committee on Special Interest Seats
This resolution will establish an ad-hoc committee to consider changes to UPUA’s outside organization voting seats structure, made up of UPUA members and members from outside organizations. Restructuring recommendations made by the committee likely won’t take effect until the 14th Assembly.
Resolution 37-12 Support of Off-Campus Partners LLC
This resolution supports Student Legal Services working with Off-Campus Partners LLC to centralize information on all off-campus housing options for students, including a roommate matching option, sublet listing feature, and educational resources for students regarding signing a lease. Kelly Mroz from Student Legal Services stuck it out past 10:30 p.m. to explain the office’s perspective on choosing a vendor and answer questions from the Assembly. Props.
Resolution 38-12 Opposition to the State College Transportation Commission’s Recommendation to Ban Overnight Parking on Special Event and Football Weekends
This resolution opposes a recommendation to ban overnight parking on special event and football weekends. The recommendation notably provides no alternative for the cars that would normally be parked on the streets, so frankly this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It will likely be heard by Borough Council on April 2.
Committee chairs and other members of the assembly largely spent the remainder of the meeting providing final reports and thanking those who’ve been there through thick and thin. UPUA Director of Communications Lexi Shimkonis (also an Onward State staffer) shook things out of their emotional state by staging a literal roast, calling out the Assembly’s leadership for their flaws while somehow simultaneously complimenting them.
What can I say? She has a way with words. Boom, roasted!
The meeting adjourned just a few minutes before midnight. Stick with us through the week as the student body elects UPUA’s 13th Assembly next Wednesday.