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We Are…’Eatin’ With Heaton’

I made my way to 314 HUB Thursday at noon fully expecting to be the only person in the room with UPUA President Cody Heaton. But when I arrived, I was met by a chatty room full of UPUA members and a few alumni alongside only a handful of non-student government members — most of whom seemed to be friends of UPUA members or reporters.

It was the first “Eatin’ With Heaton,” the UPUA president noted. Granted, it would have been unrealistic to expect high attendance from concerned students, especially at the first lunch. Nonetheless, I munched on some Chick-fil-A during the noon lunch rush and took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with Heaton and Vice President Laura McKinney. The Chick-fil-A was a pleasant surprise.

It felt contradictory to record answers in an environment designed to stimulate casual conversation, so I opted to take notes on my phone instead. During our brief lunch break, we discussed Heaton’s vision for “Eatin’ With Heaton,” among other things.

The initial plan was to host these casual luncheons once a month, but that is subject to change based on how Heaton and McKinney gauge student interest in the future. Advertising has been primarily limited to Twitter for now, but Heaton said that he wants a sign like the movie posters that line the floor when you enter the HUB front doors. If one thing is for certain, it’s that a big sign with Heaton puns and promises of free food will draw student attention.

Personally, I’m a fan of the event, even if it may be a bit idealistic to expect students to care enough about student government to show up and voice their opinions. That’s not intended as a dig at UPUA, but more so at the seeming lack of interest from the student body, indicated by the drastically reduced voter turnout in this year’s election.

I hope that “Eatin’ With Heaton,” or some version of it, survives past Heaton’s term as UPUA president. However, when I pointed out that his successor may not have a rhyming name, he did express some concern. He said that he may have to stay for a fifth year and run again. If not, he hopes that when it comes time for it, the next administration will workshop a new name. That, or perhaps the title “Eatin’ With Heaton” could be his lasting legacy — like Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest.

I had to ask the one question that was at the forefront of every Penn Stater’s mind Thursday, April 26: Which NFL team will draft Saquon Barkley? Heaton admitted that he had no clue since he hasn’t been following much of the draft coverage (meanwhile, the  uncertainty about Barkley’s future had been keeping this writer up at night).

Eatin’ with Heaton and the UPUA members was quite refreshing, and I’m not just talking about the refreshments. It serves its purpose by providing a casual atmosphere to voice your concerns or, at the very least, get to know your student representatives.

Before I left, I half-jokingly told Heaton that I would be back next semester with a list of things I want done. He gave me his best public servant answer: “I’ll do my best.”

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About the Author

Anthony Fiset

Anthony is a senior *gasp* majoring in Economics and a lifetime Costco Executive Member. If you are an employer, please hire him. Otherwise, direct all complaints to [email protected]

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