Policy Change To Add Caucus Seats To UPUA Passes Through Committee

The University Park Undergraduate Association’s Governmental Affairs committee passed a policy change at its committee meeting Thursday night. The new policy would add three seats to the Assembly — one for each of Penn State’s international/multicultural caucuses.

The legislation, which it seems was largely drafted in a closed group of those vehemently in support of adding the seats, involves changes to UPUA’s constitution as well as its bylaws and operational code. You can read the full policy change (prior to committee amendments) in the Latino Caucus tweet below:

Representative Tom Sarabok, vice chair of the committee, introduced the legislation and served as a sort of voice of reason throughout discussion. As was later established, Governmental Affairs Chair Jake Griggs was one, but not the only, member of the committee who was “blindsided” by the legislation.

Representative Zach Robinson, who sits on the ad hoc committee, was the strongest voice of opposition to the policy change. He described a vision for the future of UPUA that included only at-large representatives, and liaisons from major student organizations that would have speaking rights in Assembly and committee but not voting rights.

“I’ve been purposefully reserved with my opinion,” Governmental Affairs Chair Jake Griggs said. “In the past this isn’t how policies are brought forth, and I would be well within my rights as a chair to throw this out and not even allow a vote.”

However, Griggs did indeed allow a vote, though he repeated that he “couldn’t guarantee” what might happen to the legislation in Steering. He added that he policy change is “something the Judicial Board is not going to like” simply for the procedural reason that it’s three pieces of legislation in one — a constitution change, a bylaws change, and arguably a resolution to change policy, as well.

“Steering is the ultimate authority on policy changes like this, so I can’t guarantee what will happen if this is passed through and sent to Steering,” Griggs said. “We’ll take it step by step.”

Sarabok clarified that the change will still allow the ad hoc committee to run its course, as the caucus seats are a separate issue that technically shouldn’t influence that discussion.

The policy passed nearly unanimously, with Representatives Tyler Ladzinski and Zach Robinson abstaining. It’ll now go through Steering and if it’s passed through Steering will move on to the full Assembly for consideration. If the policy change doesn’t pass through Steering, the Assembly could still bring it to the floor with a 2/3 vote.

If ultimately passed in the Assembly, UPUA’s Judicial Board has 40 days to approve or reject constitutional amendments to ensure fairness and equity.  The Governmental Affairs Committee envisions the policy change taking effect with the 14th Assembly, but the Judicial Board ultimately decides the effective date of constitutional amendments.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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