UPUA To Consider New Policy Change Adding ‘Community Group’ Seats

The University Park Undergraduate Association will consider a series of policy changes that will add “Community Group” seats to the Assembly at its meeting Wednesday. The new umbrella position is designed to provide representation for organizations like the four Greek councils, which already have appointed seats, and Penn State’s three international/multicultural caucuses, which have been advocating for increased representation for the past few months.

Previous legislation to add seats for the caucuses that did not affect the Greek seats’ designation passed last month, but was later voided by UPUA’s Judicial Board upon its review for fairness and equity. UPUA leadership promised a timely reconsideration of legislation in similar spirit, which to them meant before Thanksgiving break, and now here we have it.

The legislation comes in three parts: Policy 02-13 Revisions to the UPUA Constitution, Policy 03-13 Revisions to the UPUA Bylaws and Operational Code, and Policy 04-13 Revisions to the UPUA 2018-2019 Elections Code.

All three policy changes combined basically accomplish adding Community Group representatives “as determined by the Judicial Board and confirmed by the Assembly with 2/3rd approval.” Requirements for what’s considered a Community Group are as follows:

  • recognized student organization (RSO) in good standing with the university
  • overarching RSO that advocate for some portion of the student body while also having a significant impact on the student body
  • must prove that its voice within UPUA would be mutually beneficial to both UPUA and the organization
  • not political in nature
  • not classified as a university affiliate
  • not directly affiliated with an academic unit
  • not under the purview of a Community Group that already has a seat

Community Group representatives will speak on behalf of the organization they are elected by, but the organization cannot require the representative to vote for or against any matter on the floor before the Assembly or in committee. They’re also required to sit on the organization’s board as an ex-officio member.

UPUA’s Judicial Board will review applications from RSOs who wish to have representation via Community Group seats each fall. Organizations must re-apply every two years to maintain Community Group status, and must elect their representatives in a process similar in spirit to that of UPUA’s general election.

The Assembly will also consider a resolution that “urges the Judicial Board to adopt the research and vetting compiled in this Resolution to fulfill its obligation as outlined in §9.5 of the proposed changes to the UPUA Bylaws & Operating Procedure.”

This is exactly as strange as it seems, but basically the Assembly wants to make it completely clear that the policy changes are intended to allow seats for all four Greek councils and all three international/multicultural caucuses.

There are a few other minor changes sprinkled throughout the legislation, including allowing the speaker to renumber bylaws changes without getting full Assembly approval and moving special presentations ahead of open forum on the weekly agenda. Can I get a hallelujah? 

Though the Judicial Board has final say on the timing of implementing all policy changes, it is expected the changes will take effect for the 14th Assembly if approved.

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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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