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Student Legal Services, Gender Equity Center, Subcommittee On Research Travel Present To Student Fee Board

After a month-long hiatus, the University Park Student Fee Board convened Friday to hear allocation requests and presentation from Student Legal Services and Penn State’s Gender Equity Center. The Board’s Subcommittee on Research Travel also presented on the University Park Allocation Committee’s corresponding regulations and the allowable travel uses of the Student Fee.

Friday morning’s presentations were the first of the term, and will be followed by a series of allocation request hearings that will stretch through February.

Kelly Mroz, the director of Student Legal Affairs, presented her organization’s request and explained its role on campus as a legal support arm for students.

“We’re [students’] lawyers, we’re on their side,” Mroz said. 

The office generally helps students to handle low-level criminal offenses in an attempt to allow them to maintain their academic standing throughout a case. Student Legal Services employs four full-time attorneys. 

“Students saw the gap that was there and students fund us, without that we wouldn’t be here,” Mroz said.  

Student Legal Services presented a request of $490,000, a four percent increase from last year’s request total of $470,000, to contribute to a total revenue estimation of $560,413.

Mroz offered three possible funding proposals utilizing different levels of discretionary funding to accommodate the Fee Board’s allocation structure. 

Jennifer Pencek, programming director for Penn State’s Gender Equity Center, then presented her organization’s request. 

The Gender Equity Center is one of three confidential resource centers and provides counseling and advocacy services for students. 

“Because we’re a confidential resource, it kind of provides a little buffer for [students],” Pencek said. 

The center organizes educational programs across campus, guest speaker appearances — including a presentation from Tony Porter  earlier this fall — and peer education groups among other events and programs.

Pencek said that the Gender Equity Center already has a series of speakers scheduled for the spring semester, including academy award-winning actress Mira Sorvino. 

Pencek presented a total allocation request of $78,000, approximately $20,000 more than last year’s allocation, that will be used to fund organizational expenses ranging from marketing materials to leadership training and retreats. 

The Fee Board will confirm its recommended allocations after listening to each of the term’s presentations. 

Finally, the Board heard updates from its several subcommittees. 

The Subcommittee on Research Travel  presented its recommendations on UPAC and the Student Fee Board’s travel funding regulations. The group recommended several changes to both organizations’ policies. It suggested that the Fee Board policy be amended to allow travel to present a student’s own research to be an approved use of the Student Fee. The committee also recommended that the travel guidelines of the UPAC handbook be amended to include research travel expenses that do not contribute to the earning of academic credit in the allowable uses of funding. The subcommittee will place its recommendations under the review of the Fee Board and its steering committee. 

Editor’s note: In the interest of transparency, Student Fee Board At-Large Member Elissa Hill is the managing Editor of Onward State. She was in no way involved in the production of this post and will not be involved in the writing or editing of future Student Fee Board coverage.

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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