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OPP Presents Omnicharger Expansion Funding Request To Student Fee Board, Deliberation Continues

The University Park Student Fee Board convened Friday to hear an allocation request presentation from Penn State’s Office of the Physical Plant and to continue its deliberation process.

Cyle Vogt, a senior electrical engineer for OPP, presented his organization’s request of $65,000 in funding to contribute to the expansion of the Omnicharger portable charging initiative and cloud technology on campus. Students check out portable Omni 20 chargers from stations across campus free of charge using an accompanying app, and are charged a late fee if it isn’t returned to a campus station within 24 hours.

“One of our biggest issues on campus with students is power,” Vogt said. He went on to explain the hazards of installing floor outlets for charging, citing several recent electrical fires and incidents caused by water entering floor and furniture outlets.

Penn State’s libraries have used the portable chargers since 2017, and have logged more than 3,600 total charger uses from 757 users last year. Vogt said that Penn State Libraries would likely take responsibility for the expansion, covering the cost of the accompanying cloud technology after the initial five years secured by Student Fee funding if his proposal is accepted.

The Board continued its deliberation process following Vogt’s presentation, beginning with a discussion of CAPS’s request for a funding increase of about $21,000 to fill salaries and add a records specialist to its staff. The Board established a general consensus of approval of the increase.

It then moved into a lengthy discussion regarding the Bryce Jordan Center’s allocation request. The discussion focused primarily on concerns about the permissibility of the use of student fee funding to support certain student ticket subsidies and a lack of diversity among recent BJC performers. The discussion was inconclusive, and the Board planned to gather more information before making its final decision on the request.

The Penn State Center for the Performing Arts was the third group to be evaluated. The Board again discussed the use of funding for ticket subsidies and student attendance for the Center’s various productions. Several members expressed a reluctance to fund the Center’s proposed Illumination light festival, and the discussion trended toward support for flat funding, though no unofficial consensus was established.

Finally, the Board addressed The University Park Allocation Committee’s request, focusing on its yearly request increases and its funding cap procedure. Concerns regarding the distribution of student funding were discussed, with a focus on the system of regulations and funding caps for student organizations outlined in its handbook. UPAC Chair Dan Stauffer outlined his organization’s process of evaluating requests, but no consensus was established.

Fee Board Chair Tyler Akers reported on last Saturday’s meeting of the Committee of Commonwealth Student Governments. He noted that the Committee tabled the discussion of the Board’s recent recommendation to expand funding regulations for student research travel grants. Akers noted that commonwealth representatives requested more time to review the proposal with their respective allocation committees before approving the change.

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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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