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UPUA’s 13th Assembly Finally Gets Heated In Penultimate Meeting

Well, what can I say?

The 13th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association waited until its second-to-last meeting to get heated.

Speaker Bhavin Shah brought a number of policy changes to the meeting, including changing the name of Freshman Council to become First-Year Council.

Critics of the potential change contended that First-Year Council was not as inviting to freshmen as Freshman Council. Supporters of the First-Year Council change argued that it was more inclusive of non-traditional students, and more in line with the language used by the university and elsewhere in UPUA’s governing documents. This somehow resulted in the 13th Assembly’s closest vote to date, rejecting the new name by a 25-21 margin.

Other changes include a provision to remove representatives who are on probation with the university due to offenses like sexual misconduct, hazing, or harassment, as well as a timeline change that mandates policy change can’t be brought to the floor for a week after being approved by steering. A few minor amendments were also passed to codify some current practices that were not reflected in the governing documents, like allowing the chief of staff to serve as the director of finance.

Academic Affairs Chair Chelsey Wood proposed an amendment that would allow any UPUA representative to run to become the Academic Affairs chair, not just those who sit on the Faculty Senate. The Assembly ultimately decided to eliminate that barrier of entry, and open the chair election to all representatives.

But wait. There’s more!

Wood then proposed an amendment that would give the Academic Affairs Chair the first opportunity to be the official UPUA Representative to Faculty Senate, rather than the Speaker of the Assembly as in previous years. Many in the Assembly were confused by the disparity in the arguments about the importance of the Academic Affairs Chair sitting on Faculty Senate. That amendment passed 25-11.

If that was as confusing for you as it was for most of us in the room, here’s the deal: Any UPUA rep can run to become the Chair of Academic Affairs. If an elected chair doesn’t already sit on Faculty Senate (for example, if the person is an at-large representative), that person has first dibs on becoming UPUA’s official Faculty Senate representative.

Representative Jake Springer then made an amendment requiring Steering to bring two candidates to the floor for filling vacancies, rather than just one candidate for the Assembly to confirm or reject. After a few minutes of discussion, it was decided that the amendment should be tabled. However, because the amendment is a small part of the larger policy change, it was decided against procedure to table it.

Representative Tom Sarabok brought up that the Assembly had tabled an amendment in a similar manner a few weeks ago, when it dealt with whether candidates would have their official RSO involvement pulled from OrgSync and listed on their candidate profiles. The Assembly moved into a 5-…then 10-…then 15-minute caucus breakout to figure out the procedural issue.

It was decided that the tabling of that amendment broke procedure at the time. Sarabok asked what the consequences were for breaking procedure, and Shah said it would be up to the Assembly, but he would be more than happy to help anyone look through the governing documents to understand that process.

Springer’s amendment ultimately failed, with the intent to bring up a similar policy change next week after spending the rest of this week developing a more comprehensive and logistically sound proposal.

Representative Zach Robinson then brought up an amendment that would allow the Assembly to request the name and major of anyone who was interviewed for a position. The hope is that this would provide transparency within the Assembly about the interview pool, rather than representatives only receiving information on the single candidate brought to the floor by Steering. That amendment passed.

Revisions to both the UPUA Constitution and the UPUA Bylaws & Operational Code were ultimately passed. The Assembly also approved $2,116.00 in funding for Sexual Violence Awareness & Prevention Week, which is slated for Monday, April 8 through Friday, April 12, and passed a resolution supporting a campaign to promote Centre County’s Text to 911 program. The meeting adjourned at 11:33 p.m.

We’ve got one more, folks, and it’ll be another long one. See you next week.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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