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‘Ceasin’ with Heaton’: UPUA’s 13th Assembly Comes To A Close

The University Park Undergraduate Association’s 13th Assembly met for the final time Wednesday, pushing through a litany of legislation before bidding its farewell. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

President Cody Heaton gave his final report, explaining what he has been and will be up to for the rest of the year before moving into his farewell speech.

“This has been a year of living in the moment and kind of flying by the seat of my pants, but something I’m forever grateful for,” Heaton said. “Every early morning and late night was worth it to best serve students and UPUA.”

Heaton said an administrator had asked him today if he’d do it all over again. He didn’t hesitate in saying, “absolutely.”

“You really do have to pour your heart and soul in — even if you sit idle for a small millisecond, then everything…will become increasingly difficult to achieve,” Heaton said. “Something I’ve always told myself in this role and that I hope you all embody is that, ‘I do not have the right to do nothing,’ and I really hope that strikes home with you.”

“Thinking back to my freshman year, I remember students saying that Penn State was the best…and I didn’t believe them. It was only once I joined UPUA and sa all that the university had to offer, I truly believed it was second to none.”

Cody Heaton, over and out.

Vice President Laura McKinney also gave the final report of her term, though you’re likely to hear a lot more from her next year. She’s the only candidate to become the next student body president.

“I have been blown away by the grace and grit of our incredible student body, and the people in this room are no exception,” McKinney said.

She thanked Facilities Chair Ben Cutler for laughing at his own jokes, “because no one else will,” and Heaton for eating a Honeycrisp apple every day. (That must’ve worked, because he missed only one meeting during his term, for an exam.)

The Assembly’s most meaningful discussion centered on a policy change to the bylaws, which would have changed the process for UPUA to confirm representatives to fill vacancies. The proposed policy would require the Steering Committee to present two more candidates than the number of open seats (i.e. five candidates for three open season) and allow the Assembly to effectively choose the three candidates who would fill the seats.

Advocates said the new policy would allow more transparency about who Steering was bringing to the floor, while critics argued the more difficult process would discourage applicants and become a barrier to access for the organization. The policy change, which required a 2/3 vote, ultimately failed with a 17-16 vote in its favor.

UPUA also passed the following legislation:

  • $2,000 in funding to sponsor the International Town and Gown Association conference, which will be held in State College May 19-22
  • $1,600 in funding for a water distribution system called the “quench buggy” for Movin’ On
  • $12,000 in funding to bring the Zagster bike share program downtown
  • $486 in funding for mental health drink coasters to be distributed in State College bars and restaurants
  • support for Penn State adopting a public donor influence policy
  • support for third party courseware affordability efforts
  • support for the establishment of a maximum tuition late fee limit
  • support for financial literacy overview presentations for student orgs

Most of the executive board thanked their respective committees for their hard work and inspiration throughout the year, as well as the “OG freshman council” seniors who have spent all four years of their college careers in the organization.

“I challenge each and every person in this room to find that one thing that makes Penn State their home,” Chief of Staff Maura Ellsworth said, joking about her list of organizations to join as a freshman — which didn’t include UPUA. “As I stand here at my last meeting…the friendships and memories I have made are truly what’s going to last in my heart.”

Things got interesting when Liza Buschinski kicked off the Second Annual UPUA Communications Director’s roast. The content of said roast is not fit for publication.

Speaker Bhavin Shah left the Assembly with a few pieces of advice, encouraging its members to focus on bettering student life every day no matter their future positions. He also thanked McKinney and Ellsworth for their helpful advice on his love life…or lack thereof.

“Pay it forward, and leave this university — and this organization — better than how you found it,” Shah closed.

UPUA’s committee chairs thanked their committees for everything they’ve accomplished this year, as well as their fellow Steering members for their support and joint growth.

“Make Outreach a standing committee — period,” Outreach Chair Beryl Bannerman emphasized in her speech. Outreach is currently classified as a sub-committee, so making it a standing committee would give its chair a vote on Steering and make its membership more than voluntary.

Over the last three years, I think I’ve set some sort of record for the most UPUA meetings attended by someone not actually serving in this organization. As much as we’ve joked about it this week, I’m almost surprised that no one tried to yield some of their comments for the good of the order time to me.

I’m grateful for every Wednesday night with a group of students so passionate about Penn State, and for getting to know you all and the initiatives you’ve been working on. Thank you for the non-threatening (and sometimes threatening) finger guns, the deep administrative jokes no one else would understand, let alone laugh at, and, of course, the roasts (hi, Liza). Most importantly, thanks for your longstanding and consistent use of the Oxford comma.

Catch ya at the Phyrst.

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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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