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Onward State Endorses Laura McKinney For UPUA President

The UPUA’s 13th Assembly adjourned for the final time last Wednesday, closing a term led by President Cody Heaton and Vice President Laura McKinney. The pair began with an ambitions platform and accomplished many of the outlined goals, setting others yet to come up for future success.

Heaton, McKinney, and Co. elevated the student voice at Penn State and bettered student life over the past year, raising the standard for incoming leadership.

Only one executive ticket seeks election to lead UPUA’s 14th Assembly — juniors Laura McKinney for president and Jake Griggs for vice president. Our staff met with McKinney and Griggs soon after the campaigning season opened to discuss the ticket’s motivations and platform initiatives.

We were impressed with the ticket’s focus on pushing forward initiatives that have been ongoing through multiple UPUA Assemblies. Continuity is difficult to achieve in an organization with one-year terms, and we hope that the McKinney-Griggs ticket is able to walk the walk when it comes time to re-assigning these initiatives to those elected to serve in the 14th Assembly. In addition to these ongoing projects, we were excited at the potential of new and creative initiatives like a State College “restaurant week” event.

Although we are confident McKinney is the best choice for the job (and, either way, the only choice), we do recognize that no candidate is perfect and want to acknowledge our concerns with the ticket and hopes for the future.

Most strikingly, some of the initiatives on the platform presented were not as well-researched as our staffers had hoped. It’s one thing to advocate for sustainability and green initiatives. It’s another thing entirely to understand the recent history of such projects and develop a plan for combatting past issues. It’s one thing to say you want to hold a “Celebrate State” event during the first week of classes. It’s another thing entirely to consider the Welcome Week programming from Student Orientation and Transition Programs and strategize how a new event could fit into the established matrix.

We are also concerned about the lack of clear direction for the ticket’s three main pillars: empower every Stater, reduce financial burdens, and strengthen foundations for the future. On the surface, these seem like reasonable goals, but with a closer look, our staffers found a number of holes we weren’t entirely comfortable with. For example, creating an Office for Student Poverty — even as a sub-office to Student Affairs or another unit — seems like it could ultimately raise tuition or student fee levels, antagonistic to its true purpose.

Despite these hesitations, we believe McKinney and Griggs have the passion and experience to lead the student body in the coming year. Their collective experience on all of UPUA’s standing committees will be invaluable to supporting the 14th Assembly, in addition to the relationships they have each cultivated through their UPUA involvement over the last three years.

For the reasons above, we offer our endorsement to the McKinney-Griggs ticket. At the end of the day, they’re not just our choice — they’re the only choice.

The polls open at 7 a.m. Wednesday, March 27. Remember to vote at!

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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