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UPUA Votes To Denounce ‘The Censored’ Event And Its Speakers

The 14th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association held its tenth meeting of the semester Wednesday in the HUB. This week’s deliberations focused on the debate and passage of a resolution to denounce the rhetoric of last week’s controversial YouTubers Carl Benjamin and Hunter Avallone hosted by Turning Point USA (TPUSA).

Vice President Jake Griggs allowed UPUA members to wear costumes to this meeting, but any festive atmosphere was dampened from the start when in anticipation of the contentious legislation, he pushed the Assembly to postpone setting the agenda until the Special Presentations portion had concluded.

The Assembly concurred and the first speaker of the evening was Vice President of Student Affairs, Damon Sims. Sims opened by commending the work the assembly does and applauding the dedication that the members put in to represent the interests of the undergraduate student body. Briefly reflecting on his own student government involvement at Indiana University, Sims went ion to highlight the importance of civil discourse on campus and the influence student government has on the allocation of student fees taken from tuition.

In the next presentation, Katharine Staley from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) gave an overview of the various levels of programs CAPS offers to students. Staley emphasized that CAPS has a “short term” mission which focuses on getting students comfortable talking about their mental health and being proactive. Staley noted resources like CAPS Groups, short-term clinics and treatment models ending with a tutorial on how easy it was to schedule a meeting.

After presentations set the agenda and voted to add Resolution 17-14, Denouncement of “The Censored” Event and Its Speakers to the agenda which passed with a vote of 38-1. At-large representative Tyler Ladzinski voiced concerns that the resolution had a political undertone. He went on to say, “We represent all students at University Park, not just the ones we want to represent.”

Ladzinski also raised the issue of conflict of interest, pointing out that co-sponsors of the bills Representatives Danny Muldowney and Jacob Klipstein were members of the College Democrats executive board and speculated the bill was based off a College Dems press release.

To address Ladzinski’s points, Representative Rodney Burgwin rose to defend the legislation noting he was the primary author of the bill’s language and identified himself as a inactive member of the College Democrats. Burgwin went on to list some of student caucuses like the LGBTQA Roundtable and Latino Caucus, which pushed him to write the resolution after they expressed that their safety on campus was at risk with the presence of speakers Benjamin and Avallone.

After Burgwin spoke, Klipstein delivered a full-throated defense of the resolution and mentioned anti-Semitic comments the speakers had made and that upset him specifically as a Jewish-American.

“We need to take stances that these people can’t come to our university and tell us that we don’t matter,” he said.

Spirited discussion on the resolution lasted until a caucus breakout. When the Assembly reconvened, they debated amendments to the resolution with the primary issue concerning whether to mention the event’s sponsoring club TPUSA specifically in the resolution. An amendment not mentioning TPUSA by name failed 14-25, but an amendment specifically mentioning them passed 25-13.

After amendments were sorted out, Klipstein rounded out discussion with a strong defense of the resolution.

“Us condemning this today is a good first step, but we need to fight this in every aspect of our lives it has nothing to do with the First Amendment rather everything to do with making our communities feel threatened and we will not back down,” he said.

In the roll call vote the Resolution 17-14, Denouncement of “The Censored” Event and Its Speakers passed unanimously. Closing reports were brief with Chief Justice Rachel Schuchman informing the Assembly that the Judicial Board upheld last weeks by-laws alterations to transition parliamentary procedure from Robert’s Rules to Modern Rules.

The assembly adjourned at 11:14 p.m.

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About the Author

Andrew Woodman

Andrew Woodman or "Andy" as his friends don't call him is a senior majoring in Political Science and Business hailing from the enchanting land of DELCO. When he isn't reporting on stimulating UPUA meetings Andrew can be found at Canyon Wings the best wing place in State College. Forward all correspondence to his myspace account @woodrowwW97

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