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UPUA Passes Mental Health-Focused Legislation, Confirms New 14th Assembly Secretary

The 14th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association convened for its 12th meeting of the semester Wednesday night in the HUB.

Members passed legislation to fund Mental Health and Wellness Week 2019 and confirmed a new secretary: freshman Tim Tierney.

To kick off the meeting, Penn State’s Chief Sustainability Officer Paul Shrivastava delivered a special presentation. He discussed the current state of sustainability on Penn State’s campus as well as the need for students to use their voices to generate a political movement surrounding this issue.

In his current role, Shrivastava works alongside Penn Staters, as well as employees of Future Earth — a global network of sustainability-focused scientists and researchers — and the United Nations to create and promote sustainable development goals.

Natasha Gates, Penn State’s student insurance advocate — a newly-added position to university’s staff — delivered the evening’s second presentation. Gates’s role is to educate students on health insurance and address issues such as improving access to care.

President Laura McKinney then gave a lengthy report in which she thanked members of the assembly for their work tabling in the HUB this week and handing out free test-prep materials to students.

She also discussed UPUA’s efforts in support of Sami’s Law, a bill that was introduced and passed in New Jersey following the death of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson. Josephson was murdered last spring by a man posing as an Uber driver, drawing attention to safety concerns related to ride sharing services on college campuses and beyond.

The 14th Assembly is in full support of this bill, which aims to regulate the requirements for identification markers on cars providing services for companies like Uber and Lyft. Several members spent the past week “phonebanking” in the HUB, calling various representatives to advocate for the bill’s passing.

McKinney finished her report by encouraging members and meeting attendees to participate in the Penn State-Ohio State Tackle Hunger Challenge. The challenge pits the two Big Ten powerhouses against each other to see which school can raise the most donations for their respective campus food pantries — all in an effort to tackle food insecurity.

Currently, Penn State is in the lead, but there’s still plenty of time before the competition concludes. McKinney urged the assembly to keep up the good work and not let up.

“Let’s win in more than one way this weekend,” she said.

Following a brief caucus breakout, Tim Tierney was confirmed as the Assembly’s new secretary. Tierney is freshman in the Smeal College of Business.


Bill 16-14, Funding for Mental Health and Wellness Week 2019, passed unanimously. This piece of legislation allocates $6,405 to fund Mental Health and Wellness Week, which is slated to take place December 2-6.

In addition to tabling in the HUB, UPUA members will host “Movies for Mental Health” on December 3 and a “Wellness Rally” on December 6. Schyuyler Bailar — the first transgender Division I athlete — will talk about his journey with mental health in a lecture at Freeman Auditorium on Wednesday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m.

UPUA is partnering with various organizations — SPA, Active Minds, and Counseling and Psychological Services — to host all of these events and turn the vision of Mental Health and Wellness Week into a reality. The goal is to continue the discussion about mental health year-round.

Resolution 21-14, Support of Advocate Penn State’s Campaign, also passed unanimously. This legislation aims to allocate funding to “subsidize in-state tuition for Penn State undergraduate students, and further supports Penn State’s undertaking of agricultural, technology, and health initiatives,” Director of Communications Liza Buschinski said in a press release.

Wednesday’s meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:15 p.m. The Assembly will be back in action on Wednesday, December 4 for the 13th meeting of the semester.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a sophomore from Binghamton, New York and one of Onward State's News Editors. She has been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley. She loves anything Penn State (especially Yallah), the Yankees and Giants, and a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.


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