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UPUA Passes Legislation To Support First-Generation College Students, Sustainability Goals

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

The meeting began with the first special presentation of the evening from Ann H. Taylor, from the Open and Affordable Education Resources Working Group (OAER).

To break down the term OAER, Taylor spoke about how an “open educational resource” is any teaching, learning, or research resource that resides in the public domain that allows for its free use, reuse, or modification. An “affordable” resource is considered to be any required course material that students purchase for less than $50.

OAER’s mission is to identify, support, and develop open and affordable initiatives across the university. Taylor spoke about the OAER’s team collaboration with university libraries to create and put together materials that better serve faculty, administrators, and students.

Two projects OAER is currently working on are an ebook initiative and potential interventions in the course design process.

The second special presentation of the evening came from Bre Mapston, the advocacy and communications manager for Penn State’s Office of Government and Community Relations.

Mapston spoke primarily about Advocate Penn State Capital Day, the university’s largest single-day advocacy event, which will take place on March 24 in Harrisburg.

The event brings hundreds of Penn Staters across numerous commonwealth campuses to the Pennsylvania capital to meet with their elected officials and share their Penn State story. The event is still accepting registration for the event until Friday, March 6.

After reports from both President Laura McKinney and Vice President Jake Griggs, the assembly moved into their new business for the evening.

Legislation

The first order of business for the night under new business came in as a swearing-in for Latino Caucus representative Tomas Sanchez.

The first bill of the night, Bill 30-14, passed with three abstentions, and will provide funding on behalf of UPUA for “Sustain State Week 2020.” This bill is in response to the large percentage of students across the nation who agree that their universities should incorporate and promote sustainability.

In efforts to achieve greater sustainability, UPUA went paperless this week with its agendas and legislation, unless specifically requested.

The first resolution of the night, Resolution 48-14, Support for “First-Generation Lions” NSO Programming Events, passed unanimously. The goal of this resolution is to support a pilot program that would increase awareness and advocacy for accomplishments for first-generation college students during NSO. This resolution passed unanimously.

The second resolution discussed during this meeting, Resolution 49-14, Encouraging the Inclusion of State-Related Students in the Governor’s Proposed “Nellie Bly Scholarship Program,” also passed.

This resolution is in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal that would create a program to “fill the gaps between the students’ financial aid and other financial assistance to cover the tuition and the real 13 costs of college.” As it currently stands, students who are enrolled in state-related schools are not eligible for financial aid.

UPUA’s resolution is in support of extending this program to all state-related schools.

The next resolution brought to discussion, Resolution 50-14, UPUA Adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, passed unanimously.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a Sustainable Development Agenda. This agenda included 17 different goals for a sustainable future, such as promoting health, gender equality, and climate action goals.

UPUA hopes to continue to advocate for enacting the Sustainable Development Agenda in order to better the student body and the Penn State community.

The final resolution and piece of legislation for the night, Resolution 51-14, 2020 PSU Voter Seminar Co-Sponsorship, was also passed unanimously after some discussion.

This resolution is in response to Governor Wolf’s signing of Act 77 and would co-sponsor and jointly host PSU Votes 2020 Seminar with the office of State Representative Scott Conklin. Conklin will be hosting a “nonpartisan informational seminar” in response to the recent voting changes as brought on by Act 77.

Act 77 was signed into law in October 2019 and allows most voters to now vote by mail-in ballot, as well as giving voters more time to register to vote and to return their absentee or mail-in ballots.

The meeting adjourned at a nice and early 10:03 p.m. The assembly will meet again after spring break on March 18.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a junior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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