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UPUA Determined To Correct ‘Flawed System’ Following Racism Accusations

The University Park Undergraduate Association is accepting students’ recommendations for changes it should adopt after former and current members were accused of saying “horrid” and “insensitive” comments.

The remarks, made public by Black At Penn State, an Instagram account that allows Penn State students to provide anonymous accounts of racism they’ve faced on campus, became known earlier this week.

UPUA created a Google Form to accept students’ recommendations for tangible changes it can make to address racism and “toxic cultures” moving forward. Although the organization welcomes responses at any time, it will meet on Friday, July 10 to discuss received suggestions and “act accordingly.” UPUA plans to share details on its social media accounts once they’re available.

“We recognize the ineffectiveness of our current system in listening to and addressing the concerns of POC communities, especially in creating the safe and effective work environment within UPUA that is expected from a student government and advocacy organization,” UPUA wrote in a statement.

Currently, UPUA plans to implement several new policies, including:

  • A zero-tolerance racism and discrimination policy in its constitution that gives its judicial power to remove members by due process
  • An anonymous reporting form for Penn Staters who experience “disparaging or harmful behavior” form UPUA members
  • “Whistleblower” protections for individuals who fear retaliation from calling our injustices within UPUA
  • Implementing professionally administered mandatory bias and discrimination training for UPUA members

“Our leadership pledged to begin building systems in place that will actively promote anti-racism in future years of the UPUA,” the organization wrote. “While the final results are subject to change, the UPUA’s Executive, Legislative, and Judicial leadership share the sentiments that inaction has occurred for long enough.”

In its statement, UPUA cited a lack of accountability within its systems that “actively discourages reporting.” It also believes a lack of transparency exists when students report bias incidents and aren’t promised action or even a response.

To provide suggestions and other comments for UPUA, students and alumni can use this Google Form. They’ll also be asked to provide their perceptions of the organization and goals and policies UPUA should set moving forward.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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