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UPUA To Implement Mandatory Bias Training Following Racism Allegations

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), Penn State’s student body government, released a statement Saturday responding to racism allegations and outlining a plan for addressing discrimination moving forward.

“Since its inception, student government — specifically the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) has failed students of color,” the organization wrote. “It has failed to effectively represent, advocate, on the behalf of, and welcome BIPOC.”

The statement comes days after anonymous students provided accounts of discrimination within the organization to Black At Penn State, an Instagram page that shares students’ experiences of racism on campus.

After detailing conversations executives within the organization have had recently, UPUA outlined several steps it will take to create a culture of “anti-racism” within it.

First, all UPUA members must complete anti-racism training no later than August 31. Candidates running for seats within UPUA will also need to complete a mandatory bias workshop as part of the candidate registration process during elections.

Additionally, UPUA will host an “internal discussion” led by key on-campus diversity and inclusion leaders. Through this, UPUA hopes to give its members a chance to speak openly about discrimination within the organization.

Members will also complete an internal survey about UPUA’s climate at the beginning and end of each semester. Later on, results will be available for the public to view.

“We want to make sure that all members recognize and value the strengths that our innate differences bring; to understand various perspectives and learn how to step into the shoes of others, and thus grow in empathy and understanding.”

UPUA will also establish a new, secure, and private reporting system for any complaints related to bias or discrimination. All complaints will be thoroughly investigated. Some judicial board procedures will also change to ensure these issues are being handled properly.

“With these commitments, we intend to ensure that all UPUA members are equipped with the tools necessary to become better advocates for the entire student body — specifically, for students of color,” the organization said.

“A culture of anti-racism must be actively integrated into every facet of the UPUA’s work,” the organization wrote. “As we make that vision a reality, we ask that you hold us accountable to these commitments.

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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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