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UPUA Confirms Four Justices, Recommends Attendance Leniency For Students

The 15th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met virtually Wednesday for its third fall semester meeting.

The meeting began with a special presentation from Anna Barone, director of the Student Care and Advocacy office. Barone discussed how the center works to provide students with the necessary tools and support to make difficult situations more manageable. Now more than ever, Barone stressed that the office’s door is open to helping students.

President Zach McKay spoke next, addressing the university’s coronavirus cases and reporting that he has taken the time to speak to numerous students individually about their concerns regarding possibly having to go home should the university close.

McKay shared that many students he spoke to individually had similar concerns that the general assembly heard from last week in open student forum. Last week, an overwhelming number of students voiced their disapproval over the idea of the university possibly closing and sending on-campus students home.

Following reports from Vice President Lexy Pathickal and numerous liaisons, the assembly moved into its new business for the evening.

New Business

The first piece of new business for the evening was the confirmation of four new judicial board justices. Out of six applicants, Aidan Neigh, David Pool, Ameila Dodoo, and Jameke Spencer were the four chosen as justices. Confirmation and swearing in to their roles happened for all four new justices during this meeting.

Policy 07-15, Expansion of Department of Finance, was the first piece of legislation up for consideration. Traditionally, UPUA’s chief of staff also serves as UPUA’s treasurer. Under this policy, UPUA would separate the roles and under the department of finance create a role for an executive director, who would serve as treasurer of UPUA.

Policy 07-15 failed 30-4-1 because it did not pass by a 3/4 vote of the representatives in UPUA’s assembly. To pass, policy 07-15 would have needed 32 votes due to the fact that the assembly currently has 42 reps.

The next piece of legislation for the evening was resolution 21-15, In Support of the RESTART Act and #RedAlertRESTART. This resolution would support the RESTART Act’s passing through congress.

The RESTART Act hopes to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to other hard hit businesses as a result of the coronavirus. This program would extend financial help to the theatre and live entertainment industry, which has especially been struggling during the pandemic.

On September 1, the Penn State School of Theatre lit the exterior and interior of University Park campus buildings red in support of the movement that is recognizing that the live entertainment industry is on “red alert” for its survival. Resolution 21-15 passed 33-2-0.

The next piece of legislation, Resolution 22-15, Mandate Synchronous Attendance Leniency for Students Residing Outside of Eastern Time Zone, passed unanimously.

This resolution strongly urges Penn State’s Faculty Senate to mandate an attendance leniency policy for students who tune into Zoom classes from an alternate location with a time change. Students would not face grade deduction if they opted into this program. To satisfy participation grades, UPUA proposed solutions such as opening small content quizzes for 24 hours on specific lecture content from that given day or assignments where students submit notes they took of the lecture within a given amount of time.

The final piece of legislation for the evening was Resolution 23-15, Calling on Penn State to Provide Housing Exceptions for Students who must Remain on Campus in the Event of a Campus Closure.

UPUA recommends that in the event of a campus closure, Housing and Food Services transition to a reduced staff model with increased grab-and-go options. Resolution 23-15 also recommends the university create a reasonable excuse form that students can fill out to notify the university of any reasons they can’t return home.

The form would seek information from the student regarding their employment status, mental health concerns, or home life, to name a few points. In the recommendations for this form, UPUA urges the university to ensure that students do not have to disclose specific private information, and instead, just provide enough detail for the university to assess their reasoning for needing to stay on campus.

Due to the fact that the legislation was brought to the assembly at the last minute, assembly members voted to recommit resolution 23-15, meaning they would revisit it at a later date.

After executive reports and comments of the committees, the third meeting of the fall semester adjourned at 10:08 p.m.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior 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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