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UPUA Spends More Than Six Hours Debating Election Code Revisions

The 15th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met virtually Wednesday for its 14th fall semester meeting.

The meeting began with a special presentation from UPUA student representatives Najee Rodriguez and Ryan Loscalzo.

Rodriguez and Loscalzo were presenting a policy change proposal that would come to the assembly later in the evening. The two spoke about hopes of improving justice and equity within UPUA and institutionalizing racial justice.

UPUA President Zach McKay spoke next and voiced his support for the policy change and the long term impact it will have on the organization.

“It truly goes to show some of the legacy and impact that our students are looking to make this year to help leave the organization better than they found it,” McKay said.

Following a report from UPUA Vice President Lexy Pathickal, the assembly moved into new business for the evening.

New Business

The first piece of new business for the evening was the confirmation and swearing-in of Jordan Zaia, UPUA’s new Chief Justice. The next confirmation and swearing-in was for Toni McFarland, UPUA’s new executive director of finance.

The next piece of new business for the evening was Resolution 43-15.

This resolution is in support of the passage of H.R. 763, The Energy Innovation Carbon Divided Act. The purpose of the bill is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by placing an incremental fee on the source of carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

The organization plans to create a SoftEdge advocacy campaign in support of this legislation and will work with other institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania in their advocacy for the passage of this bill.

Resolution 43-15 passed 33-2-1.

The next piece of legislation was Policy 10-15.

This policy is the specific legislation that representatives Najee Rodriguez and Ryan Loscalzo gave a presentation on earlier in the evening.

Policy 10-15 proposed numerous changes to UPUA’s constitution and bylaws in hopes of making a more equitable and fair organization. UPUA has had a history of racial injustice and inequity, and specifically, representatives who hold community group seats have felt ostracization or inequality.

The first change under this policy would offer community groups up to two seats in UPUA instead of only one, in hopes of increasing representation for the student body.

The next change under Policy 10-15 introduces new categorization for community group seats. Community group seats will now classify as either a group that represents student identity or inherent identity.

This legislation defines student identity as a registered student organization (RSO) that encapsulates a large portion of the student body while reflecting a significant expression of the university experience. Under this policy, inherent identity classifies RSOs that advocate for a large group of students that fall under a protected class like race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

Policy 10-15 also removes the two-year reapplication stipulation that forces community groups to reapply, thereby giving them a permanent spot in UPUA.

Policy 10-15 passed unanimously.

Next, UPUA began making amendments to its election codes.

One notable change included the introduction and mandate of town halls for legislative and academic candidates running for a seat in UPUA. These town halls will take place in hopes of increasing transparency and allowing the student body to get to know the candidates better.

Another amendment to the election code specifies the registration period for the 2021 UPUA election. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021, at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 12, 2021.

The assembly also struck part of their elections code that required candidates to get handwritten signatures if they were to run for either an executive position or an at-large position. Instead, an amendment made to the codes will allow for virtual petitions to circulate, managed by UPUA’s election commission.

Any form of physical or in-person campaigning in the 2021 elections is prohibited and considered a campaign violation due to safety concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

After spending more than four hours debating policy changes to its election codes, UPUA postponed the legislation for consideration. At the time the meeting concluded, members were discussing election day hours.

The meeting adjourned at 1:22 a.m.

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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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