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UPUA’s 15th Assembly Comes To A Close, Passes Significant Policy Changes

The University Park Undergraduate Association met virtually Wednesday evening for the final meeting of its 15th Assembly.

UPUA’s Election Day is set for Wednesday, March 31. The newly elected president, vice president, and representatives will be sworn into office on April 14.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, UPUA President Zach McKay and Vice President Lexy Pathickal both gave heartfelt goodbyes and parting words as their terms come to a close.

In her closing speech, Pathickal first thanked McKay, her best friend and partner in UPUA over the last few years.

“I always want to be your biggest supporter in life. I appreciate your friendship so much. And you have no idea how when I think of Penn State, you’re the first face that comes to mind,” Pathickal said. “Thank you so much for making UPUA such an unforgettable experience.”

In thanking the assembly, Pathickal applauded all of the representatives for their kindness and dedication.

“Some of you have shown me what kindness truly looks like. Some of you have shown me what true friendship looks like,” Pathickal said. “Some of you have shown me what selflessness really looks like. I’m grateful for each of you because you’ve made my senior year as a student leader one that is so unforgettable.”

McKay also thanked Pathickal for being his best friend, his vice president, and his rock.

“Lexy, you’ve changed my UPUA experience, and you’ve changed my life in so many different ways,” McKay said. “We’ll be friends for life, and I don’t think that’ll ever change. I’m really going to miss you.”

To close out the 15th Assembly, McKay offered the following parting words.

“Thank you everyone for being willing to make change both within the UPUA and within the student body,” McKay said. “I know it wasn’t easy, and I know some of it was confusing at times. But talk about making this world a better place for simply having lived in it. That’s what you all did.”

New Business

The first piece of new business for the evening was Policy 15-15. Under this policy, UPUA created new entities under its judicial branch and created two separate courts.

UPUA will now have a Supreme Court and an Elections Court that operate under its judicial branch. Representatives proposed this policy change in hopes of making the branch more effective and so that the elections process can run more smoothly.

The organization is hoping to have eight associate justices serve on the Elections Court. Some representatives had concerns about struggling to fill all of the seats for the Supreme Court and Elections Court. They said that this policy change was going to unnecessarily complicate the structure of UPUA while neglecting already existing resources.

Since policy changes require 3/4 of the entire assembly to vote in favor, UPUA would’ve needed 30 votes to pass this policy. Ultimately, Policy 15-15 failed 24-12-0.

Policy 16-15 was the next piece of legislation up for debate for the evening. This policy proposes making numerous changes to UPUA’s constitution, including gender-neutral pronoun usage.

Another change under this policy will be that the department of sustainability’s name will be modified to the “Department of Environmental Sustainability.”

It also clarifies the terms of office for elected members and general staff business members. Under this policy, the terms of office for elected members will begin following Election Day and end with the swearing-in of the next president, vice president, and assembly.

Other non-elected general staff members will be permitted to remain in the organization if they choose to help with making the organization and transition of power more smooth and effective.

Policy 16-15 passed unanimously.

The next piece of legislation up for debate was Policy 17-15, which will implement a referendum question on UPUA’s Election Day ballot next week asking students their stance about the state of fossil fuel divestment. Each voter will be able to skip, agree, or disagree with the question.

The question appearing on the ballot will read, “Penn State should (1) commit to divestment from its long-term holdings in fossil fuel asset classes as quickly as possible; (2) release information about its current holdings in fossil fuels; and (3) publicly comment on the proposed divestiture.”

Policy 17-15 passed unanimously.

The next piece of legislation, Resolution 57-15, established UPUA’s Spring 2021 Test Prep Week. From Monday, March 29 to Friday, April 2 UPUA will be tabling and giving out free MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, and GRE books to students on the HUB patio.

Resolution 57-15 passed unanimously.

Next, UPUA unanimously passed Resolution 58-15. Resolution 58-15 is in support of creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion tab to the University Park Interactive Map.

Under this tab, students will be able to find more specific resources like gender-neutral bathrooms and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, among others.

The final four pieces of legislation, Resolution 59-15, 60-15, 61-15, and 62-15 all passed unanimously. These resolutions were passed in support of House and Senate legislation such as the Environmental Justice Mapping And Data Collect Act of 2021 and the CROWN Act of 2020.

During comments of the good of the order, many representatives tearfully reflected on their time in UPUA’s 15th Assembly as it came to a close.

With that, the final meeting of UPUA’s 15th Assembly adjourned at 12:26 a.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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