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UPUA Passes Resolution Supporting Mandated COVID-19 Vaccines

The 16th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met virtually Wednesday night for its third meeting of the semester.

The meeting began with a special presentation from Speaker of the Assembly Sydney Gibbard and Director of Finance Toni McFarland. They presented the proposed budget for UPUA’s 16th Assembly, which was formally brought to the assembly floor later in the meeting.

This meeting marks the final meeting of the spring semester for the 16th Assembly. President Erin Boas and Vice President Najee Rodriguez both wished all representatives well in their upcoming finals as the semester comes to a close.

Elections & Confirmations

In the first order of new business for the evening, UPUA hosted an election for its Movin’ On liaison.

Sean Terrey ran unopposed for the position and was elected for the 16th Assembly.

Next, UPUA confirmed Jacob Lemler, Taran Samarth, Amelia Dodoo, and David Pool as justices to UPUA’s Judicial Board.

Legislation

UPUA had seven pieces of legislation brought to the table Wednesday night.

The first two, Policy 01-16 and Policy 02-16, would create two new departments within UPUA. Policy 01-16 would create a Department of Public Relations, and Policy 02-16 would create a Department of Committee Relations. UPUA is hoping to increase transparency and efficiency by creating the two new departments. Some representatives voiced concerns over whether UPUA would be able to fully staff these departments.

Policy 01-16 and Policy 02-16 both passed.

Next, UPUA discussed and unanimously passed Policy 03-16, which will require all future chairs of UPUA assemblies to read a Land Acknowledgment after the call to order and opening roll call in their meetings. It acknowledges that many Penn State campuses are located on the original homelands of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Lenni Lenape, Shawnee, Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe nations.

UPUA also passed its budget for the 16th Assembly, which was presented on earlier in the meeting.

The 16th Assembly budget is $150,798.55. The only sub-budget that is changing is the operational sub-budget, which is increasing from $78,500 in the 15th Assembly to $81,000 in the 16th Assembly. The operational sub-budget covers the presidential and speaker discretionary spending, UPUA programming, and more.

UPUA also passed some more minor budget changes under the various sub-budgets. For example, UPUA almost doubled its budget from the last assembly for the Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Week and plans to combine it with Red Zone Action Week. The budget for PSU Votes decreased by $1,000, as it is no longer a federal election year and will not need as much funding.

The first resolution of the evening, Resolution 02-16, concerned anti-Semitism. This resolution acknowledges how hate crimes against Jewish individuals have been on the rise recently and the fact that there have been frequent attacks against Jewish organizations on or serving college campuses.

The resolution also calls on the Penn State administration to recognize the International National Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which reads, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Resolution 02-16 passed unanimously.

Resolution 03-16 is in support of Advocate Penn State’s Double Pell Campaign, which asks students across the university to ask their members of Congress to double the Federal Pell Grant, which provides financial relief to low-income students nationwide. The Double Pell Campaign is demanding that Congress double the grant since the cost of college has skyrocketed over the past several decades.

The final piece of legislation for the evening was Resolution 04-16, which supported a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2021-22 academic year at Penn State.

Representatives spent almost an hour discussing this resolution. Many were concerned about making the statement to require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — not because they’re against the vaccine, but because they’re unsure if that’s within UPUA’s purview. Others shared how they feared for their life returning to campus this past fall and voiced strong sentiments that normal activities will never be able to resume without such a mandate.

Resolution 04-16 passed 25-10-1.

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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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