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UPUA Honors Grant McDermott, Supports Letter Backing Student Loan Forgiveness

The 16th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met for the first time during the spring semester.

Wednesday’s assembly began with a moment of silence to honor Grant McDermott, a UPUA First-Year Council member who passed away unexpectedly over winter break.

“Grant was such a valued member in this organization, and I can’t imagine how hard it’s hitting the First-Year Council,” said UPUA President Erin Boas. “You all exude that same personality — that warm personality that Grant had.”

Following further reports byBoas, Vice President Najee Rodriguez, and a handful of liaison reports, the assembly moved on to new business.

New Business

The first order of business swore in Ava Phillips as the new Department of Undergraduate Studies Representative for the UPUA.

Next, the assembly introduced Resolution #20-16: Support for the Student Borrower Protection Center’s letter to President Joseph R. Biden Demanding Student Debt Cancellation.

The resolution echoes and supports a call to action made by the Student Borrower Protection Center’s recent letter to President Joe Biden asking his administration to follow through on forgiving student loans. It calls to cancel $10,000 in federal loan debt for students as well as to extend the current pause of student loan payments past January 31.

Much of the resolution aims to advocate for Penn State students who may be affected by student loan debt. 64% of Penn State students graduated with nearly $40,000 in federal student loans, an 8.48% increase from 2018 graduates. Pennsylvania has also been placed low in the rankings of states with the lowest student loan debt. The resolution states that current relief plans “fail to appropriately address the problem at hand.”

Several representatives spoke and expressed concern over potential partisanship within the solution, although many agreed that the problem student debt poses, especially for Penn State students, is a non-partisan issue.

After heavy debate, Resolution #20-16 passed 25-5-2.

Finally, the assembly addressed Resolution #21-16: Honoring the Life of Grant McDermott.

The resolution will honor McDermott and his impact on the Penn State community with a commemorative plaque in the UPUA office with his name, association to UPUA, and details of his impact on the organization. Additionally, UPUA will make a donation in McDermott’s name to PALS, a non-profit that creates immersive experiences for those with Down Syndrome.

“Grant was beloved for his natural leadership qualities, his ability to welcome everyone, and his friendships that he fostered in and outside of the organization,” the resolution reads. “Grant’s laughter, kindness, and joy will live on throughout every person that he has met and his sparks of joys will be deeply missed.”

Resolution #21-16 passed unanimously. Some assembly members spoke up and offered kind words to remember McDermott.

“He was just so kind. He put everyone’s best interest in mind, and he reached out to people. If you needed anything, he was always there,” said First-Year Council member Izzy Graham.

If community members wish to honor McDermott, his family asks that donations be made to PALS at this link.

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About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna is a sophomore food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that you didn't ask for. Ask her to bake gluten-free goodies so she has an excuse to try out new cupcake flavors. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount (especially if you want to show off your best dad jokes) or you can shoot her an email at [email protected]

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