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UPUA Amends Bylaws & Constitution In Heated Meeting

Update, 9:30 a.m.: Representative Elliot Copeland reached out to Onward State to with two pieces of information since the publication of this story.

Copeland explained that the article referenced was a Spotlight PA article from March 2 about how Penn State plans to drop the Greek Life oversight it “championed” in 2017. Copeland wanted to clarify the article doesn’t mention UPUA.

Additionally, Copeland claims he didn’t “storm out” of the room during the meeting, rather he left to work on some homework.

Original Story: The 17th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) met Wednesday night to amend the UPUA Constitution, edit and update the Bylaws and Operational Code, and pass legislation.

Following the report by President Sydney Gibbard, concerns surfaced from Representative Elliot Copeland related to updates from the president regarding the monitoring of Greek life. Copeland referenced an unnamed article from November that criticized Penn State and UPUA for their handling of misconduct in Greek Life.

Kyle Quinn, the academic representative for the College of Engineering and the chair of Campus Operations, addressed Copeland’s concerns by explaining that no new developments have been made regarding this matter. Quinn is also the IFC president. President Gibbard reaffirmed Quinn’s statement.

New Business

The meeting was entirely devoted to new business, starting with Policy #8-17 UPUA Bylaws and Operational Codes. The majority of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting centered around the amendments made to the bylaws. The bylaws introduce and clarify matters addressed in the UPUA Constitution.

Bylaws changes included the requirement for representatives to pass two pieces of legislation per assembly. It also included addressing vacancies among the three branches and resolutions to increase communication between academic representatives and the executive board.

One change to the bylaws was under hot debate during the meeting: Article #9.6, which previously stated justices on the judicial board were able to “strike any policy changes as null on the basis of justice and equity” with a requirement of a two-thirds majority, was discussed. The two-thirds majority ultimately became the reason for the heated discussion during the meeting.

Representative Joshua Reynolds, the vice chair of Campus Operations, explained that “it is possible that judgments could be made based on one’s own ideas of equity,” in reference to the judicial branch’s ability to completely nullify a piece of legislation. Reynolds questioned the judicial branch’s perceived increase in power. Representative Mitchell Scordo seconded Reynold’s concerns and offered the resolution to change the language from two-thirds to a “majority vote.”

Speaker O’Toole motioned to change the language to “majority.”

Associate Justice Micaela Zelinsky addressed the assembly after the language was amended.

“We work as an unbiased group of people,” Zelinsky said. “We work as the dissenting opinion with citations of other documents.”

Associate Justice and former Chief Justice Jake Lemler then addressed the assembly. Amid the growing tension in the room, Lemler conveyed his frustration to the assembly.

“When I first heard this motion, I was angry because this does not make sense to me,” Lemler said. “This body does not understand the importance of the judicial board. [With this override], you do not respect our role.”

Gibbard attempted to justify the modification of Article #9.6.

“We are looking at checks and balances in another way,” Gibbard said. “It is not a question in the merit of the judicial board.”

The discussion then moved to Article #2.3.3, which detailed the responsibilities of UPUA representatives.

Representative Reynolds again addressed the assembly with his concern for the language in Article #2.3.3 in Clause 13. The full clause discussed is below.

cl. xiii Be the Head Sponsor on at least two pieces of legislation throughout the Assembly term.

pt. a One of these pieces of legislation must be passed by the General Assembly of Representatives by week 15 of the fall semester. Failure to do so shall result in a removal of office upon a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the Steering Committee.

Reynolds was concerned with the severe consequences of failing to be a head sponsor of two pieces of legislation, as the representative would potentially be removed from the UPUA assembly.

Scordo proposed a resolution by changing the language from “shall” to “may.” The motion to change the language was approved. Policy #8-17 UPUA Bylaws then passed 28-2-0.

Business moved on to Policy #9-17 UPUA Constitution. The assembly requires three-fourths attendance for any Constitutional changes to be passed, but attendance was below the required threshold.

The meeting was adjourned with an impromptu Caucus breakout as the executives scrambled to find UPUA representatives available to join the meeting via Zoom. Once the required attendance number was reached, Vice President Carter Gangl rejourned the floor. Representative Copeland stormed out of the meeting immediately after the announcement, but a few members joined on Zoom, allowing the meeting to continue with the attendance requirement met.

A few changes were made to the Constitution, the most notable begin the creation of the Department of Internal Inclusion and Support.

Policy #9-17 UPUA Constitution passed unanimously.

The meeting transitioned to legislation, starting with Bill #50-17, Co-Sponsoring the Health and Human Development Student Council’s Creation of On Campus Wellness Spaces. The bill proposed allocated $690.04 for furniture, lighting, and other utilities in the Henderson and Biobehavioral Health buildings.

Bill #50-17 passed unanimously.

Second was Bill #51-17, Funding for the 2023 Sustainability Summit. The bill provides $5,097 in funding to support the Sustainability Summit with utilities such as room rentals and equipment.

Bill #51-17 passed unanimously.

Lastly was Bill #52-17, Funding for Penn State Thai Student Association’s Spring Banquet. The bill provides $952.94 in funding for the Spring Banquet for connection between international and domestic students.

Bill #52-17 passed unanimously.

Next on the agenda was Resolution #18-17, Support for the University Faculty Senate Student Caucus’s Request for Student Senators to Receive Priority Scheduling. This resolution would provide the green light for the University Faculty Senate (UFS) to make a request to Dr. Yvonne Gaudelius, the vice president and dean of Undergraduate Education and the Senate’s committee on Admissions, Records, Scheduling, and Student Aid (ARSSA). UFS senators are also UPUA representatives elected by the student body.

Under the guise of making “participation and involvement in the senate more accessible,” according to the written resolution, Resolution #18-17 passed unanimously with cheers and applause from the assembly. If the proposal to Dr. Gaudelius is approved, it would effectively allow UPUA representatives to schedule their classes ahead of sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Penn State, regardless of their current class standing.

Finally on the agenda was Resolution #19-17, Establishment of Climate Crossover Week 2023. The resolution encourages academic units to participate and engage in Climate Crossover Week from April 16 to 22. Climate Crossover Week is an informational campaign where professors at Penn State can present information through a presentation about climate change either live or on Canvas.

Resolution #19-17 passed unanimously.

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About the Author

Gracie Mullan

Gracie is a senior from Delaware County, Pa, studying telecommunications with a minor in English. In her free time, Gracie likes to read, write, and drink coffee. Get in touch with Gracie on her Instagram @gracie.mullan and for more formal inquiries [email protected].

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