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UPUA Holds Committee Chair Elections, Inducts New Representatives

The 18th Assembly of the University Park Undergraduate Association met for the first time Wednesday night.

To begin their first meeting as president and vice president of the assembly, Nora O’Toole and Giselle Concepcion were sworn in alongside the other newly elected representatives.

Before getting into the elections, two students contributed to the open student forum. The first speaker was Michael Garza, president of the Penn State Latino Caucus. Garza urged the UPUA to acknowledge their mistreatment toward minority students, including being conscientious of the language they use on their social media when specifically addressing minority students.

The second speaker was Kyle Quinn, the IFC President and past UPUA Chair of Campus Operations. Quinn gave advice to current council members on what to look for when voting for committee chair nominees.

Finally, Hugh Mason Stewart was sworn in as the National Pan-Hellenic Council Representative before the assembly moved on to elections.

Speaker of the Assembly

The first election of the evening was for the Speaker of the Assembly. Owen Haddad was the only nominee for the position. He spoke about his experience as the past Chair of Academic Affairs and highlighted the importance of nominating a speaker who is willing to be a resource for other representatives.

Haddad won the election.

Committee Chairs

First up was the committee chair election for Academic Affairs. Ryan Setzenfand was the sole nominee for the position. He highlighted how his core values, such as initiative, help to shape his leadership abilities. Setzenfand also stated that one of his main goals as Chair of Academic Affairs would be to develop a mentorship program within the assembly as a way to support new representatives.

Setzenfand won the election.

Next was the committee chair election for Campus Operations. Three representatives were nominated for the position: Izzy Graham, Fletcher Port, and Rik Bhattacharyya. Graham spoke first and explained her passion for creating a more sustainable campus and increasing cross-committee collaboration.

Port was next to speak, explaining his desire to bring excitement to assembly meetings. He stated that one of his main goals as chair of Campus Operations would be to improve students’ day-to-day interactions with campus.

Bhattacharyya spoke last and highlighted his experience within the committee. He explained his role in on-campus housing demographic research and would aim to prioritize outreach regarding Campus Operations.

Graham won the election.

The third election was for the Chair of Governmental Affairs. Zion Sykes was the sole nominee for the position. He explained his experience within the Governmental Affairs committee and emphasized his passion for advocacy. If elected, Sykes would hope to improve election engagement among students and would stand behind asynchronous instruction on Election Day.

Sykes won the election.

Following this was the election for the Chair of Justice and Equity. Two representatives were nominated, Litzy Sandoval and Rasha Elwakil. Sandoval spoke first and highlighted the injustice faced by low-income students. If elected, she would hope to instigate necessary policy changes and increase cross-committee collaboration.

Elwakil spoke second and called attention to her involvement in Women’s Empowerment Week. If elected, her goals as committee chair would include prioritizing Greeks CARE and hosting a round-table event for all student identity committees.

Elwakil won the election.

The last chair election of the night was for Student Life. Ava Phillips was the only representative nominated for the position. She served as the Student Life co-chair and chair in the 17th assembly of the UPUA. If elected, her goals as chair would include continuing Mental Health Awareness Week and strengthening the relationship between downtown businesses and the Student Life committee.

Phillips won the election.

Following committee chair elections, the final election of the meeting appointed UPUA representatives to the Student Fee Board. Sophia Carpinteyro and Zion Sykes won these seats.


The night ended with several confirmations, including Vice President Giselle Concepcion to the Student Fee Board. Ben Brauser was confirmed as Chief of Staff, Ally Schaedler was confirmed as Executive Director of Public Relations, Sanjana Devarakonda was confirmed as Executive Director of Finance, Caden Vitti was confirmed as Executive Director of Sustainability, Olivia Lechthaler was confirmed as Secretary, and Marissa Gillespie and Cade Miller were confirmed as first year co-directors.

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About the Author

McKenzie Clauss

McKenzie is a junior majoring in psychology from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. She loves sharks, Kris Jenner, and taking naps. You can get in touch with her on Instagram @mckenzie.clauss or send an email to [email protected].

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