General Body Meeting

03/31/19

9:00 PM Benjamin Franklin Room, Houston Hall

  1. Roll Call
  2. Open Forum
  3. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  2. DPS Commendation Ceremony
  3. Thank you!
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past University Council Meeting
  1. UA Report
  1. UA Feedback
  2. Member of the Week
  1. Executive
  1. Bylaw Concerning Attendance Reporting
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Addressing Food Insecurity at Penn
  2. Scooters on Campus
  1. Completion Reports
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Recreational Space in Houston Hall
  2. 360º Virtual Views of Dorms
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. ARCH Signage
  1. Communications


Reports


President’s Report

  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1. President Gutmann - March 26
  1. On Tuesday, March 26, UA Cabinet met with President Amy Gutmann to speak about project highlights from the session and to get her feedback. We discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from dual degree student advising to historical markers, and the life skills workshop and many things in between. Particular points of interest in discussion were surrounding funding and spaces for cultural organizations, which the President’ office is aware is a top priority among student advocacy groups. In addition, we spoke about the complexity and opportunities for improvement regarding the University’s tuition funding model and how Penn can adapt its financial aid strategies to meet the needs of middle income students. You can view the full agenda online here.
  1. Chief Wellness Officer and Wellness Partners - March 27
  1. On Wednesday, March 27, the UA Cabinet had its final administrator meeting of the year. We met with Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dube, Drs. Meeta Kumar and Michal Saraf from CAPS, Dr. Giang Nguyen from Student Health Service, and Ashlee Halbritter from Campus Health. The main topic of the meeting was how to embed wellness resources in the student experience. We first discussed what the student idealized version of wellness looked like, then proceeded to bucket items into “cause” and “symptom” treatments. Finally, we broke items down based on administrative limitations and talked about potential paths forward for existing UA projects. Simon Miller, Mary Sadallah, and Chase Serota joined in on the meeting and provided excellent insight!
  1. DPS Commendation Ceremony - April 4
  1. If you are interested in attending the Division of Public Safety Officer Commendation Ceremony, it is taking place this Thursday, April 4 at 6pm in Shotel Dubin Auditorium at Penn Hillel. DPS strongly values UA participation in this event, and I would love to see many of you there!
  1. Thank You!
  1. Expect a more long-winded, sappy email to come, but I wanted to say a preliminary thank-you to all of you for making this year incredibly special. Serving as your UA President this year has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of my life, and I could not have asked to share it with a more passionate, dedicated, and hardworking group of people.

Vice President’s Report

  1. Past University Council Meeting
  1. On Wednesday, we convened for University Council. We heard presentations on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget and the Penn First Plus Program. We also heard from Open Forum speakers.

UA Report

  1. UA Feedback
  1. GBM
  1. What are your impressions of GBM this semester?
  2. What could we improve about GBM next year?
  1. Committee
  1. How would you like to improve committee?
  2. Did you feel supported in your project work?
  1. Member of the Week
  1. This week’s member of the week is...


Executive


Bylaw Amendment Concerning Attendance Reporting

Authored by: Jess Andrews, Jude Dartey, and Michael Krone

Background:

For many years, the UA Secretary has had the responsibility of managing and reporting attendance to the UA general body and the student population-at-large, principally by posting the attendance record of GBMs and Committee meetings on the UA website at pennua.org/attendance. In past years, reporting of attendance at these meetings, as well as Cabinet meetings, administrator meetings, and Steering meetings were reported for members who were expected to attend them, but that somehow fell out of the scope of the attendance reporting a few years back.

We applaud UA Secretaries, such as the incredible Mercedes Owens, for their work in keeping track of attendance records throughout the year, and are aiming with this bylaw amendment to display transparency with the student body (or anyone who visits our website for that matter) how our members are faring with their attendance.

In this amendment, we included several clauses. In the first portion below, we highlight the fact that members who are elected to Executive positions or appointed to Cabinet positions are expected to attend Cabinet meetings should they be scheduled in compliance with a member’s pre-sourced availability. We also codify the fact that the Cabinet, heretofore referred to as a joint unit of the Executive Board and Committee Directors, shall meet regularly as necessary.

Finally, we create a section enumerating the powers of the Secretary, which shall include the maintenance and reporting of attendance of members at GBMs, Committee meetings, Steering meetings, Cabinet meetings, and administrator meetings.

Enactment:

The Undergraduate Assembly hereby resolves to:

  1. Add the following clauses to Section I: Members, Article 1 “Objective Duties”
  1. It shall be the duty of all members of the Executive Board, Committee Directors, and any appointed positions that are deemed appropriate by the Executive to ordinarily attend meetings with University administrators, faculty, and other staff members.
  2. The Executive Board, Committee Directors, and any appointed positions that are deemed appropriate by the Executive may meet as a joint unit at such times, in such places, and by such means as it shall deem necessary and proper, provided that all aforementioned members are given due notice.
  1. Add the following clause to Section II: Officers, under the header “Powers and Responsibilities of Officers”
  1. These shall be the powers of the Secretary:
  1. To make publicly available to any Penn undergraduate a record of UA members’ attendance at all regularly scheduled meetings, including, but not limited to: GBMs; Committee Meetings; UA Steering Committee Meetings; meetings of the Executive Board and Committee Directors as a joint unit; and administrator meetings in which the presence of the Executive Board and Committee Directors are requested by the President.


Project Highlights


Dining, Housing, and Transit

Addressing Food Insecurity at Penn

Authored by: Armaun Rouhi, Mercedes Owens, and Kevin Zhou

After seeing food pantry programs at Temple and other universities, the possibility of a similar program at Penn was explored. In order to decide whether a pantry or different program is appropriate, Mercedes, Kevin, and Armaun have been meeting with Marc Lo, director of Penn First Plus, and food insecurity researchers at Hope Labs to create survey questions that will gauge the scope of food insecurity at Penn. The survey is anticipated to be sent out to students in Fall 2019. Data from this survey will direct the group next session in developing an appropriate solution.

Electronic Scooters on Campus Update

Authored by: Mandi Nerenberg

Legislation is currently being considered by the Philadelphia City Council regarding the use of electronic scooter sharing programs, and both Penn and Philadelphia have major concerns about the safety and usage of the scooters and their subsequent placement around the streets. Due to the congested nature of the city, many are afraid that the scooters would become more of a hazard than an aid.  Many agreed that the scooters could be used within the bike lanes, so the next step is going to be lobbying and advocating for the creation of more lanes around the city on major streets to promote scooter routes.  Also, we have reached out to both Spin and BIRD scooter companies and we also plan to reach out to others like Lime so that the company would be able to help advocate for the scooters.  By creating this open communication between us and the companies, we could further help outline specific restricted areas so that Penn would be more open to possibly of welcoming scooters on campus one day in the near future! Altogether, we are just waiting for the legislation from the city to legalize the use of scooters within Philly.  Spin was very receptive at the beginning of the year but stopped responding to our emails.  However, through LinkedIN we are able to track Penn Alumni that work at Lime so they could definitely be an important contact for the future.  We drew out a map of areas that should be restricted to scooters so that DPS is more likely to support this project, specifically blocking Locust Walk, as well as the Engineering Quad and the Hamilton Walk (behind the Quad).


Completion Reports


Dining, Housing, and Transit

Recreational Space in Houston Hall

Authored by: Arjun Swaminathan and Nick Parkes

Over the past year, we met with OSA Executive Director Katie Bonner and VPUL Associate Director Laurie Hall to discuss the development of recreational space in the Bistro of Houston Hall. The goal of the project was to create a place where students are encouraged to have fun instead of feeling the need to study. Both administrators as well as VPUL Dr. Val Cade expressed full support for the project. Houston Hall was chosen as an ideal spot to relax between classes due to its location and history as a student center. Based on our discussions as well as an additional study to be completed in April, the tables currently in the reading room will be swapped over the summer with a large table to be used for board games. Additionally, depending on funding to be determined in June, other potential additions include a custom cabinet to hold video game consoles as well as foosball and ping pong tables.

360° Virtual Views of Dorms

Authored by: Maria Curry, Arjun Swaminathan and Ozi Amuzie

After years of lobbying for 360° virtual views of dorms on campus for students to reference during room selection, Miranda Stewart and Courtney Dombroski from Residential Services along with Barbara Lea-Kruger approved our proposed program pilot to do so. This weekend, Maria and Arjun filmed a number of different 4-year college houses with specialized cameras. The final product is expected to be available on Campus Express in time for incoming Freshmen to view before the room selection process. Thank you to Ozi Amunzie for volunteering her room and providing contacts for a handful of our other volunteers as well.

Sustainability and Community Impact

ARCH Signage

Authored by: Natasha Menon

After speaking with the Building Manager of ARCH, Reverend Will Gipson and the Executive Director of ARCH are working on installing a new, larger sign to the first floor featuring the logos of each of the cultural resource centers. This will help to increase the visibility of these centers and direct students to the lower concourse.


Minutes


  1. Roll Call
  1. Baktiar
  2. Audrey
  3. Tess- AM on AI
  4. Jessie- AM on DHT
  5. Ryan: AM on EI
  6. Jen A. - AM on AI
  7. Mikayla- AM on SCI
  8. Mary- AM on EI
  9. Charles- AM on SCL
  1. Open Forum
  1. Mikayla: Later this week, I will have a meeting on advising within BFS. If anyone has topics or questions to ask in that meeting, please let me know.
  2. Kristen: Are you reaching other Freshmen in BFS?
  3. Mikayla: I have reached out to some, but maybe a survey would be nice.  
  4. Regan: Reach out to me and Ryan if you have any questions about advising in general.
  5. Janice: Are there BFS advisors?
  6. Mikayla: They have BFS advisors, but those advisors also have non-BFS advisees so it is not specifically tailored.
  7. Bak: Eat and Greet is a program for people who are sitting alone but would like company. The laminated flag is a sign of welcome to other students who are dining alone. This is a great program for people who have trouble with social connection. It has evolved into a project of mental wellness, so we are discussing how to expand the program. In the long term, it can expand across dining halls and even analyse the core reason of why this issue exists. Our mission is to get a UA member, an NSO member, Penn Wellness, and a few other groups and developing a core group. We want to push this campaign during NSO and market this the first two month-- Reach out to me via email or social media at baktiar@sas.upenn.edu.
  8. Dante: Is the focus specifically on freshmen?
  9. Bak: Our focus is to give vouchers to various organizations during the first two months to have members be fully immersed in the program and act as “undercover agents.” Freshmen will be directly affected, so we are really pushing this during NSO.
  10. Kristen: A lot of people do not interact because we are all very tech savvy. How do we create an incentive to reduce technology and encourage socialization?
  11. Bak: We need people like you on our team to ask these questions. This is an opportunity to market this program as “cool” via outlets like the DP.
  12. John: What will be the most challenging aspect of making this a Penn-wide phenomenon?
  13. Bak: The buy in from the student body-- making it a cool and marketable thing to do. We have had 20-30 students who have used it this semester.
  14. Mikayla: Are you talking about the green signs in Hill?
  15. Bak: Yes.
  16. Elena: Loneliness is real on this campus, so this is a great initiative. How can students not on dining plans take advantage of this?
  17. Bak: We are targeting freshmen primarily, but we will have upperclassmen liaisons who will be given vouchers to participate in this program. We have about $10,000 in funding for this project.
  18. John: This is just a reminder that everyone is great and everyone will make it through this election season.
  19. Kristen: How are we addressing the lack of Engineering Representatives?
  20. Stephen: We are planning to push the write-in campaign a lot.
  21. Elena: Are there any write in campaigns currently?
  22. Stephen: As of now, we do not know because voting has not began.
  23. Priya: I would send this out to the undergraduate coordinators in Engineering.
  24. Ben: What if the person does not want to run but are written in?
  25. Stephen: People are not put on the ballot without their consent.
  26. Chase: We are looking for people who want to be involved in creating the relaxation space in VP. Slack me for more information!  
  27. Nick: This is the exact same thing Arjun and I worked on all semester, so loop us in please.
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1.  Michael: On Tuesday, Cabinet met with President Gutmann where we discussed top priority of issues of couple of projects from each committee. The agenda is available online. We discussed cultural space on campus and issues of tuition. On Wednesday, we met with Dr. Dube as well as other key Wellness administrators on campus. Mary, Simon, and Chase joined us for that discussion on embedded wellness resources on campus.
  1. Maria: Could you talk about publishing minutes from this meeting?
  2. Michael: Because we rely on the fact that administrators communicate things to us based on their level of trust, we will likely not release a transcript of our conversation. We can express general sentiments.
  3. Kristen: How is middle income defined here?
  4. Michael: It is defined by the University.
  1. DPS Commendation Ceremony
  1. Michael: This event is taking place on Thursday at 6pm in Shotel Dubin Auditorium at Penn Hillel. DPS strongly values UA participation, so please join me at this event.
  2. Stephen: Make sure you submit spending forms first!
  1. Thank you!
  1. Michael: Expect a sad communications meeting next week. Essentially, I love you all and will miss you dearly.
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past University Council Meeting
  1. Michael: On Wednesday, University Council met for a make-up from the snowed out meeting as well as a regular meeting, and we heard presentations on the 2019 budget and the Penn First Plus Program. We also heard from Open Forum speakers including graduate students.
  1. UA Report
  1. UA Feedback
  1. Brian: This is a time to give your thoughts on GBM and Committee meetings this semester. I encourage you all to write down feedback and speak once. We are having a communications meeting next week for more personal feedback.
  2. Priya: I think you should be able to leave before communications and it not count for half attendance.
  3. Janice: What is Communications GBM?
  4. Brian: We go around the circle and talk about personal experiences and reflections on the session.
  5. Simon: I enjoyed the increased efficiency of meetings this year. We can improve by incorporating small communications more into GBM.
  6. Mary: As an AM, I enjoyed this experience overall. I think the AM attendance should be a bit higher because I learned a lot from coming to GBM.
  7. Elena: I enjoy having GBM in the afternoon, so if we could consider adding more of those in the future,  that would be great. Also, changing the rules surrounding laptop usage at GBM could be beneficial. It could count as half and absence or something. As Penn students, we have a lot on our plate.
  8. Kristen: I feel like the UA is a lot more family-like this year. We are so much happier as an organization. Something I want to work on next session is transparency to the student body-- their lack of knowledge is a failure on our parts, not theirs. I also think that communications is so important. We have to get better at time management, especially when we sign up for these positions knowing that there could be up to a 5 hour commitment.
  9. Mandi: I had two midterms during budget season, so I think maybe at times we should make attendance optional.
  10. Janice: I think there should be more guidance for freshmen, like a mentor for freshmen members. I think we should not have laptops to not out of respect for our elected position.
  11.  Michael: Communications comes from a time when the UA was not a family-- it fosters community.
  12. Thomas: Brian, you’re doing amazing.
  13. Ryan: I think AMs should have a bit more accountability. If you do not have the initiative, you won’t be able to foster community within the body.
  14.  Danny: We should push more events to push transparency to the student body.
  15. Dante: I would also push using trello.
  16.  Nick: Big communications is great. We should have more of a pathway to projects.
  17. Jen: Large communications are more genuine, Being an AM is kind of what you make of it-- it attracts people of different levels of interests. We could have incorporated more non-alcoholic events like wholesome dinners. The increased efficiency is great. More afternoon GBMs would be bad for people who have conflicts during that time. And I love you all.  
  18. Jess: What did everyone think about committee?
  19. Arjun: I am a very big fan of small communications because it encourages sleep and getting work done.
  20. Chase: I love how the UA gathers on Locust and it really fosters a sense of community.
  21. Daniel: We have to re-vamp and revitalize the purpose of Communications Team and our overall marketing strategy.
  22. Tess: I think project updates are important, but I think a discussion style Committee meeting on one or two projects is more productive.
  23. Mikayla: Most of the SCI committee was AMs, and it was really great to see perspectives. AM brunch.
  24. Ryan: I tried to get meals with upperclassmen on the UA and I think I gained a lot of knowledge from doing that. I think it would be great to facilitate a relationship between upperclassmen and underclassmen. Also, on committee, we tried something new halfway through the session so I would recommend modifying based on feedback from committee members.
  25. Ben: The UA is the best community on campus. The large communications was the best way for me to hear about everyone’s week and state of mind.
  26. Quinn: I think that politics should be left out of meetings because we are a family.
  27. Elena: You can be incredible at time-management but not cannot control having an overwhelming amount of work on Monday. I like how we split communication styles throughout the session, so maybe we could continue that in the future. I like when we have difficult conversations and debates because we all have different perspectives to bring to discussion. It would be great to identify controversial issues and vote on those in order to grow as an organization.
  28. Stephen: One of the charges of the NEC is education. We don’t do a good enough job of communicating these ideas to the greater student body, so we welcome feedback and suggestions. Come to our GBMs on Monday at 9.
  1. Member of the Week
  1. MsOTW are UA Cabinet!
  1. Executive
  1. Bylaw Concerning Attendance Reporting
  1. Michael: This is a bylaw amendment concerning attendance reporting for all kinds of meetings. We wanted to re-normalize this initiative and hold members accountable. It does two things:  established Exec and Committee Directors as Cabinet and a body that meets regularly as needed, and second, it further defines the power of the Secretary to report attendance at all meetings including Steering meetings, Cabinet meetings, and administrator meetings.
  2. Ryan: Does this change AM attendance?
  3. Michael: Everything will stay the same, and AM attendance is up to the discretion of the Speaker.
  4. Arjun: Would all attendance be made public?
  5. Michael: Yes.
  6. Kristen: Isn’t attendance already public?
  7. Mercedes: Cabinet attendance is not included in the published attendance.
  8. Jen: If someone has extenuating circumstances, do they have to announce it to the body?
  9. Michael: It depends on which bylaw is evoked. There are cases where they have to be reported and others do not.
  10. Thomas: Does this limit the powers of the Secretary?
  11. Jess: No, it just specifies the powers in this specific case.
  12. Arjun: Pro. It adds transparency among leadership.
  13. Simon: Pro. It holds everyone accountable.
  14. John: Pro. Both candidates are running on a platform of transparency, so this is great.
  15.  This passes 27-0-0
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Addressing Food Insecurity at Penn
  1. Mercedes: This semester, following the City 6 Conference of Philadelphia Student Governments and interviews for the new Penn First Plus Executive Director position, I noticed that there was an issue of food insecurity on Penn’s campus. The issue resigned in the lack of data on this topic. After reaching out to members of Penn First Board, VPUL, SRFS, and the newly appointed Penn First Plus executive Director Marc Lo, Kevin, Armaun, and I were able to help craft a question that will be included in a survey sent out to the undergraduate student body in April. Next steps will include analyzing the data gathered from that survey.
  1. Scooters on Campus
  1. Mandi: Along with Chase and Maria, we have been working on getting scooters on campus. We are waiting on City Council to finalize the law. We will continue to work on this project as city and state laws develop.
  2. Ammar: Could these be utilized in the same places that electric skateboards are used? They are used on Locust and in bike lanes.
  3. Mikayla: Another issue that will need to be addressed is the “convenience” of the ability to leave the scooters anywhere when you’re finished with them. How will you address this for students with disabilities who may have trouble navigating around them?
  4. Mandi: We haven’t looked at that specific issue, but we will take this into account when considering next steps.
  5. Chase: Reach out to me for more information.
  1. Completion Reports
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Recreational Space in Houston Hall
  1. Arjun: Nick and I have been working with various administrative offices to create a space of fun and relaxation that will get at the core of Houston as a Student Union. We decided that the western study room would be the best place for this. They hope to add more table games and gaming consoles based on budget.
  2. Dante: Do you know the specific type of video games?
  3. Arjun: Not sure, but we can keep in contact.
  4. Priya: Marketing it will be the most important aspect.
  1. 360º Virtual Views of Dorms
  1. Arjun: After many years of lobbying, RSAB and Business Services approved this request. Maria and I began filming rooms last weekend, and the final product is expected to be on Campus Express by next year’s freshman room selection.
  1. Equity and Inclusion:
  1. Learning Disability Testing
  1. Kristen: Penn provides accommodations and academic guidance for students with learning disorders and disabilities through the Student Disabilities Services Office, in Weingarten. Because some disabilities are more apparent than others, coupled with the mental illness stigma in many societies, I have particularly noticed a trend in communities of people of color who were diagnosed learning and performance disorders coming to Penn. However, these diagnoses often follow some academic tragedy. My goal is to begin an initiative that informs Penn students (particularly freshmen) about learning and performance disabilities, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and memory deficits, so that students can self-identify if they notice symptoms of these disorders, get tested, and receive the appropriate help before their grades suffer. I worked with Weingarten and CHAS to get this into place. Hopefully this will come into play in the fall.
  2. Janice: I would recommend following up with the administrators on this initiative to ensure it gets done.
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. ARCH Signage
  1. Natasha: This is a small step, but we were able to get a larger sign for cultural centers with updated logos and descriptions!
  1. Communications