General Body Meeting

12/02/18

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. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  3. Council of Philadelphia Student Governments
  4. Spring Administrator Meetings
  5. UA Mid-Session Report
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Last UA Steering
  2. Upcoming University Council
  1. UA Report
  1. Spring Semester
  2. UA Apparel
  3. Member of the Week
  1. Treasurer’s Report
  1. Emergency Contingency Request: Delta Sigma Theta
  1. Secretary’s Report
  1. Airport Shuttles
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. UA x GAPSA Mentorship Program
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Advocating Against GPA Requirements/Internal Transfer Guide
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Panhellenic VP Health and Wellness
  2. CIS Advisory Board
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Digital Penn Card Capabilities 
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Campus Recreation Space
  2. Weighting of Courses Analysis
  3. Awareness of Safety Initiatives on Campus
  4. Penn Outlet Audit
  5. CHAS Initiatives
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Cultural Center and Cultural Group Funding
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. Prison Education Project
  2. Replacing One-Use Plastic Water Bottles on Campus
  3. International Student Mental Health Resources
  1. Completion Reports
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. UA x CAPSAB Liaison
  2. International Student Resources
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Penn Lighting Project
  2. Advertising Dining Options for Students with Dietary Restrictions
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Nursing Ambassadors
  2. Leave of Absence Reintegration
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. Veterans Day Celebration
  1. External Seats
  1. Admissions Dean’s Advisory Board
  2. Residential Services Advisory Board
  3. Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee
  1. Communications


Reports


President’s Report

  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1. Vice Provost for University Life - November 28, 2018
  1. On Wednesday, November 28, UA Cabinet met with the Vice Provost for University Life, Dr. Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum. Katie Bonner (OSA), Meeta Kumar (CAPS), Ashlee Halbritter (Campus Health), and Barbara Hewitt (Career Services) joined the meeting. We discussed the implementation of pilot programs for menstrual hygiene product distribution, peer-to-peer resources for job interview preparation, and positivity banners to be displayed on Locust Walk. We also addressed the ongoing work of the UA in relation to club recruitment reform, and advocacy for cultural group funding and spaces. Finally, we discussed the CAPS communications projects, specifically the myth-busting posters and personal stories video series.
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. GAPSA Leadership - December 7
  1. On Friday, December 7, UA Cabinet will be meeting with GAPSA leadership to continued our ongoing partnership. We will be discussing the graduate/undergraduate mentorship program, resources for cultural groups and inclusion, and ways to collaborate on addressing Penn’s competitive culture.
  1. Wellness Partners - December 11
  1. On Tuesday, December 11, UA Cabinet will be meeting with the Chief Wellness Officer, Benoit Dube, as well as other wellness partners on campus. These include Erika Gross (COO for Wellness), Ashlee Halbritter (Campus Health), Rev. Chaz Howard (Univ. Chaplain), Meeta Kumar (CAPS), Dave Leach (Penn Recreation), and Michal Saraf (CAPS). If you have suggestions for discussion topics, please let me know!
  1. Council of Undergraduate Deans - December 12
  1. On Wednesday, December 12, I will be meeting with the Council of Undergraduate Deans.
  1. Council of Philadelphia Student Governments
  1. On Sunday, December 2, Natasha Menon, Mercedes Owens, and I met with the Council of Philadelphia Student Governments, a group that consists of leadership of the student governments of Temple University, Drexel University, St. Joseph’s University, La Salle University, and Villanova University.  We discussed how each other’s student governments function and how there might be opportunities to innovate our own operations. As far as campus issues go, we discussed the ways that our groups handle mental wellness and communication of resources, how we source feedback from the student body, efforts to combat food insecurity, how to prioritize sustainability in student government/administrative work, and how to promote an inclusive environment on campus. Moving forward, we agreed to maintain membership of just the current 6 participants, to be active in our Slack workspace, and to strike up more joint project ventures. La Salle University will host the next meeting of the Council in March 2019.
  1. Spring Administrator Meetings
  1. I am currently in the process of scheduling administrator meetings for the Spring Semester. We are looking at meeting with:
  1. President Gutmann
  2. Provost Pritchett and Vice Provost Winkelstein
  3. EVP Craig Carnaroli and AVP Tony Sorrentino
  4. VPUL Val Cade and AVP Tamara King
  5. Business Services
  6. Student Registration and Financial Services
  7. Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dube and Wellness Partners
  8. Faculty Senate
  9. Division of Public Safety
  10. New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives
  11. Sustainability Office
  1. UA Mid-Session Report
  1. In order to keep ourselves accountable to the student body, I am working with members of Cabinet to compile a Mid-Session Report in similar fashion to previous years. This will include updates on my and Jordan’s platform, as well as highlights of projects from our five committees, and other improvements that we have made as an organization. The goal is to email this out to the student body on the last day of classes for this semester.

Vice-President’s Report

  1. Last UA Steering
  1. This past Tuesday, we convened for the last Steering meeting of the semester. I shared a platform progress report, and we split into small groups to reflect on the discussions and format. I will be implementing the feedback next semester.
  1. Upcoming University Council
  1. This coming Wednesday, December 5, will be the last University Council meeting of the semester. It is an Open Forum meeting, so we will be hearing from members of the Penn community.

UA Report

  1. Spring Semester
  1. Our first GBM of the Spring Semester will be held on January 20th at 9pm  in the Benjamin Franklin Room.
  1. UA Apparel
  1. The UA apparel will arrive in about a week! I will be hosting a study break for people to hang out and pick up their jackets!
  1. Member of the Week
  1. This week’s member of the week is...

Treasurer’s Report

  1. Emergency Contingency Request: Delta Sigma Theta Penn Gent Event
  1. On Wednesday, November 28th, Exec held an emergency contingency vote. Exec voted 5-0-0 to fund Delta Sigma Theta’s Penn Gent Event at $52.50 for additional microphones. They originally requested $150 for a Penn a cappella group performance, along with $75 for additional microphones for performance. As a policy, the UA Contingency Fund isn’t used to fund honorarium for Penn groups. However, we can fund the equipment costs. Since only 70% of the attendees will be undergraduate students, we can fund 70% of the $75 for the additional microphones, which is $52.50. The event occurred on Friday, November 30th in Arch 208.
  2. This brings our contingency fund from $15,184 to $15,131.50.

Secretary’s Report

  1. Airport Shuttles
  1. The airport shuttles committee beat last year’s record of selling 628 tickets by selling 673 tickets this year! Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this a success. I will be sending out a survey to everyone who bought a ticket to get suggestions for improvements in the spring.

Discussion Papers


Student and Campus Life

UA x GAPSA Mentorship Program

Authored by Simon Chen

Background:

UA and GAPSA have been funding a joint mentorship program for the past few years, but it has not seen much utilization. Originally, the funding was meant for one-on-one mentoring between students in the two bodies, but this was logistically difficult to manage. I am seeking feedback on the structure, focus, and interest for how this program should be shaped to effectively connect undergraduate students with their graduate counterparts.

The goals of this program include addressing undergraduate questions/concerns from a graduate perspective (ie. pre-med students seeking advice on taking the MCAT) and fostering the connection between graduate students and undergraduate students. However, the structure and focus of the mentorship program in its newest form has yet to be decided.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Would undergraduates be interested in this type of mentoring program?
  2. What graduate schools should participate in the pilot version of the program?
  3. How should the program be structured (ie. Fireside chat, panel, groups of undergraduates matched with graduate students of similar interest, dinners with graduate students, etc)
  4. How can we incorporate this revamped program into ones that already exist (ie. Take your professor/mentor to lunch)?

Equity and Inclusion

Advocating Against GPA Requirements/Internal Transfer Guide

Authored by Anthony Scarpone-Lambert

 

Background:

This project aims to address the eligibility requirements for applying to internally transfer between undergraduate schools, or applying into a dual degree program, specifically the GPA requirements. I'm bringing this topic up because I believe restricting students who do not meet a GPA of 3.0-3.4 (depending on program) goes against our university's core value of academic inclusivity and freedom.

Some students at Penn have factors in their lives that inhibit them from academically succeeding in their first year. These may include family life, money, and basic stresses that come with being a first year at Penn. I believe this policy especially impacts FGLI students, many of whom are struggling to adjust to life in a high pressure environment like Penn. Additionally, some FGLI students work 2 or more jobs to afford to be at Penn, which could result in one's grades being negatively impacted.

This policy is additionally hurting students who are not succeeding in their respective undergraduate school academically because they realized it is not what they want/like. To ensure the University is following its own values, all students deserve the chance to pursue their academic interest, which again is what this University promises us to be able to do.

Moving forward, I want not only to advocate for this policy change, but additionally create a clear and simple road map for undergraduate freshman & sophomores who wish to transfer undergraduate programs at Penn, or apply into a dual degree program. Right now, different school’s websites have different wording for the GPA requirement. For example, the School of Nursing says that to apply for a dual degree program, a 3.0 GPA is typical. On the Wharton website, however, it says to apply to a dual degree, a 3.4 GPA is required. And on top of this, the information is challenging to find and does not seem to have been updated to reflect current policies.

Questions: 

  1. In your opinion, what is the most efficient way to advocate for this issue?
  2. Do you think it is best that I approach this issue from a FGLI standpoint and leverage the Penn First Plus Program, or through each undergraduate schools' academic services?
  3. After speaking with Jonathan Katzenbach, Managing Director of Wharton Undergraduate Division, he feels the applications for internal transfers/dual degree programs need to “start with some baseline of eligibility.” What are other counter arguments you could see being brought up?
  4. Do you have any additional insight into this policy?


Project Highlights


Academic Initiatives

Panhellenic VP Health and Wellness

Authored by: Jennifer Richards

 

After meeting with MacKenzie Lucas, the former VP of Health and Wellness, I learned that the new VP of Health and Wellness will be overseeing the implementation of wellness chairs in every sorority. Furthermore, they just began offering coffee chats for potential new members to better understand what Greek life is about.

 

CIS Advisory Board

Authored by: Sravya Alla

 

The creation of the CIS Advisory Board is underway and will be piloting at the end of January. This semester I met with CIS Chair Zachary Ives who was very receptive to the proposal and then met with Women in Computer Science and Computer Science Society presidents. Before Thanksgiving break, I met with Rita Powell, head of CIS Diversity, and she gave me a list of names who would be interested in being part of the pilot program. I am in the processing of contacting these potential members, determining a date for the pilot focus group, and creating an agenda.

Student and Campus  Life

Digital Penn Card Capabilities

Authored by Robert Klopf and Michael Krone

 

This initiative involves using the functionality of Apple Wallet/Android Pay in order to allow virtual Penn Card access, similar to how one use their debit/credit card virtually to pay for items. This technology would be used in addition to physical PennCard. We have been reaching out to student government leaders at peer institutions that have already paired with Apple Wallet to promote this technology (ie. Temple University, Duke University, the University of Oklahoma, John Hopkins University, and the University of Alabama). Additionally, there has been interest from Penn administration to pursue this technology (cited in the The Daily Pennsylvanian). Temple University president, Gadi Zimmerman, stated that student government was not involved in the adaptation to digital wallets. Next steps will include initiating contact with Information Systems and Computing (ISC) and Business Services to learn about capabilities/vendors and previous research on the project, as well as continuing engagement with peer institutions about this topic.  For reference, see this article. 

Dining, Housing, and Transit

Campus Recreation Space

Authored by: Arjun Swaminathan and Nick Parkes

Over the past weeks, we have been pursuing a project to create a central recreational and lounge space on campus for students to relax in, following up on Kanishka Rao’s exploration of the idea from last year. Last month, we met with OSA Executive Director Katie Bonner and later with VPUL Associate Director Laurie Hall. Given that Houston is already planned for a renovation in the near future, both supported the project, and expressed interest from Vice Provost Val Cade and Provost Wendell Pritchett as well. We agreed upon one of the Reading Rooms in Houston Hall for a pilot of the project. Our short term goals for the space include adding a game area that can include more TV screens, video game consoles and tables for activities such as ping pong or foosball, while longer–term goals include structural renovation of the area itself. The timeline of the project will depend on the building’s budget. Ms. Hall also would be interested in seeing if we would be able to attend the next Student Engagement Working Group meeting to gain additional feedback.

Weighting of Courses Analysis

Authored by: Daniel Wittmer

Over the semester, I have been gathering information in regards to the weighting of final exams across schools. After compiling the data across sections and core intro classes, for Wharton, I found the average final was weighted at 38.06%, while in the nursing school, the average final exam weight is 30.00% across core introductory classes. My next step is to continue to reach out the students in Engineering and the College to collect syllabi for all introductory level core courses. The goal of this project is to analyze the data once finished gathering, and hopefully convince administrators to consider the effects of highly weighted exams on students.

Awareness of Safety Initiatives on Campus

Authored by: Janice Owusu

This semester I have been working on improving student safety on campus. Our committee initially discussed improving the Blue Light System on campus, however after researching further, this did not seem to be the most efficient route.

Instead, I decided a better way to promote this initiative would be to increase student participation of the Penn Guardian App and promote the existing DPS services like the 24/7 walking escort service for students. Ideas to execute this include: 1) Creating a poster campaign for these initiatives with the help of the Communication Team and 2) contacting the Penn Department of Public Safety to change the tagline for DPS text-messages that students receive to say "Download the Penn Guardian app to report any suspicious activity" and similar messages periodically. Please reach out to me if you have any recommendation to help promote the Penn Guardian App and/or other existing DPS Services.

Penn Outlet Audit

Authored by: Jesse Fox

Recently, students have been complaining that many of the indoor outlets in on-campus buildings do not work. For example, I personally know that select outlets in the Van Pelt Basement have not worked for the entirety of my time at Penn. Because of this, I am in the process of conducting a holistic audit of  popular locations on campus to record which individual outlets or area of outlets need to be fixed. When finished, we plan to send the information to Facilities and Real Estate administrators, who expressed support in fixing these electrical issues. In the same message, we would like to follow-up on the possibility of installing outdoor outlets in popular spaces where students already study to enhance their experience.

CHAS Initiatives

Authored by: Will Castner, Maria Curry and Arjun Swaminathan

This Friday, the three of us met with Ryan Keytack (CHAS Director of Four-Year Houses and Residential Programs) and Dan Thomas (Director of CHAS Technology) CHAS stands for College House Academic Services and is a separate division from, but similar to, Penn Residential Services). CHAS is also in the process of updating their central and house-based websites. We brought up the following issues:

  1. Lessening restrictions on the low-occupancy policy after move-in day but before NSO.
  1. Pushing the current 2am resident-only policy in college houses to 3am, in order to extend study spaces on-campus at night and improve general reasonable convenience for non-residential students visiting friends at night.
  1. Lessening restrictions on College House hall bathrooms.
  1. Increasing access to highrise computer labs for students to print on the west side of campus.

Equity and Inclusion

Cultural Center and Cultural Group Funding Update

Authored by: Kev Zhou

Through the collective lobbying many people from different groups, including the UA and 5B plus Penn Association for Gender Equity (PAGE), the 5B leaders met with VPUL on November 14 and achieved great progress regarding cultural group funding increase and spending clarity. The 5B is the coalition of 5 student boards for marginalized groups on campus, specifically Lambda Alliance, Latinx Coalition, UMOJA, Asian Pacific Student Coalition, and United Minorities Council.

First, PAGE will be joining these meetings in the future as a part of a rebranded “6B”. A possible inclusive acronym would be PALULU to capture the first letter of all groups. Second, all umbrella groups will have an equal budget of $6000 starting next year. Third, new structures will be in place to increase clarity and transparency for cultural group and center spendings: all cultural boards will discuss and decide budgets with their centers for the upcoming calendar year; CREF numbers will be better used to keep track of spending; and each umbrella groups will keep better records in archives and share their institutional knowledge with VPUL.

Other issues covered include each cultural center’s VPUL grant, term gift, and endowment amounts and the lack of usage of Campaign for Community as a funding source. Issues not resolved from the meeting include the lack of funding increase for Intercultural Fund (ICF) and T-Change (and also where excess funds from these boards go at the end of the year) and revamp of the means for cultural groups to have stabler funding (budget proposals like SAC funded groups).

Sustainability and Community Impact

Prison Education

Authored by: George Yang and Sophie Lovering

This purpose of this project is to ultimately improve the education in local prisons or jails by providing educational courses for them. A Rand study in 2013 found that Inmates who participate in correctional education programs had a reduction in the risk of recidivating of 13%. To this end, Sophie and I have reached out to a few people: Petey Greene Foundation (UPenn President and Philadelphia Regional Director), which does tutoring in prisons and jails in the local area. George Cronin, Nursing professor teaching about incarceration. Penn State's Professor Efrain Marimon, who has started a similar program in Penn State. We found that SCI Chester is the closest prison to Penn, around 10 min. driving distance away. It is mainly a correctional facility for drug and alcohol abuse rehab, with reported average length of stay of 12-30 months. Logistical challenges include that we found that the Department of Corrections has current put a ban of certain items such as paper in prisons, but does not have similar policies in jails. Also, we will have to think through how to do a program when for jails, the inmates are very short lengths of stay, and for the prison, the inmates are only staying for 12-30 months (longer time, but still short). In terms of programs that currently exist, we found the Inside Out program, which trains professors at universities to conduct courses where students and professors learn together within the prison. Just based on our anecdotal evidence, however, it seems that the Inside Out program is oversupplied by the universities and under-demanded by the correctional facilities themselves. We are in the process of reaching out to graduate students and professors to help support our project for the long term, as the conversation with Professor Marimon (Penn State) revealed that his program has been in place for longer than 4 years.

International Student Mental Health Resources
Authored by: Kayle He

After meeting with the ISSS director, we agreed that it is important to take a proactive approach to make sure international students at Penn have a good mental health. Our solution is to create a "wellness check-in," which is a short survey that has 6 questions that ask international students about their life here, their classes here, and how many hours do they sleep, etc, so whenever international students go to ISSS to sign any document or just to talk to an advisor, they would also fill this short survey. The advisors at ISSS would then talk to international students based on the survey results or direct them to more resources if necessary. All the advisors at ISSS would also go through a training of course. I have finished the wellness check-in survey and the next step is to revise the survey and to figure out the logistics of implementing the survey.

Replacing One-Use Plastic Water Bottles on Campus
Authored by: Mikayla Golub


One of the overarching goals of mine is to examine avenues to reduce the consumption of one-use plastic on campus. I’ve identified eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles through Bon Appetit as a good way to start. I’ve done research into Boxed Water and feel that it’s the best and most eco-friendly alternative. I have a meeting set up with Julian Goresko, the head of the sustainability office, in order to discuss this project and its feasibility. Once I get feedback from Julian, I’m going to proceed with setting up a meeting with Bon Appetit.


Completion Reports


Student and Campus Life

International Student Resources

Authored by Maher Abdel Samad

A few weeks ago, IPOG (International Partners Outreach Group) met and discussed many issues concerning international student life. Outcomes of this meeting include (1) programs/safeguards within ISSS (International Student & Scholar Services) for international students in distress, as well as (2) a fully trained CAPS specialist that is more equipped to respond to the international student experience, as they have unique needs, concerns, and strengths, while sharing common interests and goals with their American counterparts. Additionally, tailored services/programming for international students seeking help at CAPS will be provided in the future. Next steps include lobbying for administrators to keep international students in mind when they make strategic plans and decisions and promoting the “one stop shop” philosophy at ISSS and dissemination of the international student guide.

 

UA x CAPSAB Liaison

Authored by Simon Miller

 

Over the last few months, I have been working closely with the CAPS Advisory Board (CAPSAB) and one of its chairs, John Lorenzo, to recreate a UA liaison seat on their steering meetings in order to create a better pipeline between the UA and CAPS that doesn’t involve always going to the CAPS Director. CAPSAB meetings are focused on addressing how to improve CAPS itself, receiving student feedback from its members, and helping plan CAPS events with the Penn community. They are happy to have a UA liaison join their biweekly meetings starting next semester.

Dining, Housing, and Transit

Penn Lighting Project

Authored by: Kevin Arther

This Thursday I met with with FRES Administration and the VP of Department of Public Safety to discuss my plans to bring more outdoor lighting to Penn’s campus. The presentation was well received, and after presenting, we all surveyed the campus in person via car to assess the lighting levels.  I was able to highlight several areas where the addition of more lighting would be beneficial to all stakeholders and the team really valued this insight. FRES is looking into these spaces now and plans to implement many of my suggestions in the near future.  

Advertising Dining Options for Students with Dietary Restrictions

By Arjun Swaminathan and Michael Krone

After considering the struggle that students with numerous dietary restrictions face in accessing or finding food options in dining halls, particularly as freshmen, I met with to Dan Connolly, the Bon Appetit nutritionist at Penn. We discussed possible options for such individuals, and I learned that the large majority of affected students that he attempts to contact at the start of each year do not reach out to him. They are therefore unaware of his ability to help them create schedules of dining hall locations that meet their dietary needs on specific days of the week. As a result, we agreed that advertising his services to students would be the optimal route to improving their dining experience. Michael agreed to include a memo from Mr. Connolly in the next all-school email, and we will be setting a precedent to advertise the nutritionist’s services in the first all-school email of every year hereafter.

Equity and Inclusion

Nursing Ambassadors

Authored by Anthony Scarpone-Lambert

One issue that has been expressed to me through speaking with administrators in the School of Nursing (SON) is that many resources are not being utilized simply because students are not aware that they exist. My idea to form “Nursing Ambassadors” stemmed as a solution to this issue. Nursing ambassadors, I felt, would be able to serve as the pipeline between SON administrators and students. Since Penn Nursing is the smallest undergraduate program, information gets spread quickly by word of mouth amongst the student body.

While meeting with Meredith Swinney, Associate Director of Advising in the School of Nursing, to discuss my current project with subsiding scrubs, I proposed the “Nursing Ambassador” program to her, and from it came the formation of the “Penn Nursing Student Wellness Advisory Board".

The group's purpose is to develop programs for all levels of Penn Nursing Students, collaborating with different organizations within the school and across campus. SON administrators feel in order for their wellness programming to be successful, having student voices is imperative. Right now, the advisory board comprises mostly student leaders within the sophomore nursing class. The committee’s first meeting will be held on December 3rd. I am excited to see the impact that the advisory board will make.

Leave of Absence Reintegration

Authored by Andrew Gegios

 

I have been working with administrators to establish a strong connection between returning students and programming targeted to benefit them from Penn Wellness and Returning Student Orientation. Student Intervention Services was receptive to making a form to accomplish this and eventually a full-fledged RSO website. The advising offices’ case management teams would then link to this form and provide information about Penn Wellness programming in their checklists for returning students. This allows the Penn Wellness board to reach out to students who opt in to determine one-on-one what wellness resources from their constituent groups would be best, and it ensures that every student returning is informed about and invited to Returning Student Orientation. Moving forward, I will be ensuring that these changes are made and likely handing off the project to continue to support the inclusion of returning students.

Sustainability and Community Impact

Veterans Day Celebration

By: William Wang

On November 12, the veteran community organized the flag raising ceremony on college green. The ceremony was dedicated to all veterans and current service members. The event attracted approximately 12 veteran students who currently study at Penn. The leadership at Penn SVA all attended the ceremony and some students walked by and paid their respect by either standing quietly for brief moments or shook hands with the veterans and appreciated their service.

The impact of this ceremony is very positive and the next plan which I have in mind is to plan an end of semester party with veterans which is also open to all students.


External Seats


Admissions Dean’s Advisory Board

Authored by: Kristen Ukeomah

On November 7, I attended the Admissions Dean Advisory Board meeting in the place of Sravya. The meeting was very insightful. Dean Furda and the other admissions officers showed us how Penn has rebranded its admissions website and the admissions process as a whole. Dean Furda also listen to feedback from the student groups present on how the admissions process could be better and he was extremely receptive. He was also relatively transparent with sharing what new initiatives the Admissions office was trying to execute.

Residential Services Advisory Board

Authored by: Maria Curry

In the last two RSAB meetings, topics discussed included: lobbying to creating  Sunday mailroom hours in the upcoming contract renegotiation period, impact of dorm space for Juniors and Seniors with the new housing policy, and composting in the College Houses.

Additionally, I presented the 360° View of a Harnwell apartment I filmed and edited with equipment from Van Pelt last week. This is part of an on-going project for the past two years to incorporate 360° Views of on-campus dorms into the room selection process to supplement of the current 2D outlines online. This sample of the project will be presented to the the VP of Residential Services next week.

Additionally, I brought up the idea of creating a program for students to rent out rolling grocery bags in the College Houses when going grocery shopping (idea from previous UA Annual report)! This program would be simple and free, like the current system in place of borrowing vacuum cleaners and larger moving carts. The idea was well received and may be implemented as soon as next semester.

Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee

Authored by: Ammar Bawa

Health insurance this year is going to continue with Aetna healthcare. As such, there will be no bid put out for a new provider. Historically, Penn has been close to Aetna, so they want to maintain that for now. The main goal is to not let expenses stop students from getting help, which is why the premium is so high. That being said, with no bid this year Penn will still negotiate to a reasonable price for the services provided.


Minutes


  1. Roll Call
  1. Will: AM on DHT
  2. George: AM on SCI
  3. Jen A: AM on AI
  4. Rob: AM on SCL
  5. Will W: AM on SCI
  6. Ryan: AM on EI
  7. Simon: AM on SCL
  8. Andrew: AM on EI
  9. Anthony: AM on EI
  10. Mary: AM on EI
  11. Santosh: AM on EI
  1. Open Forum
  1. Elena: If anyone is thinking about rushing, you can visit the Penn Panhel FB page and look at the information. The registration price increases as time goes on, so be sure to register soon.
  2. Kev: If you want tot rush, do you have to pay?
  3. Elena: There is no subsidy as of now, but I am advocating for this currently. The money goes to various administrator costs?
  4. Maher: I signed up as a joke, but I am now being charged.
  5. Elena: Reach out to me.
  6. Sravya: Our final tabling is happening this week. Be sure to sign up for shifts! SCI specifically sign up.
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: On Wednesday, Cabinet met with the office of VPUL. We discussed the implementation of pilot programs for menstrual hygiene product distribution, peer-to-peer resources for job interview preparation, and positivity banners to be displayed on Locust Walk. We had a great discussion about various initiatives surrounding health and wellness as well. Please let me know if you have questions.
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: On December 7, Cabinet will be meeting with GAPSA leadership to discuss various initiatives we hope to partner with them on. We will get a lot of great feedback from Simon’s discussion paper tonight about the mentorship program. The agenda for this meeting is pretty set, but please reach out with any questions about this meeting.
  2. Michael: On December 11, Cabinet will be meeting with the Chief Wellness Officer, Benoit Dube, as well as other wellness partners on campus. I’m excited; it should be a very fun time. If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!
  3. Michael: On December 12, I will be meeting with the Council of Undergraduate Deans, but I am not sure about the agenda yet.
  1. Council of Philadelphia Student Governments
  1. Michael: Today, Natasha Menon, Mercedes Owens, and I met with the Council of Philadelphia Student Governments, which is a group that consists of the executive boards of the student governments of Temple University, Drexel University, St. Joseph’s University, La Salle University, and Villanova University.  We discussed how each other’s student governments function and how there might be opportunities to improve in the areas of food insecurity, sustainability, and mental health. La Salle University will host the next meeting of the Council in March.
  2. Maria: What did they say about food insecurity?
  3. Michael: The percentage of food insecure college students is alarmingly high. At Temple, they have a point system where students are able to get a certain number of points worth of food from the pantry after swiping in with their student ID,  and La Salle has the bag system which is an anonymous system where students can leave a bag in an area with numbered tag attached and pick it up at a later time. Mercedes will likely work on this project, potentially in partnership with Armaun.
  1. Spring Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: I am in the process of scheduling administrator meetings for the Spring semester. I am currently looking to meet with the eleven administrative groups listed above. We do not repeat some meetings because of schedule conflicts and a lack of need.
  1. UA Mid-Session Report
  1. Michael: To hold ourselves accountable, I am working with Sravya and Mercedes as well as committee directors to compile a Mid-Session Report in a similar fashion to previous years. Jordan and I will also be adding a  platform update in this document. This will be a preview of the annual report, which we won’t forget Jude in. Hopefully, this document will be sent out to the student body on the last day of classes.
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Last UA Steering
  1. Jordan: This past Tuesday was the last Steering meeting of the semester because of the change in schedule. I shared a platform update and we split into small groups to reflect on the semester. I will be making a few fun changes and implementing the feedback next semester.
  1. Upcoming University Council
  1. Jordan: This coming Wednesday, December 5 at 4-6pm in Bodek Lounge. It will be the last University Council meeting of the semester, and will serve as the Open Forum meeting. We have a lot of UA members in the undergraduate delegation. It should be a great meeting to discuss issues from students we may not hear from as often.  
  1. UA Report
  1. Spring Semester
  1. Brian: Our first GBM of the Spring Semester will be held on January 20th at 9pm as well as the first week of committee meetings! I want to try to book a meeting in the new political science building.
  1. UA Apparel
  1. Brian: UA apparel will arrive in about a week or so.  I will be hosting a study break where you’ll also be able to pick up your jackets. The 4imprint guy is really nice.
  1. Member of the Week
  1. MOTW is Andrew!! Congrats on doing what you love and for all of the incredible work you have done on the UA!
  1. Treasurer’s Report
  1. Emergency Contingency Request: Delta Sigma Theta
  1. Natasha: On Wednesday, November 28th, Exec held an emergency contingency vote and voted 5-0-0 to fund Delta Sigma Theta’s Penn Gent Event at $52.50. This cost was to cover additional microphones. This brings our contingency fund from $15,184 to $15,131.50.
  2. Michael: Should we advertise this as an option to groups more next semester?
  3. Natasha: Yes, reaching a broader audience is important.
  4. Regan: I would suggest working with SPEC to direct groups to UA contingency with last minute costs.
  1. Secretary’s Report
  1. Airport Shuttles
  1. Mercedes: I’m excited to tell you all that we beat Brian by selling a total of 673 tickets this year! Thanks so much to everyone who helped by working shifts and advertising. I will be sending out a survey to everyone who bought a ticket to get suggestions for improvements in the spring.
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. UA x GAPSA Mentorship Program
  1. Simon: UA and GAPSA have been funding a joint mentorship program for the past few years, but it has not seen much utilization. The goals of this program would be to address undergraduate questions/concerns from a graduate perspective and foster the connection between graduate students and undergraduate students. There has been talk of a fireside chat, a panel structure, etc.  I am hoping to get your perspective on the best way to implement a program like this.
  2. Thomas: I think it is a great idea.
  3. Janice: Fireside chats would be the most useful in that they are more personal and offer the ability to have focused discussions.
  4. Mandy: For this type of mentoring, smaller personal situations work best.
  5. Quinn: I like the dinner idea as well. I think you should include people from the medical school because pre-med students need more guidance.
  6. Anthony: I am a part of the PennCAP graduate mentoring program, and I can send you the contact information for the person who organized it.
  7. Natahsaa: I would look into affinity groups as well to have perspectives from all backgrounds.
  8. Jude: I would reach out to cultural groups and FGLI organizations because you can base your program on existing initiatives.
  9. Dante: When would this be enforced or implemented?
  10. Simon: This would be open to all years, so it is not restricted to a certain age; the timeline is as early as next semester.
  11. Jordan: I would caution against strictly going the fireside chat route. I think a good direction to take the pilot of this would be to publicize a 2 question survey so that there is some understanding of commitment.
  12. Anthony: The PennCAP program has required meeting times. Making more requirements known from the very beginning could be a great way to hold both sides accountable.
  13. Michael: I think that there could be two versions of the same google form- one for graduate students and one for undergraduates. This could be used to pair people up based on interests. Having both fireside and one-on-one chats would be nice. Also leveraging the Take Your Professor to Lunch program could save both groups money.
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Advocating Against GPA Requirements/Internal Transfer Guide
  1. Anthony: From this project, I am hoping to relax the eligibility requirements for internal transfer students, specifically the GPA requirements. I think this is hurting students who have life circumstances that prohibit them to do well while adjusting. Having this requirements makes students feel as though they do not belong or are not as smart as others. I understand to a certain point the requirement because of the need for a baseline of eligibility. I would also like to create an internal transfer guide to make these requirements more known. If anyone has any input on any of the questions, I would greatly appreciate it.
  2. Maher: I have spoken a lot to administrators about this. They have the requirements because of the intensity of these dual degree programs. They want to ensure that people are able to work well with one degree without having two.
  3. Anthony: I understand that. I think that all students deserve the opportunity at least to apply. There are certain circumstances that should be able to be considered.
  4. Nikhil: It would be really important to make the distinction between the dual degree and the internal transfer GPA requirement in your argument with administration.
  5. Jen R: Hypothetically, if they did away with the GPA requirement, do you think that these students would have a higher admissions rate?
  6. Anthony: Maybe not, but at the end of the day, they should be able to apply.
  7. Will W: What is your take on double transfer students? There are also certain dual degree programs who have not accepted transfers for 3 years.
  8. Anthony: That is a great point. I do not know enough about the issue to have an opinion though.
  9. Michael: I think that clarifying the requirements for each school is something that needs to be done. The next steps should definitely be the creation of the internal transfer guide as well. Having some student testimonials included in the guide would make it more personal. I would do research into how the current GPA requirements were set and how the applications are evaluated holistically. Do different schools have different GPA requirements?
  10. Anthony: Yes.
  11. Nick: Are you considering looking into submatriculation GPA requirements as well.
  12. Daniel: Maybe creating a subcommittee that can conduct a separate application review process for these students that do not meet the GPA requirement.
  13. Ryan: I would organize a panel that would inform people of what exactly a dual degree entails and how much work is actually required. I also think that being able to explain your circumstances would be helpful.
  14. Jude: A friend of mine was applying to a program and they have an additional essay where they were able to explain themselves. This could be pushed as an option by administration.
  15. Sravya: The GPA requirement should not be eliminated, but just making the requirement a reccomendation.
  16. Michael: Has anyone ever transferred into nursing?
  17. Anthony: Yes, a fair amount each year.
  18. Arjun: Yeah like Sravya said, framing it as a preferred GPA, but knowing that there are exceptions.
  19. Janice: I think that the holistic application process should not change from the general Penn application process. They should hold us to the same standard they did the first time.
  20.  Ammar: Another idea I had was to only consider the GPA for the classes that are needed to transfer instead of overall GPA.
  21. Jordan: I think that each school should publish GPA information so that students can decide for themselves if they feel as though they are qualified enough to apply.
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Panhellenic VP Health and Wellness
  1. Jen: I honestly did not think I was making much progress on this project, but I met with MacKenzie Lucas, the former VP of Health and Wellness, and learned that the new VP of Health and Wellness will be overseeing the implementation of wellness chairs in every sorority. They will also be implementing the coffee chat program as well.
  1. CIS Advisory Board
  1. Sravya: A lot of you know that I have been in the process of creating a CIS Advisory Board. This project is underway and will be piloted at the end of January. Currently, I am in the processing of contacting these potential members, determining a date for the pilot focus group, and planning the meeting.
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Digital Penn Card Capabilities 
  1. Robert: We just picked of this project. The project is still in the early stages, but we want to see if this could be implemented at Penn. This technology would be used in addition to physical PennCard. This technology exists at peer institutions, so we are hopeful to get this implemented at Penn.
  2. Michael: We are waiting to gather feedback from other peer institutions, but it is nice to hear that this is something that you all want.
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Campus Recreation Space
  1. Arjun: Nick and I have been working on this project. We have chosen one of the reading rooms here in Houston to house the pilot as soon as the budget becomes available.
  2. Michael: The Temple student center is beautiful. I would love to see Houston transformed into something like this. I have a meeting this week to bring up three points that could drastically improve Houston: brighter lighting, re-painting the walls a brighter color, and hanging photos of students engaging in activities. You, me and Nick should meet after I have this meeting.
  1. Weighting of Courses Analysis
  1. Daniel: I am gathering information on the average weighting of exams in each school now, and I will continue to gather information and data on this topic. It is important for administrators to understand how much exams matter in a class and how much stress this causes for students. Reach out to me with any thoughts.
  1. Awareness of Safety Initiatives on Campus
  1. Janice: Over the course of the semester, I originally wanted to lobby for the addition of blue lights on campus. After doing research, I decided that people do not use these anymore. I, instead, have pivoted to promoting the Penn Guardian app. I want to do a poster campaign in order to promote the safety options we have on campus.
  2. Michael: My sophomore year, we promoted the Penn Walk and Penn Ride services. It was pretty successful. I think it would be cool to include photos of students actually using the service; a familiar face makes the difference.
  3. Anthony: I am curious about the data surrounding the use of the blue lights now.
  4. Janice: In another institution it was used 67 times, but mostly by accident.
  5. Rob: I would look into the efficiency of the resources as well. I have heard that getting a walking escort could be difficult and take a long time.
  1. Penn Outlet Audit
  1. Maria: We met with FRES earlier this semester, and they were receptive to this idea. Reach out with specific areas that he can survey for outlet use.
  2. George: In the long term it would be more sustainable to teach students how to use the maintenance request option on Penn InTouch. I made a video about this and I will send it to you.
  3. Michael: Temple has an online platform called “What’s the Fix” where students are able to post photos of things that need to be fixed, and the workers are able to post photos once the problem is resolved. It is a great interaction between staff and students.
  1. CHAS Initiatives
  1. Arjun: This Friday, Will, Maria, and I met with CHAS. They had a lot of updates within the office, and we brought up a lot of issues to which they were really receptive.
  2. Rob: Do you think extending the college house hours would contradict the Huntsman policy?
  3. Maria: This policy is less about academics, but it may unintentionally conflict.
  4. George: I don’t really see how there is an equity issue on printing if students are using their own money.
  5. Arjun: It was more the use of the computer lab itself.
  6. Natasha: You could combat this by offering remote access to the printers with laptops.
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Cultural Center and Cultural Group Funding
  1. Kev: Due to a collective lobbying effort, we have increased umbrella group funding. PAGE will be joining this board, making it 6B groups, or PALULU. Each group will have an equal $6,000 budget. There were a lot of things discussed at this meeting, so please reach out for more information.
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. Prison Education Project
  1. George: I started this project this semester. I have mostly been gathering data, and we are now reaching out to graduate students and professors who will be going out to these institution to teach courses.
  2. Sravya: Is SCI Chester open to this?
  3. George: I wanted to get everything organized on my end before reaching out to them next semester.
  4. Anthony: Would undergraduate students be able to participate in this as well?
  5. George: Certain classes and programs exist for undergrads with a high supply and low demand.
  1. International Student Mental Health Resources
  1. Ben: Kayla has been working with ISSS to make it easier for international students to have access to mental health resources.
  1. Replacing One-Use Plastic Water Bottles on Campus
  1. Ben: Mickey is working to do this across campus. She has done a lot of research, and is working to integrate boxed water instead. She has been meeting with a lot of people and students at peer institutions as well.
  1. Completion Reports
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. UA x CAPSAB Liaison
  1. Simon: Over the last few months, I have been working with CAPSAB. Next semester, we will have a liason on that committee.
  2. Chase: Is there a reason it was dissolved in the first place?
  3. Simon: A lot of miscommunication.
  4. Jess: How will this seat be appointed?
  5. Brian: I will appoint a UA member to this seat.
  1. International Student Resources
  1. Maher: I have been busy this semester. I worked with ISSS by setting up a program for international students in distress. There is a lot of support that is needed for FGLI international students and all of the struggles they face. We are also making sure students who are not able to travel home are able to feel comfortable in some type of accomodation.
  1. Dining, Housing, and Transit
  1. Penn Lighting Project
  1. Maria: Kevin A. surveyed campus with DPS to add lighting in places it did not exist. They were very open to adding new lights and repairing existing ones.
  1. Advertising Dining Options for Students with Dietary Restrictions
  1. Arjun: I met with the Penn nutritionist, and we agreed that advertising his services more is vital. Michael and I decided that his link could be included in all school emails and in the first all-school email every year.
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Nursing Ambassadors
  1. Anthony: Having student leaders be the voice within the school is important. The first meeting of this group is tomorrow, so I will keep you updated.
  1. Leave of Absence Reintegration
  1. Andrew: I have been working all semester on trying to connect students who are returning from leave with the correct teams in order to make the process easier. There will be a complete redesign of the returning student process. It will accomplish the goal of promoting RSO and Penn Wellness resources. This is my last GBM, and I will be passing this project on to Jude.
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. Veterans Day Celebration
  1. Will W: I have been working on increasing awareness of the veteran students at Penn. I was hoping to change their image on campus as well as collaborate with local groups to foster more connections in this area. I hope to continue these initiatives into next semester. Thanks so much for your support.
  2. Chase: Is there a way to involve MBA veteran students?
  3. Will: Yes there is a Wharton program that does this. There are students from all walks of life involved in this.
  1. External Seats
  1. Admissions Dean’s Advisory Board
  1. Sravya: Kristen attended this meeting in my place. Dean Furda talked about the admissions process and how they redesigned the website.
  2. Anthony: The admissions office is also changing location from College Hall to Claudia Cohen and are revamping the Kite and Key campus tour.
  1. Residential Services Advisory Board
  1. Maria: Two cool things that I am working on specifically with this group is a 360 degree view of all rooms. This could be available for next semester. I am also working on getting sustainable rolling bags available for students for groceries.
  2. Michael: A first step would be to work with college houses to increase the Shop Penn bag promotion.
  1. Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee
  1. Ammar: SHIAC has decided to make very few changes to the existing insurance policy.
  1. Communications