General Body Meeting

10/28/18

9:00 PM Benjamin Franklin Room, Houston Hall

  1. Roll Call
  2. Open Forum
  3. Old Business
  1. Discussion Paper
  1. Kite and Key Virtual Tours
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past Meetings
  1. UA Report
  1. Confirmation of SPT
  2. Member of the Week
  1. Treasurer’s Report
  1. Funding Steering Assembly Meeting
  2. SAC Executive Elections
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Reforming Pre-Major Advising
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Off Campus Housing Guide
  1. Completion Reports
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Library Advisory Board
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Fall Wellness Week
  1. Communications

Old Business


Discussion Papers


Student and Campus  Life

Kite and Key Virtual Tours
Authored by: Kayla Prezelski


Background:
The Admissions essay “Why Penn?” is more difficult to answer if you are an applicant who has not been afforded the opportunity to visit campus and walk down Locust. Low income, international, transfer students (and others) could benefit from a virtual tour in order to making touring Penn’s campus equally accessible for all students. Previously, Kite and Key attempted to complete a similar project, but it did not come to fruition due to administrative push back. Peer institutions that have options similar to virtual tours usually bring in larger companies to create the video tour, which can be quite expensive.
Currently, Penn Admissions is “revamping” the Penn campus tour, which should be put into effect in January 2019. Kite and Key functions as the student representatives of the Admissions Office and requires formal approval from Penn Admissions to pursue to do projects like this. Additionally, I met with the Julia DiSalvio (President of Kite and Key) last Wednesday and she expressed interest in pursuing the project in more detail. I plan to reach out to Penn Admissions with a complete proposal for the project, but I would like to gather feedback from the UA body about this project prior to drafting that proposal.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What student populations will directly benefit from this project?
  2. What do you think would be important to include in the proposal?
  3. What ideas do you think would be most effective in allowing students to “virtually access” campus (ie. video tour, Skype sessions with admissions/kite and key, Facebook live streaming of admissions events, any other ideas)?
  4. What student groups besides kite and key could we collaborate with for this project?
  5. How could we find funding sources for this project (outside vendors, K&K funding, Penn Admissions, etc)?
  6. Do peer institutions have resources similar to a virtual tour? If so, what are they?

New Business


Reports


President’s Report

  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. UA Cabinet will be meeting with many administrators and groups over the next several weeks. If you have suggestions for agenda topics or project highlights for any of these meetings, please let me know. The following meetings have been scheduled:
  1. Faculty Senate Tri-Chairs - October 31 from 12-1pm
  2. Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) Leadership  - October 31 from 4-5pm
  3. President Gutmann - November 1 from 9-10am
  4. Facilities and Real Estate Services - November 5 from 8:30-9:30am
  1. On November 1 from 5-6pm, Exec will be meeting with the Division of Public Safety leadership to discuss policies governing safety on campus, services such as Penn Walk, and how to improve security for students. If you have any suggested topics for the agenda, please let me know.

Vice-President’s Report

  1. Past Meetings
  1. On Tuesday, October 23, UA Steering convened. This meeting featured the first teach-in by Kite and Key to garner feedback from representatives on their new tour design. We broke into small groups to also give feedback on current UA projects.
  2. On Wednesday, October 24, University Council convened. The topics discussed were the President’s progress on the Power of Penn Campaign, the Provost’s Office report on Global Initiatives, and a New Business statement on the status of mold in the Quad by Muslim Students Association delegate Nancy Ibrahim.

UA Report

  1. Confirmation of SPT
  1. Arjun Swaminathan has been appointed as the new Speaker Pro Tempore of the Undergraduate Assembly. He will focus on bonding initiatives and some other awesome stuff.
  1. The week’s member of the week is...

Treasurer’s Report

  1. Funding Steering Assembly First Meeting
  1. This past Sunday, 10/21, I met with the chairs of all of the student-run funding boards on campus. We determined that our two main charges this year are to make the Common Funding Application better suit the funding needs of the student body and to lobby for greater funding for umbrella organizations. We will be creating two working groups to address each issue.
  1. SAC Executive Elections
  1. On Thursday, October 25th, elections were held at the SAC GBM for four positions on the SAC Executive Board. The newly elected members of SAC Exec include Melissa Perez, Jennifer Lee, Jacob Julian-Kwong, and William Noumba.


Discussion Papers


Academic Initiatives

Reforming Pre-Major Advising

Authored by: Regan Mizrahi & Ryan Bush

Background

With 6,400 of the 10,500 undergraduate students at Penn obtaining their degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences, it can be hard to match the needs of every incoming freshman as they begin their college journey. While the College offers 50+ majors and 80+ minors, many freshmen feel that the resources offered-- specifically in terms of pre-major advising-- are not sufficient enough to get students onto the right path for their education.

The current system for advising in the College assigns every freshman with a pre-major advisor to help guide them as they explore their various academic interests. While the purpose of the College is to acquire an interdisciplinary education, it is often frustrating for students to be assigned to an advisor who has limited to no insight into their areas of academic interest.

One potential solution to the discrepancy between student interest and pre-major advising assignments comes with the concept of “bucketing.” Essentially, we would group the pool of willing advisors into broad categories ranging from fields such as STEM, social sciences, and arts/humanities, and pull from the buckets when looking at a students’ stated prospective major. This does not guarantee a perfect match between the student and advisor, but it narrows the disparity and increases the likelihood of the advisor understanding aspects of how the student’s major operates. Even if the advisor does not specialize in the student’s field of interest, they will likely know somebody who does.

Another major issue with pre-major advising comes with a lack of communication with students on the advisor’s part. Although students should be proactive in contacting their assigned advisors, the transition into freshman year can often be very challenging. Thus, academic advisors should make more of a concerted effort to reach out to their students and build communication with them.

Discussion

1. Would you prefer the method of “bucketing” for assigning pre-major advisors? Why or why not?

2. Do you notice a lack of communication between students and pre-major advisors in the College? Has this impacted your ability to get the instruction/resources that you need?

3.  (Non-College Students) What do you find works well with your school’s relative advising system?


Project Highlights


Student and Campus  Life

Off-Campus Housing Guide

Authored by: Simon Chen

 This past week, I met with Barbara Lea-Kruger and Linda from Off-Campus Services. We discussed a future one-page (tentative) guide for freshman (and sophomores by 2022) to get an understanding of the culture behind living off-campus, including what resources are available and what to look out for. The two most important things they stressed were mental health by not having to sign in October and to consider all options, such as utilities, flaky roommates, subletting, etc. My next step is to reach out to Barbara for the current PDF Penn uses and how to make it more streamlined, friendly, and future-proof.


Completion Reports


Academic Initiatives

Library Advisory Board

Authored by: Elena Hoffman

After months of lobbying library administrators, I finally received word that they’re working alongside the NEC to bring back the Library Advisory Board. I will be serving as the UA Representative on the board, and will be raising a variety of project ideas with them, such as: extending Fisher Fine Arts’ hours, extending the hours of an additional floor in Van Pelt, extending Mark’s Cafe hours, potentially adding a Penn Transit van service to help take students home from the library during late hours, and more. If you have any library related projects you would want me to propose once LAB meets, please send them my way.

Student and Campus  Life

Fall Wellness Week

Authored by: Simon Miller

 This week, the UA worked with Penn Wellness, GAPSA, the DP, CAPSAB, and more to help run the Fall Wellness Week. During this week, we had events like Random Acts of Kindness, where people could grab tasks out of mason jars around campus and do the acts of kindness transcribed. We also helped run the Fall Wellness Fair this Friday, where CAPS and many of Penn's mental health organizations were able to talk about their organizations and promote wellness throughout campus. Thank you for volunteering for shifts during the Wellness Fair!


Minutes


  1. Roll Call
  1. Steven Shapiro
  2. Mary Sandallah
  3. Ryan Bush
  4. Andrew 
  1. Open Forum
  1. Michael: Im sure you all know what happening yesterday and the statement about the Pittsburgh shooting. Feel free to comment and share. There will be a vigil by Penn Hillel tomorrow 4 PM at the love statue.
  2. Jordan: The following Saturday the Minority Council will be having their 40th anniversary from 11:30 to 1. There will be a panel and alumni networking.
  3. Nikhil: We met as a communications team this Friday. The Instagram is not as useful for communications. We are focusing on FB and Twitter. We are leaning towards deleting it because it is inactive. You can talk to me after.
  1. Old Business
  1. Discussion Paper
  1. Kite and Key Virtual Tours
  1. Kayla: We want to start virtual tours to make a visit to college more accessible. I met with the President of Kite and Key to discuss this project. She let me know that they are revamping Penn tour in January so it would be a good time to implement something like this. I should come up with a complete proposal to present to Penn Admissions. I would love to hear your thoughts on this: inclusions, peer institutions, etc.
  2. Arjun: I really like this idea. I think it’s important it helps low-income students who can't travel. I had time to visit Dartmouth and they had an online virtual tour.
  3. Regan: I think this is a great idea. There’s a specific student group within each school - Cognoscente - who have focuses on the school.
  4. Ben: I think this is an amazing idea. Kite and Key and Admissions have themselves thinned out with the transition. Yale released a 15 minute virtual tour run by the Alumni network. I sent it to K&K and Krone and promoted Yale clout. This will help with name recognition. I recommend working with alumni, and the video had alumni features.
  5. Jordan: This is a great project. A lot of representatives from UA steering liked it. A low-budget idea would be to start off with pictures. I think it’s important to include that it is offered in multiple languages.
  6. Steven: I think another population that would benefit is transfer students. I know a lot of my friends who were transfers never came to penn.
  7. Nikhil: The Yale video had Sam Tsui and other famous people which was very engaging. A lot of other schools have online web tours.
  8. Ammar: Columbia and Duke had virtual guides with someone talking. Another huge point is having a 360 view of college houses.
  9. Mandi: Not as great schools had them as well. They had administrator feedback why?
  10. Kayla: Cost. I think when it was presented it wasn’t very serious.
  11. Elena: Something that I would want to encourage when reaching out to low-income students, it’s important to market PEEP (Penn Early Exploration Program). It’s like Quaker Days but in the fall. It really helped me write a good essay.
  12. Michael: I had a conversation with Julia Klayman (DP and K&K liaison). It’s expensive to outsource. It may be cheaper if we leverage in-house. Another cool component could be webinar style tours. An hour and a half with a Penn student could be extremely valuable. K&K has the people for it.
  13. Ben: I think it should be professionally made. It shouldn’t be rushed.
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: Faculty Senate Tri Chairs, Amy Gutmann, and FRES are all upcoming. The agendas are set but the agenda of FRES can be changed. We will be meeting with DPS. If anyone has any points - let me know.
  2. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past Meetings
  1. Jordan: This week we had UA Steering. Kayla’s project was brought up plus others. I really liked how there were breakout groups and they talked about the projects. We had our first Teach-In; it went really well. Penn First and Penn Wellness will also be doing one soon. Teach-Ins are presentations and they receive feedback on their initiatives. The next day we had University Council: we had group presentations by admins. This included alumni fundraising and global initiatives. One undergraduate student brought up the mold situation in Quad. Administration will get on this.
  2. Michael: The next UC meeting is Open Forum meeting. How will we address it?
  3. Jordan: Open Forum means that people can submit topics to the secretary office and students can come in and talk about them. We can post on our social media pages. The topic needs to be submitted in mid-November.
  4. UA Report
  1. Confirmation of SPT
  1. Brian: This past Saturday, I appointed Arjun as SPT. We will be confirming by acclamation. Arjun is confirmed.
  1. Member of the Week
  1. Jude: This week’s member has been doing a great job and updating Trello a lot. Also he/she constantly texting me and looking for feedback. Congrats Mary!
  2. Treasurer’s Report
  1. Funding Steering Assembly Meeting
  1. Natasha: This past Sunday before GBM, I met with chairs of student funding boards. We wanted to work on the Common Funding Application. We also wanted to increase funding for umbrella organizations.
  2. Ben: Would SAC be one of the specific organizations? Would the Penn Sustainability be part of the group?
  3. Natasha: SAP is a member of FSA.
  1. SAC Executive Elections
  1. We have 4 new members. Majority women and all members of color!
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Reforming Pre-Major Advising
  1. Regan: We are working on pre-major advising. A lot of college students feel that the resources could be improved. The college assigns advisors to students based on predefined majors. However, this hinders exploration. We have 2 ideas.
  2. Ryan: One idea is bucketing. It is grouping pre-major advisors. Students will be matched with an appropriate advisor in the related field.
  3. Regan: The second idea is improving communication. While it is a difficult adjustment, it is hard to reach out to their academic advisors. It should be 2 way communication.
  4. Jen: The way that it works right now: advisors are matched based on academic interest. They do try their best but it doesn’t always work that way. The system in place but definitely not perfect.
  5. Kristen: I want to push back on that. I like the bucketing idea but a lot of students don’t know what they are studying. I suggest having an undecided category. In terms of communication, I think it exists. It depends on the advisor. There should be a better vetting process.
  6. Nile: I wonder if Exec or you guys have looked at archives. I really recommend what previous UA members have done on advising.
  7. Dante: Can you talk to different advisors?
  8. Regan: You can make an appointment or have a walk in. You can also switch pre-major advisors.
  9. Natasha: For incoming freshman, there is confusion on college and pre-major advisors. Clarification on who to contact would be good. A feedback form early would be beneficial.
  10. Michael: I think the idea of bucketing is strong. They do try to make that effort so encouraging that would be helpful. The pool of advisors may be part of the College House system. In addition, the differentiation between college contacts and pre-major advisory is helpful. Looking at archives is also helpful.
  11. Ryan: I had a meeting with advisors, and some students have gone straight to their college contact instead.
  12. Jude: In my Steering group, this was an issue we talked about. Natasha and Krone are right about distinguishing so one of the things that could help solve this problem is advisor office hours with a description about specific specializations.
  13. Simon: I like bucketing. You want to make sure the option of switching is easy and feasible.
  14. Jess: In the Nursing Advising system, they are really good about asking about mental health.
  15. Nick: In the Engineering and Wharton Advising system, they don’t have “pre-majors.”
  16. Michael: SCUE does a lot of work with advising. Tyler Chevin is one of them. There is a feedback mechanism for peer advisors to come back. I would encourage you to talk to someone in the college office to recruit pre-major advisors.
  17. Natasha: I think it would be good to send out mass emails to specific groups (ie. cultural centers).
  18. Mandi: My peer advisor is amazing. If there was a contact list with specific specializations would be helpful.
  19. Regan: Peer advising is trying to recruit more.
  20. Jen: All athletes have a second advisor in the Athletic department. They are so good. They ask about classes and mental health. Reaching out to them could be beneficial.
  21. Janice: Having a better peer advising system would be beneficial. In Wharton, there are pop-up events in the Forum with peer advisors. If the College sets up peer advisors in a certain area could be helpful.
  22. Andrew: You might be want to ask about iCare training for peer advisors.
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Off Campus Housing Guide
  1. Jess: Simon Chen met with Kruger to update the housing guide. He is looking for feedback for things to be including or how it should be shaped for the future. Slack him for feedback.
  2. Chase: Does this have anything to do with pressure from Off Campus Housing?
  3. Jess: Unsure. Reach out to Simon.
  4. Maria: I know Sam Shea and Samara met with realtors. I would check the archives.

 

  1. Completion Reports
  1. Academic Initiatives
  1. Library Advisory Board
  1. Elena: I learned that NEC is advertising positions for the Library Advisory Board. I will be serving as the UA representative.
  2. Student and Campus Life
  1. Fall Wellness Week
  1. Simon: We finished Wellness Week! Thank you to everyone who came out. We ran the Wellness Fair on Friday to help CAPS spread awareness. It was all about Penn Wellness Guides and promoting wellness on campus.
  2. Jess: What was the turnout?
  3. Simon: I estimate around 100-120 people.
  4. Ben: You did a great job with this!
  5. Michael: Is it possible to make Random Acts of Kindness a constant event?
  6. Simon: I think that’s great. I will bring it up during the next Penn Wellness meeting.
  7. Jenn: Cutting is hard, but we will see if this can happen.
  8. Regan: You could maybe work with specific wellness/service clubs to help out.
  9. Simon: Thank you Jen for helping out.
  1. Communications