General Body Meeting

01/27/19

9:00 PM Benjamin Franklin Room, Houston Hall

  1. Roll Call
  2. Open Forum
  1. Welcome to any members of the public! Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns and learn about the UA.
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  2. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past Steering Meeting
  2. Upcoming University Council Meeting
  3. Steering Group Meetings
  1. UA Report
  1. Wharton Special Election
  2. UA Meeting on February 3rd
  3. Member of the Week
  1. Secretary’s Report
  1. Resources Tab on UA Website
  1. Resolution
  1. Transfer Student Representation Resolution
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. How the UA Can Help Facilitate Earth Strike
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Increasing Access to Menstrual Health Items
  2. Nursing Clinical Travel Expenses
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Historical Marker Project
  1. External Seats
  1. Student Health Advisory Board
  1. Communications

Reports


President’s Report

  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1. On Friday, January 24, I met with new Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara King. We discussed the priorities of the UA and her past experience in a similar role at Washington University in St. Louis and the methods that their administration took to improve student wellness. I look forward to Tamara helping the UA achieve a lot of success in the future!
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. On Friday, February 1 at 1pm, UA Cabinet will be meeting with the leadership of the Division of Public Safety, including Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush. If you have anything that you are working on that you think might be relevant to the meeting, please let me know!

Vice-President’s Report

  1. Past Steering Meeting
  1. Last Tuesday, we convened for the first Steering meeting of the semester. We used the meeting to introduce ourselves and share goals over dinner and team building exercises.
  1. Upcoming University Council Meeting
  1. This Wednesday, January 30, University Council will convene in Bodek Lounge at 4:00PM. The meeting will highlights one of the four focus issues: Campaign for Wellness.
  1. Steering Group Meetings
  1. In addition to the Daily Pennsylvanian, I will be meeting with the Assembly of International Students, Performing Arts Council, and Penn Wellness this week.

UA Report

  1. Wharton Special Election
  1. Voting for the Wharton Special election will take place between Monday, January 28th – Wednesday, January 30th. Please tell your friends to vote at pennstudgov.com!
  1. UA Meeting on February 3rd
  1. This is just a reminder that our next meeting will take place on Sunday, February 3rd at 1:00 PM in Ben Franklin Room, Houston Hall
  1. Member of the Week
  1. This week’s member of the week is…

Secretary’s Report

  1. Resources Tab on UA Website
  1. In an attempt to create a central location for Penn’s many resources, Michael Krone and I began compiling a list of resources to be included in an overarching seven categories: Academics, Wellness, Financial Aid, Extracurriculars and Funding, Cultural, Housing And Dining, and Public Safety and Violence Prevention. This tab can be found at pennua.org/resources. Reach out to either of us with any suggestions!

Resolution


Transfer Student Representation Resolution

Authored by: Michael Krone, Brian Goldstein, and Ammar Bawa

Background:

Last semester, we met with Stephen Imburgia (NEC Chair), Kiley Marron (NEC VC for Elections), and the Co-Presidents of the Transfer Student Organization, Ashley Warner and August Gebhard-Koenigstein to discuss the policy of specifically allocating one of our (at this point) nine seats for New Student Representatives to a transfer student. Historically, there have been very few transfer students elected in their first semester at Penn, despite a population of approximately 250 new transfer students entering Penn each year.

Procedurally, the UA Constitution governs the allocation of seats, and specifies the “new student” delegation as “the new students (inclusive of the freshmen class and the transfer student population admitted that year)” (UA Constitution Article II, Section 3). Therefore, it is the NEC’s purview over how to specifically allocate the seats within that constituency, or to itemize them in any way. Traditionally, there has been pushback on the idea of specific itemization of seats (as a stylized example, itemizing a seat to all of the left-handed new students), on the grounds that once the precedent has been set, there might be other categories for itemization that might not actually be beneficial to the representation of a constituency.

The move then, is to decide on whether we are comfortable with this change as an organization, and to then “encourage” the NEC by way of a resolution to adopt a policy to the Fair Practices Code for Elections (available here) that would allocate one of the New Student Representative seats to the highest vote-getting transfer student in the New Student Election.

Enactment:

The Undergraduate Assembly hereby resolves to:

  1. Encourage the Nominations and Elections Committee to adopt an amendment to the Fair Practices Code for Elections that would guarantee representation of one transfer student in the New Student Representative constituency elected in the Fall Semester.

Discussion Papers


Sustainability and Community Impact

Potential UA Participation in “Earth Strike” Climate Movement

Authored by: Vyshnavi Kosigishroff

Background:

Earth Strike is an international strike happening on September 27, 2019 demanding climate action from power-wielding institutions. While there are many specific asks of the global movement itself (international and national), local strikes are able to outline specific climate asks of their own. There are currently zero​ registered strikes in Pennsylvania, and while that number will likely increase in the future, by hosting one in some form, Penn can demonstrate that its students are committed to climate activism. For more information on Earth Strike as a movement, click here.  

 

Within the last year, many issue-oriented groups on campus have been deliberately adopting an activist focus, especially environmentally-oriented groups. While groups like Penn Environmental Group (PEG) and Climate Reality Project have different policy/administrative goals, the Earth Strike provides an opportunity for all the groups to work together to increase climate awareness and demand climate action from Penn’s admin on campus and from municipalities in the city. Currently, Fossil Free Penn is in the early planning stages and is looking to work with other campus groups to make the strike as large and impactful as possible.

 

The UA can work with FFP and other groups to not only publicize this event and unite the student body, but also to place pressure on admin to revisit divestment and other environmentally-related proposals that would prevent Penn’s activities from supporting fossil fuels.  

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What role could the UA play if it joined the effort?
  2. What groups could we connect them with to make the strike more effective?
  3. Are there other activist-style demonstrations or programs that you know of that the UA or other groups with environmental goals could participate in?

Project Highlights


Student and Campus Life

Increasing Access to Menstrual Health Items

Authored by: Nikhil Gupta

The goal of this project is to expand free tampons and/or pads access in gender-neutral spaces in high-traffic buildings (academic, residential, and athletic). Highlights from last semester include meeting with Business Services, Student Health Services, and the LGBT Center as well as speaking at University Council Open Forum. The Daily Pennsylvanian published an article regarding this project on January 21 which headlined both the print copy and the website, and this positive attention allowed me to gain new points of contact who reached out. I am soon meeting with B.J. Courville, a member of GAPSA, and Sarah Deak, the Administrative Coordinator of the M&T Program. I would also like to schedule to meet with VPUL representatives as soon as possible regarding a pilot program and other next steps.

Nursing Clinical Travel Expenses

Authored by: Jess Andrews

 

Nursing students are held accountable for the costs of travel to clinical sites, excluding select sites for NURS-215 (Obstetrics) and home visits for NURS-380 (Nursing in the Community). Over the past few weeks, I have compiled information about the costs nursing students incur when travelling to clinical using various methods (Uber X, Uber XL, Septa), as well as student testimonials regarding the logistical and financial challenges when attempting to arrive to clinical on time in a safe, time-efficient manner, and the inequities that arise among nursing cohorts due to this policy. I will be meeting with Dr. Christina Costanzo, the Associate Dean for Admissions and Academic Affairs at Penn Nursing, to discuss these costs as well as potential ways to alleviate this financial burden for nursing students in the upcoming week.

Equity and Inclusion

Historical Marker Project

Authored by: Jordan Andrews

The purpose of this project is to recognize and pay tribute to the communities that existed and continue to exist within Penn’s sphere of influence through the construction of a historical marker. This project is a collaboration between the UA, UMOJA, Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation, and NAACP at Penn. Last semester, we conducted research and sought advice from Prof. Walter Licht in the History Department and Mark Lloyd, the University Archivist. On Wednesday, we met with Mark Kocent, the University Architect, as well as other members of the landscaping team and earned their support moving forward with this project. Our next steps will be to reach back out to the History Department and Africana Department to discuss language and prepare a statement for University Council Open Forum in February. This is a long-term project that we hope will be completed by spring 2021.


External Seats


Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB)

Authored by: Jess Andrews

 

In January, SHS assisted in hosting the “Wellness Summit” which brought together all of the wellness-focused groups and individuals in order to promote collaboration and conversation about best practices concerning wellness programming and stress reduction across campus. On a related note, SHS would like to learn more about new wellness groups on campus, both school and non-school affiliated, so please reach out to me offline if you are aware of new and upcoming wellness-focused groups. Finally, yoga classes at Pottruck are now free every Wednesday!


Minutes


  1. Roll Call
  1. Kiley- NEC
  2. Katey Given- Penn Wellness
  3. Kevin- AM on AI
  4. John- AM on SCL
  5. Mary- AM on EI
  6. Vyshnavi- AM SCI
  7. Ryan- AM on EI
  8. Erin Siciliano- Mary’s Friend
  9. Conor- DP Liaison
  10. Ramya Muthakrishnan- Mary’s Friend
  11. Meghan Wenzinger- Mary’s Friend
  1. Open Forum
  1. Welcome to any members of the public! Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns and learn about the UA.
  1. Ben: I am working with a student at Drexel to form a committee for sustainability at Drexel. If you’re interested in joining, please let me know.
  2. Brian: This is a question from my roommate- he is a dual degree student and is wondering if he would be able to vote in the upcoming special election.
  3. Kiley: Dual degree students have the opportunity to pick which school they want to vote in at the beginning of each election cycle, so I would say yes.
  4. Elena: I will be meeting with some Library administrators tomorrow as a precursor to the Library Advisory Board. If you have any topics you would like for me to raise tomorrow, please reach out.
  5. Natasha: I would recommend revisiting the idea of passes for people who have classes in VP to speed up the process a bit.
  6. Jordan: This Thursday from 8-9:30 pm, PALULU (6B) is having a town hall to discuss various issues on campus. Come by and voice your concerns!
  1. Reports
  1. President’s Report
  1. Past Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: I met with the new Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara King. We discussed the priorities of the UA, current issues, and her past experiences with traditions at WashU.
  1. Upcoming Administrator Meetings
  1. Michael: This Friday, Cabinet will be meeting with the Division of Public Safety.We will be bringing up E-Scooters, and the smoking policy. If you are working on a relevant project, please reach out!
  2. Maher: Would this rule include a ban on general tobacco products or just cigarettes.
  3. Michael: Yes, this would include vape, etc.
  4. Ben: One of the reasons is why they don’t enforce the rule is because professors smoke.
  5. Michael: If officers on Locust can tell students not to ride bikes, they can tell professors not to smoke.
  1. Vice President’s Report
  1. Past Steering Meeting
  1. Jordan: We had Steering on Tuesday. We took the opportunity to meet new people and goal share over dinner and team building exercises. In the coming weeks, there will be admins in attendance.
  1. Upcoming University Council Meeting
  1. Jordan: University Council will meet this Wednesday in Bodek Lounge at 4pm. You are allowed to attend, but cannot speak. The meeting will highlight the Campaign for Wellness.
  1. Steering Group Meetings
  1. Jordan: In addition to the DP, I will be meeting with AIS, PAC, and Penn Wellness this week. DPS will be at the next steering meeting, so come if you would like to bring up issues.
  1. UA Report
  1. Wharton Special Election
  1. Brian: We are filling our vacant seat. Voting will take place between Monday, January 28th – Wednesday, January 30th. Tell your friends to vote!
  2. Kiley: Voting ends at 5pm.
  3. Elena: How many people are running?
  4. Kiley: Two officially, but write-in candidates are allowed.
  1. UA Meeting on February 3rd
  1. Brian: This is just a reminder that our next GBM will take place on February 3rd at 1:00 PM in the Ben Franklin Room. This will account for the Superbowl.
  2. Natasha: Before that meeting, there will be a presentation for budget education at 12:30pm.
  3. Brian: I strongly recommend you all attend this info session.
  1. Member of the Week
  1. MOTW is Nikhil!
  1. Secretary’s Report
  1. Resources Tab on UA Website
  1. Mercedes: Last semester, Michael and I began compiling a list of important student resources. We formed seven main topics and assigned relevant resources to them. This tab is located on the UA website. Please check it out and reach out with any additional suggestions!
  1. Resolution
  1. Transfer Student Representation Resolution
  1. Michael: Historically, we do not have a lot of transfer student representation in our elected body. Essentially, this resolution calls to allocate one of our current nine seats for New Student Representatives to a transfer student with the highest number of votes. We wanted to bring this to a group-wide vote. Even though elected members are the only ones who are able to vote, we would like to get the input from AMs and members of the public.
  2. John: Ammar, what are your thoughts on this resolution? In your experience, what do you think the differences are between the AM position and the elected member position that warrant this change?
  3. Ammar: I feel as though transfer students have more insight to offer, as they are coming from an entirely different institution. They can offer a unique comparison and view of Penn as a whole. The main difference between being an AM and being elected is the power to vote; there is more responsibility in this role, and that makes the impact of the voice even more powerful.
  4. Elena: Is there data showing that first year transfer students have a harder time being elected? The transfer students have a close community of peers as soon as they get to Penn to campaign to.
  5. Ammar: Of course the transfer community is tight knit, but there are only 250 people in that population. We do not really interact with freshmen, which makes the entire election and campaigning process a bit unfair in that sense.
  6. Maher: What makes transfer student population special? Would this not prompt the addition of seats for specific subgroups like international students?
  7. Michael: By our constitution, we elect from five constituencies, and the New Student population is one of them. This population is divided into Freshmen and Transfers. We are already tasked with representing this group of students, so this would only allow that representation to be more fairly allocated.  I see your point though.
  8. Thomas: My friend, who is a transfer student, also mentioned the struggles involved with connecting with freshman. The transfer students do not connect with other communities because they are a group of students from various years and various backgrounds. It is not fair to expect them to be able to connect with freshmen.
  9. Michael: Also, please keep in mind that this would only be a recommendation for the NEC’s consideration. This would not limit the amount of transfer students able to be on the UA, it would just ensure that at least transfer student voice would be heard.
  10. Elena: I lived in a four year college house community my freshman year, and I had to go above and beyond to actually get votes and signatures as I was away from a lot of my classmates. Transfers could also put forth this effort. Is there data showing how many transfers ran and were elected?
  11. Kiley: This resolution would redefine who is considered eligible to run in this position and who would be able to vote. New Transfer students would be able to run in this election, and their 250 New Transfer student population would be the only people able to vote for them.
  12.  Maria: Would this be a permanent change?
  13. Kiley: Ideally, it would be implemented in the future. In the beginning, though, it would be a pilot situation just to see if it works well.
  14. Stephen: This would not offset the representation ratio since transfer students are included in the new student population. It could very well be permanent.
  15.  Janice: Could any transfer student run?
  16. Stephen: No, this would be only new transfer students.
  17. Chase: Would new transfer students be able to vote for freshmen as well?
  18. Stephen: No, we will be dividing the constituency as well as the people who can vote.
  19. Natasha: How would this work if there are no transfers running?
  20. Stephen: It would revert to its original 9 new student representative seats. To address Elena’s earlier point, transfers are not uncomfortable approaching freshmen, it's more that they don't feel as though they are connected to that constituency. This would address the many concerns we have received from transfers.
  21. Thomas: Would transfers be able to vote for new students? And could they vote for new student if transfers did not run?
  22. Stephen: It will revert to the original policy.
  23. Kev: What is the main resource of integration and what is the main lobbying resource for transfer students?
  24. Ammar: TSO fully integrates transfer students to Penn’s campus. As far as lobbying, they could come to open forum, but nothing formally exists.
  25. Jude: How does the new transfer seat take away from the representation of freshman?
  26. Michael: It doesn’t. The new student population encompasses transfers.
  27. Quinn: Could we change the title “New Student Representative” to Freshman Rep?
  28. Stephen: Sure, why not.
  29. Maher: A lot of freshmen lived in Gregory, and they are still able to campaign and be elected. I feel like it is unfair to add a seat when Jess has been fighting for a new nursing seat and international students do not have a seat at all.
  30. Michael: That was the driver behind the bylaw amendment to the allocation of AM positions. That bylaw serves to bridge the gap in representation. I would not support an identity-based form of representation.
  31. Ammar: With nursing, at least there is representation.
  32. Janice: We do not have much transfer representation on the UA. I feel as though transfer students offer insight from their home schools and they can add that voice to the UA, and a permanent seat would only make that voice stronger.
  33. Priya: I agree that the UA should be representative. There are about 400 international students, so I do not think allocating a seat to the top transfer is the answer. They could get votes by voting by class.
  34. Ammar: This is an important conversation to have. There are divisions within the transfer population as well so it would be difficult. Transfers come from all years and are, again, a separate population that are not integrated with other groups, thus they do not have the opportunity to connect to these other students.
  35. Ben: I respect both points, but I feel like they provide a lot of insight that we ordinarily would not have. The way it currently exists, it would be like having a combined nursing and college election, it doesn’t make sense.  
  36. Michael: If you think having the ability to vote is important enough, I would encourage you to support this resolution. Think about the value you place on the ability to vote.
  37. Thomas: That addresses the main problem that transfer students have. They do not connect with their class, or even the new student population. They are a part of their own population.
  38. Jordan: This would make a lot of sense because this would move this conversation along to the NEC who actually has the power to allocate this seat. These are two clearly defined constituencies  and we would be fulfilling out constitutional duties of representing the defined term of NSR. The TSO avidly supports this resolution.
  39. Simon: I agree with this resolution. There is a slight over-representation of new student representatives, so this would address that.
  40. The resolution passes with a vote of 27-2-1.
  1. Discussion Papers
  1. Sustainability and Community Impact
  1. How the UA Can Help Facilitate Earth Strike
  1. Vyshnavi: Essentially, Earth Strike is a huge international strike happening on September 27, 2019 demanding climate action from power-wielding institutions. It has a long list of specific asks, but there will be a strike held on campus addressing issues on the campus level. The UA is a really good organization to help by publicizing this event, uniting the student body, and placing pressure on administrators to revisit divestment. This is simply asking for moral support because it it difficult for SCI members to create and complete projects within a semester.
  2. Thomas: What would we be striking?
  3. Vysh: At the student level, we would be striking for the general apathy of Penn administration towards issues of sustainability.
  4. Jordan: These are difficult projects. This body will not be the one participating in this movement as there will be a turnover in both leadership and representation. The UA could do some sort of month of education or advocacy for this issue. I would research goals for the strike and try to tailor them to this semester or attempt to prepare for for next semester.
  5. Vysh: The UA is not currently on the project, so this is part of the ask. I would like to get ideas regarding the UA’s role in this process?
  6. Kevin: Would you be the voice of the UA in this situation?
  7. Vysh: Yes.
  8. Chase: Sustainability groups, as is everything at Penn, are a bit decentralized. Would SCI serve as the central group for facilitation of communication or would it just be a seat at the table?
  9. Vysh: I don't think there is a need for a single centralized body, but it could play a more administrative role in the process.
  10. Thomas: I would be in support of this. My question would be could we do a march for this movement instead of a strike?
  11. Vysh: There were quite a few professors that were open to making this an excused absence. It gives them a role and a way to express their personal view.
  12. Michael: We would could play a supporting role in this process. I would recommend diversifying the message from just divestment because it does not seem super feasible based on past initiatives. I would encourage them to apply the effort involved in research and 52 page report to a lot of different issues because that report received a lot of attention.
  13. Vysh: It is hard to get specific asks at this point,  so there will be other sustainable goals involved in this strike.
  14. Ben: SSAP has not voted on this yet. Fossil Free Penn has had a lot of events like this in the past. In order to have this be a powerful outcome, it is important to communicate and collaborate with other groups like the UA. Having the UA could be the ethos these sustainability groups need to make tangible change.
  15. Brian: I strongly recommend taking a look at the willingness of students to miss class for this initiative. I would investigate different areas.
  16. Vysh: In regards to turnout, there have been an increase in attendance at our meetings. These types of protests makes people feel more hopeful that they are able to make these changes. I will look into the amount of students willing to miss class.
  1. Project Highlights
  1. Student and Campus Life
  1. Increasing Access to Menstrual Health Items
  1. Nikhil: There has been a lot of progress on this project. Last semester, I met with several relevant administrators about this issue, and I would like to continue working with Val on this project. From there on, I would like to talk to GAPSA and the coordinator of the M&T program.
  2. Arjun: Have there been location recommendations?
  3. Nikhil: Huntsman, VP, and college houses. I was reached out to by Simone in the athletics department who is interested in helping on this.
  1. Nursing Clinical Travel Expenses
  1. Jess: Nursing students have to pay for all travel to their clinical sites. There have been concerns raised from members of the FGLI community and just nursing students in general who did not anticipate having to pay for travel that is required. I did research on this issue, and I am planning to continue working on this project with the goal of evening out the playing field and making it less of a burden on students.
  2. Maria: Could you speak a bit more about the process?
  3. Jess: The Nursing school reimburses students who use the Enterprise car service, but you cannot use it if you are 21, and it can only be used if SEPTA is not an option. Otherwise, you are expected to pay for this on your own.
  4. Thomas: The new Penn Rides app could be a potential solution to this issue.
  5. Anthony: There was an uproar when the Sophomores received their clinical locations, so this is an important project.
  1. Equity and Inclusion
  1. Historical Marker Project
  1. Jordan: This has been a long term project to construct a garden space that celebrates communities that have been displaced by Penn’s expansion. The goal of this project is not to shine a negative light on Penn, but it is to recognize the communities that previously existed. This garden could be located beside the new wharton building.
  2. Ryan: You have been working on this for a while, so I want to commend you for this project.
  3. Brian: There is a new article in the DP with a similar topic.
  4. Ammar: Wouldn't it just be Penn students enjoying this space?
  5. Jordan: We discussed making this faced toward the street, for example, on Walnut. There could also be a walking path through campus and a phone tour. The ideal long-term goal of this project is to create something of this caliber. But this is definitely a long term project, so I am hoping someone continues to advocate for its completion.
  6. Michael: Why is penn administration hesitant to collaborate with the Penn Historical and Museum Commission?
  7. Jordan: They’re not, but we are. We are resistant to this because Penn should be the organization that pays for this.
  8. Maria: Do we know how much this project would cost?
  9. Jordan: Not sure, but money is not an object in terms of landscaping at Penn.
  1. External Seats
  1. Student Health Advisory Board
  1. Jess: SHS held a wellness summit in January. They want to know about new wellness groups on campus. There will also be free yoga classes offered at Pottruck.
  2. Janice: Wharton just created a new Wellness Council.
  3. Arjun: Who was involved in this summit?
  4. Jess: Every known wellness leader on campus.
  1. Communications