Dan Bernick | Crazy, right?

Guest Column | The Undergraduate Assembly should work for you

· March 23, 2012, 1:07 am   ·  Updated March 26, 2012, 12:44 am

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“Good luck fool.” That’s the text I received from my campaign manager when I told him I was running for Undergraduate Assembly president. “Good luck fool, you’re gonna lose.”

Part of me knew he was right. My opponent was too popular and no matter how hard I tried, I would lose.

But that’s the logic of the current UA. The mindset that says, “elect the next guy in line,” or “just reuse last year’s platform,” and “don’t get too much done this year or we won’t have anything to campaign on next year.” You deserve better.

Big changes will happen at Penn over the next two years and you need leaders who will fight — hard — for you. Whoever you elect will have the chance to make a real difference.

In your classrooms: it’s reducing the number of sector requirements and allowing more pass/fail courses. It’s creating simpler ways to get study abroad, transfer credit and AP/IB credit and giving undergrads more access to Penn’s grad schools. It’s making it easy to customize a major or minor, increasing independent study courses and pushing back the drop and pass/fail deadlines.

For your life: it’s credibly reforming the alcohol policy so students can drink safely while having a good time. Making it easier to schedule appointments with SHS, CAPS, Weingarten and other resource centers. Creating flexible meal plans for upperclassmen and student groups, increasing guest swipes and replacing Philly Diner with a late-night restaurant and lounge. It’s creating a universal PennCal that works with Facebook and Google so everyone knows what’s going on at Penn.

For Penn: it’s about building a sense of community. More school spirit by boosting attendance at basketball and football games, subsidizing and streamlining Penn gear and teaching new students the school song and traditions. Creating a better campus climate for minority students by increasing peer-to-peer mentoring, admissions outreach and opportunities for cross-group interaction. It’s about pushing Penn to be a leader in sustainability programs, female leadership and within the Ivy League.

I understand what you want and I have the track record to get it done.

When students complained about Penn Park tennis fees, I went all the way to Penn President Amy Gutmann to eliminate them. I streamlined community service background checks, protected your right to vote in PA and worked to expand financial aid.

I made sure UPenn Alerts came out less frequently but always when we need them and I improved Penn’s socially responsible investing. And when it came time for the UA to invest in Penn, I tried my hardest to spend your money on you and not Jersey Shore beach retreats for UA members.

But if the election were just about me, I wouldn’t risk losing. This election is about creating a UA that keeps its promises — to become a well-oiled machine that works on your projects and actively seeks your opinion on important issues.

I am accessible to students and respected by administrators. I have served with integrity and worked with fervor. And I have decided to dedicate my entire four years to improving your Penn experience.

You want a leader who puts projects before politics. A leader who places your needs above his own. I am the only candidate who is qualified to give the UA a fresh start and who has the credibility to refocus the UA on serving students.

Because as president, I would work for you.

I’m definitely a fool, but not because I care. Prove them wrong. Prove that you think what I do — that you deserve better student leaders. Crazy, right?

I don’t think so.

Dan Bernick, a former Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, is a College sophomore from Mendota Heights, Minn. He is a College representative and director of the Civic and Philadelphia Engagement Committee on the Undergraduate Assembly. His email address is bernick@sas.upenn.edu.

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