Ranging from a discussion about the Student Activities Council’s moratorium on new student group funding to a debate on the Undergraduate Assembly’s parliamentary procedure, the UA had a diverse range of topics on its plate to cover at Sunday night’s general body meeting.
At the meeting, the UA introduced a discussion paper on the SAC moratorium in order to provide those in attendance with information to understand the current situation. Since the end of September, SAC has not been funding or recognizing new student groups because of debt that has been accrued over the past year.
Former SAC Chair and College senior Melissa Roberts and newly elected SAC Chair and College junior Jen Chaquette were on hand to answer questions about the current status of SAC and the moratorium.
“We want to make sure we aren’t making commitments to groups that we can’t support, given the uncertainty of our budget. The mistake we’ve made in the last two years is that we lifted the moratorium too soon — we’re going to keep the moratorium in place until we have a definite long-term plan where we can model our expenses in the coming year,” said Roberts, referring to a prior funding moratorium that lasted from January through September 2011.
A few UA members expressed concerns regarding the moratorium and a new debt policy that was approved at SAC’s last GBM.
“For those students who came to Penn because there’s a culture that admissions brings that allows us to start our own student groups, there are now these false expectations being made and freshmen won’t be able to start their own groups,” UA Civic and Philadelphia Engagement Director and Wharton sophomore Christian Cortes said.
UA Representative and College freshman Aidan McConnell expressed a similar sentiment.
“In this period of four years, am I going to be able to start a group and get the appropriate funding?” McConnell asked. “The impact it has on the individual who wants to get involved on campus is significant.”
In addition to SAC’s current status, the UA voted to indefinitely postpone two resolutions regarding its own parliamentary procedure.
The first resolution proposed eliminating “Communications” — a time at the end of UA meetings for members to have informal, off-the-record discussions — and the second resolution suggested increasing UA efficiency by limiting speaker time.
UA Speaker and College junior Will Smith explained that limiting speaking time would go against the very essence of UA.
“It conflicts with the provision of giving everybody a right to speak because it’s stripping someone of their right to speak if they say what someone else has already said,” Smith said. “Everyone is a duly elected member and it goes against our goal to promote debate and have discussion.”
Many UA members also took issue with the proposal to eliminate Communications.
“It’s a way of establishing camaraderie and friendship and family,” UA Representative and College sophomore Gabe Delaney said.
“We don’t have time to interact with each other in meetings, so [Communications] is our time to have an off-the-record discussion about the meetings,” added UA Representative and College junior Ernest Owens, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist. “This is a time to address conflicts and have a closer in-body discussion.”
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