The Undergraduate Assembly encountered various criticisms at the general body meeting Sunday night as they were confronted with a debate on the University Council “flex” seats and a tabling of the Preferred Name Resolution.
This past year, these flex seats were occupied by UA members. Flex seats are seats that are not reserved for UA representatives or the Nominations and Elections Committee and may be assigned to either branch. However, after College senior and Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Monfred’s resignation Sunday night, a seat became available and prompted a heated discussion between the NEC and the UA.
The University Council is a bridge between students and the University’s administration. Of the 16 seats maintained by the University Council, nine have been given to the NEC, one is reserved for the Speaker and two for the President and Vice President, leaving three “flex” seats.
The body came to the general consensus that it would be beneficial to give this additional “flex” seat to the NEC, according to College and Wharton junior and UA Vice President Abe Sutton.
The NEC gave this seat to College senior and Penn Political Coalition Chair Isabel Friedman on Monday night.
Before this decision was made, there was much debate surrounding who the “flex” seat would belong to.
“There is historical precedent based on how strong the people the NEC appoints tend to be,” NEC Chair and Wharton and Engineering senior Alec Miller said of why the NEC should be given the additional “flex” seat. “There are 40 people who say the alternate is well qualified to be represented in the undergraduate meeting.”
In response to one UA member’s refusal to compromise on the issue, the NEC stressed that their alternate would provide a voice that is not heard on the UC.
“Our alternate is representing a constituent group that your body doesn’t represent and this seat on the UC will be very beneficial,” NEC Vice Chair for Nominations and College sophomore Kanisha Parthasarathy said.
Miller also explained that “the marginal benefit to [the UA] is not nearly as great as the marginal benefit to this individual who doesn’t feel like they’re being adequately represented.”
College senior and UA Treasurer Jake Shuster explained that even with the transfer of one seat the UA would still have five members on the UC.
A second issue for discussion arose between Lambda Alliance, represented by Chair and College sophomore Dawn Androphy, and the UA after the Preferred Named Resolution was tabled.
“Over 60 colleges have name change policies. As of now, you have to know to contact a specific person within the LGBT Center and go through various channels, which [aren’t] publicized or accessible,” Androphy explained.
College junior and UA Technology Director Nikolai Zapertov proposed an amendment to the resolution. It would take into consideration fiscal responsibility, something not integrated in the wording of the original. This amendment passed 15 to 13 with five members abstaining.
Androphy and Sutton were concerned that this added amendment would derail the progress they aimed to make on the resolution. They accepted Monfred’s motion to table the resolution — which passed 21 to 5 — until the first UA meeting next semester so they could revise it, excluding the amendment.
“I’m disappointed that a resolution I’ve been working on for so long has less of a chance of passing now,” Androphy said. “It’s impeding on Lambda’s ability to get this passed and I’m now hesitant to work with the UA in the future.”
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