T he essential question we have received in this campaign has been: How would you change the Undergraduate Assembly such that it is more accessible, visible and ultimately responsive to the needs of Penn undergraduates? Let’s be honest, many students don’t feel the relevance of the UA in their day-to-day experiences even though its actions do directly impact them. Some of this is due to the fact that we’re at Penn and everyone is off doing a million different things, but a lot of the reason for it also falls on the lack of engagement that the Undergraduate Assembly has with typical Penn students . This is why when we promote the “Gabe Delaney and Julie Bittar Campaign for UA President and Vice President,” we make a point of saying that we want to take the UA in a fundamentally new direction.
In terms of UA Engagement, there are two main points: First , we want to establish a UA liaison system such that every UA member is delegated (but not restricted to) the responsibility of representing a student umbrella organization, such as POCO or the Latino Coalition , within the UA. Second, the UA would host Town Hall Meetings once per semester open to the entire undergraduate community, where students can engage with UA members in an informal setting, as well as provide an online petition platform on our website to take students’ suggestions whenever they feel comfortable sharing them.
In terms of UA Culture, we are going to work on improving the bonds of the members within the UA and the other student government branches, like the Classboards, SPEC, NEC, SCUE and SAC, so that we may internally improve the nature of how we operate and thereby better project our energy toward helping student groups instead of ourselves. The UA will be publishing bi-monthly progress reports to the student body on each of the projects being worked on within the body. We feel that tracking our progress will not only make the organization more transparent, but also more effective.
And most importantly, in terms of UA Advocacy — the actual initiatives the UA will be taking on this year — there are six essential delivery points:
1. Improving the mental wellness of Penn students in a combined effort with the Penn administration , the College House system , the Greek community and student groups
2. Enhancing the degree to which international and transfer students are integrated within Penn’s campus
3. Securing that Penn is a safe space for political and religious expression no matter the ideology or the faith
4. Expanding the resources afforded to the Latin American and Latino Studies and Asian American Studies programs at Penn
5. Ensuring that the University is meeting its goals to hire more diverse faculty and staff as stated in the Diversity Action Plan of 2011-12
6. Working with admins to acquire University funding for (at least some part of) “Hey Day,” a major Penn tradition that costs students significant cash
These are the stakes. This is what we want to change. Our interests — our voices — are yours. We humbly ask you to vote for Gabe Delaney and Julie Bittar for UA President and Vice President.
Gabe Delaney and Julie Bittar are a College junior and sophomore running for UA president and vice president, respectively. Their platform can be found at gabedelaney.com/our-platform.