After a particularly eventful election season, College junior Joyce Kim was elected as the new Undergraduate Assembly President. The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Kim about her plans during her tenure.
The Daily Pennsylvanian : You’re the first female president in a very, very long time. How do you feel about that?
Joyce Kim : It’s really exciting. I feel very thankful to have had this opportunity. I do think it’s a little bit strange — this position was actually created in 2010. Before that it was a chair that was internally elected, but then in 2010 it was changed so the entire student body voted. So the fact that I’m the first female to even run is kind of crazy, but I feel very thankful and honored.
DP : Can you speak to some of your major initiatives for the upcoming year?
JK : Something my committee has been working hard on is a mental wellness resource guide. I think that CAPS is very important and it definitely has a place on campus, but I know that for me, there are some spaces that I go to for my own mental health — say the Greenfield Intercultural Center, the Office of the Chaplain, the multicultural centers in the ARCH. In these spaces I see a lot of ‘regulars,’ but I think it would be awesome if more students could tap into that. The purpose of this guide is us working with 12 different resource centers, along with University Communications and CAPS ... I think the most important part is that it comes with testimonials for each center ... I think that creates a human element. I think that can help destigmatize reaching out to different places when it comes to issues of mental wellness. That’s something I hope to continue working on and hopefully get it out before the end of the semester by working with the student run Mental Health Initiative and PUHC [Penn Undergraduate Health Coalition]. A couple other initiatives, for example, is the Financial Services Advisory Board. I think it’s really important that there’s a student voice within SFS, especially because SFS affects so many students. The fact that there is not currently a student voice within SFS is a problem...
DP : What are your plans regarding the internal affairs of the UA?
JK : I think it’s important that members on the UA feel like they have agency to pursue the projects that they want to, as well as to feel equipped to be able to reach out to administrators to pursue their projects...I think it’s really about connecting members of the UA to the incredible work students all across campus are doing, so I think that’s really important to do internally. Also it’s really up to the upper leadership, so for example Josh and me. I plan on meeting with every single UA member to see what page he or she is on and how we can best help them. In the past, I think the younger members may have felt disconnected from the older members, and that may have led to unfortunate quote unquote drama ... Even with the different organizations I’ve worked on, I think the most important change happens when the people you work with are friends with each other on a real level...
DP : Obviously elections were a little bit hectic. What were your thoughts during the process?
JK : It was one of the hardest things I’ve done here at Penn, for sure. It was just nonstop anxiety, nervousness, a little bit of excitement. The debates really stressed me out – I’m not a debater, and I’ve never debated before, and my opponent was a debater so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Another cool part was getting to meet with student groups. I think sometimes at Penn it’s very easy to get lost in your own bubble. Through the process of endorsements, you really get to meet with different groups and see the different things they’ve been doing.
DP : What do you hope your legacy will be as UA President?
JK : We’ve had the highest voter turnout in Spring elections this time — it was about 53 percent, which was pretty awesome and I think speaks to the awesome job the NEC did this election cycle ... Something I do hear is some confusion between the UA and Class Board – people kind of wonder what the UA does. I understand that I only have a year on the UA — I like to think I’m a pretty realistic person. But something I would really like to see happen is for students to feel like the UA is more relevant to them, and that the UA can impact students on a day to day level ... I would also want a legacy where the UA is more oriented in that direction as opposed to political shenanigans. Also accountability — I want to make sure we do everything on our platform. That’s very important to me. I’m excited. Also a little bit nervous, but excited for a productive year.