UA members may have failed to get enough signatures to impeach their president, but getting signatures to run for president seems to be a different story.
UA Vice President Gabe Delaney and UA Representative Joyce Kim, both college juniors, turned in their petitions to run for UA president today.
According to the UA Bylaws available on the UA's website, UA reps interested in running for President must submit petitions “signed by 5 percent of the total number of undergraduate electors or signed by 3 percent of the total number of undergraduate electors and at least five sitting members of the UA, including one member from a constituency other than that of the candidate.”
The same percentage of the whole undergraduate population or one-third of the UA would have been required to jumpstart the unfulfilled impeachment threat that loomed over current UA President Abe Sutton, a College and Wharton senior, last week.
Now, UA members say they are willing to forgive and forget last week’s petition episode - where Delaney temporarily signed the petition but then removed his name. He was not responsible for organizing the petition, sources said. Kim was not approached to sign the petition.
Still, impeachment will be fresh in the minds of voters and changing UA culture is on the lips of all candidates this election cycle.
Both of the candidates and their running mates - UA Representative and College sophomore Julie Bittar is campaigning with Delaney and UA Speaker Joshua Chilcote, a College junior, with Kim - say they will change the culture of the UA so no more “open and honest looks at UA culture” will interrupt the already tardy budget proceedings.
A restructure of the UA and a leadership style makeover is also a common theme in candidates’ petitions - albeit an unsurprising one given that anonymous sources accused Sutton of abusing his power and making other members feel “emotionally distressed.”
Delaney promised not to tolerate coercion in the UA. “It was a problem [this year],” he said. “If I ever saw it [as president], I would confront the member and ask them to resign.”
Delaney said several UA members are leaving because “they don’t have strong ties” to the other members. He suggested the creation of a social chair and more BYOs to create more community.
“I want to make the UA more of a sorority or fraternity-type feel,” he said. “I’d like them to be tied to us.”
He is also suggested more horizontality in the way the UA is run.
Kim, who is also the chair of the UA's Social Justice Committee, suggested making the UA a safe space where members can approach each other about grievances. “There are a lot of miscommunications,” she said. We need to be able to work together. Clearly, that’s not happening.”
Still, UA candidates’ races are coinciding with the budget negotiations this year because of the postponement. Amendments will be added to the budget at a meeting on March 16. The UA usually avoids budget and elections overlap because a candidate could potentially win votes by advocating budget amendments for key constituencies within in the UA.
“I really hope it doesn’t happen,” Kim said. “I really, really hope.”
Delaney and Bittar have vowed to introduce no amendments. Kim and Chilcote are also keeping their hands clean. As speaker, Chilcote does not have a vote.
The final vote - essentially “a rubber stamp” according to Delaney - will take place on March 23. Before then, the candidates are charged with rehabbing a UA shadowed by scandal and seen as irrelevant by the student body.
“Many Penn students are pretty apathetic about the UA,” Kim said. “Many Penn students don’t know the difference between the UA and Class Board.”
For Bittar and Delaney, this means that the UA should be “externally all about service” to students, Delaney said. He suggested that UA members deliver free hugs, cookies and chocolate and help clean up in the dining halls instead of holding the second meeting of the new term after elections.
Bittar also discussed accessibility. “I want to change the UA to be more receptive and transparent to the student body,” she said. “The body is an action group. It needs to meet the needs of students.”
Kim and Chilcote are focusing on building ties with student groups. “It’s up to us to do a better job of reaching out to student groups,” Kim said. “It’s up to us to go to student groups and say ‘What can we do for you?’”
Delaney and Bittar promised extensive work related to mental health. Kim also plans initiatives regarding mental health, accessibility, financial aid, sexual violence and international students’ integration on campus.
The NEC will review the petitions and candidates’ campaigns will be made official when classes resume after spring break.
Correction: This article was edited to reflect that the election procedures and impeachment procedures of the UA are described in the Bylaws, not the Constitution.