Guest column by the UA Executive Board | Making a difference, together




If you’re a new student on campus, welcome to Penn! If you’re a returning upperclassman, welcome back! We hope the first few days of classes have been great for everyone. As everyone gets ready for the new school year, we can’t wait to continue and put into practice the projects the UA has been working on over the summer.

The Undergraduate Assembly is the branch of student government that focuses on funding, services and advocacy to improve student life. We have a $2.1 million dollar budget from the Trustees to fund other student government branches for these and more purposes. We also run services, such as online services like Penn Study Spaces or Penn Labs. We also offer legal services for students in need of legal advice as well as airport shuttle services during Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks.

Beyond the elected UA you may know, the UA is also comprised of UA Steering, a group of 40 major student groups on campus whose goal is to “steer” the agenda of the UA. UA Steering meets to discuss issues that are relevant to student groups. Additionally, the meetings bring in major administrators ranging from Provost Price to President Gutmann’s Mental Health Task Force in order to offer a space for student input on major issues. Here, major project ideas and collaborative plans can be decided upon before being referred to the UA body as project work.

In the last few months, the UA has been hard at work on various issues pertaining to student life.

First off, early in the summer we partnered with the Class Boards to gather information about students’ feelings towards Hey Day. We received over 1,500 responses that will be used to better Hey Day for its upcoming 100th celebration and subsequent Hey Days. We also have partnered with 18 different student groups, ranging from Natives at Penn to College Republicans, as well as the Office of the Vice Provost of Faculty to hold a panel on the psychological effects of affirmative action and how this can affect both students of color and those not directly affected by affirmative action. This panel will take place on November 12th. We have also partnered with IMPACT magazine, to host “Student Solution Sessions” to create a space to have a productive discussion among a variety of student stakeholders about the undergraduate education at Penn, with the ultimate goal of creating solutions that are from students, for students. 

Another new initiative we’ve been working on for this year is the Funding Steering Assembly. This group will be made up by all the funding sources on campus and aims to open dialogue and collaboration between them. This group has also been working on updating and improving the functionality of the Common Funding Application, the one application for funding across campus. The changes we’re making will make the online tool easier to use for funding sources and increase the features that are available to them.

Additionally, this year, the UA plans to focus on the following issues: 1) mental wellness 2) sexual assault violence education and prevention 3) international student integration 4) stabilized funding for political and religious groups and 5) student voice within Student Financial Services. Besides these main focus items, the UA will be lead by issues that are relevant to you. The best way to bring up issues is by either emailing a representative or directly attending one of our weekly GBMs, on Sunday at 9pm in the Ben Franklin Room of Houston Hall, where we reserve time for an open forum.

Our primary goal for this year is to work on relevant issues in a timely manner, and communicate our progress to the student body. Feel free to reach out to us through any of the mentioned channels or more (like running to be a new student representative if you’re a freshman or transfer student or by applying to be an associate member). We are excited to work with and for the student body this upcoming school year and show that, together, students can make a difference on their campus!

You can reach Joyce Kim at president@pennua.org, Josh Chilcote at vp@pennua.org, Andrew Robertson at speaker@pennua.org, Amanda Acosta Ruiz at treasurer@pennua.org or Natalie Hernandez at secretary@pennua.org

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