We are running for president and vice president of the Undergraduate Assembly because we consider Penn to be more than just our school — it’s our home. As candidates, we come from different backgrounds and communities, but our decision to unite on a single ticket is rooted in our desire to represent the best of Penn’s diverse perspectives. That said, we are here to serve all of you. As we have engaged in conversations with students from across campus, we have become familiar with the most pressing issues that you feel need to be prioritized by the UA’s new leadership: Addressing mental wellness, preventing sexual assault, strengthening civic engagement, protecting open expression and bridging the gap between communities on campus.
Many Penn students struggle with accessing resources to maintain mental health and well-being. We will ensure that the UA continues to work with Counseling and Psychological Services to create a video that features campus leaders using CAPS’ services, which we hope will contribute to breaking down the stigma associated with seeking psychological help. Our ultimate goal is to involve more students in conversations about mental health. Strengthening peer support networks is key to this goal.
We also realize that colleges across the nation, including Penn, have had problems addressing sexual assault on campus. Through our experiences advocating for and working with members of diverse communities, we believe that peer education is an effective way to spread awareness of sexual assault and its prevention. We will advocate for increased participation in PAVE (Penn Anti-Violence Educators), a program run that is a result of a collaboration among Jess Mertz, ASAP, One in Four and the UA. It is also important to increase resources for sexual assault survivors. We are in the process of facilitating an expansion of legal services in partnership with the Penn Women’s Center and ASAP to provide an expedited process for free legal counseling supporting survivors of sexual assault. Our intention is to create a resource that people from any part of the Penn community — regardless of their sexuality, ethnicity or gender — can feel comfortable using.
Penn is known as the “Civic Ivy” because so many people within the student body make it a point to engage with the surrounding community. In the past, the two of us worked on an initiative called College Day, which brought middle school students from West Philadelphia to Penn to give them an idea of what college is like. We intend to build upon Penn’s relationship with West Philadelphia by further partnering with the Office of Government and Community Affairs, an office that the UA typically has not worked with.
Open expression is a key issue that affects the academic experience of students. Establishing a system of student liaisons for each academic department would create new avenues to broaden communication regarding infringement upon free and open expression in the classroom.
The Penn community has a diverse collection of backgrounds, experiences and interests. As a student body, we are at our best when we collaborate, so that’s why we are planning to improve relationships between Greek life and cultural groups, increase male involvement in sexual assault prevention and also bring the UA closer to the students to raise the level of transparency in student government.
We have put our hearts and souls into working to ensure this campus thrives. We are committed to you and to the work that lies ahead. If you believe in us, vote Jane and Ray for UA!
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.