Abe Sutton | No representation without group conversation


Guest Column | I've helped student groups work together and that's my goal for UA Steering




We come from all over the world to study everything from accounting to zoology, and are each of us is involved in our own groups. Yet, we are all tied together as Penn students.

My goal next year is to bring together Penn students from all walks of life, so that we can take advantage of the diversity all around us.

Penn is composed of communities — we must remember that we are also part of a community of communities. The role of the Undergraduate Assembly’s vice president is to make this vision a reality by meeting with student groups in UA Steering to promote collaboration.

I’m Abe Sutton and this past year, I served as the Academic Affairs Committee director on the UA. During my term, I brought up the number of syllabi posted on Penn InTouch, partnered with student groups to recommend ways to increase faculty diversity such as grossing-up and worked with College Advising to improve athlete advisor assignments by having Athletics identify recruits.

I’ve worked with the Penn Publications Cooperative to improve Adobe InDesign access, with the Penn Society for International Development to make Penn among the first Universities to adopt a conflict mineral-free policy and with the Penn Muslim Student Association to condemn profiling on the basis of religious affiliation.

But the best part of working on these projects was the opportunity to both mentor other members and interact with students groups to find out what their goals were.

I aim to bridge the gap between the UA and student groups. Each group in UA Steering will have a UA member working to forward its goals and learn more about the issues that concern it. UA Steering meetings will become more productive by breaking down into smaller working groups to plan either a joint event or a project of concern to multiple groups.

Student groups, rather than the UA, will choose these projects and events. Student groups will actually steer and direct the UA. This interactive model will build off innovative parts of the current Steering structure, such as the “Steering Circle” open forum. It will put more responsibility in the hands of student groups, giving them more of a stake in Steering.

There are 10,000 undergraduates at Penn. With all the activities on campus, it would be impossible to engage every one of those students in student government.

My goal is to advocate on behalf of these students and make Penn a better place for them in whatever way I can.

The experience I have had leading a UA committee uniquely qualifies me to deliver results on your behalf.

I have spent that last two years on the UA working with administrators and I understand what needs to be done to make a difference. This experience will allow me to start working on day one on behalf of the student body.

In the coming year — in addition to my Steering goals — I aim to accelerate the switch from the Blackboard system to more user-friendly options currently being explored and to introduce a later pass/fail deadline similar to the 12-week one at Columbia University.

Experience has taught me that major projects at Penn take time. The fact that I am a sophomore means that I still have two years of advocacy ahead of me and that I will not be forced to back down at the end of the academic year. If you trust me with this responsibility, you will find that my experience and the vision of one united Penn, will open a world of possibilities.

Thank you for your support, and remember — “Sex Under the Button, Vote 4 Abe Sutton.”

Abe Sutton is a College and Wharton sophomore from Brooklyn, NY. His email address is as2391@gmail.com.

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