This has been a busy semester for the Undergraduate Assembly. Does that surprise you? As the semester comes to a close, it is an opportune time to reflect on what we have accomplished this semester, as well as appraise you of what you can expect from us in the spring. This is not intended to be a strict catalogue of our achievements, but rather a starting point for dialogue between UA members and the student body. At the beginning of our term, we specifically identified recreational space, financial aid, collaboration with minority groups and campus safety as our key areas of focus. We have made tremendous strides in all four of these areas. The UA recently proposed building outdoor basketball courts on the rooftop of the parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets. Our case was bolstered when more than 1,200 students signed a petition in support of this project. We are extremely optimistic that the these courts will be constructed by the fall. As for financial aid, the UA has been working tirelessly to address an issue on the minds of countless students. We distributed a survey in early December to more than 500 students, which has been used to suggest revisions to the University's financial-aid policies. The UA will unveil a proposal in mid-January that incorporates all of this work. We have added the United Minorities Council to our Steering Committee and designated a UA liaison to the UMC. And we have pledged our support for the Asian Pacific Student Coalition in acquiring an Asian-American resource center. Regarding campus safety, we worked with Spectaguard to implement a new program whereby walking escorts will accompany students home from Van Pelt Library every half-hour between midnight and 3 a.m. (and until 5 a.m. during exam period). We also conducted a joint safety survey with the Division of Public Safety. Many of these policy initiatives will come to fruition next semester. Yet we need your input now more than ever. What big issues should we tackle next semester? Are we focusing on the right things? How can we confront the stereotype that student government cannot effect meaningful change? Another approach is to increase outreach efforts. Next semester, look for our televised meetings on UTV13; "Feedback" dinners at 1920 Commons where you can chat with UA members; our UA on the Walk table, featuring petitions and UA Today newsletters; and a student satisfaction survey where you can express your vision for Penn's future. Through this general student survey, we hope to develop a set of general principles that every future UA can use as a blueprint. Some of these principles could include bettering relations between students and the administration; improving the level of services the University delivers to students; and advocating for the best housing, recreation and study facilities. As student leaders, it's easy to get bogged down in mundane policy details and obligations, and sometimes it's hard for us to sense what students really are passionate about. Through these efforts at outreach and articulation of principles, we hope to truly connect with all of you better than any UA has in recent memory. We're not just aiming to make temporary changes. We work closely with the provost and the president on the large-scale issues that profoundly impact the student body. Those of us on the UA have been extremely pleased with what we've accomplished to date. But we can never get complacent -- and neither can you. Apathy is the only thing that can prevent us from manifesting the full potential of student government. So get involved! Join one of our committees. E-mail us your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by our UA on the Walk table. Your presence can only help us better achieve our goals because, in the end, we are your UA -- your elected representatives. Never forget that.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.