On Sunday night, the Undergraduate Assembly’s first meeting of the year began with Wharton senior and UA Treasurer Ryan Houston’s resignation.
Houston addressed the body and then left immediately before the UA meeting was officially in session. His resignation was not directly discussed during the meeting although UA members decided to internally elect a new Treasurer at its next meeting.
Additionally, the UA held an executive session at the meeting’s conclusion during communications where non-UA members were requested to leave.
According to College senior and UA Vice-President Mark Pan, executive sessions are rare – the last one was approximately three and a half years ago – but are sometimes motioned for in contentious circumstances.
The UA discussed several initiatives during its first meeting of the year.
PennApps Labs, an online database of campus study spaces, was presented to the body.
A resolution, authored by several UA members and passed unanimously in November 2010, envisioned the database as a web or mobile application that would enable users to say, for example that “I have 4 people in a group, and we need a place, somewhere near 36th and Spruce, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that has a whiteboard” and obtain a list of suggested study spaces nearby.
Although functional, PennApps Labs is still in its early stages. Engineering junior Alexey Komissarouk who runs PennApps Labs asked for feedback from the UA before PennApps Labs debuts in the Penn community.
One criticism — an issue that Komissarouk was aware of and is working on — is the need for PennApps Labs to be on a live feed so available study spaces are actually available when students use the database.
Additionally, PennLunch, a new social networking initiative aimed at connecting random Penn students for lunchtime, was discussed in a Skype conference between UA members and Harvard junior Seth Riddley, who created HarvardLunch.
UA members were specifically concerned with the liability of collecting student information on Riddley’s server, a non-UA or Penn-affiliated server.
In an e-mail after the meeting, Wharton sophomore and UA Communications Director Chris Cruz explained that although UA members were unable to support PennLunch on a non-UA server, he has compromised with the executive board and other UA members to have it supported by a UA server.
HarvardLunch and YaleLunch are both successful prototypes that were launched by Riddley in November and December 2010, respectively.
The UA has not formally committed to supporting PennLunch which would require a resolution presented and voted on by the body but Cruz is hopeful for an eventual PennLunch launch.
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