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Students discuss how to improve student life in business casual attire in Penn museum Credit: Jing Ran , Jing Ran, Jing Ran

Penn Student Government looks to borrow from the University’s hallowed past and thriving present to achieve its goal of “moving forward student life at Penn.”

In spirit of the theme, this year’s State of the School was held in the Upper Egyptian Gallery of the Penn Museum. Sponsored by the Nominations and Elections Committee, SPEC Fully Planned and the Tangible Change Committee, the event served not only as a presentation of PSG’s recent accomplishments but also as an open forum for the student body’s questions concerning various Penn initiatives.

When the official presentation started, NEC Vice Chair of Education Morgan Finkelstein, managing editor of Under the Button, introduced Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, the featured speaker of the evening who shared advice and offered praise to Penn’s leaders, present and future.

“What distinguishes Penn students is that you ‘get it,’” Furda said, “and you want to change the things you see around you.”

Following Furda’s remarks, the floor was opened to presentations by PSG leaders, who briefed the audience on new Penn initiatives.

Among the comments was the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education’s discussion of study abroad and other academic opportunities, as well as new technological innovations to increase student engagement in campus- and city-wide activities.

The Student Activities Council also shared its new debt plan, which clears all historic debt for student groups and imposes penalties on groups that acquire new debt, and the Undergraduate Assembly discussed various initiatives such as a letter they signed cautioning the government against cutting Pell Grant funds.

“We’re looking forward to people asking what student government is doing and what we can do for them,” Social Planning and Events Committee President and College senior Shana Rusonis said.

This year’s emphasis on collaboration stood in sharp contrast to the lecture-like presentations in 2009 and 2010, which were held in College Hall 200 and 1920 Commons, respectively.

More than 100 representatives from numerous student groups and all six branches of student government were in attendance, sporting business casual attire and sipping soda and punch from chardonnay glasses. Ancient, glass-encased sarcophagi stood like snack tables among the guests, who were either formally invited or had filled out a short online application to represent their groups.

“All groups of Penn’s Student Government work together,” Wharton junior and Class Board of 2013 member Laura Bilder said. “But [Class Board 2013] are here more to take questions and to be supportive.”

This article was updated to reflect that SPEC Fully Planned was one of the sponsors of the event.

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