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In an unexpectedly controversial move yesterday, the Undergraduate Assembly banned laptops at meetings.

“It gets really tiring and fatiguing to listen to something for two to three hours and ... I get that sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked on a laptop,” UA President and College junior Joyce Kim said. “It’s something I’ve done, I’m going to be honest.”

Kim believes that banning laptops at meetings will boost engagement among members. She cited Sunday’s meeting, which she called “more productive” in the absence of laptops. Phones will still be allowed.

Engagement, however, comes at a price — specifically $510 of an unexpected $592 given to Penn Student Government by the Board of Trustees , according to UA minutes. The money will go to print materials previously disseminated to members via the Internet.

This morning, student government branch leaders expressed dismay that the UA had passed a budget amendment that allocated this money to themselves without notifying branch members that the UA meeting would feature a discussion of the addition of new line items to the budget. 

The UA says they sent out their weekly email with a “meeting packet” detailing all topics to be discussed to branch leaders and others, though some members of UA Steering did not receive it.

“Normally, when it pertains to the [student government] branches, the UA is a lot better about contacting us,” Student Activities Council chair and College junior Kanisha Parthasarathy said. “They just slipped up a bit.”

2016 Class Board president Jesus Perez agreed. “It just caught me off guard and a lot of other people as well,” he said. “I think it was an honest mistake.”

The UA typically contacts other student government branches when pertinent discussions such as those relating to the budget are going to take place at a meeting. Kim said it was an accidental oversight.

“This experience encouraged all [Penn Student Government] leaders to work on improved communication and better collaboration among our branches next semester,” Student Committee on Undergraduate Education chair and College junior Lucas Siegmund said in an emailed statement.

Two discussion papers were also introduced at the UA meeting. One, authored by College senior Hyun-Soo Lim  , who is not a member of the UA, discussed a pane of stained glass depicting the Rising Sun Japanese flag, which some Korean students argue is offensive.

The second, authored by College freshman and SAS representative Daniel Kahana and 34ST editor Marley Coyne discussed liquor enforcement and student safety during Fling as well as “how the UA can help Panhel, IFC, the Multicultural Greek Council and students in general so that students feel like there is more transparency in liquor enforcement,” Kim said.

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