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The Nominations & Elections Committee is looking for students who are not afraid to speak up.

The NEC is currently searching for “mis- and/or underrepresented" student groups to sit on the University Council. At the same time, it is also involved in recruiting new student representatives for other University-wide committees such as the Committee on Open Expression.

The NEC supervises the election process for undergraduate student representatives on the University Council, a forum that discusses issues pertaining to the Penn student body. The University Council is composed of representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly and students elected by the NEC. Every year, the NEC can appoint up to 12 seats on the University Council, with a default of nine, which are exclusively reserved for student representatives of mis- and underrepresented student organizations, according to the NEC’s bylaws.

Wharton junior and NEC President Devin Grossman explained the rationale behind this process.

“We’re given the charges under the UA to appoint representatives of underrepresented student groups,” Grossman said. “The idea is that the UA comes from the representatives of the majority, so we’re empowering voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard on the University Council.”

NEC Vice Chairs for Nominations College junior Aubrey Vinh and College sophomore David Scollan are responsible for supervising the nomination process for different University-wide committees and raising awareness for issues that are sometimes overlooked by the school administrators.

“In a broad sense, we help facilitate connections between students and the administration,” Vinh said. “We value getting a student’s voice in different decisions that are happening on campus.”

The NEC evaluates applicants based on 10 specific criteria that have been enacted in the past decade, including the group’s willingness to collaborate with other undergraduate groups and the strengths and weaknesses of its potential representative to the University Council.

“One of the criteria that we are looking for is potential candidates who aren’t afraid to have their opinions heard and feel comfortable speaking on behalf of their organizations, for the mis- or underrepresented student community here at Penn,” Scollan said.

The NEC also emphasized that it is looking for representatives from a diverse range of student groups. Last year there was a representative from the Student Sustainability Association at Penn, a group for environmental advocacy and awareness.

“It’s a balancing act between groups that are mis- and underrepresented historically and in society and groups that are mis- or underrepresented here at Penn,” Scollan said.

“For example, last year we were looking for unique perspectives on mental health,” Vinh said. “We’re making sure that the representatives represent the needs that we see in the student body.”

The application process contains both an online application and an interview process.

Vinh and Scollan also shared the NEC’s agenda on the recruitment of new members for the Committee on Open Expression, which will be open to all undergraduates at the start of April.

The University Council is based primarily on issues the administration wants to bring about, while the Committee on Open Expression focuses on students with tangible ideas of how to create dialogue at Penn, Vinh said.

The NEC emphasized that they welcome new student groups and representatives to apply.

“New student perspectives are always valuable. It’s great to have other students being involved in the administrative process,” Scollan said.

Vinh agreed. “We hope to encourage new student groups to apply because University Council is a great outlet for pushing forward the agenda for the organization, in addition to helping to shape the Penn experience for the better,” she added.

University Council applications are due Feb. 20 at 11:59 p.m.

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