The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Last week, the Undergraduate Assembly published the only annual report in the past three years.

The newly published document includes information on completed projects from 2014, as well as projects that are still in the works and ideas currently under discussion.

In 2012, UA progress was hindered by a “general slump in productivity,” leading the former UA President Dan Bernick, a 2014 College and Fels Institute of Government graduate, to decide not to publish the report, College senior and UA Vice President Joshua Chilcote said.

Last year, the UA attempted to publish the report, but struggled with “picking up the pieces” of the previous year, he said.

However, Chilcote believes that the current UA has made significant progress. “This year especially, everyone came together and pulled it together,” he said.

The UA has taken initiative on some academic issues, but has yet to see major change come from its efforts. They passed the “Full Faith in Credit” resolution after students were denied credit for a meditation class that they took, although the University has not yet responded with any changes in policy.

Over the past year, the UA discussed potentially lessening the workload for students in uncoordinated dual-degree programs and asked the College of Arts and Sciences to award students credit for ROTC classes, an issue that has been going on for many years. However, the University’s refusal to change this credit policy led to a dead end.

Issues regarding alcohol were at the top of the UA agenda this past year after the student body was taken by surprise by the involvement of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement at Spring Fling. In the report, the UA cited concerns over communication between students and the administration in light of the Bureau’s presence.

The UA believes that stricter alcohol policies could be dangerous, pushing students to drink off-campus, away from Penn resources such as MERT, and to engage in binge-drinking or drug use. As a result, the UA formed the Commission on Alcohol Safety and Communication to establish better communication between the student body and the administration at this year’s Fling.

Although their efforts resulted in few tangible results in the mental health sphere over the past year, several projects outlined for the future show promise. The UA successfully published The Wellness Guide, which contains information about access to professional and medical services such as CAPS and Student Health Services, as well as cultural centers and other resources. Additionally, because of a UA project, new PennCards will be printed with the mental health HELP line number on the back.

The UA is experimenting with the idea of closer collaboration between CAPS and incoming Penn students. They have discussed ideas such as a New Student Orientation event in which freshman halls would visit CAPS together, each student being assigned a CAPS liaison via Penn InTouch and anonymous visits to CAPS. Although unsuccessful, the UA also tried to implement a project creating mental health support slips whereby a student could report his concern about a peer’s mental health.

The UA is also taking a step toward sexual assault prevention by, in collaboration with many other groups such as the Penn Women’s Center, launching a peer-led bystander intervention workshop at Penn that will be piloted next semester.

On the residential services and dining front, this year the UA successfully initiated its more flexible Take Your Pick dining plan for upperclassmen and negotiated with residential houses to increase the number of times students can forget their PennCard before being fined from five to 10.

Although in past years the UA may have dropped the ball in reporting its accomplishments, UA Secretary Andrew Gegios was proud of its work this past year and sees producing the report as part of the UA’s responsibility.

“It’s really a document for everyone that we are held accountable to,” Gegios said. “We want to make sure we are doing what students want and that we are telling them what we do.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.