This past year, we were excited to lead a campus that was named the best college nationwide by USA Today and, of course, No. 1 Party School by Playboy Magazine. Being good student advocates, we’d like to take credit for that. We can’t, of course. In reality, our role is much more quiet, and our best work is much more slow.
Mental health and wellness was our top priority this year. In partnership with Penn Undergraduate Health Coalition, we published the Wellness Guide, which features 14 centers and testimonials to encourage students to take advantage of these resources. PennFaces, a website that provides a forum for students to share their narratives and stories on mental wellness has been launched.
Penn Anti-Violence Educators will launch next fall. Students will now be paid and trained to educate the campus on bystander intervention training and other issues regarding sexual assault. We worked with the 5B, Assembly of International Students and Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters to create the Student Financial Services Advisory Board, the first time students will have a voice in the financial aid process. In partnership with Penn Labs, we launched the PennMobile app. Now students can access dining, courses, transit, emergency contact numbers and an expanding array of features including campus maps, the student directory and exact locations of free transit. We worked with the class boards to help reduce Hey Day costs — which, by the way, have decreased by 43 percent this year. These are just a small sampling of the projects we worked on this year. You can find out much more in our annual report, highlighting over 90-plus projects that we have been working on this past year, found at pennua.org.
Most Penn students don’t want to spend thousands of hours in meetings with administrators (we counted: The Undergraduate Assembly collectively sat in on nearly 3,500 hours of meetings in the past year — including, The Daily Pennsylvanian’s editorial board will be pleased to know, meetings of Penn’s Board of Trustees, which, with over 50 trustees that have no individual power, overall rarely makes major changes).
This is why the students ditched the old student government — an actual direct democracy, with no elections and everyone participating equally — in 1972: Campus came to understand that real change is only made bit by bit, a little at a time. And the only way to do that is to give the job to a bunch of students who are just crazy enough to spend all their time learning the very minute details of Penn’s bureaucratic and slow administration.
We’re proud to have run a non-scandalous student government this year. In lots of small, incremental ways, our no-drama student government made things better, whether they’re noticed or not. Most of the things we did made for non-controversial headlines; the DP found little scandal in UA meeting after UA meeting of complicated, worthy, but sometimes boring projects. Often the administration takes years to digest a small reform — a 300-year-old institution run by a large group of middle-aged people doesn’t change overnight. So we hope that our successors follow in our footsteps, focusing on results and not rhetoric, to better Penn.
One of the best parts of our role has been working with the thousands of Penn students that interact with the UA every year to improve Penn. We invite every student with an interest in that work to get in touch with our successors; we’re always looking for partners, and we know we can always do our job better. But if you don’t want to bother with student government, that’s OK too. But we hope you know that about one hundred of your peers — in the UA and across student government — are doing their very best to keep Penn at No. 1.
We have made substantial steps forward for the campus, things that make us proud of the UA this year. It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve as your student body president and vice president. There’s always more work to be done, and we are excited and look forward to what the UA will accomplish in the future.
JOYCE KIM and JOSHUA L. CHILCOTE are College seniors studying political science and history respectively. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and JLChilcote@gmail.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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