Seven months ago, College senior Michael Krone and College junior Jordan Andrews won Undergraduate Assembly president and vice president, respectively, with promises to improve mental wellness, transparency, and inclusivity on Penn’s campus. Now, with only a few weeks left in the semester, transparency has become their top priority.
While transparency was a key issue of their campaign platform, Krone said it became a priority after hearing students complain about being left out of decisions made by the administration. Specifically, Krone said students were frustrated by the decision to change Huntsman Hall’s hours and the decision to require that sophomores live on campus starting in 2021.
“Anytime there’s a decision that seems very top-down, the obstacles are always trying to make sure student input was in the room when they made that decision and then making sure as it’s implemented, it’s okay for students,” Andrews said.
The UA is collecting feedback on the new housing policy from different interest groups across campus, Andrews said. They plan to share a written report based on student reactions with administrators.
To help gauge student reactions, the UA is setting up a table with a suggestion box on Locust Walk once a week. Beginning on Nov. 7, a different UA committee will run the table every Tuesday through the end of the semester. This way, students will be able to learn about each committee’s project, UA Secretary and College sophomore Mercedes Owens said.
Andrews said the tabling effort is meant to make communicating with student government easier for students.
The UA also hopes to continue improving transparency through weekly project highlight videos on Facebook, the first of which was released over the weekend, UA Communications Director Sravya Alla said.
Beyond transparency issues, the two UA leaders have been working to improve wellness on campus through meetings with CAPS, Student Health Services, and the new Chief Wellness Officer, Benoit Dubé. They said they are currently discussing bringing CAPS professionals to college houses.
Within the UA, Krone and Jordan have restructured the organization to include an additional committee. While the UA still consists of 35 elected members, the addition of the fifth committee allows for more associate members. Ten additional students joined the UA this year, bringing total membership to 60.
Krone said one of the benefits of increasing the number of associate members is that they are able to expand the number of representatives from typically underrepresented groups on campus. For example, Krone said, there is one Nursing representative, but four Nursing associate members.