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Photo from Chase Serota

Hi — we are Maria Curry and Chase Serota, and we would love to be your Undergraduate Assembly president and vice president. Throughout the last years, we have seen how not only ambition, but also determination and strategy, can lead to concrete, tangible change for the student body. As your president and vice president, we want to continue to challenge the status quo and bring student engagement with the UA to a new level. We believe experience is more than a title or the number of years in an organization, and we have proved that you can only accomplish what you have the courage to demand.

Our platform is based on five pillars: transparency, equity & representation, sustainability, wellness & student life, and modern infrastructure. Among all pillars is our overarching theme of student engagement, and our record of tangible change proves that we are the candidates who will challenge the status quo and make a difference on our campus.

Regarding transparency, we want to continue to increase communication channels between administrators, the student body, and the UA via innovative marketing of town halls, focus groups, surveys, University Council committees, and Student Advisory Boards. We want to build on the existing forums like UA Steering, and create Slack groups to increase collaboration and move from discussions to tangible action items outside of meetings. Moreover, we believe that a more transparent body leads to a more transparent school. This past year, the two of us drafted and unanimously passed the first Budget amendment in history to report UA revenue of approximately $2,500 and its use within the body, and hope to continue to hold the UA accountable as representatives of students.

With regard to equity and representation, one of our priorities is expanding space for the cultural houses to include more than just the basement of ARCH. For too long, this issue has been sidelined by high-level administrators, and as UA president and vice president we will publicize the issues via new mediums, create new relationships with the administration — like those in the Development Office — to creatively fundraise for necessary funds, and continue to promote focus groups with the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life and cultural student groups to bring student voices to the forefront of campus. In addition to space, we will continue our record of advocating for affordable dining and retail and improved financial and academic resources specifically for first-generation, low-income and other underrepresented student groups.

Credit: Picasa File Photo

On the topic of sustainability, we believe it is a priority not only for Penn students but for the larger Philadelphia community. In the past year alone, Maria has worked directly with Penn Dining to create educational signage in dining halls to promote sustainable disposal processes like composting, recycling, and donations when possible. Chase has directly worked to promote awareness of “stay-in” options in Houston Hall by encouraging cashiers to ask students before ordering, and take advantage of Penn’s sustainable disposal services. Moreover, we will work with student groups like Fossil Free Penn to contact trustees directly, and collaborate with student leaders at peer institutions to take divestment to a new level.

For us, mental health is a right, not a privilege. This past semester, Chase has worked directly with the Chief Wellness Officer, Counseling and Psychological Services representatives, and Provost Wendell Pritchett, to expand the CAPS embedded model to a centralized location on campus. As a result, a pilot wellness program will be run during Reading Days in the Van Pelt Library to promote mindfulness during stressful times. Maria has also been selected as a finalist for the Your Big Idea Challenge and will be presenting later this month for the chance to secure funding to expand wellness spaces in all academic buildings.

Lastly, a central pillar of our campaign is creating modern infrastructure and advocating for large-scale change. This past semester alone, Chase worked directly with Sal Caputo, director of Facilities Management for Penn Libraries, to secure a complete renovation of the VP basement, which will be completed this summer. Additionally, Maria worked directly with Penn Transit to implement and promote the new Uber-like app through which students can request rides on and off campus on demand for free. She has also worked with SEPTA to create student discounts and free ride promotions like the one used by over 125 students in December via the SEPTA Travel Center in the Penn Bookstore.

Our cumulative record of not only leading by example, but also of completing projects and realizing tangible impact for the student body, motivates us to build on this change and challenge the status quo as UA president and vice president.

We’re looking forward to creating a UA for you, and please vote at www.PennStudGov.com. Thank you!

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