College senior Michael Krone and College junior Jordan Andrews were elected the president and vice president of the Undergraduate Assembly last year on a five-point platform of transparency, accessibility, inclusivity, mental wellness, and community engagement. A year later, they are leaving their posts having focused most of their attention on transparency, but seeing the most change in their efforts to increase midterm election turnout and push for more funding for the 6B, Penn's main minority coalition groups.
Throughout the past year, Krone and Andrews prioritized transparency initiatives like holding open forums and tabling on Locust Walk as well as community engagement, which they say is illustrated through their collaboration with Penn Leads the Vote to increase voter turnout and their collaboration with the 6B to increase its funding by approximately 400% this year. Looking back, however, they say they regret falling short on their promise to increase SEPTA access to Penn students and were also disappointed by the lack of student interest in events they held to improve transparency.
“At the very least, we’re making the effort to try to get people in the know about what Penn student government is doing,” Krone said.
For Andrews, successfully lobbying the Vice Provost for University Life for increased funds for minority groups was a particularly meaningful accomplishment.
“Even before my tenure as vice president, I wanted to focus on increased resources for cultural centers, and this is one of the first years that we’ve seen tangible progress in recent memory,” Andrews said.
Community engagement was a theme for Krone and Andrews throughout the entire year, with Krone calling the UA’s collaboration with Penn Leads the Vote to increase voter turnout among students during the midterm elections one of his proudest accomplishments.
Co-director for Penn Leads the Vote for the 2018-2019 academic year and College senior Nikki Lin said Krone was instrumental in linking the UA and Penn Leads the Vote with a variety of different student groups, including the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, Penn Democrats, and College Republicans. The groups collaborated to host campus-wide events for National Voter Registration Day last September and for the midterm elections in November.
The fact that voting at on-campus polling stations more than tripled from 2014’s midterm elections was evidence, Lin said, that the collaboration with the UA was a success.
In January, the UA narrowed its focus primarily to improving transparency efforts. Krone and Andrews launched a tabling initiative on Locust Walk to solicit student feedback and also started posting video updates on the UA’s Facebook page. Andrews said these were important steps in making the UA more accessible for students.
Earlier this semester, the UA made a push to promote its open forum to Penn students, inviting them to attend and participate. Krone and Andrews said they were frustrated by the low attendance at the meeting, which saw approximately seven Penn students who were not members of the UA attend. Krone said these projects could benefit from better advertising, but are nevertheless an important step in opening up the UA to students.
The UA's efforts to integrate SEPTA access onto PennCards ultimately proved unsuccessful. Andrews said although they anticipated the technology to work more seamlessly, there were ultimately technological roadblocks they could not overcome in their tenure.
Krone said he wanted to provide preloaded SEPTA cards to all freshman moving on campus — a goal he discussed shortly after being elected — and was disappointed he was not able to before his term ended.
Krone and Andrews say they are optimistic about future leadership on the UA. Newly elected UA President Natasha Menon and Vice President Brian Goldstein both served on the executive board this past year as treasurer and speaker, respectively.
Menon, a College junior, said she learned a lot from Krone and Andrews and she plans to continue some of their initiatives this coming year, including collaborations with the 6B and Penn Leads the Vote.
“Nothing’s ever going to get done entirely in a year,” Krone said. “But I think we were able to establish a lot of really great relationships with administrators and student groups and really think through how we’re going to get things done in the future.”
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