Penn's Undergraduate Assembly published its 2022-2023 Mid-Session Report, which contains the latest updates on the projects and initiatives that they have undertaken since the beginning of the fall semester.
The UA is the elected representative body that oversees advocacy for student issues, communication between the university administrators and student body, and provides and allocates resources and funding to student groups. The report was published online on the Undergraduate Assembly’s website with the purpose of providing an update to the Penn community on the work that the UA has been undertaking and ensuring that they remain accountable to the student body.
The report is divided into several sections: an overview of the UA, its purpose, a letter from its executive board, an advocacy and initiatives section that contains updates on the UA’s reserve fund allocations and expenditures, and UA Cabinet administrator meeting updates.
The report also contains individual sections about ongoing initiatives from four committees in their respective sections: Academic Initiatives, Community Engagement and Sustainability, Dining, Housing, and Transit, and Equity and Inclusion.
“A big part of what we do is an interface — we say what we're hearing on campus, find areas of change that we'd like to see, and communicate that back to administrators," College and Wharton senior Carson Sheumaker, who is the president of the UA, said. "We also play a large role in deciding where resources go and what to prioritize, so what we do has a tangible impact on students."
Sheumaker spoke to The Daily Pennsylvanian about one of the projects that he was directly involved with on behalf of the UA, known as the One-Year Fund for Independent Performing Arts Groups. The $20,000 funding proposal was recently passed by the UA to allocate funds for independent student performing arts groups that are not recognized by the Student Activities Council.
“We wanted to make sure this year that these groups would have enough money to do their performances and were able to use some reserve funds to allocate some money to help support them," Sheumaker said.
College sophomore and UA College representative Xandro Xu spoke to the DP about an initiative that he is working on that aims to increase the diversity of counselors in Penn’s Student Health and Counseling division.
“Mental health and access to counselors is very important for students," Xu said. “I am on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee on the Undergraduate Assembly. Something that I've noticed while working with a lot of minority and diverse spaces on campus and through speaking with students and leadership was that students felt that there weren't enough counselors that accurately represented them.”
Meanwhile, on the Academic Initiatives committee, College sophomore Mackenzie Sleeman is working on developing a writing seminar specifically for transfer students. Sleeman, a transfer student himself, is the New Transfer Representative for the UA.
“There are so many problems that are unique to transfer students that no other student at Penn has, and so no one would know the problems unless they were a transfer," Sleeman said. "By creating this project and working with the wonderful administrators and the writing seminar center, we were able to make significant progress to making this happen".
Overall, the UA expressed optimism that the report would increase student awareness of their initiatives on campus.
“Our role [as the Undergraduate Assembly] is to improve the quality of student life on campus. By publishing this report, we hope that more students are aware of the initiatives we are working on and reach out if an initiative resonates with them," Sheumaker said.