Members of the Class of 1996 will have the chance to elect next year's Senior Class Board today and tomorrow. And all three candidates for president said the major issue in the campaign is knowing how to throw a good party. Wharton junior Lenny Chang, College junior Eden Jacobowitz and College junior Adam Miller will vie for the position. Chang, who has been president of the Class of 1996 since freshman year, said his experience gives him an advantage over the other two candidates. "I definitely have learned how to deal with the right people and to set things way in advance so that everything will be picture-perfect when the event arrives," he said, adding that he is "very aware of student needs." Chang said his primary goal, if re-elected, would be to ensure that his class has "the best senior screamers possible, the best Senior Week, the best senior formal, the best Ivy Day speaker, the best graduation speaker? I've already started on some of those things." Jacobowitz, a Daily Pennsylvanian photographer, said the senior class president is primarily a social position. "I think social life on this campus has seriously deteriorated," he said. "Senior screamers can save the social life on this campus -- for seniors, at least." Jacobowitz said that while the Senior Class Board does not cover issues as "important" as those on the Undergraduate Assembly, which he served on this year, it can influence campus life more by throwing parties the entire senior class can attend. Miller, like his opponents, said the most important part of the office is the ability to plan a good party. "[I want] the class to be much more involved in the screamers and the events of the Class Board," he said. "In the past the Board has done a very good job, but I don't think they've incorporated very many people." He added that he ran for senior class president because he felt the Class Board for his class has rarely done anything for him -- and that he wanted to make a difference. "I want to step it up a level that it hasn't gotten to in the past," he said. "[It is time for] a new dimension of leadership, a time for a change."
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The Nominations and Elections Committee announced the results of this year's election for Undergraduate Assembly members at last night's Fair Practices Code hearing. The top vote-getter in the College of Arts and Sciences was College junior Lance Rogers, an incumbent UA member. As a result, Rogers, who received 217 votes, will have a seat on the University Council. Other University Council seats will go to Engineering freshman and current UA member Alex Malek, Wharton junior Gil Beverly, Nursing sophomore and incumbent UA member Lisa Aspinwall, College freshman and current UA member Tal Golomb, Wharton freshman Alan Danzig, also an incumbent UA member, College freshman Meredith Hertz, College junior Avi Stieglitz, a 34th Street film editor, and College freshman Steve Schorr, a Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer. Incumbent UA members who won re-election for next year include College freshmen Larry Kamin and Corey Lambert, College sophomore Laurie Moldawer, College juniors Miae Oh and Eric Tienou and Wharton freshman Hester Wong. UA members whose first term will begin next year include College freshmen Meredith Hertz, Wendy Mongillo, Meredith Peters and Jessica Wilson, College sophomore Shannon Richardson, College junior Christian Hensley, Wharton freshman Charles Margosian, Wharton sophomore Tamas Foldesi and Engineering freshmen Matthew Brletich, Michael Hyzer and Roman Krislav. The new UA members will officially take office on April 6, at the annual UA transition meeting, to be held at 9 p.m. in the UTV-13 studio. At this meeting, the body will elect next year's chairperson. And although there have been several rumors as to candidates for that office, none of the newly elected UA representatives declared their candidacy last night. Outgoing UA Chairperson Dan Debicella, a Wharton junior, said he had high hopes for next year's UA. "The quality of the people on next year's UA will be very high," he said. "My warning to them will just be, 'If you start fighting amongst yourselves, if you let the politics of personality dominate your year, that can be a horrible experience.' " Debicella said he had mixed feelings about his term coming to an end. "I am a lame-duck president now," he said. "Part of me is going to be glad to get out of the public eye. Another part of me says we've done a terrific job this year. I'm going to keep busy." Other student leaders echoed Debicella's optimism for next year's UA. "I think it's time to clean house," Rogers said. "It's time to finally, once and for all, get in touch with the students." Tienou offered one piece of caution to next year's body. "Last year we did so many things so quickly that we got burned out early," he said. "We have to temper the enthusiasm and look at what we can do. If we take it progressively and take it slowly we can work on really improving undergraduate life at the University."
NEC drops all charges of fair practice violations The movement for constitutional reform of the University's student government died last night with the Nominations and Elections Committee's announcement that only 13.6 percent of eligible voters turned out for Tuesday and Wednesday's elections. In order for any referendum to be binding, at least 20 percent of the University's full-time undergraduate population must vote. But neither the A1 nor the A2 constitution proposal received a majority vote from the students who did turn up at the polls, meaning that neither constitution would have been adopted regardless of voter turnout. Two amendments to the current Undergraduate Assembly constitution failed as well, both because of the low voter turnout and a lack of support from voters. As a result, UA elections will not be carried out on a geographic basis and the Social Planning and Events Committee will not gain autonomy from the UA. The election results were announced at last night's NEC Fair Practices Code hearing which began with the NEC's decision to press charges against several A1 supporters -- after College junior Michael Hartman, who originally filed similar charges, failed to attend the meeting. But in the end, NEC Chairperson of Elections Roy Fu, a College senior, said the NEC had decided that none of the charges biased the election in any way. As a result, all the referenda were still considered valid. According to Fu, out of 8,605 full-time undergraduate students, only 1,171 voted on the referenda -- a turnout of only 13.6 percent. This is an even lower figure than the turnout in last year's referendum on the University of Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Service. But even if 20 percent of students had voted, every proposal on the ballot was short of a majority of those who voted. A1 received only 36.6 percent of the vote on the A referendum. More students voted for "neither" (35.5 percent) than for A2 (28 percent). In the B referendum, which would have established geographic voting districts, only 29.5 percent of voters checked "yes" on their ballots. The C referendum, which would increase SPEC's standing relative to other branches of student government, garnered 47.3 percent of the vote. Student leaders had varied opinions on the results of the election. "I'm disappointed that more people didn't participate in the election," Dan Schorr, co-author of the A1 proposal and a College senior, said. "Apathy was definitely one factor." UA Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella, who did not seek re-election to the body, said he saw the results as an affirmation of the current system of government. "The low voter turnout was totally a result of people seeing that A1 was a poor constitution," he said. "I like to think that this is an affirmation of the job that this UA has done over the past year. People were saying that this UA has made a difference by doing student advocacy."
The Student Activities Council re-recognized The Red and Blue at its meeting Tuesday night after adopting a revised set of guidelines for funding political organizations. This means that the magazine can once again pursue SAC funding. But a vote on whether to grant The Red and Blue's funding request of $11,094 did not come to the floor, because less than two-thirds of the body voted in favor of hearing the magazine's plea. Also, SAC elected a new Steering Committee -- and voted against giving Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella a seat on it. Re-recognition of The Red and Blue was not originally slated for Tuesday night's agenda. But early in the meeting, Student Life Assistant Director Scott Reikofski criticized the body's recent decision to permanently deny funding to the magazine. "Power without responsibility leads to abuse of everybody's rights," he said in an address to the body. "If one group's freedom is restricted, nothing is to stop that from happening to your group as well." The body passed amendments to the SAC constitution that clarified the definition of "political" for funding purposes. In the aftermath of The Red and Blue's loss of full recognition, University President Judith Rodin had asked SAC Steering Committee Chairperson Richard Chow, a Wharton senior, to revise the funding guidelines. The new guidelines prohibit the body from making funding determinations on the basis of "the content of the speech or expression of such organization." Student groups that advocate a particular political party or candidate, that seek to influence legislation, or that promote religious ideologies will still not be considered eligible for funding. The body granted full recognition to the Undergraduate Economics Society, Without a Net, Phi Beta Lambda, the Student National Medical Association, the John Marshall Pre-Law Society and the Penn Transfer Organization before the results of the vote on the amendments were known. And, at the end of the Steering portion of the meeting, Thor Halvorssen, a Red and Blue spokesperson and a College junior, moved that the body re-recognize the magazine and grant its original request of $11,094. Re-recognition required a two-thirds majority to pass. After a short debate, the body voted overwhelmingly in favor of restoring The Red and Blue's funding eligibility. But because the magazine had not been able to submit a budget request to the SAC Finance Committee before the meeting, a two-thirds majority vote was also required for the body to even deliberate on whether or not to give The Red and Blue any money. Several SAC leaders, including Finance Committee Chairperson David Shapiro, a College and Wharton sophomore, told the body that restoring The Red and Blue's funding eligibility did not necessarily obligate SAC to fund the magazine. Shortly thereafter, the motion by Debicella to vote on deliberating the magazine's funding request failed to reach the required two-thirds majority. Among those elected to the new SAC Steering Committee were College sophomore Angine Harriott, College junior Norm Hetrick, College junior Graham Robinson and College junior Jon Teitel.
Eleven NEC violations alleged Illegal campaigning tactics may have doomed constitutional reform at the University -- regardless of the outcome of the past two days' voting. The Nominations and Elections Committee will rule on eight violations of the NEC's Fair Practices Code for Referenda at a hearing tonight -- and if any one of them is upheld, both constitutional reform proposals on the ballot will be considered invalid. Three violations of the NEC's FPC for Undergraduate Assembly elections were also filed with the NEC yesterday. According to Roy Fu, the NEC chair of elections and a College senior, the FPC for Referenda violations could invalidate both of the "A" referenda, which deal with constitutional reform of the University's student government. "We are trying to determine if [the violations] created bias during the election, not guilt," he said. "Most of these charges actually happened." Four of the eight charges were filed against supporters or authors of the A1 constitution, which would completely overturn the current structure of student government if passed. All four of the A1 charges were for campaigning within 75 feet of a polling place. Two charges were filed against supporters of A2. One was for campaigning within 75 feet of a polling place, and one was for removing posters put up by A1 supporters. UA chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella was cited for campaigning within 75 feet of a polling place. Ironically, rather than advocating a specific proposal, Debicella's "campaign" consisted of simply telling students not to vote, Fu said. Engineering and Wharton senior Matt Kratter, former Student Committee on Undergraduate Education chairperson, was cited for illegal campaigning as well, Fu added. If any of these charges is found to have biased voters, neither A1 nor A2 can be considered valid, and the election will be thrown out. The FPC for Referenda specifies that any invalidated referendum cannot be voted upon again for 12 months. UA member and College senior Dan Schorr, the co-author of proposal A1, said he was worried that the charges might nullify the election. "For the first time in 23 years, students got to decide whether they wanted a new student government," he said. "It would be a travesty if they never got to voice their opinion." Several of the charges were filed with the NEC by College junior Michael Hartman. But Hartman refused to comment on the charges last night. According to Fu, the three charges filed against UA candidates could, if upheld by the NEC, eliminate the candidates from the race. College freshman Kathryn Assadi and Wharton junior Gil Beverly failed to turn in their campaign spending forms by the NEC deadline, Fu said. And College freshman Steve Schorr, a Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer, was charged with destroying another candidate's posters.
After the first day of voting on several referenda on reforming student government at the University, three new constitutional proposals have been submitted to the Nominations and Elections Committee, NEC Chairperson Rick Gresh, a College senior, announced last night. The proposals will be placed on the ballot for today's voting. Any student who has already voted will be able to change their vote if they return to a polling place and indicate their desire to do so, Gresh said. Gresh said the proposals were turned in late yesterday afternoon to the NEC office in Houston Hall. College junior Charles Ornstein, executive editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian, is the author of one proposal, according to Gresh. University President Judith Rodin wrote the second, and The Red and Blue Editor-in-Chief Christopher Robbins, a College junior, wrote the third. Ornstein's proposal would abolish the Undergraduate Assembly and all other branches of student government. Instead, the DP would be responsible for student advocacy and funding of student groups. "We already speak for the entire University every day with our editorials," he said. "This way, we'll eliminate the confusing pretense that student government actually represents students." He added that the DP's editorial board has much better ideas for procedures to fund student activities, nominations for University committees and general student advocacy than anyone in student government. "What does [College junior, former Student Activities Council Finance Committee member, current Junior Class Board Vice-President for Corporate Sponsorship and DP columnist Mike] Nadel know about the University that anyone on the editorial board doesn't?" Ornstein asked. Rodin's plan would not dissolve the UA, but would remove all power from it. Under the Rodin proposal, the UA would be a "discussion group" responsible only for talking about issues. "Really, there's no need for the UA to be considered a student advocacy group," she said. "No one in my office pays them any attention. Did you read that Project 2000 thing? I didn't. Under my plan, they wouldn't even be able to issue such a waste of paper." The Rodin proposal, if adopted, would completely abolish the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education. Rodin said SCUE, like the UA, was little more than "a nuisance," and that if it was abolished, the administration could be much more productive. "If we didn't have to worry about all these silly student government organizations all the time, we could get a lot more done," she said. "SCUE has gotten better since that [former SCUE chairperson and Engineering and Wharton senior Matt] Kratter kid left, but it's still pretty annoying." Robbins' proposal would leave most of the current system intact, with one major exception. The Student Activities Council would be completely abolished, current members of its Finance and Steering committees would be expelled from school, and Finance Committee Chairperson and College sophomore David Shapiro and Steering Committee Chairperson and Wharton senior Richard Chow would be summarily executed. "SAC sucks," Robbins said. "It can't do anything right. Why bother keeping it around?" But Chow urged students not to vote for the Robbins plan today. "I don't want to die," he said. "Please do not vote for this plan."
Three student leaders wanted to get their message across -- but ended up with a slap on the wrist from irritated University officials for violating e-mail etiquette. In an attempt to rally student support for their constitutional reform proposal, College senior Dan Schorr, College junior and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist Mike Nadel and College junior Lance Rogers sent an electronic mail message to every undergraduate at the University late Saturday night, asking them to vote in elections held today and tomorrow . But the plan backfired. According to mail.sas system administrator Shumon Huque, the mass mailing was a violation of the acceptable use policy for that system. As a result, the students' e-mail accounts were "temporarily disabled," yesterday, Huque said. "Our view is that e-mail is a one-to-one communication medium," Huque said. "Mass mailings can have a significant performance impact on the system and can negatively affect all mail.sas users." Ordinarily, anyone responsible for sending a mass mailing from a mail.sas account would have their account suspended temporarily and would have to meet with the mail.sas postmaster to discuss why such messages are inappropriate, Huque added. But in this case, the three authors of the message told mail.sas administrators that they needed their accounts to remain open in order to continue campaigning for the constitution -- which will appear on the ballot as "Referendum A1." Huque said the accounts were reactivated shortly after they were closed. Nadel, Rogers and Schorr will still meet with the mail.sas postmaster today, he said. The message consisted of two parts -- a call for students to vote today or tomorrow, and a brief description of the details of their proposed constitution. Nadel said the authors of the plan sent the message to raise student awareness of the proposal. The plan is available on the World Wide Web, but not many students know how to find it there, Nadel said. By sending details over e-mail, its authors hoped to reach more people. Schorr said he has gotten a great deal of positive feedback since Saturday night. "A lot of people were appreciative because they couldn't understand the constitution based on the sound bites in the DP," he said. "People didn't have access to the details of our plan. It's very important that people understand what the new proposal will accomplish." But Dan Updegrove, vice-provost for Information Systems and Computing, said that even if the message was well-received by students, it was not an appropriate use of the University's e-mail network. "It's a fairly bad use of the system resources," he said. Huque said the message should probably have been posted to one of the University's newsgroups.
Constitutional reform proposal A1, written by Undergraduate Assembly member and College senior Dan Schorr and College junior Mike Nadel, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, would radically alter the structure of student government at the University. A1's guiding principle, according to Schorr and Nadel, is that no funding of student activities or nominations of students to University committees should be done by unelected representatives of the student body. The plan aims to combine most governmental functions into one elected body, known as the Undergraduate Senate. The Senate would consist of 39 members, divided by school. The body's responsibilities would include all those currently performed by the UA. In addition, the Senate would fund student activity groups and handle nominations. Currently, activity groups are funded by the Student Activities Council. SAC is allocated a block sum by the UA, and then can divide this money as it sees fit. Under A1, the Senate would do the actual budgeting for each activity. SAC would still exist, largely as a check on the Senate's funding decisions -- it could overturn a Senate budget with a two-thirds vote. The Senate's Finance Committee would make recommendations to the body for funding decisions, similar to the way the SAC Finance Committee currently works within SAC. Nominations to University-wide committees, currently done by the Nominations and Elections Committee, would also be run by the Senate. The Nominations Committee would recommend applicants for appointments, and then the full Senate would decide on their confirmation by majority vote. The NEC's other function, running elections, would be taken over by a new Constitutional Administration Council. The Council would be appointed by the Senate, and would oversee all Senatorial actions to ensure their constitutionality. At any time, the Council could pass a resolution that the Senate has acted unconstitutionally -- at which point the Senate must either comply with the Council's wishes or overturn their resolution by a two-thirds majority vote.
The next few days may be historic ones for the University's student government. Voters tomorrow and Wednesday will have the chance to vote on two full constitutional proposals, as well as two amendments to the current constitution -- and the usual slate of candidates for office. In order for any of the referenda to be binding, 20 percent of undergraduates must vote in the elections. Students who do not like either of the constitutional proposals will have the option of voting for neither, while still voting on the amendments.
Rather than just complaining, students who have a problem with the way the University's student government works will have a chance to vote on at least one proposal for a new constitution on March 28 and 29. A plan to change the way members of the Undergraduate Assembly are elected will also be on the ballot, according to UA Chairperson Dan Debicella, a Wharton junior. The constitutional reform proposal currently on the ballot is the result of a collaboration between UA member and College senior Dan Schorr and former Student Activities Council Finance Committee member Mike Nadel, a College junior and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist. Debicella said that in addition to the Nadel-Schorr plan, he has heard that College senior Seth Hamalian and Wharton senior Eric Leathers have each drafted new constitutions and are currently circulating petitions to put them on the ballot. Leathers could not be reached for comment last night, but Hamalian denied authoring a constitution. He said he only offered advice to others, whom he refused to name, and that they incorporated his ideas into a reform proposal for which he is currently circulating petitions. In addition, College senior Sharon Jindal confirmed that she was circulating a petition to put a constitutional reform proposal on the ballot for an unnamed friend. No details of the new constitutional drafts were available last night and it was not clear exactly how many proposals have been developed. Hamalian said he has not talked to Leathers and that it is possible the two are petitioning for the same plan. The one known reform plan, the Nadel-Schorr proposal, would entirely replace the UA and Nominations and Elections Committee with a new body called the Undergraduate Senate. The Senate would perform all functions currently under the UA's and the NEC's jurisdictions, and would also be responsible for allocating funds to SAC groups. SAC would continue to exist as a forum for recognizing new groups and communicating information among them, according to the proposal. It would have the ability to overturn Senate funding decisions through a two-thirds vote. A "Constitutional Administration Council" would also be created to oversee the operations of the Senate and to administer elections. In order for the proposal to be adopted, it must be approved by a majority of at least 20 percent of undergraduates. Debicella's proposal for electoral reform will also be put to a vote on the election day. It would create 33 geographically-based electoral districts for UA representatives and would move elections to the fall. Under the current system, UA members are elected by school, and eight members are elected in the fall from the freshman class. It is unclear whether the amendment would affect the new Senate, if the Nadel-Schorr plan is adopted. Nadel would not comment on Debicella's proposed amendment.
University officials continue to probe into the Student Activity Council's decision to permanently deny funding to The Red and Blue. But members of the magazine's editorial board said they are not satisfied with the administration's response to the controversy so far. SAC Steering Committee Chairperson Richard Chow, a Wharton senior, has been working to clarify the guidelines used to decide whether an organization may be funded by SAC, Acting Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum said. She added that Chow's goal is to have the revised guidelines ready for presentation at the next SAC meeting on March 28. Chow was unavailable for comment last night. The Red and Blue Editor-in-Chief Christopher Robbins, a College junior, said the University has not dealt well with the SAC decision or the destruction of The Red and Blue's archives last month. "I don't think they've handled it so far," he said. "I'm glad President Rodin has come out the way she has. [But] the University has yet to even apologize for the destruction of The Red and Blue's archives." Robbins added that the magazine has not decided whether it will reapply for funding under the revised guidelines when they are released by SAC. Currently, SAC bylaws prohibit funding any organization that has an overtly political agenda. When SAC permanently denied funding to The Red and Blue last month, many SAC representatives said the conservative slant of recent articles in the magazine made the publication political. But debate during and immediately following the vote demonstrated the ambiguity of the current guidelines and the definition of "political," with supporters of The Red and Blue arguing that the magazine should not be denied funding on political grounds. As a result, University President Judith Rodin asked McCoullum to work with student government leaders to clarify and revise the funding guidelines and procedures. But Robbins said he doubted that any revisions would lead to an unbiased judgement of the magazine's political nature. "Unless SAC's officers and [the] administration from the VPUL's office are overhauled, we have little confidence there can be an honest re-evaluation of the body," he said. He said The Red and Blue is now seeking "plain old-fashioned even-handedness" from SAC. The magazine has retained a public interest law firm, the Individual Rights Foundation, to represent it in dealings with the University, according to a press release from the IRF. The Los Angeles-based firm will represent The Red and Blue free of charge. The controversy has received attention from national media, including radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, according to Robbins. Robbins also said he has received almost 100 letters of support and checks from people around the country. Daily Pennsylvanian Staff Writer Jorie Green contributed to this article.
A complete overhaul of the Student Activities Council's bylaws may be underway in the wake of the group's decision to deny funding to The Red and Blue Monday night. Several members of SAC and the Undergraduate Assembly -- as well as students interested in reforming student government at the University -- met last night to discuss the ongoing controversy, according to UA representative and SAC Steering Committee member Eric Tienou, a College junior. Tienou, who called the meeting, brought together leaders of the Performing Arts Council and the United Minorities Council -- two umbrella organizations that are extremely influential voting blocs in SAC -- and other SAC groups for what started out as "damage control," he said. But the group quickly realized that the damage was beyond control, and began to formulate a new means for SAC to fund and recognize its member organizations. Former SAC Finance Committee member and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist Mike Nadel, a College junior, said the group came very close to "radically changing the way SAC functions" in a proposed constitution for student government at the University that he and UA member Dan Schorr, a College senior, have been working on for months. "We decided not to [do so] because it would be impossible to change if there were holes," he said. Instead, PAC Chairperson Pat Ede, an Engineering and Wharton senior, and PennWatch President Jonathan Brightbill, a Wharton sophomore, will write a new set of bylaws governing the funding process for SAC groups, Brightbill said. But he added that the group doubts the bylaws will be adopted by SAC once they are written. "I think everyone on campus is recognizing the need for reform," he said. "But I doubt SAC recognizes the need for itself to be reformed." Brightbill joined the growing chorus of student leaders on campus calling for a total overhaul of the structure of the University's student government. "It needs to be done," he said. "SAC doesn't function because its members don't want to be there. The UA has no purpose -- it's like a line item on people's rZsumZs. We need checks and balances just like in the [U.S.] Constitution." Tienou said he called The Red and Blue Editor-in-Chief Christopher Robbins, a College junior, to invite him to the meeting, but Robbins declined to attend. Daily Pennsylvanian Staff Writer Jeremy Kahn contributed to this article.
U. to examine SAC conduct Both University officials and student leaders responded to the Student Activities Council's controversial vote Monday night to permanently revoke The Red and Blue's full membership status yesterday. University President Judith Rodin issued a statement on the debate, calling for a review of the guidelines and the methods by which SAC funds student groups. And several student leaders also said the denial of funds for The Red and Blue made them wonder whether SAC is competent. In her statement, Rodin said the University's position on the current controversy is that "funding decisions cannot be based purely upon the content of a student group's speech." At the request of Rodin and Provost Stanley Chodorow, Vice Provost for University Life Valerie Swain-Cade McCoullum has begun reviewing the procedures used for funding campus organizations, the statement continues. The review focuses on the exact criteria SAC uses to decide a group's eligibility for funds. Rodin said she has asked McCoullum to work with SAC to re-interpret and illuminate the section of the SAC bylaws that prohibits the funding of groups whose program is "designed to support or oppose a particular political ideology." This section has been used to justify the rescinding of The Red and Blue's full membership status on the grounds that the magazine has a conservative agenda, and therefore ought not to be funded. The Red and Blue Editor-in-Chief Christopher Robbins, a College junior, said the publication's staff was heartened by Rodin's statement. "We are very glad President Rodin has begun to see the injustice that has been done to The Red and Blue and to free speech on campus," he said. "We are confident that she will move for an equitable solution which will guarantee free speech for everyone and will also address the damage that has been done to our publication." McCoullum, SAC Steering Committee Chairperson Richard Chow, a Wharton senior and UA Chairperson Dan Debicella, a Wharton junior, will meet this afternoon to discuss the funding process and the SAC bylaws, Associate Vice Provost for University Life Larry Moneta said. Debicella, whose role as UA chairperson makes him an ex officio member of SAC Steering, said the UA would most likely wait for SAC to act before the body stepped into the situation. "Hopefully, SAC can deal with this in and of themselves, without UA intervention," he said. Debicella discounted rumors that the UA might refuse to fund SAC at the UA budget meeting, to be held on March 19, until SAC clarifies its funding criteria. "The UA cannot not fund SAC," he said. "We could temporarily withhold funding, and the money would be put in escrow. But it's not going to come to that." Chow, speaking on behalf of SAC Steering, said the definition of "political" is vague, but that an overly strict interpretation would lead to a further breakdown of the process. "We need a certain flexibility," he said. "In making decisions, we go through our own gut-checks to see whether this group ought to be recognized or receiving funding." SAC Finance Committee Chairperson David Shapiro, a College and Wharton sophomore, said on behalf of SAC Finance that the committee would resist any attempt by the administration to alter the current funding process or The Red and Blue's recognition status. "It's the student activity fee," he said. "The ultimate funding decision should rest with students." Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Jorie Green contributed to this article.
It was business as usual at last night's UA meeting. Most of the meeting was spent discussing issues pertaining to elections for next year's UA and the dates and procedures for any votes on student referenda. But at the end of the meeting, little had been resolved concretely. Also, quorum broke down late in the meeting, and two issues that had been postponed until its end -- emergency funding for the Freshman Class Board, and an amendment to a motion about elections -- were not dealt with at all. In response to allegations made last week by UA representative and College senior Dan Schorr that the Nominations and Elections Committee had purposely delayed a decision on a date for student voting on constitutional reform, the NEC brought a series of dates to the body for approval. Elections for next year's UA have been slated to be held on March 28 and 29, NEC Chairperson and College senior Rick Gresh said. Petitions to run for the UA will be due to the NEC by March 14. Gresh and NEC Elections Chairperson Roy Fu, a College senior, also brought a revised copy of the NEC's Fair Practices Code for Referenda for UA approval. The revised FPCR would replace the "skeletal" document that currently governs elections on referenda, Gresh said. But when the UA began to discuss the proposed FPCR, the body ran into problems. Schorr, acting on what he said was a verbal agreement from Gresh, prepared an amendment to the FPCR that would guarantee that any referenda submitted to the NEC "at least ten academic days prior to the spring UA elections" would be administered on the same day as the UA elections. Last week, Schorr had voiced concern that if his referendum on constitutional reform was not given to the NEC prior to spring break, it would not be voted upon on the same day as UA elections. But before the amendment could be made, a lengthy debate began over the UA's role in approving the FPCR. The debate started when UA representative and College sophomore Adam Strunk proposed an amendment to remove a section of the FPCR that would make signers of a petition on a referendum financially responsible for any penalties levied by Residential Living for posters about the referendum. Currently, the NEC and the UA are liable for these fines. But Gresh said the UA had to approve the document in its entirety, or the NEC would have to run referenda elections according to the existing FPCR. He added that deleting any sections of the document would mean rejecting the entire FPCR. Schorr then moved to approve the FPCR, with his amendment attached, sending it back to the NEC for a final decision on whether or not the referendum election will be on the same day as UA elections. The motion passed. But Gresh said that Schorr's amendment would have to be approved by the NEC -- and if it is not, the UA will have rejected the FPCR. Because UA Secretary and College sophomore Mosi Bennett left the meeting immediately after the vote on Schorr's motion, quorum broke down, and Strunk's amendment was not fully discussed. After the meeting, Schorr said he had spoken to Gresh and resolved his concerns. "After talking to Rick, I am very confident that he and the NEC will do what is in the best interests of the referendum," Schorr said.
For the first time this decade, the Undergraduate Assembly failed to achieve a quorum at its meeting last night and was forced to hold an unofficial session. More than half of the UA must be present for quorum. Furious, UA Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella lashed out at his political opponents last night, claiming the lack of quorum was not an issue, and was the result of "an effort to bring down the UA." "A lot of people throughout the year have been opposed to what this UA is doing," he said. "Since they can't pick on us for not doing anything, they're going to pick on us for petty things. It's accomplishments, not attendance." In order for UA meetings to be official, there must be 17 of 33 members in attendance, according to the UA Constitution. Without quorum, no official action can be taken by the body. When the meeting began at 9 p.m. last night, only 13 members were present. Quorum was reached briefly after 30 minutes. But it broke down again when Engineering junior and UA member Sundeep Goel left. Five minutes after Goel left, College junior Mike Nadel, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist and Goel's roommate, brought Goel's jacket to him in the basement of Houston Hall. Goel did not return and there was no quorum for the remainder of the meeting. "Mike Nadel told Sundeep to leave so that we'd break quorum and they could point to this politically and say, 'Oh, look, the UA can't even get quorum,' " Debicella said. "Actually, we had quorum and it broke because Mike told his roommate to leave." Nadel, along with UA member and College senior Dan Schorr, has been active in recent efforts to reform student government at the University. Two weeks ago, he resigned from his position on the Student Activities Council's Finance Committee amidst threats of impeachment. After last night's meeting, Goel said he left because he felt sick. "I think I ate something funny today," he said. "I was planning on coming back, but there was just no way." Nadel denied that Goel's sudden departure was part of a pre-arranged effort to break down quorum. "He was really not feeling well," he said. "If members had wanted to break down quorum, they could have done so just by leaving the meeting themselves." But Debicella said he thought there was a movement among some members of the UA to sabotage his administration by breaking quorum and by drawing attention to attendance problems. "There are people who just don't like me or don't like what we've done, and they've quit," he said. He refused to name the specific UA members who have been trying to break quorum. But he said Nadel was responsible for leading those efforts. "It's obvious that Mike Nadel is trying to reform student government to his own advantage," he said. Schorr denied that there was any conspiracy behind the lack of attendance at recent UA meetings. UA representative and College junior Lance Rogers said he questioned why there was never a roll call or an announcement about the lack of quorum. Debicella said that there was no need for such an announcement, as no formal business was conducted at the meeting. Several UA members who were not present at last night's meeting said they had no knowledge of any plot to sabotage the meeting. "I was sick," College junior Eric Tienou said. "I apologize for not being there. I don't think there's a conspiracy to break down the UA by breaking down quorum. If something's going on, it's going on without me." Wharton freshman Alan Danzig, also a UA representative, said he missed the meeting because he had been studying all weekend for a Finance midterm.
The Undergraduate Assembly will soon begin lobbying the administration to implement two more of the recommendations included in Project 2000. One plan, written by UA representative and College sophomore Adam Strunk, attempts to deal with professors who do not speak English proficiently. The University's policy manual contains a section that requires all teachers to be fully proficient in English. But a survey conducted by the UA as part of Project 2000 revealed that 49.8 percent of University undergraduates polled said they had been taught by a professor that was "difficult to understand because he did not speak English." Strunk said the University needs to begin enforcing the proficiency requirement. "Basically, what you need is professors for whom their ability to communicate in the English language does not in any way, shape or form inhibit their ability to teach," Strunk said. "If you've ever taken a math course at this school, you will notice that [the proficiency requirement] is not a particularly enforced rule." The recommendation proposes that a proficiency test be administered to all professors. If they fail, they would not be able to continue teaching until they could pass the exam. According to Strunk, the proficiency tests should already be in use. But because enforcement of the proficiency rule has been lax, the tests are not administered, Strunk said. The UA also proposed that an asterisk be placed in course guidebooks next to the names of professors who are judged to be only barely proficient by their performance on the tests. Strunk said he had not spoken to anyone responsible for publishing the course guides about this proposal. But he added that "it shouldn't be all that difficult" for the recommendation to be implemented. Another section of Project 2000 calls for the University to re-examine its budgeting procedures. Currently the University is divided into 33 "responsibility centers" that are individually responsible for their own budgets. Each of the 12 schools, The Book Store and Dining Services are examples of responsibility centers. At the end of a year, centers that make profits have their extra funds diverted to cover losses by other centers, UA representative and Wharton junior Vincent Scafaria said. But the UA would have the administration step in and take a more active role in the budgeting process so that centers can eliminate wasteful spending from their budgets. "Involvement from the central administration is needed," Scafaria said. Scafaria, who wrote the section of Project 2000 dealing with responsibility center budgeting, said the UA has proposed that the administration or an outside consultant examine each responsibility center's budget in detail. Once a spending analysis has been conducted for each responsibility center, the administration would impose specific spending limits -- eliminating spending that does not add value to a center, Scafaria said. Scafaria said he has spoken to University President Judith Rodin and Provost Stanley Chodorow about implementing the proposal. He added that "they are heading along this path."
With the approval of all but four proposals of Project 2000 last Sunday night, the Undergraduate Assembly has given to the administration what UA Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella said is the most important accomplishment of the body this decade. The UA spent the entire first semester on the recommendations contained in the project. According to Debicella, the UA will now invest much energy lobbying the administration to adopt the proposals. But much of Project 2000 has yet to be explained to the University community as a whole. The plan is divided into eleven sections. Each section includes several recommendations pertaining to specific areas of the University. There are 25 such recommendations in the document, and on Sunday, the UA approved 21 of these. Project 2000 was written by 18 UA members. Debicella revised and combined all the recommendations into the final form, he said. While many of the proposals in the plan are not ground-breaking, Debicella said they are not meant to be. Instead, Project 2000 is meant to focus University attention on a number of proposals that have been discussed before but never implemented. One of these proposals is a plan to convert the University into a "cashless campus" by turning the PennCard into a debit card, Debicella said. If this proposal becomes reality, students will be able to pay for everything on campus with their PennCards. Debicella said students would benefit from increased convenience and safety if this were implemented. A debit card would allow students to put money on their PennCard at the beginning of the year and make purchases using it -- with the cost of each purchase being removed from the money on the PennCard, according to Debicella. Currently, the new Chats coffee house uses this system. The University Bookstore employs a similar system -- allowing students to charge purchases of $25 or more to their bursar accounts. Debicella said he hopes to see the entire campus and surrounding stores using the debit card system by the fall of 1998. Project 2000 calls for laundry service and vending machines in University buildings to allow students to use their PennCards by the fall of this year. Another part of Project 2000 recommends that Dining Services also move towards a system that more closely resembles a debit card. A debit card has been proposed before, but was determined not to be economically feasible, Debicella said. He added that he has "seen things" that show that such a proposal would now be possible. Another recommendation written by Debicella deals with campus safety and the distribution of University Police officers. Project 2000 suggests that the University Police change their current system of patrolling so that police officers become more familiar with specific areas of the campus. "The idea is to create a neighborhood cop," Debicella said. "We're proposing that a group of policemen be assigned to a specific area for six months to a year." He added that rather than patrolling in cars, police would be on bikes or walking, so their presence will be more known. Debicella said he has discussed the recommendation with University Police Commissioner John Kuprevich, and that it is "along the lines" of what the police administration has planned. Project 2000 also includes a recommended course of action for the administration to follow if a college house system is implemented at the University. UA Secretary and College sophomore Mosi Bennett said the UA was worried that a college house system could be harmful to student life if implemented in the wrong way. "These are things that students don't want, and that the UA feels would destroy certain aspects of social life at this school," he said. But Bennett said a college house proposal would not necessarily be damaging. "There are many benefits to the college house system," he said. "The ability to have access to services through dorms, more contact with professors, an identity with a house? [These are] something that is lacking under the system we have now."
The Freshman Class Board received significantly less money than the other Class Boards this year, according to College freshman Melissa Fien, the class treasurer. And now, the class is running out of money. Freshmen Class Board members said the freshmen got less money than other Class Boards because of mistakes and poor financing by last year's freshman class. The current freshman class received only $701.60 from the Undergraduate Assembly for this year, Fien said. UA Treasurer Sabrina Gottlieb, a College sophomore, confirmed that the other classes got significantly more money than the freshmen. The sophomores received $7,358, the juniors were allocated a total of $5,356.90 and the senior class was budgeted $7,476.23, in addition to a loan of $44,512, according to Gottlieb. Freshman class officers said they resented that this year's class was punished financially because of last year's mistakes -- especially because the current sophomores were budgeted ten times as much as this year's freshmen. "Instead of punishing the sophomore class, [the UA] punished the freshmen this year and gave us less money," Fien said. Freshman Class Vice-President for Corporate Sponsorship Ryan Anderson, a Wharton freshman, said the UA gave the freshmen less money than the other classes because last year's Freshman Class Board spent much more than their budgeted amount. Due to the lack of money, the freshmen are very close to running out of funds for the activities they have planned for the rest of the year, Lasher said. UA Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella said the UA did cut funding to this year's freshmen because of last year's deficit spending. "The freshmen last year, in the budget they presented, didn't have anything they wanted to do," Debicella said. "They couldn't justify any of [their funding requests]. So the UA cut it down to what they needed to do the program they wanted to do, which was $700." Debicella admitted that this year's Freshman Class Board had nothing to do with last year's mistakes, but he added that the budgetary process requires the UA to fund Class Boards based on past accomplishments. "The only thing the UA can go on is the past results of how the Class Boards have performed in the past," he said. "We're still trying to find our stride as far as funding." This funding disparity is the third revelation to rock the freshman Class Board in the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, then-President Dave Forlander, a College freshman, resigned, according to the new Freshman Class President, Engineering and Wharton freshman Brett Lasher. Lasher had been the freshman class vice-president. Lasher announced on Monday night that he would be taking over the presidency of the freshman class. Then, at a Class Board meeting yesterday afternoon, College freshman Josh Rockoff, the public relations officer, resigned from his post. At that meeting, several members of the Freshman Class Board commented on the relative lack of funding the class received from the UA.
The Undergraduate Assembly approved 21 of the 25 proposals in Project 2000 at its meeting last night. Three recommendations in the five-year plan for improving the University were referred back to their authors, and one of the proposals was voted down. Throughout the meeting, there was consistent opposition to many of the proposals. Ten of the 25 proposals were voted against by at least one-fifth of the members present. UA Chairperson and Wharton junior Dan Debicella said last night's approval of most of the plan marked a significant success for the UA. "This is the most substantial thing the UA has done this decade," he said. "It is the capstone of our success on this UA." But some members of the UA said the plan was unimportant, and voiced objections to some of the recommendations during debate. Many recommendations passed with little resistance, with most UA representatives saying they agree that the plans will improve University life. But some proposals met stiff opposition. A recommendation that students vote on a tuition increase to pay for a new campus center did not pass. UA members said in debate that they disagreed with the basic principle behind the proposal. "I know my constituents didn't send me here to raise their tuition," College senior Dan Schorr said. Three other proposals were sent back to their authors for clarification or reworking. These included a plan to reform academic advising in the College and Wharton, a recommendation to convince University faculty to live in West Philadelphia, and a proposal on building the new campus center. Debicella said he thought a vote on the campus center proposal was postponed because of the administration's recent decision to build the Perelman Quadrangle instead of the Revlon Center, and not because of UA opposition to the recommendation. After the meeting, some UA members said they were not as pleased by the project's approval as Debicella. "Some of the proposals gave new meaning to the words 'mental masturbation'," UA representative and College junior Lance Rogers said. "I think we need to focus more on students' immediate needs and things that will affect their daily lives now." UA Vice Chairperson Tamara Dubowitz, a College junior, said some of the resistance to the plan resulted from an "opposing force" in the body that has consistently caused tension throughout this year. Dubowitz added that although Debicella has received most of the criticism for Project 2000, it is not a reflection on him alone, but rather on the whole body. Debicella said Project 2000 has the potential to greatly improve student life at the University. But he added that the UA must continue to lobby the administration for the plan's passage. "If the UA just forgets about Project 2000 now, then obviously it's going to be meaningless," he said. "We have to push for the ideas in Project 2000." But some UA members said they doubt that Project 2000 will have any importance no matter what the administration decides to do with the recommendations. "I think it's mostly irrelevant," Schorr said. "But I hope it succeeds and improves the University."
After a semester of working on Project 2000 -- a long-term plan for the University's future -- the Undergraduate Assembly decided on a number of more immediate projects at its meeting Monday night. The UA approved a letter written by several student leaders calling for Provost Stanley Chodorow to involve as much student input as possible in the recently proposed Perelman Quadrangle plan. The body also passed a resolution suggesting a re-examination of the smoking policy in University dining halls, and endorsed a plan to lobby the administration to allow alcohol on Locust Walk. The United Minorities Council also made a presentation to the UA at the meeting. Part of the presentation addressed the UMC's concerns about the Perelman Quad. According to Wharton and Engineering senior Patrick Ede, the chairperson of Penn Players, several members of the Performing Arts Council wrote a letter to the provost stating that while the UA and PAC were "excited" about the Perelman Quad plan, the groups felt that student input was essential. The letter also suggested a framework for Chodorow to follow that would ensure maximum student participation in every stage of building the new student center. In addition to student members on a University committee to oversee the Perelman Quad, the letter calls for a second advisory committee, composed entirely of students. This committee would inform the University's undergraduate population of progress in planning and construction of the new campus center. The letter also requested that open forums be held regularly to allow for an exchange of ideas between planners and students. Ede said PAC would respond very unfavorably to any plan that denies students a say in decisions on the Perelman Quad. "We think the Perelman Quad is a good idea, but it's not good as is," he said. "Some of the changes that we are going to suggest need to be taken seriously." The UA also passed a resolution calling for a ban on smoking in University dining halls. UA representative and College junior Lance Rogers said the ban would improve student health, citing asthma, bronchitis, and heart disease as health problems resulting from smoking. "Basically, I don't understand why people need to smoke during a meal," he said. But UA Vice-Chairperson and College junior Tamara Dubowitz said the resolution did not truly represent student opinion on campus. "Just because smoking might be a minority on this campus doesn't mean that it's not a right," she said.