Correction appended: Aug. 24, 2012.
Due to a flight cancelation last weekend, UPUA President Courtney Lennartz needed to Skype into a conference held in Iowa for Big 10 student government leaders, where the schools voted against using conference funds to cover travel expenses for those attending the conference.
Because of this, Lennartz (senior-health policy and administration) said the University Park Undergraduate Association will have to continue funding its own way to the twice-yearly conference, leading UPUA to reconsider the way its representatives participate in the Association of Big Ten Students Conference.
“We’re basically one of the only schools that has to fly out. With the way money is distributed, it’d be hard to do it. So in the future, we’re going to try to drive. If it’s too far, we’ll have to Skype in,” Lennartz said.
While Skyping in was a different approach to attending the ABTS conference, it helped save the organization money. UPUA was reimbursed for their plane tickets and hotel expenses and are getting their registration fee for the conference back.
Six representatives from UPUA were booked to attend the conference before the cancelation. Overall, Lennartz said video chatting into the meeting instead of physically attending turned out to be an OK alternative.
“[Skyping] was definitely interesting, but it went pretty well,” Lennartz said.
But since UPUA representatives were not actually in Iowa, there was not much discussion about the NCAA sanctions handed down against Penn State, as previously planned.
“They were supposed to be one of the breakout sessions, but it was much more difficult to do over Skype,” Lennartz said.
UPUA was mainly involved in the legislative session that was held on Sunday, which included ABTS officer elections and a question-and-answer segment about the universities in general and academics.
Even though UPUA could not be at the ABTS conference in person, they were still able to accomplish what they intended to, UPUA Press Secretary Kevin Horne said.
“The most important part was for the school to be represented, especially this year with student government. UPUA wasn’t recognized until several years ago. At the beginning, they didn’t get invited [to the conference]. So to be recognized as student government is key as far as having a voice. And really, all eyes are on Penn State,” Horne (junior-print journalism and media studies) said.
Attending ABTS conferences is a great way for UPUA to provide input on big decisions, Chairman of the Assembly Spencer Malloy said.
“Generally speaking, we tend to join up with ABTS in order to promote something across all the universities with a more unified voice,” Malloy (senior-philosophy and agroecology) said. “Most of the time, they tend to be decisions that express an opinion that all the universities hold together.”
Lennartz said she is excited for next year’s Executive Board. It was decided at the conference that the University of Michigan will be funding the ABTS website for the next year.
The next ABTS Conference is scheduled for January 2013 at Indiana University.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of representatives were booked to attend the conference. Six representatives were scheduled to attend. The article above reflects the correct information. The Daily Collegian apologizes for this error.