Five members of the Penn State UPUA recently traveled to Indiana University to attend the Association of Big Ten Schools conference in Bloomington, Ind. The conference is a gathering of delegates from the student governments from the universities in the Big Ten.
The cost of the trip is built into the University Park Undergraduate Association budget. According to the budget breakdown found on UPUA’s website, $5,000 was allocated in order to send the five student leaders to ABTS for the 2012-13 school year. The issue of financing conferences is in the operation fixture, meaning the money can be allocated without the need to pass legislation, said Dray Krishnan, chair of the Internal Development Committee.
The allocation of money for conferences is a standard line item in the budget, Chair of the Assembly Spencer Malloy (senior-agroecology and philosophy) said.
The exact costs of this year’s trip have not yet been reported and calculated, as Malloy said their flight from Washington, D.C., to State College was canceled and a rental car was needed to get back to the university. Malloy said due to the circumstances, refunding of tickets and reimbursement reports will affect the overall cost.
Questions were raised in January 2012 about the funds allocated to pay for last year’s conference after tickets were purchased late in the game and projected to cost UPUA $3,600 to send three representatives to the conference.
University Park Undergraduate Association President Courtney Lennartz, Vice President Katelyn Mullen, Chair of Governmental Affairs and Panhellenic Representative Rachel Franceschino, College of Liberal Arts Representative Melissa McCleery and Malloyattended this year’s conference.
The 12 current members of the Big Ten, as well as new Big Ten member University of Maryland, were in attendance, Mullen (junior-supply chain and information systems) said.
This was the first year several of the delegates attended the ABTS Conference, as UPUA was not able to attend last fall because of a flight cancellation, Malloy said.
This year, delegates had the opportunity to work with other student leaders from the Big Ten and bring back new ideas to Penn State.
“It’s great to meet people who are involved in similar work in similar institutions,” McCleery (sophomore-political science and women’s studies) said.
Much of the time at the conference was spent in breakout sessions where student leaders were given the opportunity to offer and gain feedback on their respective initiatives, Mullen said.
Franceschino (junior-political science and labor studies and employment relations) said she attended breakout sessions on governmental affairs and sustainability.
She said she found several ideas that would be “easily transferable” to Penn State, including an essay contest where students can submit essays regarding tuition costs and related topics. Franceschino hopes to present the essays to legislators at the annual Capital Day event in Harrisburg.
Malloy said the conference is an important event for UPUA.
“It’s an essential tool to developing our relationships and refining the organization,” he said.