Correction appended: March 22, 2013.
Katelyn Mullen and Brenden Dooley — running uncontested in this year’s race for University Park Undergraduate Association president and vice president — know what issues they believe to be most important, but also the most challenging, next year.
One of Mullen and Dooley’s promises to the students, as outlined in their platform posted on their campaign website, is to secure a student-elected voting trustee to the Penn State Board of Trustees, as well as a voting student member on the State College Borough Council.
Mullen (junior-supply chain and information systems), UPUA’s current vice president, said that while there is a student trustee sitting on the board now, it is a gubernatorial position, meaning the next governor could choose to not appoint a student to the board.
“Currently Governor [Tom] Corbett has selected a student trustee member, but it is concerning that the next governor may not select a student to be on the board,” Mullen said. “We want to solidify the student voice as a voting member.”
Dooley, currently an off-campus representative, said that the biggest issue is to get the student voice out there, and while there is a student sitting on the borough council, that person does not get a vote and the council can disregard what is said if it so chooses.
But, Dooley (junior-economics and political science) said that with big initiatives, they are often the hardest to achieve.
“This [initiative] is hard because it is infringing on some of the power the board has and the structure [for a permanent student position] just isn’t there yet,” Dooley said.
Mullen said that since the board doesn’t meet as often as UPUA does or would like them to, it could pose logistical problems when trying to sort out the position. But Mullen said she does see the board being receptive to their request.
Mullen and Dooley’s platform is broken down into four categories, which include academics, governance, housing and food services, and student life.
Under academics, one of the problems Mullen and Dooley hope to address is textbook costs.
“[Textbook costs] are important because we found that the average student spends 700 to 1,100 dollars every year, which is astounding to me because we have so many resources available that could really reduce costs,” Mullen said.
These resources, as outlined in the platform, include finding less expensive editions of books and utilizing online books and books in the Library Course Reserves.
Also under academics, Mullen and Dooley hope to address more graduate school online test preparation, information technology upgrades, peer to peer financial consulting and tuition advocacy.
An issue that Mullen and Dooley will look into for housing and food services is allowing alcohol in residence halls for students over the age of 21. Dooley said that there is a range of alcohol policies across Big Ten schools, and he and Mullen have been looking at those policies to determine how to change Penn State’s.
“We feel that if you are paying to live there, then you have the right to do what the law says you can do,” Dooley said.
To make UPUA more than just about serious subjects like choosing a trustee member, Dooley said an issue added to the platform was to provide buses for students to travel to away football games.
“[UPUA] is there for a whole range of opportunities that we can offer to students,” Dooley said. “We are trying to have some fun and get [students] to the games.”
The bus service is part of the student life category in Mullen and Dooley’s platform, and also in that category is the Diversity Awareness Walk. UPUA created the Diversity Awareness Task Force last fall and Dooley said the walk would foster equality.
Mullen said many of the issues addressed in the platform already have a foundation in UPUA to get her and Dooley started on them next year, which she learned while being UPUA vice president.
“I think a huge internal issue with UPUA is turnover,” Mullen said. “We are only here for four years so it’s important we don’t let initiatives slip through the cracks because it is important they get carried forth the next year.”
UPUA President Courtney Lennartz and Elections Commissioner John Zang could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.
To see the entire platform of Mullen and Dooley, visit votemullendooley.com.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated information regarding Katelyn Mullen and Brenden Dooley’s campaign platform for the University Park Undergraduate Association. The Mullen-Dooley presidential-vice presidential ticket is seeking to establish a voting student position on the State College Borough Council.