Correction appended: March 22, 2013.
Members of the University Park Undergraduate Association turned their weekly assembly meeting into a Blue-Out last night to raise awareness for sexual violence, and passed legislation to support and co-sponsor this year’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week.
Bill #05-07: Sexual Violence Awareness Week Co-Hosted and Sponsored by UPUA was passed 35-1-0, after the bill was first met with opposition by some assembly members because the purchase of T-shirts for the event was a large expense. The week, scheduled for April 6-12, will consist of events each day to bring the issue of sexual violence into the forefront of students’ minds, according to the bill. The events will also serve to support victims of sexual abuse and break the silence surrounding the issue.
Along with events, UPUA allocated $26,000 to come from the discretionary fund to pay for informational brochures, balloons and neon t-shirts that read, “Only Do It With Consent”, according to the bill. The bill was amended to redistribute funding originally directed toward buying condoms to instead help fund Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
Several assembly members said the purchase of 6,000 t-shirts at $23,100 was too expensive of a purchase. Dan Tauriello , earth and mineral sciences representative, said he was personally in support of spending that much money on T-shirts, but his council in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences did not support it.
“[The council] looked at the breakdown of the spending, and it was simply disproportionate funding to t-shirts and not on the rest of the event,” Tauriello (senior-geography) said.
At the start of the meeting, several students wearing “Only Do It With Consent” T-shirts encouraged the assembly during open forum to support the bill because the entire Sexual Violence Awareness Week, including the T-shirts, can help to bring about social change and teach students what consent really means.
Sexual Violence Awareness Week will be co-sponsored by UPUA and several other organizations, according to the bill. These organizations include Only With Consent, Men Against Violence, PHREE, the One Heart Campaign, LGBT Coalition and the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Council.
Bill #06-07: Don’t Be That Guy Campaign was also passed 35-0-2 last night. The bill will allow UPUA to purchase 4,000 full-color posters from the group, Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton, and place the posters across campus and the Borough. Funds for the posters will also come from the discretionary fund.
Chair of the Assembly Spencer Malloy said he was glad to see this idea come forward in the assembly, because posters can be continually deployed throughout the year, while the awareness week will only last a few days.
But, the name of the campaign was questioned by off-campus representative Ryan Stephens , who was concerned that the campaign name assumes men are always the perpetrator.
Laurel Petrulionis , on-campus representative still supported the Don’t Be That Guy bill.
“I think this is one of the best sexual assault awareness campaigns I’ve ever seen because it doesn’t involve victim blaming, but puts the blame where it needs to be which is the perpetrator,” Petrulionis said during discussion of the bill.
Another bill that faced some opposition was Bill #04-07: Political Debate Co-Sponsorship to help pay for Republican Newt Gingrich and Democrat Robert Gibbs to speak in a political debate at Penn State this April.
While the original bill proposed $17,000 to come from the discretionary fund to help secure contracts to bring Gingrich and Gibbs to Penn State, a motion was made to liquidate funds from the election commissioners budget to bring the total funding for the political debate to $20,000. There was some concern that there would not be enough money in the discretionary fund to completely sponsor the debate, and members of the assembly wanted to increase the sponsorship amount.
In order for some of the election commissioner’s budget to be allocated for the debate, the transition dinner held for the new assembly would have to be cancelled. Justin Laskowski , deputy commissioner of events, said reservations had already been made and a cancellation fee would apply if they did not go through with the dinner.
After further discussion, a motion was made to request for a unanimous vote to pass the bill with the original $17,000 of funding from UPUA.
But the bill was revisited later in the meeting when it was discovered that there was enough discretionary funding to pay $20,000 to secure speakers for the political debate, and the bill was passed to reflect those changes.