BugPAC, a political committee registered in Centre County, held its first press conference on the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center in front of an audience of approximately 50 students to make a special announcement.
The committee formally endorsed Borough Council candidates Evan Myers, Dan Murphy and Marina Coterelo, as well as mayoral candidate Michael Black.
BugPAC has close ties to both the University Park Undergraduate Association and Graduate and Professional Student Association. GPSA President Kevin Horne is the committee’s chairman and UPUA President Terry Ford (senior – accounting) is BugPAC’s co-chairman and treasurer, while former UPUA Director of Communications Logan Echard handles the committee’s media relations.
The press conference kicked off with Horne (graduate - law) explaining how BugPAC got its name. In 2015, students attended a Borough Council meeting and requested additional lighting in heavily traveled downtown alleys. Horne said the request was rejected “out of hand” and cited a comment made at the time by current councilmember Theresa Lafer. Lafer commented if additional lighting was granted, students would gather around the light poles like bugs and disrupt other residents, Horne said.
BugPAC’s goals are twofold: register students and raise money to fund the committee’s advocacy. So far, it has raised more than a thousand dollars and has registered “hundreds” of voters, Horne said.
“We have a solid base of long-term residents – professionals, businesspeople, landowners, etc. – who lived in the borough of State College, support what we’re doing and have expressed willingness to donate to us,” Horne said.
Once Horne concluded his speech, Ford stepped to the mic and stated statistics regarding student voting.
Although 71 percent of State College’s population is between 18-24, “.01 percent of the population is voting,” Ford said. He argued this shows “democracy gone awry.”
Ford mentioned this has significant consequences, particularly regarding zoning, in which students and non-students are segregated.
Black and Myers were also in attendance at the press conference and used the opportunity to lay out their agenda.
Black, a local business owner, reiterated his five core values: inclusiveness, mindfulness, empathy, creativity and vibrancy.
“If we harness that talent that people have, that students have, imagine what we can do,” Black said.
During his speech, Myers criticized President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, saying the council has to defend the programs that are being cut.
Myers also stressed the importance of student engagement.
“I think it’s important that you stay involved and get more involved, because the only way that we can solve these issues is if we all work together,” Myers said.
Ford concluded the press conference by imploring those in attendance to register to vote on May 16, when the primaries are held for local offices.
“Remember everybody, this is an important thing and it’s easy for us to do because so few people are already voting,” Ford said. “This is a very attainable goal and we can do it together.”