In the DP: "Asian Pacific Student Coalition denied seat on University Council

By Julie Xie | Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 1:05 am | via the Daily Pennsylvanian Some minority groups may be left behind when the University Council — Penn’s highest governing body — begins its new term next semester.

The Nominations and Elections Committee announced its seat appointments for the University Council on Sunday.

The Asian Pacific Student Coalition, which has held a seat since 2006, was denied one for next year.

While the NEC declined to disclose the rationale behind why APSC was not selected, Wharton senior and NEC Chairman Nick Greif said the selection process this year was unique in that “competition was particularly high.”

Fifteen student groups — up from eight last year — competed for seven seats.

The UC serves as an open forum between faculty, administrators, staff and student leaders to discuss the University’s policies.

Through monthly meetings, it recommends policies in the interest of the Penn community and advises the Penn President, Provost , faculty and administrators.

Fifteen UC seats are allocated to the Undergraduate Assembly. UA members occupy eight seats and seven are allocated to student groups that the NEC deems to be misrepresented or underrepresented.

The United Minorities Council holds a permanent seat on the UC. Other minority coalitions have traditionally held seats to voice their interests.

The last time APSC was not granted a seat was in 2005, along with UMOJA. Minority groups boycotted an UA Steering Committee meeting and criticized the NEC for denying minority representations in the UC.

APSC plans to work with current seatholders and the UA to advocate for their initiatives. They also plan on bringing it up at the next UA steering meeting.

“Regardless of what happened, we are going to move forward,” College junior and APSC chairman Nicky Singh said.

Groups that do not hold official seats on the UC are still able to participate through Open Forums in each meeting, where any University member may direct questions to the administration.

APSC has utilized its seat by proposing to expand the South Asian Studies department in 2009 and pursuing efforts to instate a survey on undergraduate life last year.

Eleven years ago, the Pan Asian American Community House was founded in part due to APSC’s campaign for a cultural resource center through the UC.

“Though the UC hasn’t passed a bill in a while, it facilitates communication with administrators,” College and Engineering junior and APSC vice chairman Andrew Lum said.

Singh added that the UC gives groups opportunities to approach important administrators before and after the meeting.

Singh and Lum are displeased with NEC’s new marketing strategy for this year’s application process.

The opportunity to apply for a UC seat was not advertised through school-wide listervs, Lum said. Instead, the NEC reached out to specific groups to invite them to apply.

“[NEC] is supposed to be a neutral body. But when they reach out to these groups, they create partisanship,” Lum said.

“There are many groups that we believe would provide great voices to the UC that we just don’t have enough seats to cover,” Grief said.

The NEC hopes to discuss gaining additional seats from the UA to give to student groups, he added.

This year, the NEC recommended Civic House Associates Coalition, Lambda Alliance, Latino Coalition, Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women, Penn Vegetarian Society, Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters and UMOJA.

It is the first time PVS has earned a seat since it was founded in 2009. The NEC believes that PVS will be able to advocate for environmental, human rights and health issues through the UC.

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