Student Activities Council
The Student Activities Council (SAC) exists to recognize, supervise, and fund undergraduate activities, to provide for greater communication and cooperation among activities and between the activities and the University administration, and to work for improvements in the quality of student life at the University of Pennsylvania.
SAC is composed of representatives from approximately 150 “non-governance organizations and clubs.” Each recognized organization sends one representative to SAC to request funds for their respective clubs. The SAC general body meets approximately once every month. At these meetings, the organization decides which groups receive money or loans, and decides whether to recognize new groups. A nine member executive board guides SAC. The executive board meets weekly to set the agenda for Council meetings, review its budget, recognize requests, grant emergency allocations, and moderate disputes between groups.
Nominations & Elections Committee
The Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) consists of approximately 40 members selected through an application process by the NEC executive board to serve for the remainder of their undergraduate careers. The NEC is responsible for running the UA and Class Board elections, appointing all undergraduate representatives to committees on which undergraduates sit, administering referenda (the highest decision making instrument of student government), selecting the groups to fill the UA’s seats on the University Council, and overseeing a feedback system for the various committees to which it appoints students. The NEC is also responsible for educating the student body on the activities of all six branches of student government and for maintaining effective communication amongst the six branches, themselves.
Student Committee on Undergraduate Education
The oldest existing branch of student government at the University of Pennsylvania, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE) was founded in 1965, a time when Penn undergraduates had little control over their own education. Since its inception, SCUE has remained an autonomous and apolitical organization whose suggestions and proposals have initiated and shaped some of the most significant projects in Penn’s history. SCUE regards as its purview any issue which affects undergraduate education or the intellectual atmosphere at Penn. They work to enhance and expand curricular opportunities, advising, and the overall quality of the undergraduate academic experience. SCUE serves both as advocates for the student voice and as advisors to the faculty and administration. Their efforts are predicated on the tenet that undergraduates must have a say in the academic programs of which they are most integrally a part.
SCUE’s membership consists of approximately 35 to 40 undergraduates from all four schools who are selected by a six-member Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is elected by a full Committee vote each January. They accept applications for membership from freshmen and sophomores both in the fall and in the spring semesters. The Committee always seeks bright, articulate, motivated undergraduates who wish to have a greater say in the educational decisions which define their experiences at Penn.
Social Planning and Events Committee
The Social Planning and Events Committee (SPEC) was founded in 1990 to develop, organize, and plan campus wide social and cultural activities for the university community. SPEC is comprised of 9 subcommittees that include Film, Concerts, SPEC-TRUM (to represent undergraduate minorities), Connaissance (to organize lectures and speakers), Special Events, Jazz, Sound (for tech and productions), Art Gallery, and Spring Fling.
The purpose of the four Class Boards is to provide social programming that instills a sense of class and school spirit, unity and pride, and breaks through social barriers. Each class popularly elects a president, executive vice president, vice president for internal affairs, vice president for external affairs, vice president for finance, and class chairs.
In the past, the boards have successfully planned a 5000-person waterfront jazz and reggae concert, parties at Philly clubs, ski trips, formal dances, study breaks, and community service events. The President and Executive Board are called upon to speak at ceremonies and alumni functions, participate in convocation, and attend university events.
The Undergraduate Assembly is the elected, representative branch of student government at Penn, charged with improving life for all students through funding, services, and advocacy.
The UA’s mission statement comes from the Statues of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, by which they are constituted:
(Article 9, Section 5) There shall be an Undergraduate Assembly… [which] shall provide the opportunity for [its] members to discuss and express their views upon any matter they deem to be of general University interest, and to make recommendations and pass resolutions with respect thereto. In addition, they shall have power to make recommendations directly to the President, the Provost, and the Trustees and request reports from the University administration.
The Trustees also appropriate nearly $2 million for the UA, which they allocate each year to the six branches of Penn Student Government, and by extension every group on campus.
The UA has five roles:
- lobby for tangible change at Penn based on student needs,
- represent students to administrators and outsiders,
- bring students from different groups and identities together,
- provide services to improve student’s quality of life,
- fund the other branches of student government and by extension all student groups on campus.
The highest authority is the President of the student body, followed by the Vice President. These positions are elected directly by the undergraduate body in the spring of each year. The UA Vice President oversees UA Steering, a group of influential student groups on campus that meet to discuss issues pertaining to student life.
UA meetings and internal affairs are run by the UA Speaker, elected internally following the election of the President and Vice President.