The Penn State student body, with all of its spirit and community, needs leaders who advocate on behalf of students. We firmly believe that the Penn State student government can better serve students; with an emphasis on communication and engagement—and through simply showing up to listen to those we hope to represent—we aim to be the champions of this change. We intend to work with students to ensure their concerns are addressed through long-term solutions that create a better atmosphere and community for all.
My name is Zachary McKay, and I’m running for President of the UPUA because, along with Lexy, I believe that student government can better represent the Penn State community and all it aspires to be.
My outlook has been shaped by what I’ve witnessed my hometown, Pittsburgh, achieve. Pittsburgh’s post-industrial era is shaped by the city’s efforts to ‘clean up its act,’ utilizing the bonds which anchor people together to create a renewed entrepreneurial spirit and fostered a better relationship between government institutions and the people.
Penn State’s community has the opportunity to undergo similar change. Through increasing transparency and utilizing the already existing bonds at Penn State, Lexy and I firmly believe the Penn State community can work towards a better future; one in which students feel respected by administration and faculty and students are given the agency and avenues to make their creative, outstanding ideas heard.
As the College of Arts and Architecture Representative and as an At-Large Representative, I’ve strived for this better future. This past year alone, I’ve listened to students’ concerns and helped bring about free STI Testing. I’ve also recognized the importance of building community and making sure all students feel like they have the capacity to participate through working with Lexy and several student organizations to create a mentorship program called “Penn State Pals” for incoming international students.
I know students' opinions are valuable and students’ ideas are phenomenal; in the past, I’ve worked to make sure these opinions and ideas are heard not only by me but by local, state, and national government officials, too. As Chair of the UPUA’s Governmental Affairs Committee, I’ve collaborated with a multitude of student organizations to plan and execute one of University Park’s largest “PSU Votes” student voter registration drives, helping achieve an increase of nearly 400% voter turnout at the HUB-Robeson Center (where most students vote) relative to our last municipal election in 2017. Students' opinions and concerns are valid, and I’ve always done my best to have them heard at every level of government—especially through the ballot.
We’re here to make student government an effective avenue for change—for us all. It’s only with the unique experiences that all Penn Staters have that we can create new ideas and accomplish all that we ought to; it’s only with your support that Lexy and I can make a better Penn State a reality. Your student government can and should be more transparent and inclusive; and I invite you to share your own hopes and ideas, too.
I look forward to working with you to bring them about as your next President of the Undergraduate Student Body.
Hey everyone, I'm Lexy! My undying love for this University and my experiences as a first-generation student of color have enabled me to become intimately familiar with many of Penn State’s opportunities for growth. Fortunately, I’ve been able to, through my position within the UPUA, voice many of these concerns to student leaders and members of the administration. Yet, I’ve realized that my ability to do so comes from a place of privilege.
I’m running for Vice President of the UPUA because I believe that you deserve a student government that welcomes your ideas and listens to diverse voices; you deserve a student government that works with you, to convey your concerns and advocate for your future.
Penn State’s core values have always resonated with me, especially Community, Integrity, and Discovery. In many ways, my hometown represents these values through its history and cultural contributions to the country as a whole. Much like Philly serves as a place of cultural intersectionality, I’ve found that Penn State can be a place which welcomes and accepts all students, regardless of culture, country of origin, political belief, or pie-in-the-sky dreams. Yet, it’s not always that way for many students; I know my own experiences have allowed me to see the ways that students’ voices have been silenced in the past. Through listening and working with others, too, I’ve realized these sentiments are pervasive. I want to work, along with Zach, to ensure these values are not just buzzwords, but apparent throughout the Penn State community.
I entered the UPUA in the 13th Assembly (nearly 2 years ago) as the ‘Director of Outreach.’ Previous to the 12th Assembly, your student government had four committees: Facilities, Academic Affairs, Governmental Affairs, and Student Life. In the 12th Assembly, a sub-committee, ‘Outreach,’ was created. This committee was specifically created to enable communities that aren’t typically represented and people who aren’t involved in the UPUA to participate and collaborate with their student government.
Yet, I quickly realized that while Outreach itself was welcoming, the UPUA was not welcoming to the committee. Those in the assembly who were tasked with ‘reaching out’ to their student body—their constituents—were themselves treated unfairly, leading to a pervasive sense that Outreach was inferior to the other committees.
During the 14th Assembly (the 2019-2020 academic year), I became the ‘Chair of Outreach.’ I spent my time standing up for the student leaders who were part of my committee so they could stand up for others through welcoming an increasing number of students to participate in student government. Yet, even as ‘Chair of Outreach,’ a member of the Steering Committee (ie. the Executive Board), I felt like my concerns were not given weight.
I have realized: If I, as a member of the Executive Board have felt silenced, the atmosphere of UPUA is not conducive to student innovation, diversity, equity, or justice. I want students to come to their student government with their legitimate concerns; students face real issues—academic failures, sexual violence, financial insecurity—and they should feel comfortable talking to those who represent them and confident that their concerns are both treated as valid and are met with action.
I want to reach out to and show up for the communities and individuals represented by the UPUA and give them the agency to speak for themselves. I’m running because your story and your struggles should be communicated by you; I’m running because you should be treated in a just and fair way. And, I’m so excited to work with you to make this a reality.