Student leaders appeal to lawmakers to pass budget

Terry Ford, left, vice president of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), and Emily McDonald, president of the UPUA, were joined by other members of the student government on Feb. 11. The students mailed letters to representatives in Harrisburg urging action on the 2015-16 state appropriations for all state-related institutions of higher education, including Penn State. Credit: Reidar Jensen / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In an effort to urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass a state budget, members of Penn State’s University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) mailed letters to state leaders Feb. 11.

The letters, part of a coordinated campaign dubbed “Call to Action,” were sent to Gov. Tom Wolf; Rep. Mike Turzai, speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; and Rep. Frank Dermody, leader of the House Democrats.

Fellow student governments at Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University also sent out similar letters today to push state lawmakers to pass a budget. The four student governments have formed a coalition called the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students, or PASS, that represents more than 100,000 students across the Commonwealth.

“We’re trying to create a movement behind this call,” said Ryan Valencia, governmental affairs chair for UPUA.

“People come to us and ask questions – ‘What’s going on?’ or ‘Are we going to see an increase in tuition next year?’ or ‘Are we going to see an increase in funding next year?’ There’s a lot of uncertainty and there are a lot of students struggling with that," said Emily McDonald, UPUA president.

The student leaders said the Call to Action effort, which includes a social media campaign complete with the hashtag #PassIt, is also seeking to rally students to push for an end to the budget stalemate.

“We’re hoping students will get involved and start asking questions to their legislators too,” said Emily Miller, UPUA assembly speaker.

More information on PASS, including the complete text of the letters sent from all four universities, can be found at

Last Updated February 12, 2016