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United Progressive Alumni : FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

What's UPA?

The United Progressive Alumni is currently an organization of Cornell University graduates. We share a vision of a more just, democratic, and sustainable society, starting with our alma mater. We'd also like to help start, and connect with, similar alumni groups from other schools; we think an alternative Old Girls and Boys' Network would make a great community, and make a difference for the better.

But why focus on alumni?

See the essay Why An Alumni Movement? Basically, a bit of shared school spirit makes it a lot easier to get strangers together. Plus, your alma mater has to pay a lot more attention to your opinions than, say, your senator. And with what's going on in higher education these days, chances are you'll have something to say about what your school is doing.

How do I contact UPA?

Visit our Contact page, or try finding a Chapter near you.

How is UPA organized?

We're thinking of a setup that would eventually look like this: A UPA Network is centered on a particular school, and the UPA Federation is the collection of all such Networks.

Right now, the only 'Network' is a group of Cornell alumni. And since we Cornellians had to do a lot of thinking, planning, and work to get our own group off the ground, we hope to provide a shortcut (that's what Critical Mass is about) for alumni of other schools interested in the same thing.

So this website isn't just for Cornell grads?

No! It just started that way - so you'll see some parts of our site that reflect a Cornell bias. The Members section, for example, is currently just for Cornellians to sign on as dues-paying members - it may change later however. You can register with the site to use its interactive features (not all of which are available just yet).

Of course, if you build your own Network, you can run it as you see fit. What we offer you are an online home and associated tools, so we can share resources efficiently and give you a head start. See the Critical Mass page for more details.

So in the proposed future structure, why split it up, UPA Networks vs. UPA Federation?

Because we need to balance concentration and sharing to be effective. You know your own school and friends better than we do, and your school will listen to its own graduates first. Also, individual Networks can run themselves more efficiently than a centralized office. On the other hand, we do want a large community of folks with shared values, and we ought to share commonly needed resources instead of wasting time re-inventing the wheel. Thus the split, which hopefully strikes you as logical.

But who can join UPA?

Right now, because Cornell is the only 'Network', formal dues-paying membership is limited to Cornell grads. If you're from another school, we can't presume to tell you how to run your own Network. That's why Critical Mass is in place: We give you tools (web space, email lists, database) to get your own folks together. Once you've got your own Network, what you do then is up to you, but we'd be happy to tell you how the Cornell UPA Network is organized.

And just how is the Cornell UPA Network organized?

We're still figuring it out, but the proposed structure for ourselves is a tripod: Chapters, Councils, and Campaigns (love that alliteration :-). Chapters are the locally based social and activist hubs for our members. Councils exist to take care of any indefinite-term tasks, such as finance and publicity. Campaigns are initiatives with a set goal and lifetime, such as our planned Tobacco Divestment Campaign.

Yes, but how do you make decisions?

We're figuring that out too. :-) We plan to use the Formal Consensus system to avoid the traps of traditional non-profit organizations, such as sectarianism and corruption. (This webmaster, after seeing many non-profits die ugly deaths from infighting and apathy, hopes UPA will avoid the same fate.)

So UPA is a non-profit?

Yes - but not independently, that's a later goal. (Any lawyers out there?) Currently we're incorporated under the auspices of CRESP.

What's the deal with CRESP?

The Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy is a progressive presence on the Cornell campus that grew out of the Civil Rights movement in the 60's. They've been around a while and have a well-deserved reputation with Cornellians for being a good bunch of folks. UPA asked CRESP last fall if we could formally affiliate ourselves with them, and have the benefit of their reputation and resources - CRESP graciously agreed. If you're not from Cornell it doesn't really matter a whole lot to you.

OK, so if I'm from Cornell, I can join UPA now - if not, I've got to start getting my friends together?

On the first part, yes, provided you agree with our group's Principles.

On the second part, maybe - check the Schools and Critical Mass section to see if someone from your alma mater already got things moving.

Also, you don't have to join anything now if you don't feel like it. Feel free to just browse the site - although using the interactive parts (comments and forums) will require registration. Thanks!

Questions or comments about this website? E-mail the webmaster@upalumni.org
UPA is proud to be affiliated with CRESP: The Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy.
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