Questions on the focus and purpose of USG result in heated discussion
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
A heated discussion arose about the focus and purpose of the Undergraduate Student Government at its caucus Wednesday night.
“I don’t think we know what we do other than funding,” said Speaker of the Senate Shiv Gandhi, a 4th-semester molecular cell biology major. Being a USG member, Gandhi added, “It’s an influential position; we have the students behind us.”
The discussion came out of talk of a new program aimed at Tier II organizations which are those that can apply for USG funding. President Stephen Petkis questioned the program’s proposed goal to reach out to Tier II organizations specifically.
“We do not represent Tier II organizations,” he said.
While he agreed that new outreach programs are needed, Petkis, a 7th-semester political science and human rights double major, expressed concern that the Tier II outreach program would create a new set of constituents that would divert Senators’ time away from the constituents whom they represent.
Neel Rana, a CLAS senator and 5th-semester political science major, pointed out that communication issues exist within the Senate as well. Many ideas discussed by the Senate were also discussed in committee meetings
“We as a Senate don’t know what’s going on in the committees,” Rana said. He added that the communication gap between USG and the student body detracts from USG’s power.
“Without student support we cannot do anything, “ he said.
Senator Daniel Violette, a 7th-semester materials sciences engineering and physics double major and the lead Senator on the Tier II project team, said that the project’s focus is education and communication. Part of the suggested plans include educating Senators about the new funding policies and creating USG cheat sheets, as an easy place for students to find the USG information they need.
“Pretty much anything that opens those doors and help us communicate better,” Violette said.
Also discussed at the caucus was the decision not to renew USG’s subscription to IdeaScale, but rather to pursue a free and more customizable website.
“It’s $1,000; there are other websites we could use that are completely customizable and free,” said CLAS Senator Hailey ManFredi, a 5th-semester history major, the lead on the IdeaScale team established last caucus.
Senators also agreed that a clear focus and goal was needed before proceeding with planning the Tier III or student fee supported organizations Leadership Summit.