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USG Senators discuss new direction for the organization

By Nick Shigo
On March 5, 2014

Representatives of the Undergraduate Student Government traveled to Sweden and Texas this pat month to attend conferences on the subjects of increasing global student mobility and student government leadership and brought back ideas they hope will bolster their organization and the community it serves.
UConn sent representatives to the Conference of Student Government Associations at Texas A&M University and the Universitas 21 Student Leaders' Network Meeting at Lund University, Sweden.
USG received funding for the trips on the same level that other Tier III student organizations on campus receive, according to Comptroller Claire Price. Such organizations receive up to 75% of the costs of the trip through USG, and must pay the remainder themselves. According to Price, the representatives paid the remaining costs of the trip out of pocket, also paid for their own food.
"We adhere to the same principles that we expect student groups to adhere to," Price said.
Universitas 21 is a network of universities around the world trying to build increased mobility between schools across the globe and allow students to become 'global citizens'. The meeting was held February 24-25 and was attended by Vice President Kara Googins and Funding Board Chair Parth Rana.
While in Sweden, the UConn representatives were voted Vice President of U21, giving the university the distinction of hosting the conference in 2016.
Conference of Student Government Associations, held Feb. 22-25, is a convention of student leaders from around the country focused on comparing practices at one university, and adapting them for use at a representative's home school.
Representatives to the conference attended workshops and roundtables discussing the theme of Reflecting the Past, Challenging the Present, and Envisioning the Future.
Senators heard reports from COSGA attendees on programs that have been instituted at other schools that may be adapted to suit the UConn community.
Senator Kalee Himes, spoke on behalf of Senator Rachel Conboy, suggested that UConn look back to its rich history to find new traditions and bring back old ones in an effort to build a more united student body.
According to Himes, for a college as large and old as UConn, it has surprisingly few traditions, and by gradually working new ones into the campus culture, Husky Pride can be redefined to include all students.
COSGA also gave the senators ideas about how to improve the Guard Dogs safe ride program.
Senator Eliza Conrad took lessons learned from Texas A&M's own safe ride program, CARPOOL and hopes UConn can adapt some of the operations to better Guard Dogs.
Conrad said aspects like continuous volunteer training, restrictions on how many rides can be provide to individual students, renting vehicles used and financing through various school organizations and fundraising, would make the service safer and more cost effective.
Attendees also suggested possible changes to the USG system to make it a more effective government system and provide more for its members.
Senator Joshua Essick brought forward the idea of formalized positional training for new members of USG, and potentially a one-month overlap of shared power between new and old holders of an office. Compensation for USG executives was also discussed. According to Senator Jake Broccolo, the practice, while currently absent at UConn, is common at other schools, with compensation including hourly pay to reimbursement of tuition and room and board. If future executives will be paid, the money will come from the USG budget.
Senator Daniel Byrd made suggestions on how to increase communication between USG and students from practices that have been proven at other universities.
Byrd's suggestions focused on two strategies: an introductory video for students about the workings of USG and a bi-weekly video address by the president to alert them to the more current goings-on of the government.
President Ed Courchaine discussed UConn's lack of representation and connection UConn has with the Mansfield and state legislature.
Courchaine suggested practices such as contacting Greg Haddad, State Representative of Mansfield, and facilitating student connections through letter writing campaigns and outreach to the local community and other colleges and universities in Connecticut.
According to Courchaine, USG will be holding a feasibility analysis between now and Spring Break of all the programs to see if there are any that can be implemented either before the end of the semester or the Fall 2014 semester.

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