USG more accountable than ever

Taylor Rogers

USG accomplishing more than anticipated

Undergraduate Student Government’s transparency and efficiency has hit an all-time high, said Executive Director Justin Pierce.

Pierce said USG accomplished more this semester than he anticipated by building relationships with administration, becoming more accessible to students and relying on members to take initiative.

USG is often criticized for being sluggish, but Pierce said much of the work the directors and senators accomplish is not as obvious as an event or service. They’ve kept close contact with faculty and administration, and he said that’s most important.

“You know, we might not be creating a new service for students but to have that student opinion within conversations and discussions with faculty and administration, it really goes a long way,” Pierce said.

Brett Fodor, USG’s director of academic affairs, represented students at the faculty senate meetings this semester.

Pierce said Fodor earned an award for being the most outspoken — the first time a USG member ever received the title.

Kevin Papp, director of government affairs for USG, said he thinks the group’s relationship with administration and faculty is the best it’s been in years.

“We’ve created an environment where it’s very easy for us to work with administrators, which makes it easier to help students’ voices be heard more effectively,” Papp said.

USG’s efficiency largely depends on each member’s willingness to speak up. Pierce said one of his first goals was to encourage debate. The members were hesitant in the beginning, he said.

“There’s people from all over this university and from all different backgrounds on USG, so at first it’s a little hard to mesh together well,” Pierce said. “People are a little timid and reserved. That’s not good because we should have conflict.”

Each director and senator is expected to voice his or her concerns, including thoughts on the proposed campus renovations fee and the arts fee. USG organized a committee to examine the fees so they can present a student opinion to administration. Pierce said he thinks proposing both fees simultaneously was bad timing.

But events and programs are fundamental to what USG does. Papp said the group’s transparency improved when Mikayla Farrell, USG’s director of business and finance, organized workshops for student organizations on how to obtain funding from the allocations committee. The committee allots money to organizations for conferences, events and other expenses.

“I think making that access to the money to more student organizations is important because in the past, it’s been a select group that have come,” Papp said. “Now we’re actually marketing it more so everyone knows it’s available.”

Jeffery Hammond, USG’s director of programming, organized performances such as Kid Cudi, 30 Seconds to Mars and Demetri Martin. The money brought in from these events made this one of the most financially successful semesters, Pierce said, and it may allow for one other big performer, apart from next spring’s FlashFest performer.

Aside from providing entertainment, being easily accessible to the student body is one of Pierce’s most important goals, he said.

USG will continue to take advantage of social networks like Facebook and Twitter next spring, but he wants to draw more students to its page with regular updates. Students can also view videos of the USG meetings on its website rather than reading the minutes.

But USG’s productivity during spring semester often has a reputation for dwindling. The members get burnt out, Pierce said. He wants to push the directors and senators to stay committed.

“Usually the spring semester is a time to reflect and score yourself,” Pierce said. “But I’m going to have a huge push to be productive and have new goals and refresh ourselves.

Contact Taylor Rogers at [email protected].