USG lacks promotion across campus

Nick Glunt

Group misses solid

advertising campaign

Undergraduate Student Government directors and senators expect students to at least know the names of the senators of their colleges.

Five student organization leaders, after being unable to name their senators, critiqued student government’s effort at student USG awareness.

Matthew Gustoff, vice-president of Sigma Chi, commented on USG’s self-promotion, saying student government could definitely be more known if it wanted to be. Gustoff lost the 2010 USG election for executive director to Justin Pierce.

“They could put themselves out there more,” Gustoff said, “so people would know them, but I don’t think it’s on their priority list, to be honest.” Current executive director Scott Sherwood agreed, saying USG jumps from one project to the next so rapidly that it “doesn’t have time” to promote itself.

Executive Director-elect Justin Pierce said promotion isn’t USG’s first priority.

“We have the funds to blow up USG’s name all over campus,” Pierce said. “We can advertise more, certainly. But we’re not doing what we do for the recognition.”

Gustoff said the last USG meeting he attended was during the election process. He said it was “sad” because a majority of the attendees were candidates in the coming election.

“It was a public meeting, so anyone could come,” he said, “but I don’t think they acknowledge or promote that enough. They don’t make it sound like something people would want to come to. It’s your campus, your environment. You should want to have a say in it.”

Gustoff and four other student leaders answered questions members of student government hoped were common knowledge questions about USG and the university.

While all five student-leaders were able to name Lester Lefton as Kent State’s president, not one was able to name his or her college’s current senator. However, three of them were able to name their colleges’ senator-elects.

“You can get senators that go above and beyond,” Pierce said, “or ones that want to stick to the bare minimum (of their requirements).” As executive director-elect, Pierce said he hopes to inspire a sense of accountability among the senators so they are more responsible for their colleges than they have been in the past.

Pierce also said many students are “oblivious” because of their studies. He said many students probably don’t know the names of their deans or associate deans, either.

Alex Tucker said he wouldn’t be interested in student government if not for the events it hosts, such as the upcoming FlashFest or Drake concert. Tucker serves on the programming board and unsuccessfully ran for director of programming in the 2010 election.

“Personally, I’m not sure if they want people to show up (at the meetings),” Tucker said.

Mark Miller, political director for Kent State’s College Democrats, didn’t know where or when the organization meets. He said he would be interested in learning more about student government.

“I think (USG)’s more important than what people think it is,” Miller said. “USG would impact entirely more than local government and statewide government. It would impact us on a day-to-day basis.”

Of approximately 22,000 students at Kent State, only 2,309 voted in the 2010 USG elections.

“I knew I was able to vote,” said Krista Napp, co-chair of the May 4 Task Force, “but I didn’t know when it was. I don’t think it was publicized very well.”

Around 10 percent of students voted, and some of them may not have been entirely informed of their candidates.

“I really only voted because I knew two or three candidates,” said Eric Allen, vice president of Kent State’s College Republicans, “and I didn’t even know them that well.”

He also said he didn’t really research the candidates like he would in national, state or local elections.

Allen said he can reason why students aren’t interested in student government.

“A lot of people don’t have any idea what our politicians are doing in Washington,” he said. “So why should they care what our politicians are doing on campus, even though we are directly affected by their decisions?”

Pierce said no matter how hard student government tries, there are always going to be those students who don’t care.

“We’re not celebrities, and we’re not magicians,” Pierce said. “We can only attract the students that want to be involved.”

Contact student politics reporter Nick Glunt at [email protected].