Why USS matters to you

Katie Hale

This Friday, completed candidate petitions are due for the new Undergraduate Student Government. Maybe you saw an ad in the Stater or on Facebook, but I know many of you don’t even know what the current Undergraduate Student Senate is, let alone the new Undergraduate Student Government.

I want to take the opportunity to give you an introduction. I hope by the end of this column you will feel a little more connected to us. I also hope you will take a minute to vote in the elections this spring, and perhaps you will even feel compelled to take out a petition yourself.

Let’s start where it all began: USS elections last year. There was a referendum on the ballot that passed, which expanded the current USS size of nine to the new USG consisting of 25 members. Also, the new USG is now going to be in charge of major Kent campus programs.

So what does all this mean? Well, a number of things. Mainly, it means more representation, a stronger unified student voice and more opportunities to get involved. However, for this column, I want to cut the political jargon you don’t need to read.

Instead, imagine a nearly empty room with a long wooden table where nine people sit and vote on how your student activity fee money is being spent. We discuss the price of textbooks, problems students are having with Kent police or insufficient classrooms in Bowman Hall. Now think of all the students we are doing our best to represent — thousands with an opinion we can never voice, an idea we can never have or a concern we can never help with.

You may be thinking this is because we don’t do enough to reach out to students; I have certainly heard that complaint during the last few years from cynics who can complain online but have never been to a meeting.

I’m not even going to argue that, and maybe there’s some truth to it. This is one of the reasons we have expanded, to include input from a senator for every college and six others who are appointed. Not only have we expanded, but now there’s a director of communications to make sure one way or another we are reaching out more. While on the topic of directors, the director of programming is also worth mentioning. This person oversees a committee and a budget to the tune of approximately $280,000.

Starting to sound more interesting? This is just a glimpse of all the things we do. Being on student government means doing what you think is right. You set the agenda and the tempo. This March is a historic time as we make the change over to the new USG and open the door to all of the possibilities that will come with it. I invite you to take a part this year, however big or small you want your role to be.

Katie Hale is the current executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].