USS defends criticism about accessibility

Jackie Valley

The Undergraduate Student Senate will pass the torch to a new group of leaders in less than two months – confident in their reign as senators despite accusations of not fulfilling their duties.

Members of the All Campus Programming Board and the Kent State Anime Society claim the current USS has shown little success in accessibility to the 24,000 students it represents.

“I don’t think that the idea of USS and what it represents is really broadcast to the students,” said ACPB President Shana Scott.

Scott said although she realizes the challenge of representing all students, she thinks more regular office hours and better exposure to the students would improve the image of USS.

“I think they’re limited to the realm of the Student Center, and if you aren’t in the Student Center or student organizations, then you probably don’t know them or what they have to offer,” she said.

However, USS adviser Donna Carlton said the senators have all been fulfilling their office hours, which include 10 hours in the USS office and 15 floating hours to account for work done beyond the office.

“Some weeks it’s more, some weeks it’s less,” she said, adding the floating hours fluctuate based on meetings and projects.

But Nicolas Trojack, president of the Kent State Anime Society, said he thinks communication in general could be improved.

“General availability to the students is just as important as office hours,” he said, noting that it took almost one week for USS to respond to an e-mail he sent.

USS Executive Director Ross Miltner disagreed.

“I’m surprised people would make the assumption that we’re not accessible because I don’t see people come in the office that often,” he said.

Miltner said he regularly spends 10 to 30 minutes every day answering e-mails from students, administrators and the media.

He admitted that some office hours may have been missed recently because of the senators’ schoolwork and other commitments, but he said it is not a habit.

“It’s tough,” he said. “It happens with every organization.”

Christen Coppola, student relations senator, said some conflicts have arisen between juggling her classes and internship with the office hours, but she said people always have a way to contact her.

“If I’m not here, people always know where I am,” she said.

Coppola said she has received messages via phone, e-mail, Facebook and even instant messaging.

One of the overall USS goals this year was to reinstate a more positive image of the student government and improve on past mistakes, she said.

“Conflicts come up, but this year so far, I feel we’ve greatly improved on the integrity of the Senate,” she said.

Christopher Taylor, vice president of ACPB, agreed improvement has been made, but he said he would like to see more.

“If they are truly the umbrella, then they damn well better be available to the students,” he said.

Carlton said, in the end, it all comes down to the nature of politics.

“The senators do try to do their best, but they’re not going to make everyone happy,” she said.

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].