Undergraduate Student Government seeks new outreach methods

Members of the Undergradute Student Government speak during Wednesday's caucus on Oct. 7, 2015. (Marissa DiBella/The Daily Campus)

With previous years’ outreach methods falling flat, the Undergraduate Student Government senate discussed ways to get more University of Connecticut students involved in USG at Wednesday’s caucus.

No official plans were made, but strong support was shown for engaging cultural centers in student outreach, especially after the Cultural Center open house earlier this semester. Speaker of the Senate Colin Ng said that it was the most successful outreach event USG has done to date.

Ng said that previous methods, such as town hall style meetings, were not effective at engaging students and were sparsely attended.

“They didn’t really work,” Ng said. “I went to one and I got to take home three pizzas.”

Ng said that town hall meetings have been the outreach standard for two years and their low attendance is evidence that “we clearly need fresh ideas.”

Bennett Cognato, elections oversight committee chair, said USG needs to be more visible to students and suggested holding outreach events in a more accessible place to increase attendance.

“It isn’t so much what we do but where we do it,” Cognato said.

Senators used Wednesday’s caucus to brainstorm new methods of informing students of USG’s actions and get input.

Haddiyya Ali, Cultural Center ex-officio senator, said that USG should do more to partner more with groups that interact directly with students. She suggested reaching out to resident advisors, learning communities, area councils and doing more work with the cultural centers.

Ng said that senate wants to engage the cultural centers and residential areas in the outreach process to better involve senators’ constituencies. He said that many do not think they do not do enough to represent the students that voted for them.

“The reason why I’m bringing this up is because the cultural centers have been a talking point all the years I’ve been here. The largest step we’ve made is having the ex-officio senators,” Ng said. 

Other ideas presented for outreach events included informal events such as a dodgeball tournament hosted by USG. Ng said that events would be planned to provide students with something, like a game of dodgeball or free pizza, to boost attendance and get more students talking. 

“The best conversations happen when you don’t force it,” he said.