Undergraduate Student Government discusses communication issues

Undergraduate Student Government voiced concerns for two large communication issues between senators and Senate leadership during its mid-year evaluation its caucus in the UConn Student Union on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Undergraduate Student Government voiced concerns for two large communication issues between senators and Senate leadership during its mid-year evaluation at Wednesday’s caucus.

Professional interaction was a point of contention. The lighthearted communication periodically occurring during meetings detracts from the efficiency of senate, said Bennett Cognato, CLAS representative and contributing opinion writer for The Daily Campus.

“I feel like we get into a lot of joking. Every 10 minutes, every 14 minutes, we’ll be talking about something serious, and someone will make a point in a frivolous way, and it doesn’t get represented well,” Bennett Cognato, CLAS representative, said.

Behavior is an expectation and should not be enforced, said Cognato, who was wary of how USG represents itself to media.

 “Meetings should start on time. There shouldn’t be random discussion that’s irrelevant. When we’re under the scope, I think it’s important to be cautious,” Cognato said.

Lightheartedness though, could be more beneficial than it seems, said Dustin Lavoie, Greater Hillside Representative.

“I really like how lighthearted it is; how it makes people want to participate,” Lavoie said.

The 2014-2015 USG fostered a much more intimidating environment than this year’s, said Kassandra Pugliese, Parliamentarian.

“I saw really rude comments thrown across the field and tensions getting really high last year. It did come from leadership, but a lot came from senators,” Pugliese said.

The approachability of senators and leadership and overall sense of comfort within USG improved from last year, according to Pugliese.

“Sometimes it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a bit of lightheartedness because it can prevent those really rude comments,” Pugliese said.

Stephanie Sponzo, McMahon senator, held neutral ground in the discussion, focused on maintaining the current Senate environment.

“We’re in a really good place. I like the direction Senate is headed,” Sponzo said.

To Sponzo, Senate has provided a welcoming and balanced environment for discussion, but that doesn’t mean professionalism is not an issue.

“Senate is a time to be professional. It is a time to think about our role,” Sponzo said. “We have people listening. We have people watching.”

Questions of communication between USG senators inside its Student Union office also yielded discussion.

Senators are not allowed to discuss opinions on legislation during office hours because in the past, students were made uncomfortable by debate, according to Cognato.

“That kind of debate isn’t so welcoming for students when they come in,” Cognato said.

Regardless of USG rules, issues still need to be reviewed when necessary, said Cognato, who wanted Senate leadership to provide an effective solution. For Cognato, having an open space for discussion outside of formal Senate meetings is necessary.

“Issues need to be gone over,” Cognato said. “Senators should be able to have discussions.”


Stone Li is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stone.li@uconn.edu.