USG looks to spring plans during first winter 2016 meeting

Steven Porcello, USG Funding Board chair, discusses changes to Funding Board policy implemented for the spring 2016 semester at the Jan. 20 meeting. (Rebecca Newman/The Daily Campus)

At the first Senate meeting of the semester, the Undergraduate Student Government discussed plans for several initiatives and events to be held in the coming months.

Events receiving consideration included Spring Weekend preparations, the launch of Guard Dogs and outreach initiatives to boost student participation in USG.

President Rachel Conboy was optimistic about the proposals, saying USG has “a great semester coming up.”

According to Rishita Jani, executive director for programs and member of the Guard Dogs committee, the safe ride service is scheduled to launch this semester. No date is set yet, but she said the paperwork to get Guard Dogs off the ground has been submitted to UConn Student Affairs, with suggestions and revisions soon to come.

Guard Dogs intends to recruit drivers during the Involvement Fair.

Changes to Funding Board procedure for student organizations were another area of particular interest.

Funding Board chair Stephen Porcello said changes to the application process initiated last semester will eliminate some of the issues students had in applying for funds. With the elimination of disbursement deadlines, he hopes to shorten debate on emergency legislative funding and encourage more student groups to apply for regular funding.

While this will eliminate some problems, Porcello said it is still not perfect.

“It’s gonna be a different fight,” he said. “The debate will be ‘they didn’t get their budget in on time,’ not whether it was done correctly.”

He said that communicating these changes will be important to groups seeking funding.

USG’s External Affairs committee will be continuing its initiatives in the realm of open-source textbooks after securing a $100,000 grant last semester for the production of an open-source chemistry book.

“It’s really getting started,” said External Affairs chair Daniel Byrd.

He expects the textbook to arrive on UConn’s campus sometime next semester. Part of the grant will also be used for other professors to begin production of their own textbooks and hold events to educate students on open-source textbooks.

Speaker Colin Ng said USG would be taking extra steps this semester to increase outreach and especially voter turnout for the senatorial and presidential elections this semester.

“Voting is very important to us this semester,” Ng said. “Elections are always the highest time for publicity.”

He said senators will be hanging signs and distributing other materials encouraging students to vote and run for positions. However, he said these tactics will take a backseat to senators using their mandatory office hours to interact with students face-to-face and engage them about USG.

“It’s more about us putting in the work than signs,” Ng said.

Other initiatives in the works by committees include coordinating with Student Health Services on issues of sexual assault and involving students involved in the construction of the new gym facility.


Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.shigo@uconn.edu.