The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at the University of Connecticut discussed moving their Senate meetings to another day of the week, as a scheduling conflict currently prevents resident assistants from attending Senate.
RA staff meetings are held Wednesday nights, the same night as USG Senate. Therefore, a student cannot be both a USG senator and RA.
Sen. Priyanka Thakkar (Alumni) wrote the legislation, which was discussed but was not voted on. Thakkar said the lack of competition in the recent USG senate elections shows the organization needs more participation.
Only one Senate race was competitive: the Engineering race had six candidates running for five seats. All other races had a number of open seats equal to or greater than the number of candidates. Several constituencies have no representation in USG, including Fine Arts, Nursing, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Northwest, Busby and East, among others.
“Even if we get five or six students to join, I think that would make a big difference and a better representation of the student body,” Thakkar said.
USG Chief of Staff Erika Elechicon said she saw many RAs expressed their desire to join Senate during her time as an RA last year.
Elechicon said she missed most Senate meetings due to RA staff meetings, but was still able to serve on USG’s executive board.
“I’ve heard throughout my entire college career here that ‘I wish I could be in USG… but I can’t be a Senator because staff meetings are on the same night,’” Elechicon said. “Money trumps USG in the end.”
USG Vice President Irma Valverde also supported Elechicon’s point that many students choose to be RAs over Senators because they benefit from the financial compensation Residential Life provides RAs.
“Like Erika said, money completely does overtake [Senate] because, for some people, it’s a big struggle to afford the experience of being a college student,” Valverde said.
However, Valverde acknowledged she wasn’t sure if changing the day of Senate meetings was the right solution.
“Unfortunately, I think you have to give and take certain things because there’s so many things you can be involved in and there’s always going to be conflicts,” Valverde said.
USG President Dan Byrd said changing Senate’s day from Wednesday would be difficult, due to other scheduling conflicts.
“I think you’re going to have a hard time getting people here on a Thursday night and you’re going to have a hard time getting people here on a Friday night,” Byrd said.
Additionally, members of USG’s executive board are required to go to Triad meetings held by the Leadership Office on Tuesdays.
Thakkar said changing the day of Senate meetings is an issue worth discussing if it increases representation in USG across campus.
“We do have some seats that are empty… and because we have 20,000 undergrads here, we should have those seats filled,” Thakkar said.
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.