USG should consider changing meeting times to increase participation

USG hosted their bi-weekly senate meeting in Student Union ballroom on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Among the topics discussed were the constitution and how RA's can become senators. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Last week the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) addressed an interesting topic at their weekly meeting. As reported in the Daily Campus, USG discussed changing their meeting day because it currently interferes with RA meeting times. Senators brought up that many people have mentioned they would be very interested in joining USG except that they can’t because the meeting time interferes with shift meetings for UConn and non-UConn jobs. It is troubling that people who want to get involved with student government cannot especially when there are many senatorial seats that were not filled during the election. The piece of legislation was not ultimately voted on, however the Undergraduate Student Government should seriously consider moving to a different time if it wants to increase participation.

Elections for USG were tough this year, to say the least. Two candidates in two separate races were disqualified (with one eventually being un-disqualified). Both presidential tickets filed charges against each other. The official results were held from being released until all the investigations could be completed. After all that drama, you would think everything would be perfect with USG, but of course it wasn’t.

According to the Daily Campus, the School of Fine Arts, the School of Nursing, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR), Northwest, Busby and East are amongst many of the UConn institutions that do not have representation within USG. It is completely inconceivable for an organization that is supposed to represent everyone on campus to have no representation for major groups. Aside from the residence halls; CAHNR, Nursing and Fine Arts are major portions of the school’s campus. They clearly deserve representation and USG should do everything within its power to make sure it happens.

The legislature that was heavily debated last week was brought forward because resident assistants (RAs) at UConn could not attend because senate interfered with staff meetings. It just happens that there are three residence halls on the list mentioned in the Daily Campus report: East, Busby and Northwest. All three of those residence halls house a large portion of students. East and Northwest also house a large number of freshmen. Do you know what they also house? RAs. RAs are the lifeblood of residential communities on campus. They get students involved with events on campus and events hosted by the RHA. While it is a job, RAs are constantly looking out for their residents and making sure that everything runs smoothly within their building.

With that in mind, it seems like RAs would be the perfect people to advocate for their residents. They would be even more informed than someone living in the dorm because they would know everything that is affecting all residents, not just the ones on their floor. RAs are also employees of the Office of Residential Life and could bring an interesting perspective to senate meetings. Resident assistants would be an excellence part of USG and they would already be heavily invested in everything going on.

Most people don’t really know what USG does. The average person only encounters USG through funding requests or reads about some kind of drama in this paper. USG is supposed to be a place where undergraduate students can make their case on why exactly certain kinds of change can happen. USG has been instrumental in bringing about change across the school. This year alone the senate brought forward legislature that deals with open-source textbooks, has advocated for the protection of undocumented students and petitioned the state to keep UConn’s funding intact. USG is currently on a path to be more inclusive and more welcoming to all students. Now is not the time to slow down. Students deserve a place to have their voices heard and USG should do everything in its power to make that happen.


Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and opinion’s staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.