The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) continues to grow its membership by welcoming a diverse new crop of senators this semester, most recently from the special election held earlier this month. They were sworn in at the organization’s bi-monthly Senate meeting on Nov. 14, filling in previously empty positions and providing much-needed representation for constituencies.
The special senate election successfully elected 23 new senators, representing the academic constituencies of Academic Center for Exploratory Students, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Engineering, Fine Arts and Nursing. Senators were also elected to the resident constituencies of commuters, Busby, Garrigus, Hilltop Apartments, McMahon, Northwest, Towers and West.
At least half of the new senators are first- or second-semester students, including Senator Ethan Werstler of Alumni, first-semester political science major. He recognized his desire to make a change early in his UConn career as a motivator for joining USG.
“Freshman year has been a brilliant opportunity for me to reinvent myself into a better, more driven person,” Werstler said. “I knew the Undergraduate Student Government would allow me to better serve the UConn community and foster a healthier, safer campus. I want to make a serious difference and USG is the way to do that.”
The body of newly-elected senators cite an array of reasons for running, as well as different ideas to represent their constituencies.
“I have long wanted to get involved with USG. My primary motivation was due to my poor experience with the USG Funding System for Tier-II organizations,” Senator Fabio Saccomanno, a third-semester molecular and cell biology major, said. “USG funding is vital for student organizations on campus and I understand this personally.
“It is my hope that as a Senator, I can work with fellow Senators and others to improve the funding system to provide the greatest benefit to students at UConn,” Saccomanno said.
As a new senator for commuters, he also cited the drastic underrepresentation of commuters as another reason he decided to run.
“The community consists of thousands of people, so it is harder to have your voice heard, but by becoming a senator, I now know that my voice and the voice of my fellow constituents will have an impact,” Caitlin Cannon, third-semester allied health sciences major and senator of CAHNR, said. “It was important for me to run and have that impact because improving the community should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.”
Dalton Hawie, a first-semester political science major, was voted as a senator for the Northwest constituency. He, along with the other new senators, had already begun to make change in their first Senate meeting.
“Luckily, my first major concern regarding the well-being of my constituency has already begun to be addressed in USG,” Hawie said, referring to a resolution concerning security cameras in the entrance to dorm buildings. “The general safety and security of the UConn dorms were lacking; however, with my full support, USG has passed legislation calling for increased security around dorms. There is still much to be done in the way of safety around campus and connecting USG to its constituents, and so far we are off to a good start.”
Dylan DeMoura, a third-semester political science and Spanish double major, was elected as a senator for Garrigus and had previously served as a senator. He was one of the authors for the aforementioned security resolution and looks forward to initiating new policy about the financial concerns of the student body.
“As student leaders we should be the voice of students in holding our elected officials accountable, and conveying to them what students and the future of the state want,” DeMoura said. “The fiscal security of our state affects our university as well as the opportunities that will be available in Connecticut after we graduate.”
“The organization has a lot of room to grow in terms of being truly active in using its voice,” DeMoura said. “I hope to move the organization from bureaucracy and towards action.”
The new senators also sport impressive records of experiences and enjoy doing many different things besides USG to keep them occupied. Werstler and Saccomanno are both members of the Travel Model United Nations team, the former serving as president. Hawie is a member of the UConn Fencing Club and works with activist political groups on campus, similar to how DeMoura has worked with UConnPIRG to develop skills for grassroots activism.
As USG seeks to represent the student body accurately, its members always encourage the student body to be involved and to participate.
“Spring USG elections are rapidly approaching, and I would encourage everyone to consider running for Senate!” Werstler said.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.