Christine Savino, undergraduate representative on the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, said during her term she has brought about greater collaboration with students and allowed for a more transparent board.
Since July, when her two-year trustee position began, Savino said she has been working on providing a voice for students whose concerns have previously gone unnoticed.
Savino said an example of this is when she advocated for a solution to plowed snow piles blocking wheelchair accessible entrances to McMahon.
“Handicapped students had trouble getting into McMahon, and as a student I believe it’s easier for other students to tell me that’s happening, instead of going to the board [members],” Savino said. “Once I brought it to administration’s attention it was fixed and it was great.”
Savino said she not only worked on collaborating with Storrs students but also partnered with students at regional campuses.
“As student trustee representative, I represent all regional campuses,” Savino said. “Previously there was not a lot of collaboration, but now all the regional ASG presidents and vice presidents are in constant collaboration about student initiative.”
Savino said she hopes her efforts for further cooperation among all UConn branches will establish transparency between the board and students.
“If students are confused about a motion the board has passed, it’s really important they know why that happened and know there is someone to talk to. The process is transparent,” Savino said.
Savino said she exemplifies such transparency by holding office hours six days a week so students can meet at her office and ask questions or suggest objections.
Another objective Savino said she has been working towards since July is building a bridge between students and administration.
“It is important to connect students and administration as much as possible,” Savino said. “When students and administration work together, efficiency is maximum and there are results.”
Savino said a triumph she has had so far has been seeing students who show interest in the board.
“Every time I have a town hall meeting and someone expresses interests in what the board is doing, or a student comes in and asks me a question, that’s a high point for me,” Savino said.
In spite of her advancements for student involvement on the board, Savino said she has had low points in her term as well, the greatest being lack of mental health services.
Savino said she met with an administrator to at Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) to discuss student mental health on Tuesday.
“I was disappointed in myself because [CMHS] brought to life how mental health is such an issue at UConn,” Savino said. “Apparently there have been 100 hospital transportations this academic year for mental health. It was a low point because I felt so guilty not being able to know ahead of time.”
To combat lack of communication on students’ needs, Savino said she hopes students will keep her informed on their concerns regarding services at UConn.
“It’s difficult because mental health can be a very private battle so sometimes, from what I understand, they don't want to discuss it with people who aren't their family and friends,” Savino said. “But I think it's important we discuss what is being done.”
Given all of her dedication to the position and accessibility of information, Savino said she feels she has gained the trust and acceptance of the student body.
Last February, Savino resigned from her position in Undergraduate Student Government amid allegations of plagiarism for copying a platform and presenting it as her own. Additionally, last March Savino was accused of not reporting a gift card to raffle for incentivizing voting. However, the case was overturned.
“Students have been more than open with me,” Savino said. “Student interactions have gone swimmingly. The only types of conflicts were when there were miscommunications and lack of understanding on why certain administration actions were taken. Once the reasoning and logic are clarified, things go pretty well.”
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.