While undergraduates are vital to the University of Connecticut, it feels like we don’t matter at times. It can be frustrating to see so much disrespect given to the largest population on campus. This is why the Undergraduate Student Government adding paid positions next year is so important.
Being at the bottom of the totem pole is no fun. It feels like undergraduates at UConn often get the short end of the stick. Of course, the campus is overtly made for us, and the array of dining halls, dormitories and amenities are meant for us. But in ways that really count, it’s hard for undergraduates to have their voices heard.
It consistently feels like the rest of the university has a sort of “quiet children, the grown-ups are talking” attitude. In the parking issue of last year, the Graduate Employee Union was able to get more parking for all graduate students. More generally, UConn being a R1 school has the side effect of professors sometimes prioritizing research over teaching. And while not limited to just undergraduates, the Board of Trustees’ repeated denial on the addition of more student representatives is more frustrating every year.
USG is the closest we have to a pipeline to the administration. However, there are conflicts. Namely, undergraduates have the tightest, most restrictive schedule of any group at UConn. That’s not to say others are not busy, but undergraduates must balance many more classes, extracurriculars, applications and potential jobs every week. As a result, it can be hard to for us to organize in any meaningful way; we’re simply too busy with the day-to-day.
This effort by USG is a way to alleviate that as they can. Obviously, undergraduates cannot forgo all of their other commitments, but by having paid positions, USG is allowing its leading members to commit more time to representing undergraduates. This is a good thing.
Paid positions allow for better talent to come in, as well. Those who previously may have been too busy working at Starbucks or some such can now try to put their labor and time toward something more productive for themselves and the university.
The only thing now is to keep USG accountable. Money is good for them, but it has to be worth it to the student fees that go toward these salaries. We have been given a great opportunity to organize as an undergraduate population and we cannot waste it now.