Vice President Irma Valverde is running for the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government president. She said USG’s involvement needs to reach outside of the organization.
“Our members can’t just be doing USG things,” Valverde said. “The more that people see those faces on the campus, they’re going to say, ‘Maybe I was to get involved with this because I see that they’re doing really great things.”
Valverde said a big part of being in USG is drawing other students in to hear their ideas and concerns, so it’s important to reach outside of student government.
Valverde is a junior pursuing a dual degree in business management and political science. She’s also a programming intern at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, a coordinator for Husky for a Day and a vice president of campus affairs at the Alpha Phi sorority.
“I think that we need a strong leadership and someone who has a real understanding of the campus and what it means to be involved here and not just in USG, but as a student, as someone who cares about the entire student body,” Valverde said.
If elected president, Valverde wants to reform student parking policies on campus, improve USG’s Funding Board and create a stronger relationship between students and administration.
Valverde said the number one issue students want addressed is the university’s parking.
“No one should be getting fined for possibly leaving their car because they’re too scared to walk from X-Lot to Buckley,” Valverde said.
Valverde hopes to change the university’s policy preventing overnight parking in commuter lots.
“Those lots are empty [overnight.] There’s no one there,” Valverde said. “There’s spots on this campus that are going completely unused and it’s because of the policies.”
Valverde said, if elected, she hopes to meet with administrators over the summer to start talking about parking policies, to hopefully change them to benefit students by the end of next fall.
Valverde also acknowledged that many students feel disconnected from administrators at UConn. Valverde hopes that as USG president, she can help bridge the gap between the two.
“Looking smaller scale, at emailing advocacy groups on this campus and saying, ‘These are the relationships we have with administration and we’re seeing this is an issue you want to work on this semester. Let’s try and meet up and talk about the possibilities,’” Valverde said.
Valverde says her pick for vice president, current Funding Board chair Lysette Johnson, has the knowledge and experience to improve USG’s Funding Board, which funds UConn’s Tier II organizations.
“To have someone that knows how to handle the policies that we have now and can look into the numbers and see what’s best for student groups next year is extremely important,” Valverde said.
Valverde also wants to continue pursuing issues that she ran on last year with USG’s current president Dan Byrd, including open-source textbooks, working to maintain state funding and keeping UConn’s campus safe with issues like sexual assault and the protection of undocumented students.
Valverde said she is most proud of organizing cultural center open houses during her time as USG’s Student Development committee chair. She said when she started at USG, cultural centers felt disconnected from student government.
“It’s really disheartening when I came in here my freshmen year and the director of PRLACC [Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center] told me, ‘We don’t talk to USG. We don’t have relationships with USG. The cultural centers don’t feel comfortable with them,” Valverde said. “When I heard that these groups of minorities didn’t feel comfortable with [USG], I questioned whether I could be comfortable with it too.”
Valverde said many students had their first experience at the cultural centers was during USG’s open houses.
Valverde said Byrd has set a great model for future USG presidents to follow.
“I think Dan has been one of the best presidents that USG has had and I think it’s because… he genuinely cares about the issues that he’s working on,” Valverde said. “I want to be that kind of president where the things that I’m working on are because I’m passionate about it and because I know how much they mean to students.”
Valverde said she is the student body’s best choice for president because she is involved beyond USG.
“I think students want a student body president that they’re going to feel connected with and they actually know, who’s not just doing USG things but doing things on this campus,” Valverde said.
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.