The University of Connecticut Student Government (USG) discussed the challenges and opportunities of working in government with Connecticut politicians at a meet and greet Wednesday night.
USG invited State Senator Mae Flexer, State Representatives Gregg Haddad and Kurt Vail and Mansfield Town Councilor Terry Berthelot to attend the event.
“We realized that (whenever we met with politicians) we’re always asking for things – we’re asking for money, we’re asking for things to be changed,” USG External Affairs Chairperson Haley Hinton said. “But we need to build relationships, we need to start a name recognition so we know who to reach out to as leaders here at UConn.”
Prior to the meet and greet portion of the event, event coordinators Hinton and USG Senator Damen Reynolds presented the responsibilities and agendas of each USG committee to the politicians.
“I thought it was really neat to see your student body government and how it is set up a lot like ours is in Hartford,” Vail said. “When I was elected, the first thing they showed me was the Schoolhouse Rock video of ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ because that’s how the process still works, and it seems to me you guys still have that process.”
Vail said he was encouraged by the interest in politics that USG members exhibited.
“I got involved in politics later in life, but I get excited to see young kids getting interested,” Vail said. “It’s nice to be around young people that are inquisitive, that care. Whether we agree on all the issues or we don’t, it’s important to hear what everyone thinks.”
Vail said though the meeting was his first introduction to USG, he hopes the event becomes annual.
“I’ll tell my colleagues about my experience here tonight and how much I enjoyed it,” Vail said. “It’s good to build a bridge between UConn and the state capitol, it’s good to get a lot of different perspectives. This line of communication is important and hopefully it becomes bigger in the future.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.