Every student at the University of Connecticut has at least heard of the Undergraduate Student Government, known more commonly as USG. While their composition has changed much over the years, they have over time put in motion many of the huge changes and benefits our campus allots us. Moreover, they are our main access point in voicing our concerns to UConn’s administration (at least, in an organized way). This is especially important in a time where the administration is making many questionable decisions in regard to student benefits.
Given this pivotal role with undergraduates, the news last week of USG’s special elections come as a bit of a surprise. The students in USG wield a large amount of power and responsibility, and gaining a position among them is not only relevant for many professionally but also goes a long way to making your voice heard on campus. Despite this, these special elections are needed to fill 40 of the organization’s 82 seats!
This number is staggering, and it is sure to hold some insight into the problems with the student body and USG itself. After all, every year there are campus-related events or issues that garner the attention of hundreds of students. How is it possible that only 42 of these were invested enough to take the matter into their own hands?
It is tempting to blame entitlement (typical millennials!) as the culprit. That is, students want their issues heard and fixed, but do not or cannot put in the time to see those changes through themselves. However, it seems much more likely that the cause is the shaky reputation of the student government. Many students associate USG with the frustrating bureaucracy of getting club funding. Others think of scandals that have come about in recent elections. Still others look to the endless discussion as needless bloat. In fact, I’m sure many reading this were a bit surprised to hear that there are supposed to be 82 members.
In any case, USG feels a bit too stuffed for the decisions they are to make, in terms of both size and time. This can obviously lead a lot to question its legitimacy, think its too much of a commitment, and so choose not to join. Perhaps this is meant to mirror actual local governments, which are also often criticized for the same reasons. That doesn’t make it good, though, and so that makes this news a bit less unexpected. USG needs to cut the fat and rebrand if they wish to maintain the interest and values of UConn undergraduates.