The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senate approved a bill regarding mental health, USG positions and the External Affairs Committee as well as approving multiple resolutions and an agenda at the first meeting of the semester Wednesday night.
USG certified a total of six resolutions and a single bill during the senate.
The senate passed two individual joint resolutions concerned with mental health at UConn. One resolution highlighted the implementation of the JED Campus Initiative. The other proposed the creation of a mandatory mental health module for undergraduates.
According to the JED Campus website, “JED campus is an initiative “designed to guide schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts.”
Chairperson of Student Services Derek Pan proposed both joint resolutions to be set on the agenda for the meeting. Pan hopes to teach students about mental health issues to help students who may be affected by them.
“I believe that having a mental health literacy module would definitely allow students to be informed about mental health issues,” Pan, a sixth-semester molecular and cell biology major, said. “[It’s] important [to provide] adequate coping mechanisms that they can utilize to help cope with their mental health issues and give them the knowledge about what services are offered here in UConn.”
Pan said he believes the Mental Health Literacy Module and the JED Campus Initiative will have a positive impact on students’ mental health issues on campus.
“[The Mental Health Literacy Module and the JED Campus Initiative will help] break the stigma of mental health issues,” Pan said.
Senators also addressed resolutions concerning the creation and nominations for new positions in the USG body.
Senator for Werth Tower Damani Douglas resigned from his position as Deputy Speaker and was nominated the position of Student Development Chairperson.
The senate approved a resolution creating the position of Chief of Staff to the Office of the Speaker of the Senate for Buckley/Shippee Senator Hollianne Lao. Senate minute taker Emma Bleszinski was given the title Clerk of the Senate.
Senator Lao expressed her eagerness to help manage the senators in her new position.
“[Parliamentarian Fiorella Contreras] expressed a need for a lot of assistance in administrative jobs in terms of handling the senators,” Lao, a second-semester political science major, said. “Right now we are assigning a lot of the new senators to positions [in committees and offices].”
External Affairs Chairperson Damon A. Reynolds went on to promote an agenda and a bill regarding the External Affairs Committee. Reynolds proposed an agenda with regard to state legislative advocacy in the 2018-2019 school year.
The resolution was concerned with establishing rules for the External Affairs Committee for the rest of the 2018-2019 school year.
Overall, senators said they found the meeting productive and uncomplicated, as the business on the agenda were passed without difficulty.
Comptroller Priyanka Thakkar supported the motions set in the senate.
“We went over our JED Campus Initiative which we are working with the Counseling and Mental Health Services on and that’s a huge initiative and basically gives us all the statistics to help students with mental illnesses,” Thakkar, a sixth-semester management and information systems major, said. “The other initiatives passed today were internal, and internal workings are always necessary for progression.”
Parliamentarian of the Senate Fiorella Contreras emphasized the smoothness of the meeting and the sense of unity among the senate for their agenda.
“Tonight’s meeting ran a little shorter than most. Thankfully, the legislation and other agenda items that were presented tonight were not very controversial,” Contreras, a fourth-semester political science and music major said.
Contreras said she hopes for more progress and work to be done later into the semester.
“We hope to just make these little kinks a little bit better so things run more smoothly,” Contreras said. “Hopefully [there will be] more participation from our newer senators.”
Jude Infante is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.