In a move that is all-too-familiar, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is again campaigning for more student representatives on the Board of Trustees, this time hoping to double the current two students to four. USG wants to further their vision of giving a voice to University of Connecticut undergraduates, but it’s hard not to feel cynical about it.
This is not the first time this has been proposed. It’s been for years seemingly that students have pined for more representation and say in the direction of our university, and it has not worked so far. While this bill, with its fancy title of HB 7119, looks like it could be different, it’s hard not to feel a bit voiceless.
See, this event does not come in isolation. Undergraduates at UConn have felt voiceless, especially in the wake of large quality-of-life changes they have had little say in. The most obvious among these is parking. The university sees it more fit to have high prices and limited availability on their precious few spots rather than simply building some more lots or otherwise increasing infrastructure.
The problem is not limited to this, though. The scope of the new recreation center, along with the size of its fees, feels unfair to students who have had to toil with the mess its construction has caused. Bus lines only changed because of student uproar. And more recently, mental health services, long-criticized at UConn, are the subject of ire. It seems clear that students feel a little helpless.
And while this problem is not exclusive to undergraduates, it does feel particular to them. After all, the aforementioned parking issue was exacerbated when undergraduate parking was reduced to deals with the Graduate Employee Union.This isn’t to cause a divide between students; it’s in full support. The GEU is doing a great thing for graduate students at UConn, but there is no equivalent for undergraduates. This highlights the disparity and the lack of voice that undergraduate students face at the university.
When will all this change? The administration must listen to undergraduate students more. While we may not draw as much research funding as other groups, we are the lifeblood of campus. We are the ones who pay high tuition to come here. We are the group that the state of Connecticut was looking to help when it created UConn. And as such, we deserve a greater say in the direction of our university.