The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) will be led next year by incoming president Priyanka Thakkar and incoming vice president Manny Chinyumba.
Thakkar, sixth-semester management information systems major, currently serves as USG’s comptroller after starting in the organization as a senator when she was a freshman.
“I was a senator for my first two years, and then my second year I was also the vice chair of student services, where I did a lot of work for tampon time and really got it going to what it is now,” Thakkar said. “(My) second semester sophomore year, I ran for a position called the comptroller, and I won that election.”
Chinyumba, sixth-semester political science major minoring in real estate, said this is the first year he’s been involved with USG, but said he’s held leadership roles in other UConn organizations, including in his fraternity, for HuskyTHON and at the office of diversity and inclusion.
“I was familiar with USG as a freshman and sophomore and I had some friends that were in it as seniors, but…I just wasn’t sure entirely where I would fit in in USG,” Chinyumba said. “I kind of thought I would need to have it all together or just need to kind of make sure that I could be X, Y, Z. So that was just my own misconceptions.”
Thakkar said her main focus for next year is to rebrand USG by building a “strong and diverse executive board.”
“Sometimes perspectives in USG can be very linear, and it’s not as diverse as we want it to be, but I hope that when people see Manny and I, they see two people of color from a variety of backgrounds that can really advocate and be as relatable to students as possible,” Thakkar said. “So that’s one of our things, is rebranding USG.”
Chinyumba said next year, he plans to continue initiatives that address the issue of food insecurity on the UConn campus.
“How do we live day to day on a campus where there is a certain percentage of students who still don’t know where their next meal is coming from?” Chinyumba said. “We started having the pop-up UCafés that (current USG vice president) Wawa started, and so I hope to continue on a similar effort and make it a little bit more accessible, make it a little bit more visible and also just destigmatize it.”
Overall, Thakkar and Chinyumba said they are hoping to improve USG’s reputation next year, so students’ perception of it is more in line with the organization’s mission.
“It’s nice that Manny is kind of on the outside of USG, because he knows how our perception is to the public and to students, and I understand that USG is not always seen in a positive light,” Thakkar said. “I think together we (will) make a really good pair because I know a lot of the internal workings and he’s able to see all of the external workings and how we can change the organization, our brand, our image and our inclusivity as a whole.”
USG’s incoming comptroller will be Dylan Nenadal. The organization is currently accepting applications for its other governing board positions, and students wishing to apply can find the applications at usg.uconn.edu/apply.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.