Undergraduate Student Government Senator Damon Reynolds is campaigning for a position on the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees to represent all five campuses of the student body. Reynolds’ main goal is to bring inclusivity to important conversations that will shape UConn’s administrative future.
Reynolds said he feels most qualified to run for Student Trustee because of the connections he has built over several years with both university administrators and student leaders in addressing issues like college affordability, sustainability, adequate representation of diversity and mental health education.
Reynold’s first experience working in USG came in 2017, early in his freshman year. In his first two weeks on campus, Reynolds explained how, in the face of proposed university-wide budget cuts, he and other members of the External Affairs Committee worked with the Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Scott Jordan, to save funding for important student services. Since then, he has always carried the responsibility with him to make sure the university is “spending in a way that is responsible and responsive.”
Last Wednesday morning, at the Mental Health Action day, where students protested the Board of Trustees meeting for five hours, Reynolds met with student leaders of the Mental Health Coalition, Kanu Caplash and Xingyi Chen of UConn Storrs and Brittany Diaz of the UConn Hartford Campus, as well as the Director of Fiscal and Business Operations of the Student Health and Wellness Executive Team, Sheyda Younessi, to plan for increased mental health services on campus. Reynolds said that it has been the most exciting experience of his campaign so far that people, like the members of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, here on campus have been able to talk about specific issues of mental health, and said it makes him feel ready to hit the ground running as the Undergraduate Student Trustee.
“Hearing that they’re with us… that was the most invigorating” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also explained that there is a need for more university faculty training surrounding issues of mental health to alleviate the ‘pressure cooker atmosphere’ that students face at college. Reynolds believes that not only does UConn need to be able to properly treat mental health, but everyone, including professors and teaching assistants, at the university needs to have a full awareness of its importance — even in the classroom.
Reynolds said he has been involved in many ways at UConn, not only through USG, but also in the Business Career Development Office and as a campus tour guide. He believes that the next Student Trustee should be a “champion of the student body” and that his experience listening to students from all walks of life makes him fit to translate their stories into administrative action that fully addresses the needs of the student body.
“I’ve been in this fight for a while. I’m really passionate about this community and I’m ready to go for this,” Reynolds said.
As Student Trustee, Reynolds said he hopes to also make a difference in the way the university partners with sustainable business practices, and adequately represents the student body in Board of Trustees discussions. Currently, there is one undergraduate student member of the Board of Trustees to represent the UConn Storrs campus, as well as all four other satellite campuses, and Reynolds said he has felt for a long time that there are underrepresented communities in administrative decisions at the university-wide level.
Reynolds mentioned that some student leaders from the UConn satellite campuses feel left behind in future planning and said that “we need to make sure that they have a plan for expansion as well.”
“I’m here for those people if they want to have a voice at the table,” Reynolds said. “To make sure that we’re one UConn.”
Voting for Undergraduate Student Trustee will open on Tuesday, March 3 and closes at 12 p.m. on March 5.
Conner Caridad is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.