University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President and Vice President Priyanka Thakkar and Emmanuel Chinyumba said they are proud of the work they have done this year and hope to hand over current initiatives to the incoming administration.
“We have been working on making elections as smooth as possible as well as differing ways we can close the initiatives we have been working on,” Thakkar said. “With a new administration comes a new executive board. We are hoping they will continue the progress our chairs and personnel have made this semester.”
Thakkar said the spring semester is when the USG president and vice president focus on transitioning in the new administration. Despite a new administration coming in, Chinyumba said they still are willing to start new initiatives.
“Just because you won’t see something come to fruition, doesn’t mean you can’t start it,” Chinyumba said. “When you see a project from start to finish, you can see how successful it is, and that motivates you to replicate that outcome.”
The pair agreed they have had many of those successful moments during their term.
“I’m really proud of the progress USG has made just in this year, we came in with a mission of whatever we do will be for the students, and to make sure that whatever we do goes back to them,” Thakkar said.
Thakkar and Chinyumba said they feel fortunate for the good working relationship that they have and hope to see the same in the next administration.
“I would love to see that cohesive and working relationship spillover to senators as well,” Chinyumba said.
Going forward, Thakkar said they hope to see more policy changes come from USG.
“I think policy changes are something that take a lot of time and help with the continuation of conversation,” Thakkar said. “We hope to start the conversation right now and the next administration can continue it.”
USG and its different subcommittees have begun and executed many initiatives this semester, including ones in collaboration with other organizations on campus. Thakkar said almost every event USG does, they collaborate with another organization in some sense.
“We know we can’t do everything on our own, and USG only has one level of advocacy,” Thakkar said. “We want USG to be the best middle ground with administration, students and other organizations to truly collaborate and maximize the quality of the event.”
Thakkar said one significant collaboration was between USG and the cultural centers on campus. USG worked with every cultural center and created a series of events with them, she said. Chinyumba said these events are not limited to a certain time but are often year round.
“We started the Cultural Appreciation series in the fall semester and the concluding event is in April,” Chinyumba said.
Mental health has been another topic of focus within USG. Thakkar and Chinyuma said they are looking into short term solutions and things that can be done immediately for students.
“A lot of students find that it can be overwhelming to go to CMHS but then they don’t really know the next steps,” Chinyumba said. “We’re trying to find a way to condense information and consolidate it for the students.”
Thakkar said the room for growth provides a lot of opportunities for changes to happen to the mental health services on campus.
“CMHS is understaffed. They don’t have a director or an associate director,” Thakkar said. “We’re all on the same page as far as what work needs to be done, we just need to figure out what is immediate and what can be done in the long term.”
Policy changes within the Student Recreation Center are also in the works inside USG, according to Thakkar, surrounding the dress code. She said conversations have been happening, and they hope to have changes before the end of spring.
The president and vice president cited Tampon Time as a success, an initiative that implemented menstrual product dispensers across campus free of charge. Husky Market also was new this semester, as part of a collaboration with CONNPirg to provide students with free groceries.
Another new initiative this semester was the extended dining hall hours during finals week.
“We are really excited to say that dining services will be taking that on as a permanent initiative, to have dining halls open later during finals week,” Thakkar said.
USG has also worked on forming faculty luncheons where students can meet with professors in a sit-down setting, working on turning the finals week care packages into something styled like a fair and holding more conversations with transfer students coming from UConn branch campuses.