The Undergraduate Student Government at the University of Connecticut are in the midst of forming their first focus group centered on mental health.
The focus group initiative was created at USG to amplify and highlight student voices, Nisali Fernando, administrative director in the Office of the Vice President, said.
“We want to create a better, communicative environment within this organization and essentially lookout for the best interest of our constituents and the folks that vote for us, the students,” Fernando said. “USG usually has a communication breakdown when it comes to people outside of the organization who are very passionate, but feel like they cannot share their ideas and initiatives.”
The focus groups can create inclusive and accessible spaces for students to contribute to the conversations happening in USG.
“We want to help elevate student voices and increase USG’s accessibility to the student population of UConn,” Mike Hernandez, USG president said. “Focus groups are an avenue from a specific interest on a student concern to a broader involvement in student government. It is a way to empower all UConn students with the resources of USG.”
Focus groups are open for all undergraduate students to participate in and create.
“I wouldn’t say there are any topic limitations as we want to give all students a platform,” Fernando said. “But the hope is to facilitate conversations that can spearhead the development of initiatives and action items, and allow an easier transition to students to engage more with our Committees so topic proposals may need to be altered or modified depending on whether or not they are conducive to pushing forward change.”
Students who apply to lead a focus group will be assisted by USG to find a meeting time and promote the focus group to the undergraduate population.
“During COVID the mode of communication will be fully up to the point person of the focus group,” Fernando said. “In the age of COIVD many of us are looking for safe human connection and if members of a focus group would like to meet in person, the point person can take the necessary steps to arrange a meeting space in the student organization center or outside.”
Results and insight on each focus group will be available to students on the USG site and social media pages.
“There are no focus groups planned yet … but we are in the midst of forming a mental health focus group,” Kavya Ganugapati, USG Student Services Deputy Director said. “We want to advocate for the implementation of Brittany Diaz’s Mental Care Act. More information will be coming soon.”
Students can email Fernando at email@example.com and the EOC at firstname.lastname@example.org to form a focus group with the date, time, topic and online location for the group.