University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government’s incoming comptroller for the 2021-2022 academic year, Christopher Bergen, a fourth-semester mechanical engineering major, said his first acts will be to help streamline funding procedures and help student organizations resume in-person activities once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Bergen said USG has unprecedented unused funds, as well as student fee revenue. He wants to use the funds to benefit the most students possible, especially after last year’s hardships due to COVID-19.
“To ensure this money is spent for its intended purpose and to reduce our rollover, I will propose we deficit spend in the next fiscal year budget,” he said. “I’m encouraging all clubs to take advantage of this opportunity, along with the lenient funding policies, to maximize their initiatives and events in the upcoming school year.”
Bergen is from Bethel, Connecticut and has lived in Connecticut his whole life. He originally began his undergraduate career at UConn Stamford and changed campuses before his sophomore year.
When he transferred to Storrs, he said he noticed there was a Senate vacancy for the School of Engineering and he knew he needed to run for that position. He won and he began his USG involvement by representing undergraduate engineering students.
Bergen said he was drawn to become a member of USG because he wanted to “advocate for student issues and improve our college experience,” as well as improving USG internal relations.
“Although [advocating for student issues] could be accomplished through many other great organizations at UConn, the stories of intolerance and lack of respectful dialogue in USG motivated me to join,” Bergen said. “Students couldn’t care less about the infighting that occurred over the past year. Students are concerned about their financial aid, academics and club funding, among other things.”
During his time as senator, his personal mission was to help students feel comfortable expressing their opinions. Having difficult conversations helps find the best answers, he said.
“Having conversations with people you don’t necessarily agree with is how you find solutions to complex problems, while developing respect for their perspective,” Bergen said.
After seeing success in his senator position and getting to know his colleagues, Bergen said he was interested in becoming more involved with USG.
“There are great people in this organization who want nothing less than to improve student’s college experience,” he said. “Working with them was definitely a factor in wanting to get involved on a higher level in USG.”
Over the past few months, Bergen said he learned how valuable student organizations funding is to the undergraduate population and how USG is a key factor in that process.
“We have a multimillion dollar budget with the sole purpose of enhancing undergraduate’s experience at the University of Connecticut,” Bergen said. “Since I wanted to have the greatest positive impact on my peers, I decided to run for the position of comptroller, where I could ensure our priorities are properly funded.”
Although his campaigning experience was not what he expected (running uncontested after his previous opponent decided to transfer schools), Bergen said he is extremely thankful to have the opportunity to serve the UConn undergraduate community on a higher level. He is eager to begin.
“I recognize there is a lot of work to be done, but I am ready to get started,” Bergen said. “I’m grateful for everyone’s support and the trust put in me for this position.”
He said he is looking forward to working with the new USG governing board to improve campus initiatives and build a stronger community within the organization.
“This fall is going to be great when most students return,” Bergen said. “I’m here to help make it even better.”