USG Senate passes bills to increase transfer student support, rename buildings and improve sexual assault education 

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The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate passed bills to help transfer students adjust to Storrs, rename buildings on campus and improving sexual assault education for students on Wednesday night. 

First, the USG Senate passed legislation that aims to help campus change and transfer students adjust to life at Storrs. Samantha Lamb, an eighth-semester political science and environmental studies major and Transfer Student Association vice president, talked about her own struggle transferring from the Stamford campus in spring 2020. 

“Personally, I did not have a great experience. I found out a lot of people feel the same way … I am presenting legislation to represent campus change and transfer students in one position. There is currently no transfer or campus change office on campus. No specific advisors for transfer or campus change students. There are a lot of ways UConn can help people feel welcome when they get to Storrs,” Lamb said. 

The bill passed with unanimous approval. It will appoint one new ex-officio position in the USG Senate to represent transfer and campus change students. 

“Sexual assault is a pretty big issue at UConn. Our education training is very, very low, just barely meeting federal standards. We felt really strongly about revamping this education … What we really only have is just the Protect Our Pack module you get when you are a rising junior.”

Abbey Engler

The new senators in this position will be “expected to uphold their duties by maintaining pressure to open an office to support transfer and campus change students, diversify existing offices that do not account for transfer and campus change specific needs, and spread awareness of how the Administration can meet their needs,” according to the bill.  

Next, the USG Senate passed legislation that aims to start a discussion about renaming the Wilbur Cross building. Eli Collins, an eighth- semester linguistics and psychology major and commuter senator, talked about why they want the former Connecticut governor’s name removed from the building. 

“Wilbur Cross commissioned Charles Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin to conduct a survey based on eugenics which ranked Connecticut residents on 21 factors such as race and disability. 400 Connecticut residents, 92% of which were female, 74% of which were considered mentally ill, and 26% of which were deemed ‘mentally deficient’ were forcibly sterilized by the time Governor Wilbur Cross left office. It is our belief that this person should not be the namesake of one of the biggest buildings on campus,” according to the bill Eli helped write, which was read aloud during the meeting. 

There was some minor discussion about the validity of these claims, but many voiced support for the bill, which passed unanimously.  

Collins said they hope the bill will force UConn to hold a virtual town hall about the renaming of the building and change it to either that of an alum or of Indigenous origin.  

“UConn does have a past, and we need to recognize it because it’s an important point in history.”

Eli Collins

“UConn does have a past, and we need to recognize it because it’s an important point in history,” Collins said. 

Finally, the USG Senate passed legislation they hope will improve sexual assault education for students.  

Abbey Engler, a sixth-semester business management and philosophy major, ex-officio senator and deputy director of Academic Affairs, talked about how UConn is currently lacking in its sexual assault education. 

“Sexual assault is a pretty big issue at UConn. Our education training is very, very low, just barely meeting federal standards. We felt really strongly about revamping this education … What we really only have is just the Protect Our Pack module you get when you are a rising junior,” Engler said. 

Engler said she also hopes it helps address the problem with current first and second-year students, who may have missed out on adequate training due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bill passed unanimously and “calls on UConn to provide increased funding and support for the Dean of Student’s Office, the Office of Institutional Equity, and the Women’s Center to expand their outreach and education efforts to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment free of gender-based discrimination and sexual violence.” 

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