USG president: Campus safety is No. 1 priority

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

Undergraduate Student Government President Johnnie L. Lewis stressed the idea that ‘silence is compliance’ at last night’s State of the Student Body Address in the Union.

After being introduced by Vice President Nick Gamero, Lewis focused on USG’s top five issues for this year.

‘Campus safety is our number one priority,’ Lewis said. ‘It originated first through the Virginia Tech tragedy, but our concern has only escalated due to the violence on campus.’

Lewis said the Information Technology System has been working on creating a cell phone system, which would alert students when a crisis arises on campus.

He also stressed the importance of making sure friends are accounted for at all times.

‘Don’t let friends walk alone, especially at night,’ he said. ‘People need to realize that the crimes have not increased, but the violence of the crimes has.’

Sophomore Kari Crenshaw was pleased to hear campus safety was an issue USG would be working on.

‘I think Johnnie did a really good job covering the campus safety thing,’ she said. ‘It affects everyone all the time, so it’s definitely something that needs to be discussed.’

Second on Lewis’ list was the concern over the tuition hold.

‘We will see no increase in tuition this year which is great, but that also poses a problem down the road,’ he said. ‘Because of the situation surrounding the tuition hold, some University programs might get cut or lose their funding.’

USG plans to look at and assess the issue even though the University may not see the effects for nearly two or three years.

Along with the tuition hold, USG also plans on revising the academic honesty policy.

‘The policy is too lengthy and confusing right now,’ Lewis said. ‘We want to simplify it and make it clearer to students.’

The issue arose when the student government discovered mistakes made in light of the honesty policy, as well as general confusion among the students as to what it contained. USG is currently reviewing the policy and discussing possible changes.

After noting the review of the academic honesty policy, Lewis went on to discuss making instructor evaluations public.

‘This idea grew off of private evaluations,’ he said. ‘The evaluations must become useful to both students and faculty, and right now they just aren’t helping anyone out.’

Lewis promised to alert the student body when he knows more information about the progress of public instructor evaluations.

Lastly, Lewis discussed the work made on the issue of a downtown shuttle bus.

The University-provided bus would offer transportation to late-night club-goers, as well as protection for students crossing the railroad tracks in the dark.

‘The idea has been discussed for a number of years,’ he said. ‘Now is the time to put that plan into action.’

At the conclusion of the address, Mark Kowalski, junior, said he felt that Lewis’s plans for this year were effective and promising.

‘He’s done a great job so far and has really idolized an effective student government,’ he said. ‘He’s tried to reach out to a wide variety of people, and I think that shows that he really cares about the student population.’

Lewis ended the speech by reinforcing Kowalski’s feelings about him.

‘USG is here for us, the students,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid to come to us and tell us the good, the bad and the ugly. This is our school and USG is our voice.’