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February 22, 2024

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USG needs a serious makeover

More than 20,000 students currently attend BGSU. With that many minds wandering around, filled with opinion and ideas, it can be hard for any University to know what they can do to keep the student body happy.

That’s where the Undergraduate Student Government comes in.

According to the USG mission statement, its goal is to “furthe[r] the needs of the student body” and to “act with vision, and meet not only the current needs, but future needs of the students” while “provid[ing] opportunities for students to learn, grow, and lead.”

But our USG isn’t doing that. After a semester of messy internal debacles, many students are left wondering what’s more important: USG’s by-laws or the voices of the students?

Even when they tried to speak to students in their annual State of the Student Body Address, senators and onlookers agreed: The attendance was abysmal.

In an article in The BG News on Jan. 23, several senators discussed their belief that the USG needs to be restructured. While they are proposing a bicameral student congress, similar to our U.S. Congress, I propose a much more dramatic change.

The USG is, in itself a formally useless organization. So why do we still have it? Well, because of what I mentioned earlier: it’s hard for the University to hear from 20,000 individual students. It’s much easier to hear from one group of student-elected representatives.

My proposal is that we disband the USG and combine it and its duties with our Resident Student Association.

Now stop gasping, it’s not an original idea. Just this past September a private university in Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, did exactly the same thing.

They combined their Student Government Association (the equivalent of our USG) and Interhall (RSA) to form the Vanderbilt Student Government.

An article in the campus newspaper, The Vanderbilt Hustler, the president of Interhall, Devin Donovan explained the need for the change: “Vanderbilt Student Government will take on all of the responsibilities and the services that are currently offered, but it will eliminate the redundancies and inefficiencies that currently exist.”

The change will take place for the beginning of the next academic year.

Our University needs to consider the benefits of adopting this change here in BG. The RSA acts as the voice of on-campus students. It governs every Hall Council on campus and does more for students than USG.

And while RSA currently deals with the social aspect of life at the University, it’s been very successful in its efforts.

Included in its list of accomplishments for this year are three leadership conferences here at BG, two semester start-off events boasting attendance of more than 300 people each and the fact that representatives serving on RSA are all from Hall Councils where students who actually know the candidates have voted them into office.

The RSA’s mission statement, taken directly from its Web site, says, “The purpose of this organization is to provide a voice for resident students, to improve the quality of life on campus, to promote unity and community among university housing units, and to promote diversity and awareness for all resident students of Bowling Green State University.”

Sounds familiar, no? The USG and RSA are trying to do nearly the same thing. They’re trying to provide a voice for the students.

The main difference is that RSA actually accomplishes its goals, and has an impact on student life, while the USG hides behind its constitution and its rules of order, and never gets much done.

On its list of accomplishments this year, the USG has held several open forums on issues relating to the campus. Talking, but never acting.

The “legislation” passed by the USG on the issue of lowering the minimum GPA requirement was a joke. At one page long, with half the page dedicated to those the “legislation” would be forwarded to, it essentially said the USG really doesn’t think this is a good idea.

Its representation of the “voice of campus” is a cute title used to accomplish nothing. And we pay them $21,607 to do it. This is compared to the $3,500 total that RSA offices split amongst themselves.

The USG needs to consider the needs of the students when re-evaluating the structure of its organization.

And don’t make too many assumptions about what other students want. You might be surprised to know that the proposal to combine the SGA and Interhall at Vanderbilt was approved in an astounding 1,056:112 vote.

Why should we have to pay more to a group that accomplished less? Why should we have to vote for leaders who make vague and empty campaign promises like they were sleazy politicians in training?

Let’s take some advice from a university older than us, let’s cut down on redundancies and inefficiencies by combing the USG and RSA to form an organization that can act as the voice of all students while both battling current issues and providing students with a real service they can use.

Send comments to Amanda Hoover at [email protected].

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