Internal issues snag USG focus

At the tail end of fall semester, two of the Undergraduate Student Government’s leaders, President Bernard Little and Speaker Jeremy Lehman, had been accused of failing to follow the guidelines of the constitution, with several meetings surrounding the issue. Now, as the USG constitution is reevaluated, some students are concerned USG’s focus on internal issues will continue to prevent the student leaders from resolving

campus issues.

But USG Vice President Kristin Kulbis is not concerned that work on the constitution will prevent them from solving important issues on campus.

“It’s not going to hinder our ability to meet students’ needs first,” she said.

Senior and former USG senator Niki Messmore said the focus on internal issues last semester has already kept USG from getting important work done.

“I think USG has performed below average this year,” she said. “[They] unfortunately have been focusing a lot on internal issues.”

Lehman, USG speaker, agrees the inward focus has taken up more time than desired.

“We’ve had some minor internal issues, and I think that’s hampered out ability to focus more toward campus,” he said.

But the direction USG has taken is not the only thing they regret. Little was disappointed in the turnout at the State of the Student Body Address in October, a speech meant to inform students about issues that will affect them this school year. With chairs set up for 500 students, less than 100 chairs were filled.

“The attendance wasn’t what we intended,” Kulbis said.

The low attendance was one of Little’s biggest disappointments of the semester.

“If there were one thing I could do over I would have tried to PR the State of the Student Body Address more,” he said. “It’s important that every student at BGSU know what’s going on.”

But some students don’t seem to be as informed as they could be about what USG does and their efforts.

“Honestly, I don’t know of anything USG has ever accomplished, that’s not a slam, but I don’t remember them ever doing anything,” said Ziggy Williamson, senior.

Others question what level of influence the student government has.

“It doesn’t seem like they have a huge role in Bowling Green because no one really knows about them, or even who’s in the student government,” freshman Mike Hahn said.

To Messmore, accomplishing goals is the best way to create student awareness about the government body that represents them.

“They always worry about getting their name out there. If they simply focus on making changes that directly affect students then that PR will be accomplished for them,” she said.

Though the semester brought about a few struggles, Little said USG has still made some improvements toward certain issues, like their open forums intended to inform students on the issues of rollover dollars and the November election.

Little is most proud of his work resolving the issue of the BG1 Card and bursarables. When the University was told they were illegally extending the credit of the state, BGSU President Sidney Ribeau was determined to be in compliance with the law as soon as possible.

But Little knew this would be a difficult transition for students and student organizations, and fought to delay the transition.

“We wanted to make sure students were aware and make sure that students were involved in the process,” he said.

Little and his team asked Ribeau to wait until May this year to start the new program, which will be a debit system.

“He listened and he was great with this whole thing,” Little said.

Little hopes USG will have similar successes this semester. Some of its top priorities include the Pride in BGSU campaign, rewriting the USG constitution and starting a downtown shuttle route.