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USG serves students by becoming more hands-on

In the past, a major complaint regarding the Undergraduate Student Government was that they were not visible enough on campus, causing USG members to face that stigma head on. When USG President John Waynick and Vice President Sundeep Mutgi were elected last spring, they promised to change that perception. And so far, they believe they have.

“[USG] has been far more involved and hands-on this year than in previous administrations,” Mutgi said. “We really have tackled those issues that matter to students.”

Serving students and being their voice at the University is the major function of USG.

“I really want students to truly feel comfortable to approach us with their concerns and even to help be a part of the solution if they so choose,” Waynick said.

With fall semester 2008 gone and spring 2009 here, USG will continue addressing matters that directly affect students, Waynick said.

“One issue that we’re working on that is really important to students is the Section O issue,” Waynick said.

Several students have shared their disagreement over Section O, which would allow inspectors to look over the exterior and interior of rental properties. Waynick, along with other USG members, will continue to fight the issue until the desired outcome is reached.

But before now, USG has worked on several matters last fall and some of those projects will carry over into this semester, Mutgi said.

For instance, having a picture of the Falcon logo on an I-75 overpass is something that got started last semester by USG.

“There will for sure be signage with the University’s mascot welcoming students back to campus before the centennial campaign in 2010,” Mutgi said.

“USG felt getting a Falcon painted on 1-75 or by one of the entrances was not only important for student pride, but will also provide instant advertising for BG as well,” Mutgi said. “Over a quarter of a million people drive by our University and this new sign will get us instantly recognized.”

As a USG senator, members are expected to work on issues they are passionate about that affect students.

One such project Internal Affairs Senator Leo Almeida has been working on since he was a freshman is the Ethnic Student Center. Now a junior, Almeida wants to see the Ethnic Student Center become closer to a reality this year.

“I really want to work on getting the proposal ready to present to the Student Union and getting funding for this center,” Almeida said.

The Ethnic Student Center is a place where various multicultural organizations on campus could meet and collaborate.

“As it is right now with so many organizations, sometimes events are scheduled on the same day since organizations don’t know about one another’s schedule,” Almeida said. “With the new Ethnic Student Center, which we are proposing would be located where the Multicultural room is now, would help to eliminate that issue and potentially increase attendance to organization events.”

Almeida also believes having an Ethnic Student Center would be a great support resource for students.

“Although we have the Office of Multicultural and Academic Initiatives, that seems to be geared more toward first-year students, this would be a greater resource for everyone,” Almeida said.

Along with these matters, USG has also taken an active role with retaining the Springboard Program, with Almeida writing a resolution on USG’s behalf.

And although this is the last semester of Springboard, USG is still working with the provost to keep the mentorship aspect of the program alive.

“We think that along with the great benefits of mentorship in Springboard for all parties involved, numbers have shown that retention rates of freshmen were higher,” Waynick said. “And keeping students at the University is very important.”

With plans of the Stroh Center unveiled, USG is excited for what the new state-of-the-art facility will mean for students, Mutgi said.

“This new facility will be something that will provide a sense of pride for students not only now, but many years down the road,” Mutgi said. “When alumni come to visit campus, they reconnect with many of the buildings on campus and now our generation will have that opportunity to the ground break on a new building and feel that same sense of connection.”

The Stroh Center is a building that will host athletic events, concerts and commencement.

USG also plans to finalize the Student Bill of Rights this semester.

“This will be an important change for students because outlined in the new charter will be directives that for any detrimental change that will take place on campus, USG must be notified in a timely matter,” Waynick said. “In this Student Bill of Rights the University will be forced to consult USG.”

This is especially important considering what happened with the rollover situation.

“We don’t ever want anything like that to happen again because we were consulted after the fact, which was not acceptable,” Waynick said.

Even though USG has worked on many tasks, members of USG are ready to accomplish even more in this semester.

“USG has been so hands-on this year with assisting with the search for a new president, voter registration, serving on committees and other projects,” Almeida said. “But we are excited to continue working for and representing students this semester.”

“We’re excited to hit the ground running,” Waynick said.

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