A year in review: As his term ends, USG President Mutgi reflects

Oalissa and Oalissa

Undergraduate Student Government President Sundeep Mutgi led USG through a tumultuous year full of hot-button issues and internal problems, but with his term coming to an end, Mutgi said it has also been a year full of accomplishments.

At the start of his term, Mutgi faced internal difficulties as a result of his close ties with the previous USG administration and their controversial Stroh Center issue.

“I think a lot of people who ran for student government came in thinking I was a tyrant, that I love the administration and I hated the students and that’s the way I was going to run things,” Mutgi said. “It was definitely a battle for at least the first quarter of the year.”

Despite the difficulties he faced at the start of the year, USG Student Welfare Chair and Off-Campus Senator Chris Schiazza said Mutgi’s term was successful because of his ability to unite the student government.

“Sundeep [Mutgi] has a very good way of bringing people together and that’s what USG really needed this year,” Schiazza said. “He set the tone to ‘Let’s work together guys, we’re all here for the students and the better good of the University.'”

At-Large Senator Jesse Powell agreed and said Mutgi’s behind-the-scenes guidance was a strength of his administration.

“It’s weird because they’re in the USG general assembly meetings but the president, vice president and executive board, they don’t have a right to vote,” Powell said. “So it’s almost like they’re a coach getting everyone to do their jobs and kind of being, you know, the ra-ra person that tries to get everyone to do their best.”

Mutgi’s administration also faced external criticism from the student body.

While criticism in one form or another is expected with the job, Mutgi said no matter how often it happened during his term he still never got completely used to it.

“The days when you read an article in The BG News that was submitted by a student and they, you know, rip you apart for a lot of things that are just misinformation, facts they don’t really understand, those are the tough ones,” Mutgi said. “Those are the hard times when you really get down on yourself because you think ‘Am I really doing the right thing here?’

“I think that ultimately when I evaluated myself I felt like I was doing the right thing. You learn to get a tough skin, but it’s never easy to hear people say some pretty mean things.”

While the criticism was sometimes hard to handle, Mutgi welcomed it as a leader of the student body because it made USG stronger.

“There are still people who question me constantly and that’s OK, I like that,” Mutgi said. “It makes me question myself, ‘Is this really the right thing we should be doing?'”

One of the biggest criticisms USG received from the student body was that they were repeatedly siding with the administration. Mutgi said many students were upset with USG’s stance on faculty unionization.

He said USG made its stance known as siding with the students and not the administration, but USG still constantly fought against that perception.

Other than sitting in the lap of the administration, Mutgi said another big misconception students have about USG is that the student government has no power.

“The problem is, people see the big stuff,” Mutgi said. “They see it as minimal changes or what-have-you, but in reality what we actually change is a lot of the little stuff that no one ever sees.”

Mutgi said if students do not believe in them, it doesn’t really matter how much potential power USG has.

If we go in with the mindset that we can’t make changes and no one cares anyway, people are not going to take us seriously, he said.

“For next year’s student government, I want them to definitely put out the message that we are as powerful as we believe we are,” Mutgi said. “If we go to a Board of Trustees meeting with the weight of the student body behind us, then in every way we have power in what we say.”

After the struggles USG faced, even with the accomplishments they made, Mutgi was hesitant to say he’d do it all again.

“After serving as vice president and now as president, I’ve basically ran the same race two years in a row,” he said. “I think it’s OK that I was here for two years, but at some point you need new ideas. Definitely, if I could redo this year, if I had to do it all over again, all the heartache, all the time commitment, all the joy that came from it, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”