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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Shumaker begins term

Although the end of the semester is near, Monday marked a new beginning. The results of the Undergraduate Student Government elections revealed Friday that University junior Aaron Shumaker and sophomore Bernard Little would take the reigns as president and vice president.

The two officially took office Monday and immediately began their roles as the new ‘voice’ of the undergraduate student population at the University. Shumaker and Little believe that their campaign of realistic leadership placed them a step ahead of the other candidates.

Defying the stereotype of typical politicians, Shumaker and Little opted not to make empty promises to win votes.

“We went into every speaking engagement and every person we spoke to on the side [and] we let them know that we can’t make you promises, but we can promise that we’ll let you know what’s going on,” Little said.

USG elections is an annual event, but this was the first time they were held online, replacing the traditional paper ballots that were used previously. And along with the implementation of the new voting system came a significant increase in the number of students that voted.

When results were tallied, 1,766 students participated in this year’s election, according to Planning and Institutional Research. Those numbers surpassed the 762 students that voted in 2003 and last year’s total of 813 voters.

And despite the security concern prior to the elections, no major challenges arose with the new method, said Bill Knight, director of Planning and Institutional Research.

“It went very smoothly from the scanable to the web approach,” Knight said. “We had a significant number of voting this year from the pencil and paper approach.”

And although voter turnout has increased, Shumaker wants to make USG more known on campus. A mission that he and Little want to accomplish is to educate and make students aware of the organization’s presence at the University.

Voter totals reached over 1,700, but that’s still only about 10 percent of the student population at best, Shumaker said.

“We want to let students know what USG is,” he said. “I noticed that when I was campaigning: most students didn’t know or care what USG was.”

Making the organization more visible among other student organizations and meeting the concerns of the students, Shumaker said, is the first step in truly becoming the voice of the students.

“It’s going to start with knowing the concerns,” Shumaker said.

USG acts as the link between students and administrators and attempts to address issues and concerns of both groups. Student government is an influential student organization on campus.

It is essential that the concerns of students that are communicated to administrators are realistic, Shumaker said.

“We’re not going to get everything we want, but at the same time the administration needs to know our concerns,” he said. “We need to be realistic in our demands because if we’re not, the administration will tune us out immediately.”

Previous leadership experience could potentially improve Shumaker and Little’s effectiveness as leaders. Shumaker has served as president of his fraternity — Alpha Sigma Phi — and currently is a member of the executive board of the Inter-Fraternity Council.

Although he is accustomed to making decisions that affect a small number of people, Shumaker said he’s ready for the challenge of overseeing decisions that could impact a much larger group of people.

“The decisions USG makes affect everyone,” Shumaker said. “I saw an opportunity to step into a higher leadership position and I definitely thought I could do the job.”

As a member of USG for the past two years, Little knows the inner workings of student government and sees that as an advantage. In addition to that, Little believes that he has a natural ability to lead.

“I think a lot of people are born with different talents and one of the talents I was born with was leadership,” Little said. “I thought I could use my leadership abilities in this position.”

A change Shumaker and Little want to initiate is to have meetings once a month deemed as “organization day.” It would allow various organizations and students across campus to bring their concerns to USG in a casual setting.

“We might not necessarily have it in the regular room, Olscamp 113,” Little said. “We’ll go out and have it on the lawn, or go to RSA or go to BSU. We are going to go to the problem and not let the problem come to us.”

Getting members of USG involved and engaged in events throughout campus could help students become more aware of the organization’s mission, Little said.

“We want to take our suits off and get out of that office and serve,” he said.

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