3 students attend USG open forum

The Undergraduate Student Government hosted a forum in place of its typical elections debate to inform the student body of its president and vice president’s plans for next year.

USG President Alex Solis and Vice President David Neely answered questions from an audience of three students.

The two are running unopposed for re-election for the upcoming academic year.

During the forum, which took place in the Union Thursday at 6 p.m., the USG duo fielded questions about their plans for next year.

Apart from pushing for further green initiatives and making sure the renovations for the Student Recreation Center and the new Falcon Health Center stay on schedule, Solis emphasized the need to increase the retention rate, which is currently at 65 percent, he said.

Solis added he’d like to see it increase by at least four percent in the next year.

Going hand-in-hand with retention is enrollment, Neely said.

“We’re working on rebranding,” he said, “really attracting those transfer students, those international students, showing what Bowling Green has to offer them.”

To accomplish this, Solis and Neely said they will join University efforts to increase the attraction of prospective students to the University, while giving them a reason to stay.

“It would be great to say that 100 percent of students on campus are involved in extracurricular activities,” Neely said.

Neely also mentioned the linked courses the University will offer freshmen next fall. These will connect students with others in their major by putting them in classes together, encouraging them to stay at the University.

Another main goal for the running mates is to continue to make sure the student voice is heard.

The student government doesn’t have the power to decide everything on campus, but Solis and Neely said they will do what they can for student concerns.

“There’s students everywhere that voice their opinion on things they’d like to see changed,” Neely said. “I think the big thing for students to know is that we hear their voices … change doesn’t come easy.”

Solis cited a number of reasons for the low turnout at the student forum, such as students’ class schedules, the WNIT basketball game and the running mates’ lack of competition. This past USG election, when Solis and Neely ran against Tabitha Timbrook and Jon Zachrich, the debate drew a crowd of 70, The BG News reported in March 2012.

“Tabitha Timbrook and Jon Zachrich was one of the most toughest tickets we could’ve gone against,” Solis said “Now coming to [running unopposed], it’s totally different.”

Even though they have no challengers, Solis and Neely still wanted to try to educate the students on their plans.

“I think the biggest thing is educating students why it’s important,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard [to get the message out there.]”

Still, Solis said if he’s not out on campus, his door is always open on the fourth floor of the Union.

“Anyone can come find us in the office,” he said.

USG voting begins this coming Monday and ends Thursday.

Solis estimated that 10 percent of this past year’s student body voted in the USG election.

Spring 2012 enrollment totaled 16,223, according to the University’s office of Institutional Research, meaning that by his estimate, around 1,600 voted.

Even though they are unopposed, Solis still encouraged students to vote.

“I’m hopeful for an increase but it’s tough because we’re unopposed,” he said.

Evan Colyer, USG chief administrative officer, was also present and kicked off the meeting.

“I’ve talked to a few people on campus who were knowledgeable about USG and they all said, ‘Well, who would run against Solis and Neely?’” Colyer said. “I don’t think other people are as prepared.”