Although one of the the Undergraduate Student Government’s goals is to serve as the voice of the student body, not all students agree the group is doing its job.
USG is made up of an executive board, finance committee and 17 senators. There are 43 senator seats available, and USG representatives recruit consistently.
Tyler Chance, a senior from West Frankfort studying political science, is a former senator who represented the college of liberal arts. Chance said while he has seen improvements in how the government is run, he thinks USG does not do an adequate job of representing the university’s students.
“I think the executive board does a great job of getting out there and recruiting students to join USG,” he said. “However, they aren’t doing a good job of telling students exactly who they are and what they do.”
Chance said a possible improvement would be to move the group’s public comments section from the end of its bi-weekly meetings to the beginning so attendees know USG wants to hear from them.
Adrian Miller, USG senator and sophomore from Carbondale studying pre-law, said he thinks the organization has done a great job this semester.
“I am proud of how we’ve done this semester,” he said. “I think we’ve grown and become more responsible with allocation approvals and the communication between ourselves and the RSOs we conduct business with.”
Miller said being a senator for three semesters has been a unique experience because he has to find a balance between speaking as both a student and USG member.
“I have a unique role because although I would like to only speak from a student standpoint on topics such as fees, I have to look at the overall picture and make responsible decisions,” he said.
Miller said he hopes the government will continue to grow and be fiscally responsible with allocations to RSOs, which he said is the reason he joined the finance committee this semester.
Chance said USG should work on keeping
its website updated and reaching out to more students via social media. He said he has noticed content such as contact information and meeting minutes is not regularly updated on the group’s website.
As of Thursday, the minutes of four out of USG’s eight meetings this semester were placed online, and only two of the 17 senators are listed in the website’s “Meet USG” section.
“Social media and the Internet are the way students communicate probably the most right now,” Chance said. “Not trying their best to communicate with the student body as much as possible … and not updating their website is definitely something they need improvement on.”
Miller said USG plans for the senators to perform more community service and student outreach in the spring to make students more aware of the group’s presence.
At the Dec. 4 USG meeting, Chance told the senators their fund allocation process was a democracy because senators chose what groups they distribute money toward. Throughout the fall 2012 semester, USG allocated $91,940.09 to 18 RSO’s. As of the group’s last meeting, it had $11,113 left to allocate for the spring semester, which Miller said he is proud of.
“This is the first time in more than 10 years that we will have money rolling over into the spring semester,” Miller said.
He said last year’s finance committee reported that it was out of money by January.
While USG representatives said they are proud of the group’s improvements throughout the year, some students said they think the organization should have a campus- wide vote for USG members to consider before it decides to support campus decisions.
Allison Brown, a freshman from Kankakee studying sociology, said her tuition and fees are funded by scholarships and loans, so she would like more input on what fees she has to pay.
“I understand that universities need an organization that they rely on to be the student voice,” she said. “However, I think that that organization should be making a conscious effort to actually find out how students feel instead of taking their own opinion and letting that represent more than 18,000 students.”