Now halfway through their term, Undergraduate Student Government President Holden Slusher and Vice President Ashlie Chan still have many items left on their platform “to do” list, despite some accomplishments.
Elected on an ambitious platform, Slusher and Chan initially promised the expansion of gym and health center hours, improvements to meal plan options, increased communication with the student body and the establishment of a tram to local attractions. Though students now enjoy a free shuttle between campus and LA Live, many of the other promises remain unfulfilled.
“As long as we make progress … I know I’m doing my job,” Slusher said. “The nature of this position is you do have to give something over to the next person [in office] … We’ve done a lot for students, we’re going to do a lot, and I don’t want them to lose faith in us.”
In November, USG announced what Slusher and Chan said was their most notable achievement so far — the launch of a free tram to popular entertainment and dining venue LA Live.
“It just provides students a great way to enjoy entertainment in a very safe environment,” Chan said. “If anything had to get done, that’s something I definitely wanted to focus on.”
Many students said the tram is the most noticeable change USG has made to campus life so far, and they appreciated having a convenient option available for exploring the city.
“I’m glad they did the LA Live tram because it makes something that’s attractive to college students accessible,” said Alex Villafuerte, a junior majoring in history.
Improving USG’s visibility and reputation among the student body was also a major component of the Slusher-Chan campaign. With
weekly tabling on Trousdale Parkway, expansion of USG’s communications department and the launch of the first Council of Presidents — a joint forum for leaders of student organizations across campus — Slusher said he believes USG’s relationship with students has advanced significantly.
Despite that progress, Chan said USG still needs to work on increasing student knowledge of the organization’s purpose.
“Awareness of who we are has improved, [but awareness of] what we do still needs a lot of improvement,” she said.
But aside from revamped promotional efforts and the creation of a tram route to LA Live, much of the Slusher-Chan platform has yet to come to fruition.
During their campaign last spring, Slusher and Chan said they planned to work with officials at the Lyon Center and University Park Health Center to expand operation hours at both locations, hoping to keep the Lyon Center open 24 hours and to add weekend hours to UPHC.
But a lack of the financial resources needed to hire more staff and support extended operating hours prevented the implementation of the initiative this semester, Chan said. For now, USG will focus on improving Lyon Center amenities and publicizing the availability of vaccines at the UPHC.
“We’re pushing the hours thing [with the Lyon Center] but also the quality of the services they provide … We keep running into the budget problem,” Slusher said. “Ideally, the gym would be 24 hours, and the administration has understood that that’s beneficial.”
Although efforts to better align Lyon Center and UPHC services with students’ needs have not moved past the preliminary stages, other platform measures are slated to be finalized and possibly implemented during the spring semester, Slusher said.
Two such initiatives, Slusher said, are allowing dining dollars to roll over each semester and promoting safety at Leavey Library with the installation of turnstiles and the expansion of “student only” hours.
USG also plans to settle on changes to the student activity card system in time for the 2010 football season, Slusher said. With these changes, students who are not able to attend a home game will have the option of going to the USC Ticket Office, swiping their ID cards and receiving paper tickets to give to anyone they want.
But other aspects of their platform, such as convincing local businesses to accept USCard, will likely take longer to implement and may not be accomplished by the end of their tenure, Chan and Slusher said.
“A lot of projects are long-term. We are trying to carry out things that were happening years ago, but we’re also trying to roll with the punches and address issues that are happening now,” Chan said.
Many students said they understood the significant amount of time needed to make large institutional changes and that they valued the reforms USG has tried to make.
“I’m sure they do as much as they’re permitted to do by institutional constraints,” said Nicholas von Bergrosen-Bradvica, a freshman majoring in creative writing, political science and economics. “A lot of times they just can’t do it because the school’s not willing to implement their ideas, and there are budget cuts.”
But Hillary Levi, a junior majoring in cinema-television production, said the current economic climate should motivate USG to allocate its resources wisely and to take more steps to connect with every student on campus.
“Obviously with the economy, USG needs to re-evaluate what’s important and where their priorities lie,” she said. “They need to evaluate how involved they are with student organizations. I know it’s hard, but that’s their job.”
Slusher said over the coming weeks he and Chan will be re-examining their platform to determine what measures to focus on in the spring.
“There are a lot of things we’ve taken seriously that will come to fruition,” Slusher said. “Like past administrations, we do have our small successes, but hopefully we’ll have our big ones. I’d love to have our own successes and I think we will.”