Cheng, Ogbevoen want to connect students and leaders

Student access to an online campus food ordering system, safer tram stops, direct student involvement in sustainability and town hall-like meetings are just a few of the goals presidential candidate Chris Cheng and vice presidential candidate Nehi Ogbevoen said will help bring the “premier collegiate experience to USC.”

Making it happen · Presidential candidate Chris Cheng (right) and vice presidential candidate Nehi Ogbevoen have researched their propositions to ensure they can deliver on their promises. - Photo courtesy of Chris Cheng

A junior majoring in international relations and a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, Cheng is currently USG director of outreach and served as assistant director of communications last year. Ogbevoen, a junior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention and a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, is currently a member of the USG Academic Research Fund and is also involved in community service events and groups such as Dance Marathon and Troy Camp. Both candidates say they see USC through a wide lens because of their involvement in various activities.

“We think we can really connect to the majority of almost all Trojans, and that’s something we pride ourselves in — is being the most active candidates,” Cheng said.

One of their goals is reaching to the entire student body to hear different voices and opinions in organized town hall meetings every month. Town halls would cover issues such as housing, dining, financial aid, entertainment programming, academic research, academics and community service.

“We don’t feel like there is enough student input,” Cheng said. “A lot of the people in USG are great leaders, great minds, but it’s a 16,000 undergraduate student body, and we should hear from more than 30 people.”

The candidates plan to work to bring high profile speakers — like Lane Kiffin and Mike Garrett to the athletics meeting — to bring in a lot of student input.

Because USG is a lobbying organization, Cheng said he thinks it is also a great venue for individual students and student organizations to connect to the administration. If elected, the candidates would work on increasing USG’s transparency and encouraging collaboration between USG and student groups.

Off campus, Cheng and Ogbevoen are emphasizing student safety and reliable communication at tram stops in the North University Park area.

“People always complain about how there’s not enough lighting [at the tram stops]. They feel insecure, unsafe … People don’t use the trams because they don’t know when they are coming, so they focus on Campus Cruiser, which clogs the line,” Cheng said.

The candidates said they have confirmed with an administrator that digital clocks could be placed at stops. Because the trams are already connected to GPS, it wouldn’t be difficult to add these clocks to estimate the tram’s arrival times.

They are also hoping to cut down long dining lines at campus eateries. Ogbevoen said there is an online program they would like to introduce to USC where students can essentially order food online.

Academically, Ogbevoen said their focus on restoring and improving the variety of two-unit classes on campus would add options like rock climbing and culinary and graduate test prep classes.

They also plan to work with administrators to fix poor wireless signals in some areas of campus.

“I know I have problems all the time getting Wi-Fi connection in VKC, Taper [Hall], the dorms,” Ogbevoen said.

Both candidates want to see more student involvement in other arenas on campus, including sustainability. They hope to work directly with USC Sustainability Program Manager Matthew Oden to encourage students to go green.

“We really want to enhance the [sustainability] office and make it a true, permanent sustainability office that not only professionals get to work in [but also] student themselves,” Cheng said. “There would be committees with [Oden], kind of like a student government itself but just for the sustainability office.”

Moreover, Cheng said they plan to push a reusable-mug system that is currently being worked on with Trojan Grounds and Ground Zero Performance Café and other coffee shops on campus.

Leading up to the campaign period, Cheng and Ogbevoen, who are running with the campaign slogan, “Believe in us, and we’ll make it happen. Fight On!” said they worked hard to form an achievable platform.

“Not only did we meet with student leaders from student organizations, but we also met with administrators as well to see which of our goals were actually feasible,” Ogbevoen said.

Cheng added that they have been talking with students to see what kind of change they want to see and are combining that with input from administrators to determine what can actually be done.

“We don’t want to give [students] false hope, false promise and then get the position added to our résumé and move on,” Cheng said.

Campaign manager Alex Bozzo said the dynamic between the two candidates will bring a balance to USG.

“With Chris, you see this confident, exuberant energy and just really passionate guy … [which] is complemented nicely from Nehi, who is always composed when he speaks and garners attention of everyone in the room … There is that aura and presence about him that commands respect,” Bozzo said.

To hear Liz Warden’s complete interview with Chris Cheng and Nehi Ogbevoen, click below:

Part one

Part two