Cheng, Ogbevoen connected with students

Undergraduate Student Government President Chris Cheng ends every meeting in his office the same way: he plucks magnetic darts off a dartboard calendar and offers his guest the first throw.

He’s just as gracious about winning as he is about losing, but he usually has pretty good aim.

All smiles · Chris Cheng (right), USG president, and Nehi Ogbevoen, USG vice president, said they enjoyed working with university administrators. - Courtesy of Mikey Geragos

It’s easy to see why Cheng succeeded at strengthening USG’s relationship with the university administration.

“Relationships and collaboration are beyond essential, because you can’t accomplish your goals without them,” Cheng said. “We’ve worked to make sure the people we’ve hired [in USG] communicate well, but also worked to maintain relationships with administrators, even if it’s just grabbing lunch.”

USG Vice President Nehi Ogbevoen takes a similar approach. Although he runs senate meetings efficiently, he almost always cracks a joke by way of greeting.

Cheng and Ogbevoen credit some of USG’s accomplishments to the unique opportunity to work with new university leadership, especially President C. L. Max Nikias and Provost Elizabeth Garrett.

“Both the provost and the president have been more than engaging with us,” Cheng said. “They want a strong relationship with the students and that begins with us.”

Cheng said without Garrett’s enthusiasm and openness, his administration’s biggest accomplishment — extending Thanksgiving break — would not have been possible. Cheng and Ogbevoen said they thought it would have taken a full year’s worth of lobbying.

“[USG] has been trying to do this for decades,” Cheng said. “We have to thank the incoming provost for having such visionary thinking. This was a huge wall a lot of people didn’t think we’d get over.”

USG also worked with the provost to add two additional two-unit courses this semester: conversational Spanish and French.

Ogbevoen said he was proud of establishing a relationship between USG and ITS because Internet service affects every student on campus. He said the relationship was almost nonexistent in previous years.

ITS spent millions of dollars this year to improve the Wi-Fi network around campus, especially in classrooms.

“People have told me that the wireless seemed better and asked me if USG did it,” Ogbevoen said. “It’s really good to hear students notice the changes we try to make.”

USG also began hosting town hall meetings, a staple of the Cheng-Ogbevoen campaign platform, where students could talk directly to relevant administrators about issues on campus, such as the bike ban.

“A big part of our job is not only advocating for students, but staying connected with them,” Cheng said. “We do often this informally, talking to students in the campus center, but a more formal program was town hall meetings. We wanted to give students the chance to talk directly to administrators.”

President-elect Monish Tyagi and Vice President-elect Logan Lachman said they plan to continue several of the projects started by the Cheng-Ogbevoen administration, including working to improve campus sustainability, adding more two-unit classes, creating a fall break and facilitating communication between administrators and students.

“The administration speaks so highly of Chris,” Tyagi said. “He did such a great job building those relationships and that’s really going to help us out. It’s definitely some big shoes to fill.”

Cheng said he was happy with his administration’s achievements and has full confidence in Tyagi and Lachman.

“We’ve had so many accomplishments and we’re proud of them all,” Cheng said. “Now the train is moving.”