As part of an effort to increase efficiency and effectiveness the Undergraduate Student Government is restructuring the way senators interact with student organizations.
USG senators will now visit clubs and groups that have a similar theme, such as academic, community service, arts, political or sports.
Senators are currently required to spend four hours visiting outside organizations each week, but the new system will create “continuity,” said Marissa Roy, the residential senator who headed the effort.
“I think one problem in the past has been that we sometimes don’t have a lot of direction with what our job is,” Roy said. “We do have this wonderful opportunity to define our role in the school because of this flexibility, but there does need to be a little structure sometimes.”
Previously, senators would visit clubs they felt were important, but did not have any specific assignments. Roy said she felt this often prevented senators from building very close relationships with constituents.
“We’re trying to create more continuity and really build relationships with these clubs,” Roy said. “We want senators to become more known about in their chosen field. [By going to meetings with a certain theme group,] I really know what constituents face so I can speak for them in USG and be a better representative for them than if I just went to one meeting once a semester.”
President of USC College Democrats Ximena Velazquez said that her organization had not had much contact with USG in the past, but that having a specific person assigned to contact her group could help them achieve their goals.
“If we can have USG offering support that could really help us,” Velazquez said. “This definitely will be something to try, but until they reach out, we won’t really know if it’s useful or not.”
The ultimate goal of the reorganization is also part of USG’s primary goal: to represent student interests and lobby for them in whatever way possible.
“Student organizations are really the key to getting involved with the student body,” said Vinnie Prasad, USG speaker pro tempore. “With so many student organizations and so many students involved with them, it’s really the most effective way to get in touch.”
Prasad also noted some organizations “slipped under the radar” in the past because senators weren’t always sure which groups were covered, but the new system will ensure all major clubs have direct and consistent contact with USG.
“It’s not just getting our message out to them, but getting their message from that region into USG,” Prasad said. “For example, a senator working with service organizations can report back to philanthropy fund and say what the students involved in service organizations really need.”
Prasad said senators have been really enthusiastic about the system.
“We like the additional structure to make sure that we’re representing everyone,” Prasad said. “This senate has very high ambitions as far as being more connected with the student body.”
Vice President Logan Lachman, who presides over all senate meetings and was a greek senator last year, said the change is a definite improvement.
“This way we’re really able to focus on the bigger picture with each group,” Lachman said. “It’s a condensed version of what senators would be doing anyway, but it’s more efficient.”
The new system was discussed during USG’s Tuesday senate meeting and will be implemented for the remainder of the current senator’s terms.
“There’s a lot of challenges to how we represent the student body,” Prasad said. “There’s almost nothing our entire student body isn’t involved in. We really want to represent all the various segments of the student population and this will help us achieve that.”