After almost a full semester in office, USG President Christian Kurth and Vice President Ryan Park feel as though they’ve accomplished a lot, but said there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Reflecting on the fall semester and their campaign platform, Kurth and Park said that one of USG’s biggest successes of 2013 has been the creation of the farmers market held every Wednesday in McCarthy Quad.
“Bringing a farmers market to campus was one of the bigger platform points we had,” Kurth said. “We were able to hammer out the details over summer break, so the first week of school we had it here ready to go. … That was really big for us momentum-wise.”
Many students were also excited by the development of the farmer’s market this year.
“It’s definitely more efficient and, in terms of USC’s image, [the farmer’s market] is a nice way to incorporate the community around USC on campus, especially considering the recent fences and security measures that have been put in place,” said Jackson Burgess, a junior majoring in creative writing and narrative studies.
Besides the farmers market, construction crews have also started repaving sidewalks on 28th Street, otherwise known as The Row. Kurth was excited that these projects are finally happening.
“These are big-capital projects that have been a couple of years in the making,” Kurth said. “For us to put the pieces together and get them done in the past few months is something we’re really proud of.”
In addition to larger developments, Kurth and Park have presided over smaller-scale improvements within USG itself. Park has worked to rebrand half of USG as the “executive cabinet,” which he believes gives the organization a renewed sense of identity and purpose.
“We want to make sure that everyone’s happy and getting their work done,” Park said. “That’s a lot of the job, managing day-to-day stuff.”
Other campaign promises, however, have been more challenging to deliver. Talks about extending hours at university libraries are ongoing. USC Guidebook, the “ultimate USC smartphone app” that Kurth and Park mentioned in their campaign platform, is still awaiting approval from Student Affairs.
“We can only do so much,” Kurth said. “We lay a lot of groundwork, but at the end of the day it’s the administration that gives us the [go ahead] on a lot of these things.”
Kurth cited former Vice President of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson’s decision to step down, as well as the departure of Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Denzil Suite as the cause behind major communication challenges with the administration.
“These guys were the first point of contact for us in student government,” Kurth said. “It’s an interesting thing to deal with. We have all these new personnel, and we have to explain how things work and build relationships quickly so we can still be effective.”
As USG initiates dialogue with new administrators, Kurth and Park are looking forward. The two have long-term goals to improve USC recreation facilities and build a new library on campus, but they acknowledged these improvements will take time.
“I’d love to tear down the Lyon Center and build a [new recreation facility] in one term, but it’s not realistic,” Kurth said.
“It’s about picking and choosing your battles,” Park added.
Considering the difficulties of this transitional period, the USG leaders said they are proud of their work, and the work of all USG officials.
“It’s been great building a team [at USG],” Park said. “One of the most satisfying things is to see the people we’ve entrusted with responsibility, people our age and younger, getting involved. It’s awesome when they go out and do their job, and then do even more.
Students, however, had mixed opinions on Kurth and Park’s performance.
“I don’t think I’ve seen any substantial changes in the way the student body has been governed, to be quite honest,” said Michelle Khazaryan, a senior majoring in creative writing and international relations. “It’s been a trend throughout my time at USC.”
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