The main role of the Undergraduate Student Government is to serve as the representative body for the undergraduate student population here at USC. The Undergraduate Student Government, also known as USG, is able to do this through the programming of events, advocating for desired changes, funding student organizations and events and writing new legislation for change. To execute and promote these ideals, it requires the work of dedicated students who want to be part of this movement of change. Students are given the opportunity at the beginning of each semester to apply to be part of the USG team by joining advocacy committees such as University Affairs and Diversity Affairs, or funding boards such as the Philanthropy Funding Board or the Discretionary Funding Board. In addition, USG is comprised of elected officials who were chosen in the previous year’s election to represent their various constituency groups such as the Residential, Commuter and Greek Senator positions, and the President and Vice President positions.
This year, to ensure the best possible results for both candidate’s participation and student voter turnout, numerous changes have been made to the Elections Code.
The Elections and Recruitment team took the advice and experience of past candidates and past Elections and Recruitment teams to make changes to the USG Elections Code. The focus of this year’s changes was to increase student participation in the elections both as candidates and as voters as well as improve the elections procedure for candidates, and eliminate gray areas that might cause confusion. One of the major changes made to the elections procedure was the elimination of the “research period.” During this period, candidates were allowed to conduct research by visiting student organizations and other groups on campus in an effort to promote themselves as well as see what platform points to build. During this period, however, candidates were not allowed to disclose their intent to run for any position and also had to include various disclaimers to avoid committing violations. To avoid the confusion that surrounded this period, we removed this period and replaced it with the Campaign Period Part I, which allows candidates to conduct in-person research with student organizations and other groups on campus, but also allowed candidates to disclose themselves as candidates for a certain position.
In addition, this new Campaign Period Part I allowed for candidates to utilize social media and digital forms of campaigning a week and half earlier than previous year’s campaigning periods. This change allows for candidates to advertise their campaign for a longer period of time, garnering more exposure and in turn allowing student voters the opportunity to learn more about the candidates. This change was one of many made to the new Elections Code to make the elections process easier for both the candidates and those in charge of making sure elections is conducted smoothly.
The Undergraduate Student Government holds an influential position on campus and is a tremendous tool for students to utilize for change and advocacy on campus. Given our position as the voice and representation of the undergraduate population, it is important that people take the time to learn about the candidates in this year’s upcoming elections as they might have a direct impact in their undergraduate experience with projected plans. In addition to voting and being aware of the elections, students should explore the opportunity to be part of the Undergraduate Student Government. By being part of this organization, students will have the direct power to invoke changes in the areas they want to see changed. Consider being part of the change by voting in this year’s upcoming elections and also being part of the Undergraduate Student Government as a member.
Olivia Diamond is the Senior Director of Communications for the Undergraduate Student Government. Andrew Cho is the Co-Director of Elections and Recruitment for the Undergraduate Student Government.