Undergraduate Student Government partnered with Residential Student Government on an open forum Wednesday night that allowed students to voice their concerns about student life. The event was meant to give USG and RSG a better understanding of what students want out of their daily lives on campus so they can then advocate for those changes to be made.
There were four panelists at the forum: RSG President Sera Choi, RSG Vice President of Advocacy David Branson, USG Director of University Affairs Jordan Fowler and USG Vice President Rini Sampath. Alana Victor, USG Co-Director of External Relations, planned the event.
According to Sampath, this was the first direct partnership between USG and RSG, but both committees look forward to collaborating more in the future. Sampath reached out to Choi to set up the collaboration. Sampath said that she and Choi met last year when they were part of a task force to address alcohol and social policies at USC. When talking, they realized that it would be a good idea to pool their resources and create a bigger event that would allow for undergraduate students to voice their opinions about campus life.
“We’re really excited to have this forum with you all because I think it’s a great way to see where students stand on what they’re passionate about and what students want to see on campus,” Choi said. “Hopefully, we can come up with solutions together and find out and be inspired for future projects during the rest of the year.”
The panelists talked about the current projects USG and RSG are working on. One of the first mentioned by USG was improving the printers in residence halls. Students have mentioned that they would prefer heavy-duty black and white printers as opposed to individual use color printers. USG is working on a proposal to get printers that are more reliable.
Fowler talked about possibly extending dining hall hours so that they open earlier and close later. Students have also complained about the dining halls being closed during Spring Break. USG is trying to pass a proposal that would keep at least one dining hall open during breaks when some students remain on campus.
Sampath addressed the complaints brought up by spring admits. Due to the lack of space in residence halls that are hubs of social activity, spring admits often have to live in off-campus housing and university-owned apartments, such as Cardinal Gardens. USG plans to start working on creating a stronger community in the fall between spring admits.
“There is a housing freeze right now, so we can bring spring admits into certain areas. We’re keeping spaces open in first-year communities so they can be integrated into those communities. In the east area, they have isolated pockets so people can be together. That way they are not just randomly set aside with the senior that’s about to graduate,” said David Hong, advisor of RSG and an assistant director for Parkside Residential Colleges.
USG panelists mentioned the possible implementation of a bike-sharing program on campus, but due to the small acreage of the University Park, Transportation is questioning whether it would be necessary or even in demand.
Another topic of discussion was expanding the LAX shuttle schedule. Students are asking for more shuttles to run to and from the airport during breaks. One limitation to this potential project, however, is a lack of storage space for the shuttles.
RSG talked about how they are working with Hospitality. There is a recipe committee that goes over the dishes that are served in all the dining halls. The committee attempts to figure out which dishes are working and which aren’t, but RSG is trying to figure out a way to extend that to the students and get more direct input.
RSG and USG talked about improving sustainability. The panelists mentioned that the student government bodies are planning on working with the Environmental Student Assembly to spread awareness about the conservation of water, paper and electricity. Also, RSG has asked housing to add recycling bins to each residence hall.
“I think both of our student governments do awesome things, but it’s frustrating to find out that nobody knows about it. We want the students to take advantage of these programs. We’re trying to figure out, how can we effectively communicate to the students of USC? I think that working on promoting these events and programs is a great way USG and RSG can collaborate,” said Michael Tong, national residence hall honorary president.