USG holds first meeting of the semester


The Undergraduate Student Government Senate cleared up unfinished business before voting to fund a sustainability conference for leaders of the Environmental Student Assembly at its first meeting of the semester Tuesday evening in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.

ESA, a USG body composed of several student organizations — including the Environmental Core, Greeks Go Green and the USC Bike Coalition — aims to “program events promoting the green culture, sustainability, and environmental advocacy at USC,” according to its website.

At Tuesday’s meeting, three members of the organization’s executive board — Director Ahlia Bethea and Assistant Directors Elliott Wezerek and Kaitlin Kinsella — introduced their plan to attend the Twelfth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, and requested funding from the Senate.

The conference, which will take place in Portland, Oregon from  Jan. 21-23, will explore themes of environmental sustainability, sustainable economics, sustainability in policy and practice and sustainability in education through a variety of publication presentations, workshops, exhibits, discussions and plenary speakers.

“It’s an academic conference looking at the frontiers of sustainability in a very broad sense,” Wezerek said.

Wezerek, Bethea and Kinsella requested $1,790 to cover airfare, lodging and conference registration fees; they plan to pay for food and in-conference transportation out of pocket.

The goal of attending the conference, according to Wezerek, is to develop leadership and facilitate advocacy in environmental sustainability in accordance with the Sustainability 2020 plan unveiled in December.

ESA leaders who attend the event can  learn from speakers and events at the conference, and bring back what they learn to help implement sustainable practices at USC.

“There hasn’t been a student engagement piece with Sustainability 2020,” Wezerek said. “Students don’t feel like they’re connected to the document or have any input, so this is a chance for them to feel like they have a voice.”

The proposal was approved with a unanimous vote from the USG Senate.

“We’re all really excited, because we’re happy to see that USC, and the Senate in particular, is so invested in the advancement of its student leaders,” Bethea said after the vote.

“This conference is going to do a lot for us — we’re going to learn a lot, gain a lot of valuable resources and connections that’s going to enable us to better serve our constituents. Anything that we can do to better ourselves, and in turn better the community and the world, is something that’s important to us.”

Before moving on to new business, including the ESA proposal, the Senate swore in three new USG justices. The meeting also established an agenda for future votes; next week, the Senate will vote on a budget reallocation proposal, which suggests moving $5,000 in funding to support the newly-created Service Student Assembly. The funding had previously been reserved for a proposed Religious Student Assembly, which was never formed.

Toward the end of the meeting, USG Vice President Jordan Fowler announced junior Tricia Xu as the new USG Parliamentarian for Spring 2016. Xu, a business administration major, will ensure that Senate meetings follow parliamentary procedure.

USG Program Board Director Diana Jimenez also nominated three students to executive positions; the Senate will vote on the approval of these appointments next week.

  • Melody

    I was one of the students that worked very hard on Sustainability 2020. To clarify: students were involved in every committee that determined the metrics in Sustainability 2020. They were also advocates of the plan moving forward. An issue for all student organizations is legacy and institutional memory as administrations transition, as many efforts are quickly forgotten a year or two after issues arise. Additionally, students need to show up or send other representation when invited to meetings large or small.