New USG administration and Senate swear into office

Undergraduate Student Government President-elect Debbie Lee and Vice President-elect Blake Ackerman were sworn in Tuesday, along with the new Senate. Lee delivered her inaugural speech after taking the presidential oath.

Lee addressed wellness in her speech and identified it as a central issue at USC.

Tuesday was the last Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting for the 2017-18 USG administration. Yuwei Xi | Daily Trojan

“Blake and I believe that accomplishing this vision [of making USC a home for all] starts with focusing on our campus climate,” Lee said. “Whether it be a shift in the way that we dispose of food to eliminate food waste or following through on the work of our first-year experience course where students have the opportunity and space to learn more about inclusivity and discuss prevalent issues faced by students today.”

Lee also stressed the importance of building and maintaining a relationship with administrators and other communities on campus.

“Our community truly begins to thrive when this sentiment of care and support is also felt by students from the University and its administration,” Lee said. “That is why we plan to increase the transparency of where tuition dollars are going at our University and why we will work with administrators to formalize a relationship with the Greek community and all communities on this campus.”

Before Lee’s speech, the USG Senate also passed a resolution and three bylaw amendments unanimously during its final meeting before the new Senate was sworn in. The resolution, which aims to enhance the experiences of students admitted in the spring, was proposed last week.

The resolution calls for the formation of a committee comprising students admitted in spring semesters and USC administrators to make changes to the current process of welcoming and integrating these students into the campus community. The measure was suggested in an effort to satisfy issues brought up by students in surveys.

The senate also passed three bylaw amendments. The first bylaw amendment clarified the role of the Chief Diversity Officer position in USG and how it will be selected in future years. The amendment also required that a USG official serve on the Norman Topping Governing Board.

The second bylaw amendment reduced the minimum number of signatures required to present a referendum to USG to be approved for the ballot. The minimum number of signatures was reduced from 10 percent of the undergraduate student population to five percent. For a referendum to pass, the bylaw will now require at least 20 percent of undergraduates to vote on the measure with a majority in support.

Senators debated the exact minimum number of signatures. Then-Senators Noah Silver and Ackerman argued that a higher minimum would allow future referendums to carry more weight and legitimacy. Senator Katie Bolton and USG Director of External Affairs Mai Mizuno argued that the minimum needed to be lower since referendums had not been proposed for decades.

The third bylaw amendment was the End of Year bylaw amendment, which focused on creating transparency in the official rules and guidelines of USG and on facilitating a smooth transition to the next administration.

Now-former USG President Austin Dunn guided the senate through the amendments and attempted to provide clarification where he could regarding tweaks to the bylaws. Several of the changes were issues of feasibility such as the required bimonthly town hall meetings for the vice president, which were removed because the past several administrations were unable to fulfill this requirement.