USG to provide webcasts of Senate meetings

USC’s Undergraduate Student Government is taking a page out of C-SPAN’s book.

Striving for greater transparency, USG has decided to film its weekly Senate meetings and post them for viewing on its website.

“Not many people go to these meetings, so people can at least get a feel of what the Senate is about and what they do,” said David Ji, deputy director of technology for USG.

Tuesday’s Senate meeting was the first to be videotaped, but USG officials are currently in the process of resolving technical and logistical issues related to filming and don’t expect the video to be available until Friday, Ji said. As filming procedures become more streamlined, the videos should appear online one to two days after each meeting, he added.

Residential Senator Wilson Kyi, who spearheaded the project along with Ji and USG Vice President Ashlie Chan, said he hopes the convenience of watching the videos online will give students incentive to take an interest in the work USG does.

“We thought that having our actual meeting videotaped would increase the transparency for how our decisions are made,” Kyi said.

The project began when Kyi and other senators spoke to students who said that they weren’t able to attend meetings because of scheduling conflicts. That discussion was then made official business at USG meetings last semester, but the actual process was only set up a week ago, Kyi said.

Chan said she recognizes the Senate meetings will not interest everyone, but hopes the videos will allow students to feel more connected to their student representatives.

“There’s only so many people in our organization, so we need that feedback from students,” Chan said. “If it changes one person’s attitude toward USG, if they want to know more about what USG’s doing, then it’s worth it.”

Kyi added that no portion of student money was being used to fund the project, since Ji already had all of the equipment necessary to film the meetings.

USG senators will email their constituencies to inform them about the videos and they plan to publicize the service when visiting various student assemblies and organizations on campus, Kyi said.

Some students said they were excited about having the chance to watch the Senate meetings online and anticipated becoming more knowledgeable about USG through these videos.

“I would be really interested to watch it. I think it’s important to know what’s going on because if they are making decisions, we often don’t know about it,” said Natalie Torkan, a senior majoring in business administration.

Michael Doherty, a senior majoring in communication, said he thinks the videos will allow USG to make students more aware of pressing campus issues they may not have known about otherwise.

“I’d watch it. I’d like to know what’s going on,” he said. “I personally wasn’t even aware you could attend the meetings, so [the videos] will make for more viewers who are more informed.”

But other students, like Jennifer Esfandi, a senior majoring in psychology, said the videos alone may not be enough to convince students to attend the Senate meetings or to take notice of USG’s work.

“I think it’d make [the meeting] more accessible on the one hand,” she said. “But I don’t think I would watch them, and the people who would watch them would probably go to the meetings anyway if they cared.”

While he knows the videos may not reach every student at USC, Kyi said he believes USG has a responsibility to make the option available to students who want to take advantage of it.

“I don’t plan that the majority of the students will watch the whole meeting, but I do think that students who are interested will watch it. Maybe they’ll want to watch it for a decision that just happened or for something controversial that may happen in the future, so it’s great to have this resource,” Kyi said. “As long as there are students who want to see our meetings, we want to provide that service for them.”