With five years of combined experience under their belt, Andrew Matson and Juan Orjuela are vying for the Undergraduate Student Government’s presidential and vice presidential positions, focusing on meeting students’ short- and long-term needs.
Running under the campaign slogan “It’s About You,” Matson, currently USG’s director of academic affairs, and Orjuela, currently a residential senator, list extending Thanksgiving break, providing weekend trams to various Los Angeles destinations, improving the Writing 140 program and expanding the reach of Campus Cruiser as some of their many goals.
Matson said he and Orjuela have taken great care to consider student opinion in developing their goals and platform and will continue to solicit and consider student opinion if they are elected.
“Our overriding theme of the campaign is ‘It’s About You,’” Matson said. “We really want to get [student] feedback in decision making and do things that students care about. That means also advertising better to students so that they know what USG is doing for them so they can take advantage of it.”
One of the biggest impacts Matson and Orjuela hope to have is raising awareness about what programs USG is working on and how students can give input. They hope to increase the contact between students and members of USG, striving to get feedback from students that are traditionally underrepresented, such as Roski School of Fine Arts and international students.
“Polling is one way, but students can get over-polled,” Matson said. “But that’s not the only way … Really, just launching an awareness campaign through both electronic and non-electronic means … We really want to get out of the Trousdale mind-set … it’s essential for us to also get out of the Trousdale area and also get into the underrepresented student areas.”
There are many resources on campus that students would benefit from but are not aware of, Matson said. He hopes that, with the opening of the new Ronald Tutor Campus Center, students will be more aware of how USG can help them.
Academically, Matson said a major problem that USC students face is inadequate interdisciplinary advising. He said there is a definite chasm between what the school encourages students to do and the amount of advisement that the students receive — the university encourages students to double major and minor in different areas but does not provide enough guidance for the students.
“Having interdisciplinary advisors to help is something that I really think needs to be changed,” Matson said. “So that once students get here, they can take advantages of the opportunity that they were promised when they were recruited.”
Another problem Orjuela said he wants to address is the problem of wireless Internet on campus. He was part of the force behind getting wireless in Leavey Library this year and hopes to continue to fortify wireless coverage.
“A really big point in our administration [is] striving to expand wireless everywhere,” Orjuela said. “I think it’s incredible that USC is one of the best universities here in the states and doesn’t have reliable wireless … I think it’s something that students really want and need.”
Both Matson and Orjuela expressed that they have the necessary experience, background, connections and knowledge of how things work within USG and within the greater university. Between the two of them, they have experience in three out of the four branches of student government.
“Me and Juan really exemplify one of the greatest teams of experience that USG will have seen in a long time,” Matson said. “We’ve both been involved in student government organizations since we were freshmen … so we have five years of student government experience here at USC.”
Matson and Orjuela both stressed that their experience will allow them to immediately start implementing policies once elected instead of having to learn about the different policies and protocols.
Also, because USG and Program Board are merging in the new campus center, Matson emphasized that it would be a huge shift in the way both organizations operate. Because he is the only candidate on the Moving and Unity Committee — an internal committee dedicated to smoothing the transition — Matson said he knows exactly what is going on with the transition, insight the other tickets lack.
“We have worked on every aspect of USG,” Orjuela said. “We both know the organization completely … There are tickets where some people still have to learn something that we already know so we can start day one … into accomplishing the goals set forth on our platform.”
Promising to get students more involved with getting what they want and need, Matson and Orjuela emphasized they are not as interested in receiving the title as they are in supporting the USC undergraduates.
“We want to serve the students; that’s why we are here,” Orjuela said.
To hear Grace Wong’s full interview with Andrew Matson and Juan Orjuela, click below: