USG wants connection with students and organizations

The Undergraduate Student Government has been preparing for the spring semester with plans to expand its various committees, focus more heavily on collaboration between student groups and increase student involvement.

USG is continuing with a project from last semester, the Greater L.A. Initiative, aimed at providing students with transportation to locations around Los Angeles.

“This is meant for students … who aren’t local and don’t have cars, so that they can see L.A.,” Ogbevoen said.

Waleed Ishtiaq, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, said he feels trapped within campus because he does not have a car.

“I wish I could see more of Hollywood and Malibu,” Ishtiaq said. “I feel like I’m contained just within the university.”

The next Greater L.A. Initiative event is a trip to Universal Studios City Walk on Jan. 21, which students can sign up for online. Trips to the Getty Museum, Venice Beach and the Getty Villa in Malibu are also planned for later in the semester.

“I appreciate USG trying to help students to experience L.A. because there are not a lot of things to do on campus,” said Michael Lin-Brande, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “This will give us the opportunity to see L.A. that we otherwise couldn’t.”

Liz Trower, senior director of communication for USG, said another one of USG’s primary goals this semester is to focus on growing their committees to include a wider variety of students from all across campus.

“[It’s] sort of an overall theme of what we’re doing,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is get students more involved [in USG decisions] by getting more committee members that represent different interests across campus, and then try to get directors to use those committees to cross boundaries.”

USG committee membership saw an increase of almost 100 students last fall. USG officials hope to see comparable membership increase this semester, Trower said.

With this additional membership, committees will look to step up their work on joint projects.

USG President Chris Cheng said lack of collaboration between campus sources can make getting things accomplished difficult.

“Collaboration is key,” he said. “[I’ve] learned in this job that this university is too decentralized.”

USG’s focus on collaboration will therefore move beyond the organization itself, and will include elements throughout campus.

As a first step toward meeting those goals, USG will host its third-annual Council of Presidents meeting Feb. 2, where the leaders of all campus organizations will be invited to collaborate with those whom they might not otherwise interact.

This year, however, Trower said USG will be taking a slightly different approach.

“Last year it was about what USG is as an organization,” she said. “This year, it’s about how we can connect, and what USG can do for student groups to increase funding and other opportunities.”

Lauren Mills, co-executive director of Troy Camp, who will be attending the meeting, said she is looking forward to forming a relationship with members of USG.

“I think that Troy Camp has strong support from USG, but communication between the two doesn’t really happen unless it’s about money,” Mills said. “It will be nice to get to know the people you ask for money from.”

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