Offei, Riley aim to make student life more inclusive

Theo Offei and Julia Riley are running for Undergraduate Student Government’s president and vice president, respectively, with the goal of making university life more inclusive for all students.

Election 2012 · Julia Riley, a junior majoring in political science and art history, and Theo Offei, a junior majoring in political science, are one of the USG presidential tickets. - Ani Kolangian | Daily Trojan

Offei, a junior majoring in political science, served as student body president at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz before transferring to USC. Riley, a junior majoring in political science and art history, is the vice president of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity.

“We decided to run because of the disconnection between USG and the student body at large,” Offei said. “We believe we have a greater opportunity to build a greater connection and stronger relationship between these groups.”

Offei and Riley said one of their main goals is to represent student groups who are usually not recognized. Their platform also includes plans to implement two-unit courses to help prepare students for graduate admissions tests, such as the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT and GRE; extending the hours at Doheny Memorial Library and the Lyon Center; and extending the benefits of the USCard so students can receive discounts from local businesses, a goal Offei accomplished at Cabrillo.

“Our platform goals are really aligned with this high achieving academic success President [C. L. Max] Nikias has been advocating for,” Riley said. “These two-unit courses and extended hours at Doheny are two things that will really aid this message.”

Offei and Riley said they plan to stay connected with the student body by increasing the transparency of USG and making themselves more available to students by holding round-table discussions and attending group meetings.

“It’s imperative we reach out to the student body,” Offei said. “We’ve got to put USG out there and make sure they know it’s a government for the students, of the students and by the students. We want USG to be very visible by the end of our term, and hopefully it’ll continue from there.”

Offei and Riley said their ticket is unique because they have the leadership experience to accomplish their platform goals.

“[At Cabrillo] I worked with legislators in Santa Cruz county, I worked with a lot of business and community leaders and visited Sacramento to lobby with legislators,” Offei said. “If I can lobby the workers of Sacramento, I’m pretty sure I can go through with our goals at USC.”

Offei and Riley identify with groups of students they consider traditionally underrepresented within USG, so their ticket aims to diversify and make USG more accessible to transfer students, international students and various groups typically ignored.

“We’ve already started this idea of inclusion by specifically targeting those groups who have not really had their voices heard,” Riley said. “These groups need to be heard. The basis of USC is these diverse groups that provide so much for USC culture [and are], a lot of the time, overlooked because they do not hold as much power.”

It is currently Offei’s first year at USC, but during his term as student body president at Cabrillo College, he worked with legislators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., advocating on behalf of students.

He is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity and a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, awarded to him in recognition of his academic success and leadership.

Riley is the co-founder of the USC chapter of the American Red Cross, and he served as director for two years. She also volunteers with Women and Youth Serving Each Other to mentor local junior high school girls.

“We bring a new perspective to USG,” Offei said. “We’re running to change USC so that it works for the students. We’ll bring real changes that will affect the lives of students.”

Video edited by: Alexis Driggs | Daily Trojan
For more coverage on the 2012 USG elections, click here.