The Undergraduate Student Government has passed a lower number of resolutions and amendments in Senate meetings than in past years at this point in the semester.
Student government resolutions are meant to represent the student body’s opinion on a particular issue, and amendments to the constitution are meant to help the Senate run more efficiently. By Oct. 25, 2011, USG had passed two resolutions and two amendments to its constitution. This year, by comparison, the USG Senate has passed one amendment and one resolution.
But USG President Mikey Geragos, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning, said he believes that the lower number of legislation passed is not an indication of a lack of resolve in this year’s senate.
“We’re not trying to push quantity this year,” Geragos said. “We’re trying to push quality, and I think we’ve done that very successfully.”
Some priorities for USG this year include bringing a greater amount of sustainability on campus and gauging students’ interests in new hospitality services, such as Trojan Grounds and the renovated dining halls.
USG Vice President Vinnie Prasad, a senior majoring in psychology and economics, said the lower number of resolutions reinforces this administration’s redirected efforts to have its senators complete thorough research before they present resolutions because it would impact and benefit the student body more.
“We really encourage the senators to come up with some really interesting data that tells a coherent story and has a logical argument that would eventually lead to some exciting resolutions for the student body to benefit from,” Prasad said. “We never want to waste energy on something that students do not want.”
In previous years, the Senate has also used forums to solicit student opinions. Last October, USG hosted forums about a possible smoking ban on campus and one about implementing the “We Are Considerate” campaign, which aims to help regulate bikes on campus and which resulted in the new bike lanes at the beginning of this semester. This year no such meetings have been held, although forums on the university’s new health center and information technology services are scheduled for November.
Geragos attributes the later dates of the student forums to the additional research senators have done to adequately prepare.
“Resolutions are keeping pace and are exceeding what they have in the past years in regard to research,” Geragos said. “We are really trying to maintain integrity in our resolutions, so that may require looking into what other schools are doing, reaching out to more students — and all of that takes time.”
USG Speaker Pro Tempore Matthew Arkfeld, a junior majoring in East Asian area studies, said he believes the delayed legislation represents the increased efforts of the student government’s senators. Currently, he’s working with other Greek senators to raise awareness of sustainability on campus, such as by encouraging the recycling of Solo cups at tailgates and on The Row.
“We’re doing a good job with getting the ball rolling,” Arkfeld said. “A senator’s role is basically to go see what is working, internally and externally. We have to stay well informed and take all of that information and transmit it so everyone is on the same page. Right now there are a lot of balls rolling and soon more resolutions will come from the many steps we’re taking.”
Arkfeld said the Senate will pass more resolutions toward the end of this semester and in the spring semester.
“It’s hard because there’s a lot that’s built up,” Arkfeld said. “We have a lot on our plate right now and writing a resolution and starting events takes a while.”
This year’s administration has also placed a greater emphasis on internal efficiency among the senators, according to Geragos.
“The relationships and cooperation that are happening are light-years beyond what have happened in the past [administrations],” Geragos said. “That is just a sign of the amazing people we have in the office.”
Though he admits to some slow movement during the first few weeks of school, Geragos insists he is confident in the Senate’s ability to provide the best resources to the student body.
“The senators have done a lot more work than anyone expected or anyone foresaw them doing compared to last year,” Geragos said.