USG reveals mental health initiatives, passes SLAC resolution

Undergraduate Student Government senators passed a resolution Tuesday formalizing USC’s involvement in the Student Leadership Association of California, which holds a conference that brings together student government leaders from across 15 universities.
(Elshaddai Mulugeta | Daily Trojan)

Undergraduate Student Government updated a statement released Sept. 10 reaffirming its commitment to campus mental health to include specific ongoing senate initiatives during a Senate meeting Tuesday. 

Sen. Angela Chuang said the statement’s updates help promote concrete initiatives USG is working on to improve mental health issues on campus. 

“We really want to ensure that students recognize that we’re here to support them, and we’re here to work on projects that will benefit them and will hopefully support them regarding mental health,” Chuang said. 

Eight projects sponsored by USG senators were included in the updated statement. One initiative, spearheaded by Chuang, aims to increase transparency in the dispute process for the $20 missed mental health counseling appointment fee. While there has been a dispute process in place, Chuang said many students are unaware of its existence.

Chuang met with Dr. Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer and associate vice provost for student affairs, and Dr. Robert Mendola, executive director and division chief of student mental health, to discuss the issue. Since then, the official billing dispute form has been added to the USC Student Health website and a line concerning the dispute process has been included at the end of the letter sent when charges are sent to the student account.

Senators Emily Johnson, Chris McMorran and Benjamin Shiff are in the process of approving a task force of eight students to collaborate with Engemann Student Health Center on redesigning the mental health resources page on its website.

“We felt that [the website] wasn’t as intuitive as it could be … it seems very text-heavy,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t as approachable as it could be.” 

The task force intends to incorporate student perspectives on website changes and informational clarity. The senators are currently revising their initial proposal for the taskforce and expect it to be approved in the next few weeks.

Aside from the revised statement, USG unanimously passed a resolution to continue its involvement in the Student Leadership Association of California during Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution follows USG’s participation in a SLAC conference Oct. 6, where student government representatives from 15 universities met at UCLA to discuss issues of administrative transparency and student engagement. 

USC, Pitzer and Occidental initially created SLAC in 2018 to build connections between student leaders across California. The resolution will formalize its support for the association of student governments.