USG creates special coronavirus taskforce

A laptop screen with the zoom meeting

A laptop screen with the zoom meeting
The USG funding committee announced the total 2022 fiscal budget allocation of $2,517,376, which was expanded to accommodate in-person and online programming. (Michael Melinger | Daily Trojan)

Speaker of the Senate Ruben Romeo presented a resolution to create a special coronavirus task force at the Undergraduate Student Government meeting Tuesday. 

According to Romeo, the task force would respond to coronavirus-related needs, including the academics under remote instruction and the maintenance of student well-being, and assist with the transition back to an in-person semester. If passed, the task force would be a special, non-standing addition to the already existing legislative councils. It would be led by Katelyn Lee, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, and the nomination for USG’s Senior Aide. 

“The USC Undergraduate Student Government seeks to provide and support student advocacy within the current virtual semester, and to ensure such advocacy continues in the discourse over operations concerned with the potential return to campus,” the resolution read. 

Following the introduction of the coronavirus special committee resolution, Chief Financial Officer Adenike Makinde introduced the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. As USC prepares for in-person activity in Fall 2021, the student programming fee has increased back to $64, allowing for the budget to create two new funds — an accessibility fund and a green engagement fund. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, undergraduates paid a combined student services fee of $100 each during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters that funded “various activities normally funded through separate fees,” with $13 distributed from the services fee to USG.  including the usual $64 student programming fee. The total 2021-22 budget allocation is $2,517,376.

Makinde said that although the University has announced a return to a fully in-person school year, the funding committee encourages organizations to consider both in-person and virtual programming when planning for next year. The committee also accounted for both possible scenarios when planning the budget. 

The Senate also confirmed appointments to the funding and communications departments. 

Makinde will be supported by five directors, each assigned a specific committee, including the philanthropy fund and professional fund. Three of the five directors are returning to USG under the Areias-Warren administration.

The communications department, headed by Chief Communications Officer Kros Day, will oversee tasks including the government’s digital strategy and public relations duties. The department comprises five committees, and of the 17 appointments, nine members have served in prior administrations. 

USG Judicial Council Chief Justice Ben Morain also announced the appointment of the six associate justices, which include Ayaka Kimura, a junior majoring in law, history and culture and East Asian area studies, and Caroline Vassar, a sophomore majoring in political science. Morain said that he’s “really excited” about the appointees. 

“We’ve got a diverse council, both in thought and in practice,” Morain said. “I think they’re all going to be great and help ensure equity and justice and [that] accountability continues to forge in the new administration.” 

Jeniffer Velazquez, a sophomore majoring in theatre and political science, said that many people felt that the USG President and Vice President weren’t being held accountable for their actions in the past. 

“I feel like a lot of people within my circle, people that I just happen to run across on social media or other forms of communication felt that USG wasn’t representing Trojans as they were supposed to,” said Velazquez in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “My vision is to be able to restore that sense of respect and trustworthiness in USG that is supposed to be there in the first place.”

Senators will have the opportunity to ask questions and vote on the confirmation of the new appointees, as well as the 2021-22 budget, at the next meeting.