USG Senate inaugurates new member

A laptop screen open to Nick Yang with his hand up, being sworn in.
Sophomore Nick Yang, the first runner-up in last spring’s senate election, was inaugurated following speaker of the senate Ruben Romeo’s resignation Sunday. (Kellie Chen | Daily Trojan)

The Undergraduate Student Government inaugurated a new senator during the senate meeting Tuesday following speaker Ruben Romeo’s resignation Sunday night. 

Nick Yang was inaugurated by Chief Justice Ben Morain at the end of the meeting. Yang, who placed 13th in last spring’s senate election, was appointed according to USG bylaws stating the first runner-up be appointed to a vacancy. 

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Yang, a member of the USG wellness committee,  expressed a desire to take on mental health initiatives as he serves the remainder of the term. 

“I know from personal experience … getting an appointment at Engemann [Student Health Center] is very difficult,” Yang said. “I want to, perhaps, start a project … just making an appointment easier because I believe that we need to make all resources available to students.”

Before Yang was inaugurated, senator Devin Ayala presented on several of his projects, including plans to expand Fryft, either in proximity or hours, or transition it into a stipend-based program. He said the project stalled due to a lack of funding but hopes to continue the push to expand the program next semester.

“I met with the associate director of transportation [twice], and I proposed … these three options, maybe like ‘What are the stepping stones for that? What are some boundaries for this?’” Ayala said. “I was basically hit with that, it would not be ideal because funding is just not there, and then they will be bringing back the Campus Cruiser [program] for next semester, so basically, they don’t see any need for it.” 

He also informed the senate about the upcoming resident assistant strike scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Friday. Ayala, an RA himself, said he’s served as a sort of liaison between USG and the RAs, and is hoping USG can help the RAs’ cause. 

“It’s just like amplifying the voices of the strike and the initiative,” Ayala said. “We’re just trying to cause a lot of commotion.”

Yang also expressed support for Ayala’s proposals for expanding the Fryft program and supporting RAs on strike. 

“USC should do their part and help them out financially,” Yang said. “I think it’s very unfair to have financial aid taken away just because someone’s an RA.”

Chief financial officer Adenike Makinde also announced the creation of two new funds — a Green Engagement Fund and an Accessibility Fund — which will provide funding for relevant events and projects for registered student organizations and students. The funds join four existing funds: the philanthropy fund, professional fund, academic and social recreation funds and performing & visual arts, cultural, and startup funds. The funds will begin accepting applications next semester. 

The Green Engagement Fund, revived since its creation in 2015, will focus on providing “an outlet for sustainability projects on or around campus that are for students and by students,” Makinde said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. Projects can range from compost bins to sustainability research in collaboration with professors.

The Accessiblity Fund is “completely new,” said Makinde, and will fund projects related to accessibility or assist in making events and programming more accessible. 

“We understand especially for that fund that [accessiblity] is a broad umbrella,” Makinde said. “Accessibility isn’t a one-way street where you fix one thing and it’s easy for everybody, but it’s supposed to help aid a lot of the activity around that.”