Woodworth, Krishnan term comes to close
It is election season for USC’s Undergraduate Student Government’s 143rd cabinet, meaning President Hannah Woodworth and Vice President Nivea Krishnan have about one more month in their sitting terms of office.
The Daily Trojan interviewed Woodworth on the accomplishments, deficiencies and modifications surrounding the USC community, as well as what she hopes for the incoming cabinet.
Woodworth and Krishnan were sworn in on April 5, along with the rest of the cabinet. For Woodworth, one of the main accomplishments of her term was the release of SCÜP — USC’s shuttle to LAX. It helped many students get to see their loved ones without spending money out of pocket for Lyfts and other transportation services.
“It is both an affordability initiative and sustainability initiative,” Woodworth said. “It’s an affordability initiative because it allows students who may not have been able to travel because even the cost from Point A to point B — USC to LAX — was a barrier to entry.”
The data reigns true: About 4,000 students used the shuttle not just for winter break, but the shorter breaks, including fall and Thanksgiving recess.
“It became an equity issue because some students had opportunities to go travel during breaks … and other students, because of the cost, weren’t able to and we wanted to eliminate that,” Woodworth said.
With shuttle times ranging from five in the morning to later at night, the USC-LAX shuttle became a success for multiple students. Presented by USG senator Carlo di Bernardo last year, the program highlighted not only the scope of affordability on campus but the scope of sustainability in the greater Los Angeles area.
“It’s a sustainability initiative because it’ll limit how many single-ride vehicles would be going to and from LAX,” Woodworth said.
Although it is not entirely certain that the new shuttle will run during the 143rd cabinet’s term, Woodworth said that this year’s use of it was a test run of sorts to see how students would use it.
“Since this was a pilot program, we need to analyze the data and see how well it was utilized throughout this year … for this whole year, our goal going into this year was to capture 25% of demand by the end of the year, which is about 9,000 students,” Woodworth said. “We are still very encouraged by the fact that we’ve had 4,000 students use it, especially within the first semester because we’re just getting it off the ground.”
Additionally, Woodworth and Krishnan hosted qualitative interviews, the first of their kind at USG. There have been different views of USG throughout different clubs and registered student organizations, but Woodworth and Krishnan emphasized transparency during their campaigns — that is, a better connection between student organizations and the undergraduate student government of USC.
Over this term, Woodworth and Krishnan met with 20 student leaders to better understand their concerns and what USG could do for them. This data helped Woodworth and Krishnan understand how other organizations of USC see USG, and what role these organizations believe USG carries. Most importantly, Woodworth and Krishnan examined the concerns of USC’s student organizations and how they believe they can improve with the help of USG and higher faculty. In turn, Woodworth and the cabinet are compiling all of this data to help the next administration.
“What we’re doing is we’re taking all of this data [from the 20 student leaders and their organizations] and creating a qualitative report, and we’re creating a series of recommendations, so that the incoming administration does not have to go through the same really brutal transition that we did,” Woodworth said.
Woodworth said this information helped their administration identify the faults and weak spots within USG as an organization.
“We didn’t understand [USG’s] blindspots, we didn’t know why people didn’t trust [the organization]. Now, we’ve done a lot of the legwork to ensure that the next administration can just come in and implement these policies to better identify our blind spots to reach out to [registered student organizations] and better connect with students.”
It was also Woodworth and Nivea’s cabinet that recently approved the name change of the Latine Student Assembly in January.
Shortly before the fall semester began, the University Park Inter-Fraternity Council (now known as the unofficial IFC) decided to part ways with USC. This disaffiliation stemmed from the disagreements between University policies to ensure safety and ordinance for all USC students, including fraternity organizations themselves. The concern for the safety of USC students — specifically Panhellenic sorority women — when it comes to IFC fraternities and sexual assault were brought to the forefront of discourse after the protests following sexual assault allegations at Sigma Nu in Fall 2021. The IFC chapters disaffiliation from the University completely raised concern throughout the undergraduate community. Woodworth said USG has been trying to ensure student safety through Title IX and the like, as well as appointing Mia Albright as the Title IX Aid of USG.
“[Albright] is doing a lot of work in campaigns, specifically around educating first-year students about their resources, women, and women identifying students about their different resources on campus and waste to support other folks on campus,” Woodworth said.
Woodworth said that the disaffiliation makes it extremely difficult to work with IFC, because they no longer have an obligation to listen to USC and USG policy.
“I think the disconnect lies in that they want to be having these conversations and see how we can work together,” Woodworth said. “But we can’t work together if they’re not part of the University.”
The disaffiliation was a step back for USG, Woodworth said.
“We’ve wanted to have a more active role in informing these policies,” she said. “When IFC decided to disaffiliate, that put a huge hole into our efforts because they’re now under no obligation to listen to us or take us seriously.”
USG has taken its own actions to inform those who are more prone to being negatively affected by fraternities about the resources that they have at USC.
“We’ve been trying to reach out to first years, been working with RAs, we have been working with SAGE — Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment — and they have been doing a lot of work to support survivors, and we’ve been collaborating with them extensively,” Woodworth said.
Although election season is underway, USG’s 142nd cabinet still has about a month and a half left of its term, allowing for more progression in different sectors as seats in the office close. Woodworth will be speaking at the State of USG Address, highlighting her cabinet’s progress, projects they are proud of and more. The State of USG Address will be held March 21.