UPDATE: 11/15/16 Quotes in this story from Kelly Barbret have been changed for better understanding of her statement, and grammatical errors made.
For the past seven weeks, IUPUI’s undergraduate student government (USG) has chugged along through the semester with minimal drama and moderate progress.
Although the bylaws are still being rewritten, the executive board has begun to ask senators with strong interests in this kind of legislation for input.
The position of the parliamentarian was filled on Oct. 21, when the senate approved Trent Bennett, the senator from the Honors College. Shortly after, the position was renamed as the president pro-tempore, as this means “temporary”; the original president pro-tempore, Eddy Vaughn, is now the president of the senate.
“We felt that changing the name would be more reflective of what the position actually entails,” Vaughn said. The positions’ responsibilities have not changed and this was deemed appropriate as the senate is not in a parliamentary system.
Although there have been no major hiccups, the past months have not been easy; the USG as a whole are still reeling from the lack of a smooth transition of power and help from the previous administration. Advice on prioritizing which of the 29 committees USG needs to have representatives in is a source of grief. Some committees meet at the same time and some do not allow USG to vote within them, but USG attempts to represent students in as many as possible.
“People from the old exec boards coming back to talk to us, I wish I had some more of that, because I feel like they had such invaluable knowledge,” president Mosopefoluwa Ladapo said. “They had the background information that would help us to maybe not walk or crawl, but go straight into running.”
“It’s just lots of little problems they could probably help us with,” secretary Kelly Barbret added.
Although progress drags in some areas, the executive team finds reasons to celebrate. Barbret commented that the opinion of USG was improving within IUPUI.
"We are starting to build a larger reputation in the student body as they start to understand we are here for them. They now know that USG is not a negative group that is power-driven or anything. We are truly here for them," she said. "I think our goal was to show that this administration is much different and we have accomplished that."
Ladapo described a sense of dissatisfaction even when goals were met, wondering what else USG could do to benefit students. He said that his current passion was information distribution, as he felt out of the loop within his own school, and how to place power back within student hands in regards to decisions that directly affect students.
“I want it to be ‘students involved, and [then] the decision is made,’” he explained. “Not inviting people and telling them, ‘Hey, we’re doing this, and get on board!’”
One goal the USG smashed through this semester was senatorial attendance. The highest attendance of senators thus far has been 59, while the lowest has been 45. Beyond that, the executive board is delighted with the participation level of these senators.
“In the past, I will say, we’ve had some senators who just have just sat there and been like, ‘Yup, I’m here, I attended the meeting, I checked in,’ but everyone seems to be really engaged. You look out at the crowd and see that they’re, for lack of a better way of putting it, on the edge of their seats,” Barbret said. “I would say, from last year, it is far, far improved on average.”
Ladapo explained that he would like to have so many senators that meetings would be held in lecture halls and there would be more than one body of representation.
“ That would be my dream, and I hope that in my time here I’ll see that,” he said.
Across the executive board, there is positivity and hope for a continuation of the progress that the past few months have seen. Growth will be slow, and the future is uncertain, but they are braced for it.
“I’m really proud of the changes we’re instituting for our organization that I think will help really set up USG for success in the future,” Bennett said.