With elections around the corner, the current USG executive board released a report to The Campus Citizen detailing their past and future plans for student government and the policy change they seek to make.
Throughout their term, president Mosopefoluwa “Sope” Ladapo and vice president Michael Thompson have worked to reshape the USG. Remaking the constitution, bylaws, and elections code, as well as increasing information output, are among their proudest moments. Expanding the senate continues to be a priority.
“We should be balance and checks, but the size of government makes it feel like we’re almost the same thing, and so that distinction in people’s mind isn’t so clear,” Ladapo said. As former senators, Ladapo and Thompson find it difficult to not micromanage the senate during meetings.
“We’re trying to give them power by staying out of their business, which means in senate meetings we try to be quiet,” Ladapo said. “As much as we can stay out of their business from an executive point of view.”
This e-board has always pushed for an increase in student participation, but not just for the sake of community and school spirit. In order to enact change from the student government, the student body must support it en masse, otherwise administration feels less pressure to take it seriously, according to Thompson.
“I could look students in they eye and say, ‘You need to get involved, because if you don’t get involved, we can’t do this,’” he said. “The student government is active, but unless we’re effective, what’s the point?”
Policy like expanding Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), on-campus childcare, a recreation center, and a more accessible interfaith prayer room are all on USG’s agenda, but need wide student support to succeed.
For instance, the USG has formed a committee for the prayer room issue, which is lead by the Muslim Students Association and has support from at least 10 different religious groups on campus. Students report that the prayer rooms present on campus are either too small or too far out of the way.
“[The MSA is] trying really had to establish a multi-faith prayer room here on campus because there have been a few instances where holy books were disrespected,” Hassan Radwan, USG treasurer, said. “They’ve been working diligently on it since, I’d say, November.”
But according to Thompson, “academic space is a premium on campus, so having a force of a 1,000-1,500 students active on this campus, the administration has to take that into accounting.”
Beyond the policy goals, this e-board focuses on making USG a part of the experience at IUPUI. The report details presence on social media, like Twitter as a way to communicate with students and share information. A way to build “social capital” and act as a staying presence in students’ minds. But it takes time to grow that standing and trust.
“It’s really hard for us to quantify being present and being relevant on campus,” Ladapo said. “People on social media, it ebbs and flows.”
At the end of the report, Ladapo talks about what he plans to do: not only meet with presidents of student organizations and develop connections, but simply attend more sporting events. He requests that other students do the same and be open with USG.
“We welcome your help to improve USG, IUPUI, and our campus.”