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Fall 2023: Reflections and suggestions for USG from the Ticker Staff

Amy Pulster

The fall 2023 semester was full of unprecedented challenges. During this time, Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government did both great and not-so-great. From hosting parties to getting into comment section controversy, here are four things The Ticker hopes USG continues as well as four recommendations for changes in the spring semester:

  1. CONTINUE: USG events continued—despite the malware attack!

When the malware attack on Sept. 15 caused Baruch to temporarily return to the virtual modality used during the COVID-19 pandemic, Baruch students and faculty were once again reminded of the community and experience that are lost due to remote learning.

While the shutdown of part of the school’s network extended through early November, USG was able to resume its scheduled events in October with a Pumpkin Fest and Holiday party.

USG also held a Baruch prom called “Roses & Royalty” on Nov. 30, providing a unique and fun festivity for students to enjoy right before the stressful season of finals.

Events like these are essential for fostering a positive school environment.

It was USG’s pre-planning and early paperwork, in part due to the support and advanced planning from the Office of Student Life, that allowed them to continue hosting events.

We hope to see even more large events in the spring semester.

  1. CHANGE: Also events! USG limited events seats and poor advertising

Although USG had several events, they were still somewhat limited by the malware attack. We hope that in the spring more events will be held.

Larger community events also consistently required an RSVP form and were not publicized widely enough.

While getting a sense of expected turnout may be helpful, USG does much of its planning in advance. RSVPs filled up fast and many students may have been discouraged from going due to the system.

Though RSVPs filled up quickly, many who RSVP’d did not show up. Advertising events as first-come, first-serve with an option to reserve a spot may be a better alternative.

Additionally, some events could be better advertised as many students were not aware that events were occurring until after the RSVP was filled or after the event was over. Under a recap post of the “Roses & Royalty” event, one student asked if it was a private event.

USG should advertise much earlier than the event date and through a wider range of sources. Hanging flyers, tabling and several Instagram posts would be a step toward ensuring students are aware of the events that their student activity fees are funding.

The type of events offered was also not responsive to the interests of the student body. A lack of surveys, polls or tabling was done to gauge student interest even though USG vowed to seek student input during an election debate last year.

It is important that USG reserve funding in the future for events that the student body has expressed an interest in.

  1. CONTINUE: Causes and advocacy

As elected leaders of Baruch, USG also takes action to represent the student body on issues outside Baruch. In the fall they fundraised for Save the Children and Blossoms for Guyana and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

USG also held a voter registration drive and joined a coalition with Hunter College and Stony Brook University to advocate for an extension of the New York State Student Suicide Prevention Act.

Connecting Baruch to the larger issues impacting the world is an important aspect of USG’s role.

The passionate advocacy of USG is a positive reflection of Baruch’s campus. We hope they expand their fundraisers and advocate for legislation that protects Baruch students more publicly and frequently.

  1. CHANGE: Club coordination

USG is responsible for working with clubs to ensure they have the funds to host events that create a collaborative college environment.

Many club leaders criticized USG for their communication, particularly the treasury branch. While USG held several events, clubs struggled in the fall before, during and after the malware attack.

USG should hold a meeting with club leaders to address communication issues and consider options to make interactions between clubs and USG more efficient. Properly coordinating funding for events creates a smooth and fun environment for students to enjoy.

  1. CONTINUE: Social media content

While USG may not have advertised enough for their events in advance, their social media flyers and promotional materials were creative and engaging.

USG posted several promotional videos that were entertaining. It also posted several recap-photo posts that did a good job capturing the memories made by attendees at various events.

Events are a core part of the college experience at Baruch, and we look forward to more photo-posts documenting these events in the spring.

  1. CHANGE: Communication with the student body

While USG was elected to represent the Baruch student body, some students took to social media to comment on a perceived lack of communication.

“Why have I never seen any of these people,” one social media user commented under a group photo of USG, to which USG replied “Maybe this is a sign to get involved [heart emoji].”

The thread continued for several messages with the user replying, “I’m more than well enough involved with your mother thank you for the invite though [prayer hand emoji].” Some of the messages have since been deleted.

Though social media comments can naturally get heated, USG should go beyond exchanging sarcastic social media jabs and consider that there may be some validity to the criticism.

Although USG meetings, which occur every Tuesday, are open to all students, many are not aware that they can attend.

USG should publicize these meetings in addition to scheduling separate town halls, tabling or setting up the tiki booth — as they did during the first week of the semester — and posting using social media to collect student opinions.

In the fall, USG also chose to no longer write USG reports in The Ticker, which was an opportunity for them to inform the student body about their work on initiatives.

USG must have more of a presence on campus and more of an interactive relationship with the Baruch student body.

  1. CONTINUE: “Broken Baruch”

USG continued the initiative of “Broken Baruch,” a year-long survey to collect responses from the Baruch community on things that need to be fixed on campus.

USG interacts with administration on the student body’s behalf, and being informed on the facility issues can help Baruch’s facilities administrators become aware of these concerns.

This survey is a good step toward receiving feedback from the Baruch community.

We hope USG expands on this and conducts more surveys on a variety of issues. It would also be beneficial to publish the incidents that students reported and instances where USG and Baruch administration addressed the concerns raised.

  1. CHANGE: Transparency on ability to join USG

In a debate before their election, USG received several questions from students about who can get involved in USG and criticism that it can seem hard to join.

During the fall, USG was looking for representative senators and members of the treasury team. However, these positions were not advertised widely enough.

Members of USG have long celebrated it as an important leadership development opportunity and a fun community. Many students may similarly want to deepen their involvement in Baruch.

Having greater access to information about joining USG would also help ensure the team represents a wide range of student voices.

In the spring, there will be an election to determine next year’s USG. Information for students interested in running should be widely publicized so individuals not yet familiar with USG have an opportunity to consider running.

It is essential that all students have access to USG elected and non-elected positions, so they make informed decisions in the next election.

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