‘Join US(G)’ pushes for students to get involved in their school

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Courtesy of USG’s FacebookUSG Executive Vice President Joshua Castillo talks to attendees at JOIN US(G), the government’s first GIM of the semester.

Anacaona Rodriguez

The Undergraduate Student Government’s “Join US(G)” event on Nov. 21 was held to motivate Baruch College students to take part in student government. Approximately 50 students and 20 USG representatives were present. 

The event was advertised to give students a chance to meet their table members and representatives. The event’s Facebook description read, “Ah, USG? The ones who give free food and giveaways? You may know them as that, but we do so much more!” 

The event started off with a presentation introducing all members of USG with in-depth descriptions of each position. 

Many representatives also shared advice on how to get involved in student government and gave descriptions of each student government committee. 

Some representatives also took the opportunity to share resources available to students on their website, such as the Undergraduate Student Survival Guide, the weekly newsletter and also an online form that allows students to share their concerns directly to USG. 

Some representatives shared their plans for their committees for the upcoming semester. Legislative Affairs Vice President Kimberly Kazdal spoke about her committee’s upcoming lobbying trip to Albany. 

Emmanuel Oladejo, USG’s Chair of Arts, brought up a new student center set to open somewhere near the 24th Street & Lexington entrance in February 2020. 

The session ended with a video showing students how to get to the Student Government offices on the third floor and a game of Kahoot. Due to a meeting with Baruch’s Board of Directors, some notable members of USG, including President Dakshatha Daggala, arrived later. 

Genesis Calle, the newly elected Chair of Philanthropy, is said to have organized the event. As for attendance, Executive Vice President Joshua Castillo added that even though this general interest meeting was the first in the semester, he was impressed with the turnout. 

“I do wish more people came and made an effort to come to our meetings,” Kazdal, however, said.

When asked why the event was scheduled so late in the semester, Castillo said, “We don’t consider it late in the semester mainly because you can join USG at any point. General interest meetings have a common misconception that they need to take place in the beginning of the semester.”

He added that the purpose of the event was simply to tell more students about student government’s functions.

“Essentially we wanted to do something, preferably now that the heat of midterms season is over, so that students have the opportunity to learn about how to get involved, what it is that we actually do, and where they see themselves fitting in at Baruch,” he said.

This event happened just weeks after the popular Instagram page Overheard Baruch posted an anonymous submission in which the submitter claimed that USG held “no real representation of the student body’s interests.” 

This sparked a debate between students agreeing with the original post and USG representatives defending the institution. 

However, USG denies the two events had anything to do with one another, and insists the scheduling was merely coincidental. 

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I didn’t want to get involved originally but seeing how friendly everyone was made me want to get more involved.
— Felicia Fortel

Kimberly Kazdal, VP of the Legislative Committee said, “This general interest meeting was genuinely in the works for a long time. This wasn’t a response to what took place online.” 

Kazdal added, “As the VP of the Legislative Committee that deals with activism and civic engagement, I found the pushback online awesome. I was glad to see people voicing their concerns. However, it is important for those who are commenting online to also come to our meetings and events to ask questions and voice their concerns in person.” 

Castillo added that he hopes the event inspired more students get involved. One attendee, sophomore Felicia Fortel, said she attended the event because she wanted to learn how to get involved. 

“All the chairs and representatives were very friendly. I didn’t want to get involved originally but seeing how friendly everyone was made me want to get more involved.”

Another sophomore, Nafissa Maik, attended to expand her involvement in USG. “My involvement with USG some committees has inspired me to broaden my horizons, so I thought it would be a great idea to attend this general interest meeting.”

In a post made on Facebook after the event, USG stated, “Hopefully you now know you know who is the one behind these posts.” 

The event achieved its goal of informing students willing to learn about student government’s positions and functions, and USG representatives hope to have more students involved in the future.