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USG hosts town halls to answer students’ questions

Special to the Ticker

The Baruch College Undergraduate Student Government hosted two town halls on Nov. 20 and Nov. 26, serving as a final wrap-up of affairs for the fall semester.  

Both events were moderated by The Ticker’s Copy Chief, Noah Fleischman, and live streamed by The Ticker’s Gavindra Kowlessar and Joel Bautista. A Qualtrics-powered survey form was distributed to students online by The Ticker and the Office of Student Life, so that USG members could answer on the day of the event in NVC room 2-125. 

During both events, students who attended in person were also invited to write down any pressing concerns on a flash card, which Fleischman read aloud as well. 

The Ticker worked to avoid any redundant questions in the second Town Hall. 

“We were happy with the Town Hall as we got the opportunity to explain more about our roles and how we have contributed to the students and the school,” President Dakshatha Daggala stated.

Both events kicked off with formalities — USG members stated their names, positions and their planned initiatives for the semester. Members included the USG president, vice president and most representative senators.

“I feel as though the Town Hall was a great way for students to voice their questions to USG and get answers in real time,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Briana Staten said. 

Most questions posed by students referred to what USG does as a whole. Members elaborated on questions surrounding their everyday duties.

“I think, according to the constitution, the role is pretty vague so I feel like each president has their own way of interpreting the role and how they can best serve the students,” Daggala said.

Daggala also emphasized the topic of mental health, describing that in the future she and other USG members will work on the creation of events catered to
fulfilling students’ mental health needs. 

The hot topic of safety and construction surrounding 17 Lex was brought up by concerned students. As explained in a recent Ticker article, continued long lines and distracting construction issues are still at play despite efforts made by Baruch officials. 

“In terms of students going in and out, I’m totally not qualified to speak on whether or not if it’s actually safe, but I do know that many students including myself are concerned on the condition of the building. It’s so much so to the point that a lot of peer mentors who have workshops in 17 Lex choose to opt out because it’s in 17 Lex,” Executive Vice President Joshua Castillo said.

Students have also been relaying concerns to the popular Baruch-themed social media account Overheard Baruch, instead of going directly to USG. 

Growing interest in how USG will better navigate around frustrated students was evident. 

“I think what is happening with Overheard Baruch is very interesting to say the least, I love the fact that something is going on, whether that is overall positive or overall negative,” Castillo said. 

Chair of Finance Aaron D’Souza then added, “A lot of times the outside issues we hear, we don’t hear them directly.”

The USG table said they encourage students to come to the USG suite to voice their concerns and issues, but low attendance in Senate meetings has resulted in mixed feelings about students being concerned enough to reach out. 

There have been talks about live streaming these meetings, but with low student attendance, USG members said it does not seem logical enough to move forward with the idea. Castillo regarded it as a “pressing issue.”

Toward the end of the final Town Hall, a softer environment was noticeable as members elaborated on their mission and purpose in USG. 

“Being diverse as a whole team, we can all come together with our backgrounds and personal experiences from our lives and cultures, like one LGBTQ initiative I wanted to do on campus affairs was from my own personal experience so I can bring that aspect of me to help the community and the table does the same for students with the same backgrounds as them,” Vice President of Campus Affairs Robert Da Rita said. 

Attendance for both Town Halls was low, almost mirroring the atmosphere surrounding the senate meetings. 

However, attendees said they were impressed with the responses and participation of USG

“I think that it’s a great start for transparency, it’s a great start for getting more people involved, overall I had a positive reflection on it,” Vice President of Marketing for Hillel and Treasurer of the Youth Organization for Israel Yehuda Wexler said. 

Editor’s Note: Yehuda Wexler of the Youth Organization for Israel is a Ticker news writer.

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