Senate Meeting: USG votes in committee chairs and discusses student life

USG Column

USG

Edgar Llivisupa

Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government held its first Senate meeting of the fall 2021 semester on Aug. 31.

Rep. Sen. Julie Margolin was nominated as Chair of Appeals and won via a 14-0-0 vote. Rep. Sen. Snigdha Sarker was nominated as Chair of Clubs and Organization and won via a 14-0-0 vote.

Rep. Sen. Tyler Yang was nominated as Chair of Finance and won via a 14-0-0 vote.

Rep. Sen. Vicki Xiao was nominated as Chair of Graphicsand won via a 14-0-0 vote. Rep. Sen. Thalia Aviles was nominated as Chair of Marketing and won via a 14-0-0 vote.

Vice President of Student Affairs Laiba Hussain, Vice President of Academic Affairs Osvaldo Garcia and Vice President of Campus Affairs Erika Cumbe discussed an event with Professor Anna D’Souza from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.

It will provide a healing space for students returning to campus after the pandemic.

Executive Vice President Richard Reyes, representing Vice President of Legislative Affairs Karina Chiqui, revealed an event for National Voter Registration Day with the Office of Student Life, which will focus on mayoral and local elections.

There are two open Rep. Sen positions after the resignation of Isabella Mansour. A form for students interested in this position will be distributed on Sept. 6 and close on Sept. 20.

To run, a student needs to be maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher, be enrolled in six or more credits and not be a club executive board member.

Reyes will launch a social media campaign featuring current USG representatives to motivate others to join.

Yang presented a late budget from the Bangladesh Student Association, and it passed 15-0-0. The club asked for half of last year’s budget, according to Yang.

“Last year, because of COVID, most clubs followed this same pattern where they didn’t spend much money from their budget since their events were primarily virtual,” he said.

Garcia spoke about the “Black and Latino Open House” on Sept. 9 to promote the Black and Latino studies major. He will host it alongside Hussain.

President S. David Wu will be in attendance.

Reyes and Xiao proposed creating a Baruch TikTok account to increase engagement and better communicate events.

Several concerns about the return to campus were discussed.

Cumbe asked if Baruch decided against in-person events as Hunter College’s USG were able to. Director of Student Life Damali Tolson responded that Baruch and CUNY made the decision.

“Hunter and every other school have more physical space that we have. We do not have outside on the street unless we get a street permit like the plaza is as good as it gets,” Tolson said.  Margolin spoke on students’ struggles to find spaces to attend virtual club events. Tolson added that the new Aaronson Student Center and third floor common spaces are available via walk-in but will integrate a reservation system.

Margolin and Chiqui spoke about the library reservation process and how time blocks don’t correspond with class times. If a class ends at 1:30 p.m., but the library reservation is until 2:00 p.m., it prevents a student from accessing the area.

Social distancing concerns were raised by Rep. Sen. Abdullah Mahdi and Student Programming Board member Joshua Greenberg for their macroeconomic class, which has 247 students in a fifth floor lecture hall.

Executive Secretary Yam-Yu Li mentioned that the Lawrence and Eris Field Building and the Newman Vertical Campus elevators reach total capacity during rush hours.

Tolson will ask about this during a campus access protocol meeting on Sept. 1 and update the board.

These scenarios led to a greater discussion about student life remaining virtual. USG members suggested asking the Reopening and Campus Access Committee to clarify seemingly inconsistent coronavirus protocols.

President Allison Lee and Reyes shared that students feel that if in-person classes aren’t socially distanced, then in-person club events should be held as well.

“They’re like, ‘Oh if I can be sitting next to this person, how come I can’t be doing it in a different room where it’s fun?’” Lee said.

“It doesn’t have to be in the same conversation, but I think safety should be addressed first,” Reyes said. “That is a whole nuance in itself as to why people are asking about events.”

Tolson responded that classes are mandatory, and she wouldn’t want a student getting sick from attending an event.

“So just separate and apart from whatever the opening committee might say, for me, just thinking about you guys is a hard sell because I feel like I am putting you at extra risk that’s unnecessary,” Tolson said. “If I have to be the bad guy, I’ll be the bad guy, but I’d rather be the bad guy and keep you guys safe and help you guys make it to commencement, which hopefully, at some point, will be in-person again.”