Undergraduate Student Government hosts ‘Town Hall’ to hear from students

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

The Undergraduate Student Government at Baruch College held a Town Hall event on Nov. 26 to increase transparency with the student body and respond to questions and concerns. The event was held in the Bearcat Den and was livestreamed over Facebook.

The panel of USG leaders, including the president, vice president, and representatives, answered questions and discussed comments from students on the topics of student services, student and club life, and general questions about USG. 

The questions came from an online survey through which students were able to submit something into each category, from comments on the organization’s Instagram account, and from the live audience that showed up to the event.

During the Town Hall, a discussion of the role and responsibilities of the Government made up the majority of the conversation. Some questions dealt with USG events and their purposes, while others asked about the stipends of USG members and their workload. 

Members of the panel brought up accomplishments from this semester, such as planning Baruch’s first winter graduation for students graduating a semester early and increasing the amount of giveaways they hold for students, as well as goals they would like to work on, like increasing resources for undocumented students.

Other things discussed were the twenty-six active projects on campus that have been slowing down some of USG’s initiatives, including their plan to create a moss wall for beautification and sustainability. 

Additionally, members had to explain that there are certain issues that are just out of their control, as was the case with a question that asked about broken water fountains and another that referred to running out of paper towels in the bathrooms. These types of concerns, according to the panel, fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Student Life, and can be due to a budget cut that removed 3% of funding from each department.

“The goal is for us to see how students are feeling, I know a lot of them responded to the form we had. We just want to know how are we doing and what can we do better,” USG President Radhika Kalani said before the event began. “When we were all running, one of our values is transparency, and we are the student government so we wanted to hear what students’ concerns are, what we’re doing well, and all of that, so the best way to engage that is to have a Town Hall.”

While the members’ goal was to connect with students and find areas in which they could improve their work, the in-person audience was much smaller than had been expected, as was expressed by the Town Hall’s moderator, Ticker News Assistant Sheik Floradewan, which put a slight damper on things.

“I expected the Town Hall to run longer, as it kind of ran short, but I think overall it went well,” stated Floradewan, a marketing major. “Although I definitely would have liked a better turnout, but because it was held on a Monday, not many students besides Ticker staff and a few other club members were present.” 

Students who did attend, however, were able to learn more about the Undergraduate Student Government and how aspects of the school are run.

“I personally decided to attend the Town Hall because I’m very much interested in USG,” said freshman Taji Sanders, who attended the live event. “My school never had [a USG] and it was refreshing coming in to find a whole body dedicated to running student life and running activities and things of that nature. I personally don’t really have any qualms or concerns, but I want to see other people’s concerns. I like this event because it really shows their initiative to try and attempt to get feedback to improve, because this is really a student-based organization.” 

According to Kalani, the Town Hall went well overall in affectively communicating with the students and finding new areas to improve in. Because this semester’s was successful, next semester students can expect to hear of at least two more Town Halls, if not more.

“I know that, learning from this one, we’re going to have two – one that’s on a Monday or and Wednesday, the other on a Tuesday or Thursday – so we can cater to both types of audiences,” she said. “I do like that we had it towards the end of the semester, just so we can see. I guess we’ll just ask the team and see if maybe we want to have one in the beginning [of next semester] just so we can re-hear the issues or if there’s any issues that came up over the break. And then have one towards the end just so we can re-cap again and see what we did well, what we did bad, and then let the future USG know what they should be focusing on.”