‘Town Hall’ allows students opportunity to ask USG questions
Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government hosted its second “Town Hall” of 2017 in the Bearcat Den on Dec. 5 in order to address its constituents’ questions and concerns. The town hall was moderated by The Ticker’s Editor-in-Chief Yelena Dzhanova, and was attended by roughly 25 students.
While the audience was not overwhelming in size, the Facebook livestream of the event garnered over 700 views just 24 hours following the end of the event. The town hall was organized by Daniel Morote, USG's vice president of legislative affairs.
“Town halls are always important to have. They are a way to connect with our constituents, and it's a way to keep everyone involved,” Morote said in an interview over Facebook Messenger. “We had good turnout and got through a lot of in-depth questions,” he continued. “Our town hall events can draw a larger turnout and for next semester I would like for more people to come and ask us questions.”
Morote, along with his fellow undergraduate representative senators, personally answered questions that were collected from students via a Google form that was shared on social media in the weeks leading up to the event.
Prior to the town hall’s commencement, audience members were instructed on how to fill out and submit question cards that were distributed before and during the event.
The live student questions were anonymously taken after the online submitted questions and were read randomly to the table of USG members. Dzhanova filtered the submitted questions to make sure that they were appropriate and relevant to the scope of USG’s knowledge and responsibilities. It was then that Dzhanova split the questions into two categories: general questions regarding Baruch student life and questions related specifically to USG.
In what appeared to be a reflection of last year’s town hall, one of the first questions asked during the event concerned USG’s availability, as the asker was unaware of the location USG’s offices and how to get involved with their student leadership.
In response, USG President Isabel Arias quickly gave a verbal tour of the offices and how to locate them. She assured the audience that USG is readily available for any and all visitors wanting to participate in student government. If the doors are closed and marked “out,” Arias stated, it is because the senators are attending classes and will be back once they are free.
The questions then shifted toward specific, USG-related topics, such as co-sponsorships between clubs and even student government efforts to protect undocumented students at Baruch.
Arvis Chen, chair of clubs and organizations, spent time detailing the different options available to clubs looking for co-sponsorships. Available in full on the Baruch USG's Facebook page, Chen explained the process in which clubs can file for co-sponsorships and even mentioned the benefit of each of the three co-sponsorship options available to Baruch clubs.
Handling the questions relating to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and USG’s approach to protecting Baruch students, Morote spoke about his personal representation at rallies and events on behalf of the college’s undocumented students. He also highlighted USG’s extraordinary efforts to make Baruch’s undocumented students feel comfortable and keep them up to date with legal information. Morote mentioned the USG event, “Keep the Dream Alive,” that was held in September. The event included an informational panel on the rights of DACA students and their families, and was set up to help make these rights more transparent. Arias and Morote also mentioned the free legal services that USG helped implement for undocumented students.
Another question asked of the USG involved how it identifies “problems” from its fellow students.
Arias, along with Frances Subervi, vice president of campus affairs, clarified methods of communication that students can use to make USG aware of a concern.
“Personally, emails are favorable and effective when students have a concern,” said Subervi. Arias continued to highlight the student government’s plan to create daily office hours in the USG suites next semester, for students to physically have someone to speak to and represent them during all days of the week.
As the event began to come to a close, more specific concerns with USG and its actions were addressed.
For example, USG clarified its intent and justified its spending on events like “Meme It,” with senators defending their attempts to bring a joyous event to Baruch students before the stress of finals week approached.
Erica Yang, vice president of student services, also defended the current USG against a question about the team’s synergy with Baruch students, clubs and each other. “I think we are doing a lot better than we were at the beginning, as we were all getting used to USG,” Yang explained.
When asked what Baruch students can expect next semester from USG, Morote answered, “We are already projecting ourselves for next semester to be more prepared for everything that we faced this semester.”