By STEPHAN KOZUB
United Student Government (USG) has not had the smoothest of years. Hit with unexpected changes in leadership and dealing with controversial issues such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the group of student leaders cannot seem to catch a break.
“I think the biggest challenge has been understanding USG’s role in the institution of Fordham,” said USG President Leighton Magoon, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’17. “For all of the faculty committees that we’re a part of and for all of the people that we know in the administration at Fordham, I think we’ve had to grapple with the fact that, while we do have some power, that there’s a lot that’s outside of our control, and I think this year has definitely been a year where we’ve realized it more than other years.”
The student government, however, has not let the events of this academic year hinder their action. They recently approved a new constitution, adding the positions of Vice President of USG and Vice President for Facilities in order to further differentiate leadership roles.
“My sentiment and those of some of the eboard felt that, with the workload of the president, with the growing class sizes, the greater amount of buildings, the more influence that we want USG to have, the workload needs to be more evenly displaced for the President,” Magoon explained.
Not all of the proposed constitutional changes went through, however. Discussion regarding a ticket system for electing a President and a Vice President of USG has been tabled until the fall semester. Rejected proposals include elevating the Food Service subcommittee to full committee status and increasing the amount of Gabelli senators by one per class year.
USG has also negotiated new hours with the Quinn Library administrative staff. Starting March 6, the library will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m., moving the opening hours back from 7 a.m. The library will also get more seating in the first floor commons after Easter Break, according to Yint Hmu, FCLC ’17 and USG President Pro Tempore. The first floor commons will also resume a 24-hour schedule at that time, and a week later, all three floors will be open for 24 hours for finals.
“Because with the library budget, it is just unfeasible for them to operate 24 hours, especially when no one is really using it, but we’re really working with them closely to determine the peak hours and determine when the students really need it, the library is open and accessible to all,” Hmu said.
Regarding SJP, Magoon and Hmu both say that USG is standing by its vote for approval of the student group.
Hmu explained how the group handles other causes at Fordham.
“In USG we walk a very fine line, because we know that there are students who have been working on issues like the transgender bathrooms for a long time and the fine line we walk is that we don’t want to swoop in and be like ‘okay we’re going to pick this issue up and it’s going to be a USG issue,’” Hmu said. “We don’t like to do that, because it’s stepping on so many people’s toes, and we don’t want to take credit for their hard work. If they approach us and ask us for help, then we’d be more than happy to help out. But if they don’t come to ask, then we just observe and keep track of the updates.”
For those looking to join USG, election packets are now available for all senator and executive board positions. General meetings are held on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. in LL 1020.