Tuesday, February 25

USAC looks to fill student, faculty positions to improve council representation and services

The undergraduate student government is working to bring back the currently unfilled positions of student advocate and faculty representative for next year.

The appointed positions have been unoccupied for multiple years because pushes to fill the spots were unsuccessful, Undergraduate Students Association Council officials said. Both positions already exist within the USAC bylaws.

At this point, USAC officials are optimistic the appointments can be made.

“Our role as council is to constantly re-evaluate the best ways we could be a resource to the (campus),” said David Bocarsly, USAC president. “Both of these positions provide different avenues that will benefit the student body.”

The student advocate will work closely with the USAC president’s office and will act as a more centralized location for students to find information like study abroad opportunities and advice on transferring grades over from other colleges, said Bocarsly.

The student advocate is an independent entity and does not sit on the council, but is supported and appointed by USAC, said Madison Murphy, co-chief of staff in the USAC president’s office.

He or she will assist students with disputes, issues and questions that may arise with university policies, including financial aid, grade disputes and charges of misconduct, according the USAC bylaws.

At UC Berkeley, the office is entirely student-run. Student caseworkers are trained in different university processes, such as grade appeals, to help students on an individual basis, said Stacy Suh, the student advocate with the undergraduate student government at UC Berkeley.

The office, which had 36 caseworkers this year, handles around 150 to 200 cases per year on average, said Suh.

Bocarsly said he aims to model the student advocate position after the UC Berkeley office. He added that he has made it his goal to re-establish the position because it would fill a void within student services.

“We have resources for a number of things, but there are many needs that need to be filled, like learning how to confront a professor about a grade appeal,” Bocarsly said.

Bocarsly said he hopes to recommend a candidate to the USAC Appointments Review Committee within the next few weeks.

The committee nominates applicants recommended by the USAC president’s office before forwarding their recommendation to the rest of council.

The faculty representative, meanwhile, is a member of the UCLA Academic Senate that serves as a liaison between the Senate and USAC. The representative provides input at USAC meetings but does not have a vote.

On May 22, USAC officers unanimously voted to allow faculty members to attend council meetings. Andrea “Andi” Hester, internal vice president, said she hopes this opportunity will better introduce faculty to the position.

“One area we are missing is the faculty aspect,” Bocarsly said.

Hester said she is meeting with university administrators to learn more about the Academic Senate’s process of appointing a faculty representative.

Councilmembers are interested in having faculty representation in USAC because of the proposed Community and Conflict in the Modern World general education requirement, Hester said.

“(The faculty representative) just isn’t an appointment (councilmembers) think about,” said Debra Geller, a USAC administrative representative. “Council is just trying to help the process by giving faculty an opportunity to learn more about what it entails.”

Roy Champawat, who represents the UCLA Student Union on the council, said a potential reason that the position has remained unfilled is the time commitment, which may deter faculty from wanting to volunteer for it.

USAC officers are trying to publicize the position by contacting faculty directly and by inviting faculty to council meetings.

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