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Submission: Undergraduate students must engage with student government at town hall

By Orly Termeie

December 1, 2017 12:25 am

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Termele was appointed to University of California Council of Presidents. In fact, she was appointed to USAC Office of the President Council of Presidents.

I thought student government was just about titles and bragging rights when I was in high school. So, when I entered UCLA I thought that would be the case, too.

I thought the Undergraduate Students Association Council would be filled with students who had their own agendas and personal goals, and so I steered clear of student politics. I also did not want to get involved because I just wanted good grades and to not ruffle too many feathers along the way.

But my lack of participation also reflected my own self-centered priorities. My frustration with USAC members over their inaction and their inability to hold themselves accountable for the goals they set for themselves was hypocritical because I was refusing to do anything about it. I was complicit in the council’s complacency because I was unwilling to invest enough to even hold our campus’ elected representatives accountable.

Many undergraduate students like me have felt as if getting involved in student government does not matter or is irrelevant because they realize they will only be part of this institution for a few years. However, we need to think of the bigger picture. The actions and choices we make at UCLA will influence the type of people we become after our academic journeys. We need to start caring and stand for what we believe in because if we don’t, no one will.

We only have a few years here. Let’s leave our mark as the students who got involved with our hearts, minds and hands.

For those reasons, I decided I needed my voice to be heard on a larger platform, and applied for a position in the USAC Office of the President. I was appointed as one of the directors for the USAC Office of the President Council of Presidents.

The main objective of this council is to create more opportunities for leaders of our many campus communities to come together to engage with USAC and to engage with one another. I am responsible for building relationships with leaders of campus groups by organizing town halls, cross-cutting coalitions and specialty-based events in order to help these communities develop and strengthen their ties with one another and with USAC. I applied for this position because I wanted to facilitate more direct dialogue between students – some of whom may feel their individual and their larger communities’ needs, voices and ideas are being neglected – and members of USAC, elected and nonelected, who can help actualize appropriate reforms to address their concerns.

In order to achieve this goal, USAC has organized a town hall titled, “What Happened to Student Government? A Town Hall.” We have reached out to hundreds of organizations across campus to participate, and our hope is that students from all aspects of the UCLA undergraduate community will attend and voice their concerns about USAC and UCLA Housing’s On-Campus Housing Council.

To the students who do not feel properly represented, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t overlook. USAC and the OCHC president will actively listen to students’ concerns and suggestions in an effort to alter or create the proper bylaws or organizational reforms to better meet Bruins’ needs. The town hall is open to all students, irrespective of their campus affiliations, and will take place Friday at 5 p.m. in De Neve Auditorium.

This town hall is a chance for students who feel disenfranchised by the bureaucracy that is USAC to voice their concerns and interact directly with student leaders. USAC is a means to secure institutionalized change through campuswide policy, service and program reforms. The council may seem irrelevant to students’ experiences, but we hope you’ll give us a chance to prove that wrong.

Students have a responsibility to ensure and improve the integrity of our university, which means getting involved, not turning away from, student government.

Termeie is a third-year pre-psychobiology student and a member of the USAC Office of the President.

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