Undergraduate Student Government: The first step to engineering change

Change on campus is constant. Departments shift their faculty, funds and fees change with campus initiatives, each new class of students has different expectations of Mines than the ones before. Understanding those changes takes a great deal of work and commitment, but getting involved in making those changes is easy to do: get involved with USG.

USG is the Undergraduate Student Government, a body of students from all classes elected to determine what students’ priorities on campus are, and how those priorities can best be met to the benefit of all students. Graduate students have a similar network known as Graduate Student Government (GSG), with representatives from different academic department.

In recent years, USG has completed initiatives to establish OrePrint on campus, determine the allocation of technology fees, create and its newest safe-ride-home service, DiggerDrive. To help complete initiatives, USG representatives serve on committees, formed to address all manners of issues on campus.

“The reason committees are here is because we do want student input on things,” says Willie Konishi, junior in environmental engineering and Junior Class President. “It’s about USG working with students to get that input, because students have big opinions on things on campus. I sit on committees where I don’t have big opinions on what’s discussed, but I know of students who have an opinion they’d want to discuss there.”

Konishi helped to establish OrePrint on campus, and is currently working on the Parking Committee and developing an initiative to change PA credits to reflect more interesting and interdisciplinary classes, from art to home economics and cooking. He is constantly looking for student voices on the issues he is working to solve.

One of the biggest initiatives so far is one started by USG President Amanda Field, focused on changing campus culture to reflect a more positive, cohesive, and supportive student vision. Called Orediggers Helping Orediggers, the campaign has already made strides to change campus culture.

Sevy Swift, a senior in mechanical engineering and Board of Trustees representative, is incredibly proud of USG’s accomplishments already made towards a positive campus culture.

“There’s been this cloud over campus culture in the past,” Swift says. “A large proportion of the Mines population, much bigger than it should be, view that Mines isn’t the best experience for them. Making it a better experience, through campus positivity and changing the culture at Mines, is a  really big task that starts really small and needs to grow. It’s definitely not going to happen in one event, but I’m proud to be part of a group of students moving that forward.”

And the great thing about committees and initiatives: anyone can be on them. If you are passionate about changing something on campus, you can be a part of that change and be a member of a committee.

USG Senate meetings are held Thursdays at 7:00 PM in MZ 122 through the fall semester, and anyone who pays fees to campus is welcome to attend and learn what changes are being made at Mines and become a part of those changes.

“Our job is to engineer change on campus, and we can’t do that without student feedback,” says Konishi, “We need students to get involved with USG and campus.”

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