For the 2017-18 school year, seven out of 11 Undergraduate Student Government Associationcandidates ran for office unopposed.
“In the past few years, it’s been normal,” USGA President Lenni Paolini told The Triangle this July, in reference to the low numbers.
So much so that one candidate even wrote in her platform that during her campaign the year prior, “almost everyone I met had no idea there was a student government.”
“This year is different … everyone knows of the USGA and is appreciative [as] of their efforts as I am,” the candidate continued.
Its most notable campus involvement last year came in the form of roundtables, which connected students with Drexel University President John A. Fry and its collaboration with Aramark to ensure a smooth dining hall management transition after Drexel terminated its contract with SodexoMagic in the fall term.
According to the USGA’s constitution, the organization was created to be a panel of Drexel students who represent Drexel’s student body, foster relations between the students and the university community and act as a catalyst for communication between students and administration.
Sophomore, junior/pre-junior, and senior class candidates were announced May 30. Using DragonLink, all candidates uploaded “campaign platforms,” outlining their goals and motivations for running for student government.
Paolini’s said that she was running for student body president because she wanted to empower USGA’s assembly members to use their leadership skills to make a difference within the Drexel community. She joined USGA as a freshman, focused on working with the administration and joint assembly to give input and ideas about the freshman class.
“If elected,” Paolini, who ran unopposed, wrote in her campaign. “I will have a theme for the year with the joint assembly members.”
Her “theme,” the focus of her senior stint as class president, will be to create an internal initiative called TEAM, which stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.
USGA’s Constitution, updated in Spring 2017, says the organization has two goals: (1) to foster relations between “the University community” and students and (2) to amplify the student voice through “consistent student outreach and facilitation” with administrators.
Spiro Kokolis, a junior studying biomedical engineering, thinks that Paolini’s campaign aligns with USGA’s mission, but doesn’t address everything.
“Her campaign aligns with the first part of USGA’s mission and shows that students in leadership roles can work with other students to form clubs that can help students get involved with the campus community. Her campaign deviates from USGA’s mission because it does not state how these students in leadership roles can interact with higher level administrators to facilitate student outreach on the administrative level,” Kokolis wrote in an email correspondence.
The TEAM initiative Paolini campaigned on focuses on helping students in leadership roles at Drexel learn delegation skills and how to work effectively with others.
For instance, the University’s recent change in add/drop policy for the beginning of classes — decreasing the period from two weeks to one — was only mentioned by two candidates, and it was one of the most controversial academic policy changes made last year.
According to Paolini, USGA didn’t have much involvement in the policy change decision.
“We have talked to people about [Add/Drop]. We were actually told a week before it was put in place, or before they sent out those messages [announcing it] so we didn’t really have a big say in that [the add/drop change],” Paolini said. “We don’t really have any leeway over that, but that has been something we’ve voiced to President Fry and Subir [Sahu] and Dr. [John] Dinardo quite a few times.”
Going forward, Paolini said USGA wants to increase involvement through frequent meetings with students, administrators and campus leaders.
“One big initiative we’re going to have this year is that we’re going to have monthly townhalls … and then we will invite administrators and invite student to speak about things they’re having issues with besides financial aid because we don’t really have any control over that,” she explained. “Once a term [we’re] trying to have a roundtable with President Fry. We would invite student leaders and anyone else who wanted to sit in. Talk about student life, academics, signing up for classes. We did one last February. It went really well.”
USGA is currently looking for class representatives. If you are interested, please contact [email protected].