“USGA president speaks about sustainability, diversity and tuition”

Posted on: October 19th, 2012
USGA president speaks about sustainability, diversity and tuition

The president of the Unified Student Government Association (USGA) plans to address three topics this year under her strategic plan: sustainability, diversity and the rising tuition.

“We need to mobilize these issues,” said USGA President Julia Poirier, 21. “Students don’t understand how much power they have with their voice.”

Poirier, a senior human services and communications double major, addressed these issues at Loyola’s first ever State of the Students address Wednesday, Oct. 3 on the fourth floor of the Information Commons.

“Many of the things she mentioned really sounded like concrete ideas that could actually bring about a change on campus,” said senior Andrew Gaillardetz, 21, who attended the address.

With regard to sustainability, Poirier suggested creating a “Sustainable Initiative Fund,” which would create a fee per semester and per student, with the money benefitting student projects that improve sustainability within the university.

“I think that’s something that could work and most students would be willing to pay $1 to $5 extra,” said Gaillardetz, a biology major. “That really makes a big difference when there are thousands of students.”

To improve diversity on campus, Poirier proposed creating a student position of a chief diversity officer, who would “foster a campus climate that is welcoming to all students,” she said.

“I think Loyola really pushes diversity, but when you look at the student body, it’s still relatively homogenous,” Gaillardetz said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement in creating a more diverse campus.”

The final initiative Poirier explained related to tuition hikes and her plan to increase student voice in the matter. Some suggestions she made included advocating for more information behind the reasons for tuition increases and capping the increases at 2.5 percent each year.

One student who attended the address said she was surprised at how specific Poirier was in explaining her plans with regard to tuition increases.

“I didn’t expect such a specific outline of how to approach administration with issues of tuition increases,” said senior Martha Ligas, 21, a psychology and sociology double major. “I was happy to see that instead of just ideas, there were specific approaches [to implement them].”

Poirier’s address provided students an outlet to share their thoughts and learn more about the plans USGA has for this year.

“USGA has never done anything like this in the past,” Poirier said. “I think it opened a lot of doors for conversation and how we can be more proactive about reaching out to students. We’re working on making USGA more accessible to students.”

However, one area of the event that students said they thought was lacking was attendance. Although there is not an official head count, some students estimated attendance numbers were between 50 and 75.

“I think that civic engagement at the university and in your country is very important if you want to see changes, it’s important to show up and give suggestions on how to do so,” Ligas said. “I was disappointed that most students didn’t come out. I hear a lot of negative comments on campus about USGA, and here’s the president and all of the chairs sitting up and saying, ‘Yes, here’s what we’re doing,’ but there was still such a small turnout.”

Regardless, Poirier said she thought the event was successful for its first year.

“Maybe there weren’t the bodies in the room, but the experience in the room was really positive,” she said. “The impact of the experience was really strong and we’d love to expand it next year. I want to transition the next [USGA] president and assist them in how to make the event even stronger for the next year and how to get a better student turnout.”

by Emily Study

Original article from: http://www.loyolaphoenix.com/usga-president-speaks-about-sustainability-diversity-and-tuition

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