Q&A: Erin Blake prepares for role as USG executive vice president
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Sophomore Erin Blake, a biomedical engineering and computer science double major, was recently elected as the Undergraduate Student Government executive vice president for the 2017-18 academic year. As part of an ongoing USG Q&A series, The Hullabaloo sat down with Blake about her experiences on campus, her plans for the future and her advice for students hoping to get involved.
Why did you decide to run for USG executive vice president?
So, I’ve actually been a senator for the last two years and I sat on the Constitutional Bylaw Review Committee … that’s the committee that the executive vice president is the chair of … One thing that I’ve really focused on in my time in USG is trying to make sure that USG has a … bigger face on campus, and I thought that through executive vice president, that would be the perfect opportunity to really increase USG’s presence on campus and let students know that we are here for them and [that] their ideas are what’s being brought to the floor and not necessarily our own.
Can you touch on what experiences you’ve had on USG or just on campus in general that have prepared you most for the role of executive vice president?
So on USG specifically, I participated in the Freshman Leadership Program my freshman year, which really exposed me to USG and what they do … I sat as senator for the School of Science and Engineering for the last two years … I’ve sat on the constitutional bylaw committee, and I’ve also been very active within the School of Science and Engineering government. I’ve worked as the special events chair, which basically coordinated all large events put on by SSE … I worked as secretary for the SSE Honor Society, which gave me skills about being organized and taking care of a larger group of people, and I’ve also held leadership positions as community service director within my sorority … so I’m very qualified at maintaining large groups of people and planning events for large groups of people, which I think are really important aspects to have as an executive board member within USG.
As executive vice president for the upcoming year, what do you feel are the most significant changes that students can expect to be coming from USG in 2017-18?
I am really excited because our executive board is working much more towards making USG more open and I guess more reachable for students … We want to make sure that students know that their ideas are being heard. So one thing that I worked on as a senator this past semester was implementing a new form like a suggestions form that students can fill out saying this is what I want to see changed on campus, and then it asks, ‘Do you want to be involved on USG to work on a committee’ and help make this happen, and students can choose whether they do or not, which I’m really excited about.”
What do you feel like are the most pressing issues on Tulane’s campus that USG is planning on addressing in the upcoming year?
I think that one thing that seemed to be a very prevalent issue in everyone’s campaign this year was sexual violence prevention, and I think that USG is really looking to tackle this issue by working with our director of student safety, who is trying to work with new student orientation about implementing a new program into new student orientation … Our vice president of student life is going to have a seat on the Sexual Violence Prevention [& Education] Coalition, which I think will be really awesome because that will give USG the ability to see what are the things students are talking about around campus with regards to sexual violence prevention and education, which I think was a big buzzword during our elections, so it makes me really happy to see that we’re actually going to be doing that.
What advice would you give students who want to get involved in the policymaking processes on USG or who have input they’d like to contribute?
My biggest piece of advice would be for students at large to join committees because, like I said, we have tons of committees. We have the CBRC, which is the committee I am the chair of, but we also have Finance Committee and Academic Affairs Committee and the Sustainability Committee and the Student Safety Committees, so we have committees that take in all facets of student life, and all of those committees have built-in positions for student-at-large members, so students who aren’t involved in USG whatsoever and just want to understand the policy process or understand USG more.
Is there anything else you want to add that you think students should be aware of going into the next year?
I would just say my personal piece of advice would be that I’m really excited about this new executive board and I think we all really care about USG and have really great ideas, so don’t be afraid to reach out to us. I’ll publicize my email everywhere. It’s [email protected], and I literally respond to emails automatically, and I know everyone else on the executive board does too … I’m just really excited to see where this goes, and don’t be afraid to stand up if you have an idea, or reach out to one of us because we would love to hear all of the ideas from the students, and if you have critiques about USG or what you think we can do better, tell us that too because that’s all we are here to do is make sure that we serve the students.