Q&A: USG President-elect Erin Blake pushes for sexual violence prevention, student engagement


Sanjali De Silva | Senior Staff Photographer

Erin Blake currently serves as the USG Executive Vice President. She was elected President for the 2018-19 academic year.

Junior Erin Blake, a biomedical engineering and computer science major, was recently elected Undergraduate Student Government president for the 2018-19 academic year. She currently serves on USG as the executive vice president. The Hullabaloo spoke with Blake about her experiences in student government and how she plans to improve USG in the upcoming academic year.

How have your three years of experience in USG prepared you for the role of USG President?

The more you sit on USG, the more you’re able to learn about, first of all, what it takes to be a president, and second of all, what it takes to be a successful president, and so learning how to communicate with the administration has been really helpful … You learn who to talk to and how to talk to them to actually get tangible actions done … I think that that’s been the best part about having this experience on USG is, one, seeing what works and what doesn’t work and, two, knowing these are the different avenues that you need to approach and these are all the people that you need to make sure you talk to in order to effectively represent everyone … I think that one thing that you really need in a president is somebody who’s able to have humility and is able to say, “I’m not the smartest, I don’t know it all,” and I think that that’s one thing that I have developed over my time … I’m not afraid to say I’m sorry, and I’m not afraid to ask for help.

What would you say is your proudest accomplishment from your last three years on USG?

As executive vice president, what I’ve done with some other students is we created a Judicial Council this year, and with the decision of the AEC (the Awards and Elections Committee) they actually got their first case. I think that is going to be a really good avenue for students to actually hold USG accountable … and I think creating that body shows a lot about … where I hope USG goes in the future, being a more accountable body. I think that the Judicial Council can really do a lot for that. We put a lot of work into constructing those bylaws and making sure to give Judicial Council the authority that they deserved and that the student body deserved.

What is your opinion on the AEC and the Judicial Council decisions regarding the PVC (Progressive Voter Coalition)?

I think a lot of it goes back to the fact that the bylaws were, one, so new and, two, pretty vague. I think that there were other avenues that could have been taken in terms of reprimanding the PVC, but I think that where we need to start fixing that is by fixing the bylaws, making them less vague and more supportive. One thing that I’ve been trying to do in my time as EVP is make sure that our constitution and bylaws aren’t a hindrance on our students … and I think that this was a really good example of the bylaws hindering students … What we’ve already started to do is I’ve been working with the PVC to learn about what the PVC thinks, what their experience was in the process, and how we can help … because getting their opinion is going to be really important in how we fix the bylaws.

What are your next steps now that you’re off the campaign trail?

The first thing that I’ve been working on is sexual violence prevention … I’m working to get as much information as I can about what everyone’s doing so we … can work with people who are already working on the issue and figure out what’s currently being done so we’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re all supporting each other and working together to combat the issue. We have to start constructing the cabinet for USG, so we’re putting those applications together now, and I am currently working on reaching out to different organizations around campus and different facets of campus so that we can push this to as many different communities as we can so we can have as many different voices on USG as possible … Looking back at my platform and looking at all the other platforms as well, I think all of my opponents had great initiatives and great ideas in their platforms, and I want to work with them to make sure that those become a reality.

What are your dreams for Tulane’s campus over the upcoming year?

I really want to open up the door for more conversations to happen between different communities on campus to make spaces more inclusive as things are being built and constructed, making sure that every student feels supported in all of those spaces. I think that these are big action items, and I realistically can’t see them all through in a year, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to run, because I’m not running just to leave my legacy on Tulane. I genuinely want this school to be a better place because I love Tulane, and I think that there’s so many different ways that we can improve it and make it better, and so that’s why I want to get our foot in the door and make sure that we’re actually creating impactful change as a student government because I think that we have that opportunity.

Any final thoughts?

I really encourage any students who are interested, one, in USG, two, in any work from USG, to reach out and I would love to be involved and get engaged, because like I said, I’m not afraid to talk to everyone, and I’m not afraid to hear what we do wrong, because we do a lot of things wrong, and that’s okay. You have to be able to know what we do wrong in order to make it better, and I think that that’s really important too.

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