Tulane USG Fails to Make an Impact

Edwin Wang, Staff Writer

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With the results of the Tulane Undergraduate Student Government elections finally in, an appropriate question arises: What is the actual impact of Tulane USG on student life?

As Tulanians, it was difficult not to notice the large swaths of students campaigning for student government positions last week on McAlister Drive. Beyond some simple voter perks and stump speeches, how do student government members actually impact our lives?

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According to the Instagram page of the Tulane USG, only 2,054 students cast votes in the presidential runoff election in a total undergraduate student body of more than 8,000 students. While a turnout rate of roughly 25 percent is disappointing for Tulane’s USG, it is also an indication of a disconnect between students and their popularly elected “leaders.”

Though Tulane’s USG was responsible for the green initiative, which removed complimentary plastic bags at McAlister Market, Tulane USG has little to show for its conspicuous campaign efforts other than a few generic ploys to combat climate change and inform students of their rights.

Indeed, student governments at other universities have dedicated themselves to improving student life quality. According to the homepage of Florida State University’s Office of Student Sustainability, FSU-elected Student Government Association leaders sponsored an initiative to sell fresh produce for their students on campus. Though Tulane Dining Services sponsors a similar initiative for Tulanians, Tulane’s USG is noticeably absent in vouching for such programs which benefit their constituents.

To improve its reputation, Tulane’s USG ought to take steps to reach out to the people it serves. Instead of relying on social media to connect with students, USG ought to hold actual events and activities which actually seek to make its presence known to the undergraduate student body. Without a meaningful effort to actually state its mission and goals to students, lackluster turnout will continue to define USG and Tulanians will remain disinterested.

“We need to increase communications with the student body about our actions. This will make USG less mysterious and more transparent,” said USG president-elect Joseph Sotile. “By clearly providing updates on the initiatives we are working on, more people will be able to stay up to date and potentially get involved with our efforts to improve campus life.” Despite Sotile’s impressive plans, it remains to be seen whether USG can collectively reform its hobbled image.

If Tulane’s USG seeks to actually serve a purpose and improve on-campus life, it should begin brainstorming how to sponsor actual initiatives which benefit Tulanians. Lobbying for better student dining options or reforms to student conduct policy would be a good start, but USG’s sole purpose should not be to simply campaign for elected positions. If Tulane’s USG can begin reinventing itself and its mission, perhaps student interest for this organization will increase.