USG establishes rebuilding coalition after contentious year

Mercedes Ohlen, Staff Reporter

After several contentious elections and accusations of racism, sexism and homophobia from members of the student body, Tulane University Undergraduate Student Government decided against elections this year and will instead focus on committee work to restructure the organization.  

Undergraduate Reagan McKinney and Laura Osteen, assistant vice president for student affairs, established the Guiding Coalition Committee last fall to focus on restructuring. 

McKinney and Osteen will serve as the coalition’s co-chair.

That process will include reviewing USG’s mission, vision, staffing, senate, executive, finance and student organization models. 

The Guiding Coalition consists of at least six students, as well as Kourtney Gray, director of new student and leadership programs.. 

The Guiding Coalition engaged consultants who met with faculty and students last week. While it may seem strange that USG is looking to outside perspectives for help, McKinney and Osteen said that students have always — and always will be — running USG.

The consultants will analyze the issues and provide possible solutions, McKinney said, “but the work being done by the guiding coalition … will be to tease out of what is the best solutions, what’s the best strategy for implementation.”  

To Osteen, it’s clear that Tulane is not alone in this process.

“I think nationally we see pain coming out of our political governmental processes,” she said. “So the opportunity to truly create and design something new and relevant, that is ethical, equitable, grounded in Tulane’s future and who we want to be — wouldn’t that be amazing?”

Olivia Mullaney, a senior serving as USG President, shared those hopeful sentiments. 

“I’m incredibly excited. I think that student government rooted in student advocacy– which is what we’re striving for– is amazing,” she said. “It would do so much good on campus for students and for the administration.”

McKinney concurred and said that the Coalition will benefit the campus greatly.

“We’ve gotten to work through and tease out a lot of the issues that I feel like USG in the past might just railroad over. I am so excited for this process. I definitely think that it’s a good process,” she said. 

The coalition plans to hold a student referendum in the fall of 2022.

“It’s not going to be like a light switch,” Gray said. “It’s going to be a culture shift.”

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