TUA aims for equity, clarity in new structure

Ellie Cowen, Contributing Writer

TUA update
Tulane Undergraduate Assembly (formerly Undergraduate Student Government), will undergo structural changes this fall in an effort to increase equity and transparency after a contentious year. (Will Embree)

Tulane Undergraduate Assembly, recently rebranded from Undergraduate Student Government in an effort to overhaul the student organization, will undergo large structural changes this fall in an effort to increase equity and transparency in its body. 

There will be 34 members of the assembly, seven from each grade and six selected from a lottery of students. The lottery spots are intended for students who cannot dedicate the time for a full-fledged campaign but are still interested in serving. 

“From the body, there will be two Co-chairs and [the body] will elect committee heads for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Committee, the Student Experience Committee and the Accountability Committee,” Kalil Mosquera, the interim USG vice president of finance, said. 

In the process of restructuring, the team has held listening sessions and received input from students and staff in more than seven departments, according to Mosquera. This summer, they also researched student governments of both private and public institutions. 

“It’s a long process,” Mosquera said. “It was a lot of type, delete, type, delete. A lot of trial and error. It was a lot of people playing devil’s advocate seeing both sides.”

A National Association of Student Personnel Administrators external review of student government conducted last year found USG’s organizational structure to be overly complicated and unable to grow and adapt with the school. According to Laura Osteen, assistant vice president for student life, the body had accumulated positions without taking time to refine the structure. 

“It’s not that any particular [position] was bad. It’s just, how does this year’s student government reflect the needs and issues of this year’s students?” Osteen said. 

Another criticism from the NASPA review argued that the past structure was disjointed between the executive board and other operational areas. The NASPA report found that members did not have a clear purpose in their work at USG, and that there was a lack of student engagement overall. 

“Honestly, before, it was a lot of titles without actual work being done. You had students who signed up to be a part of the Senate and had to go to meetings, but their work just stopped there,” Mosquera said. 

According to Wendy Yang, the interim USG vice president of student organizations, the body is also shifting focus away from student organizations and towards advocating for student life issues like dining and food. 

“The old USG, they spend too much energy and time on student orgs. [Student government] is supposed to be like a student advocacy thing,” Yang said. 

The team aims to open the period to file for an election on Oct. 3 and encourages all students to get involved. Updates will be posted on the TUA instagram account, @tuaattulane.  

“If [a student] just wants to peace out and go to class, and that it’s truly all [they] want to do, all I ask for you is to vote. A vote matters,” Osteen said.

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