USU/SA gets Brutally Honest with Students
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013
The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.
USU/SA gets Brutally Honest with Students
An audience of about 20 students filled the TSC Auditorium Wednesday for the Brutally Honest public forum during Common Hour.
Student asked members of the USU Student Association Executive Council questions about their positions, past legislation and future plans. Publicity and Campus Relations Director for the Val R. Christensen Service Center Mary Taggart asked pre-scripted questions and invited the audience to chime in.
Service Vice President Kevin Meacham was asked to justify spending money on iPads as rewards for a service project.
“My initial thought is I understand their thoughts and concerns,” Meacham said. “Personally, it’s hurting to me because it’s service. Second, the service center, as with others, puts aside money for a budget. We decided we would spend those funds to motivate students to serve. Everyone needs some type of motivation to serve.”
Meacham’s department is hosting an event during November called Aggies Giving Service (AGS). Students are encouraged to log their service hours and the student with the most hours will receive an iPad.
“The idea behind AGS is to log your service hours,” Meacham said. “But mostly to promote service. We’re providing them with a direct opportunity.”
A student in the audience followed Meacham’s response with a question about the spending in the MyVoice campaign, held the first week of this month to encourage students to voice comments and concerns on my.usu.edu. She asked why $1,500 was spent when clubs in the service center have to pay money to host a fundraiser.
“There are things that students don’t do on their own,” said Doug Fiefia, USU/SA president. “That was the justification. It wasn’t buying concerns or spending money to get those concerns, it was a way to attract students.”
Fiefia said there has never been a way for the executive council to receive concerns from all students around campus.
“MyVoice is one of the best things we’ve done and has been done,” said Casey Saxton, public relations and marketing director. “$1,500, even more than that, was spent on the campaign. It was an effective use of student money. The student voice is invaluable. I think that it was a very beneficial use of student money.”
Saxton said the service budget is separate from his and the president’s budget. The MyVoice campaign was paid for with Saxton’s and Fiefia’s budgets.
Administrative Assistant Trevor Olsen was asked about his goal of informing students about the current legislation in Academic Senate and Executive Council. He said students aren’t necessarily interested in the legislation, and he’s transitioned his goal to getting students excited.
“I’m not sure students even understand that we pass legislation that affects them,” Olsen said. “This is different than high school student government. We don’t sit and plan dances. We actually do things for students and change policies to benefit students. I want students to understand that before pushing legislation.”
Student Advocate VP Daryn Frischknecht was asked how she uses her position to advocate for student concerns. She explained the importance of students using MyVoice to talk with officers.
“As student advocate... I’m supposed to take these concerns and advocate for the students,” she said. “One thing I’ve been noticing is students don’t take advantage of this position and voice those concerns face to face. MyVoice will help a lot. I love it when students come to my office.”
She was also asked about an initiative she’s been working on with Associate Vice President of Student Services Eric Olsen. Hoping to speak with President Albrecht soon, Frischknecht is investigating the possibility of making USU a tobacco-free campus.
“It’s all about health,” she said. “Even secondhand smoke is harmful for the body. There are about 1,500 universities that have switched to tobacco-free campuses, just following this national trend.”
She said she wants to gather student’s opinions and put together a survey to send out in January. She’s also researching whether it’s a possibility for USU to make the transition.
Saxton was asked about how students can utilize his office for graphic design purposes. He said he has three graphic designers and the resources are free for clubs and organizations on campus.
Requests have to be turned in five to seven weeks in advance to guarantee it will be finished. The TV displays in the Hub can also be used by students.