The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) announced they will be making efforts to end the disconnect between themselves and the student body with monthly town hall meetings during the USG Senate meeting on Thursday, Oct. 21.
At the meeting, USG vice president of communications Sowad Ocean Karim gave his semesterly report on what he’s accomplished so far in his position, specifically how his role has affected the community of Stony Brook University.
He revealed that USG will now conduct monthly town hall meetings. This initiative is part of advocacy efforts to increase more transparency and communication with students on campus.
“We are projecting the first one to be in November,” Karim said during the meeting.
This is the first time USG will hold monthly town hall meetings since their last one in the fall of 2019, where they proposed a referendum to reconstruct their constitution. The upcoming USG town hall is projected to be sometime in mid-November.
Karim believes that in recent years USG has gained a reputation of being similar to a “hierarchy,” where others might think USG is above or opposing the student body. With his position he wants to change that.
“We want to dismantle that [hierarchy] because we work for the student body and want to make sure that we cater to y’all and don’t create any division,” Karim said. “Humanizing USG is the biggest thing that we can possibly do to allow people to come to us and talk about their concerns, their struggles and some things that they’re experiencing.”
The town halls will provide a direct way for students to converse with the USG executive board and senators besides attending senate meetings and informal tabling sessions.
However, there is a lack of student body appearances at senate meetings.
“Nobody knows senate meetings are open to anyone, even no matter how hard I advocate for it,” Karim said. “Everyone is able to come to senate meetings but more so often people don’t really come and that’s kind of unfortunate. We want to see more people and more friendly faces.”
Karim has also pushed for a USG newsletter, wanting to publish weekly or bi-weekly “depending on how much content is available.”
The first ever USG newsletter was sent out on Oct. 25 to about 160 people. Students can subscribe to the USG newsletter through Mailchimp or by asking to be signed up by directly messaging the USG Instagram account, according to Karim. Subscribers will receive the newsletter via email.
The newsletters consist of upcoming USG events, senate meeting highlights and updates on series such as the upcoming new season of “USG Hot Takes,” the Stony Brook twist on the YouTube series “Hot Ones,” where faculty and students are interviewed instead of celebrities.
“There’s a lot of missed opportunities when we allow for there to be a gap between the student government and the student body that the government is trying to cater towards,” Karim said. “With this humanization project, by bridging that relationship together, it allows for more open communication, bonding and a better understanding of what we actually do on campus.”