Undergraduate Student Government President Edwin Saucedo delivered his State of USG address at the USG Senate meeting on Tuesday, highlighting the projects that USG has undertaken and its accomplishments this year.
He began his address by revisiting the goals his administration set for the 2016-2017 school year. Among these were improving campus sustainability, improving college affordability and mental health support and advocacy. He also had aimed to give a voice to USC’s first generation and low-income students and improve the accessibility of USG.
“Our efforts to create a better USG and USC really began with transforming our organization internally,” Saucedo said.
Previously, USG was divided into the Executive Cabinet and Program Board. This past year, Saucedo and his administration decided to differentiate USG’s branches and their respective roles by creating six different branches: Program Board, Communications, Advocacy, Legislative, Funding and Judicial.
“This switch helped us consolidate resources and positions within the organization and ensured that an executive member was directly supporting each group,” Saucedo said.
Saucedo went on to highlight USG’s increased allocation of funds for student programs and the mobilization of a 120-member team to represent the various communities and identities on campus, such as transfer students, spring admits, students with disabilities and campus sustainability initiatives.
“These advisers have not only been able to work on their own advocacy projects, but also serve as a resource and collaborating partners to others in our organization,” Saucedo said. “An example of this collaboration will be displayed at Springfest, where for the first time ever, we will have wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms so that all students will be able to enjoy their experience and have a clear view of the show.”
According to Saucedo, USG also increased the pool of funding resources for other student organizations this year, setting aside over $350,000 dollars in funds. This was a $50,000 increase from last year.
He also highlighted the achievements of USG’s Senate, which created resolutions aimed to improve the student experience. Some examples include passing the Smoke-Free Campus Resolution and voting to make USC a sanctuary campus.
On the topic of advocacy, Saucedo said there were both successes and obstacles. USG eliminated the additional fees that were required on top of tuition, such as lab fees.
Additionally, for the first time, USC’s administration released an infographic this year that explained how tuition dollars were being used. However, he acknowledged that USC tuition still increased by 4 percent this year, a rate that has been continuous since 2015.
In his closing statements, Saucedo said USG has submitted its proposal for a center for first-generation and low-income students, which would provide advising, community space and strategic programs. According to Saucedo, USG has also been actively exploring how to decrease students’ financial barriers to getting involved without affecting their financial aid.
“These are only some of the highlights of the work we have been able to accomplish over the last year,” Saucedo said. “I cannot express enough how grateful I am to each and every one of my executives and team members for making this possible. Throughout my term in USG, I have been surrounded by individuals who passionately fight for underrepresented student voices, and work extensively to create the best undergraduate experience for all students.”