Why should you — a busy Fordham student with homework and plenty of play to keep you occupied — take a few minutes from your routine on Thursday or Friday to visit OrgSync and vote in this year’s USG election?
Does it really matter who is in charge of USG? (It stands for United Student Government.) Everybody knows student leaders don’t have any real power to wield at Rose Hill. At the end of the day, USG’s president — decked out in a fancy title and a mahogany gavel — makes the budget process impossible for club leaders to decipher and talks a lot during weekly meetings that are completely cordoned off from the rest of the community.
Our next student government leader will either be Nevin Kulangara or Tochi Mgbenwelu. [Review their plans for campus here — they vary pretty significantly.] Both would seem to be sufficient enough for the job. Should we care enough to go online and vote for one of them? In the end, doesn’t it always play out like some glorified popularity contest?
Well, no. While those may be the sentiments of some, many on campus reiterate the little-known, behind-the-scenes importance of USG and the election that will be held later this week.
“I think many in the student body care about USG,” said Christopher Rodgers, dean of students. “They certainly should, as USG cares deeply about Fordham — and I do think most are aware elections are coming.”
He said USG has taken on several “difficult issues” in the past few years, and serves as a valuable source of student engagement on campus. “I often look to [Aileen Reynolds, the current president of USG] and her government for feedback on a variety of issues. Even when we differ, it is very helpful to hear her take.”
When asked, Reynolds, FCRH ’14, said that while she is not always the topic of campus conversation, her role as president is an important one. And depending on who is elected this week to replace her, students’ everyday experiences will be impacted — for better or for worse.
“Being USG president consists of more responsibility and accessibility than is obvious to the public eye,” she said by email. “I am consistently afforded the opportunity to meet with administrators such as Alanna Nolan (assistant dean for Student Leadership and Community Development), Christopher Rodgers (dean of students), Jeffrey Gray (vice president of Student Affairs) and other administrators who have a significant impact on student life at Fordham.”
Though voter turnout has been an annual problem for USG around this time of year, Rodgers is optimistic.
“It is my hope that turnout is high, but I can’t speculate on what might be defined as ‘good’ turnout,” he said. “The more the better.”