On any given day, students at Case Western Reserve University might face inconveniences that they just sweep under the rug. Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Sophie Vilamara wants them to know their concerns are valid—and even students have the power to create institutional change for the better.
“In my eyes, a student complaint is a door of opportunity to create positive change,” she continued. “Without USG, administrators have relatively little insight as to how the student body perceives existing resources and services. It’s absolutely essential for students to be content with their experience in and out of the classroom, so building the bridge between students and administration to continuously improve student life is key.”
USG is an organization that aims to advocate for the student body in order to continuously improve CWRU’s undergraduate experience. Group members do so by recognizing and funding student organizations, collaborating with administrators, pushing legislation in the form of resolutions, and issuing official statements.
Comprised of five committees—academic affairs, communications, diversity and inclusion, finance, and student life—USG members collect student opinions and ideate solutions to student concerns. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, members have worked on a variety of initiatives—including the pass/no pass grading option; belonging removal after students had to leave campus abruptly at the start of the pandemic and couldn’t arrange for storage; mental health forums; academic workload surveys and more.
One notable undertaking was advocating for the creation of the “For a Better CWRU Task Force,” which addresses major areas of improvement within the realms of racial justice, LGBTQ+ inclusivity, gender equality, sexual misconduct, disabilities resources, mental health, and Greek life. Another was addressing financial insecurity on CWRU’s campus through creating the Physical Resource Center, or free store—an idea in the works for the past few years, but brought to life last year.
“Starting this fall, USG will be collecting feedback from the student body through emails and social channels in order to see exactly what everyone wants us to work on,” Vilamara noted.
Members are currently looking at five major initiatives: Creating a tuition proposal; advocating for the implementation of the new General Education Requirement; expanding meal plan options; building a new app that combines all CWRU-related apps; and programming to build up school spirit.
To learn more about USG, visit its website or reach out to Vilamara at email@example.com. Those who have general questions about starting a student organization or working with USG can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I hope every student who wants to get involved in the work that we do feels comfortable reaching out to us,” Vilamara said.