USG lacks proper representation of its student body

Najee Walker, Associate News Editor

Over the years, the United Students Government (USG) has seen a mix of people take on the roles of leadership. However, as of recent years, it seems that diversity is lacking among the ranks of executive and senate members.

Although they are on a campus that values its diversity, USG’s senate and executive board has been – for the past several semesters – a misrepresentation of the actual student body on campus.

Allow me to throw some numbers out.

SUNY Buffalo State reports approximately 55 percent of its students to be white, 23 percent black and 11 percent Hispanic or Latino. However, USG seems to be predominantly black and Latino – not at all representative of the current numbers – especially if you took a look at this year’s election candidates.

However, the issue is more than just black and white.

Despite only making up about 29 percent of the student body, it seems that the students who run their organizations, and ultimately USG, are those black and Hispanic students who come from outside of the Buffalo area and have residency on campus.

It certainly seems like I am picking on USG, throwing out all of these statistics, but I know I am not alone. I have spoken to many commuters about how they feel with the current USG administration. Perhaps I am picking on them, but for good reason.

In the past, commuter students have expressed feeling like voting for campus elections, or even attending Springfest was an “on-campus” thing. Commuters do not feel like they are properly included in the community, and therefore, it does not matter what or who they vote for, because ultimately it will be the on-campus students that decide the fate of the college. And that, I think, is an awful feeling.

To put it simply, commuters feel awkward and underrepresented. As someone who only recently became a commuter, I can agree. It was once upon a time that I felt like I was a part of the community. When I walked around campus from my dorm to the Campbell Student Union, or from my dorm to anywhere, I could easily participate in any event, even if I didn’t know about it. There were signs everywhere in the dorms, things slipped under my door. I was the vocal minority on campus, even though I had no idea.

Now that I’m off-campus, I’ve had a chance to really examine USG. And, as I said, things just seem a little too cliquey. It seems like all the previous and current USG members are just inviting each other and voting for one another. There doesn’t seem to be an ounce of professionalism.

This is seen even with Derek Jorden apparently not fulfilling his office hour duties.

I needed to really research and understand the issue though, so I sought out Sara Garfinkle, a previous USG president, and asked what she thought of how things were going.

Garfinkle recalls when she served as President and had a diverse e-board and senate with white students, black students, and Hispanic students at a near-equal ratio. Additionally, she told me that she did her best to get commuters, athletes, and people from all different disciplines. She also recalls, however, drama and cliques as she stepped down after her two year period.

Commuters at this point feel shunned by USG, and ultimately, by the school. Most do not spend their time in the Student Union and opt instead to relax, study, or sleep in other places like the library or in a classroom building lounge. Or, they just leave campus all together.

Similarly, students feel that they are not represented by USG, and therefore do not necessarily care or think that they do matter.

Again, as a newly-shunned commuter, I can agree. Where are the emails that tell me about everything that happens on campus? And when I say everything, I mean everything. Not just the Target representatives that are looking for interns.

For many commuters, school is a second life.

However, this still raises a question for some commuters. If this is a second life, then why would they not get involved?

The answer is to get creative and find new ways to let commuters know what is going on at Buffalo State.

Commuters agree that even these events do not get nearly as much publicity as they should. Many did not know they were in-session. However, if there were some kind of commuter representative, or emails that were blasted to all students about events—not just academic major or Minor specific events—perhaps commuters would be more inclined to participate.

This is a call to USG. The year is ending and the future of the commuter student and USG relationship is looking very bleak. Take the words of your voters and your students to heart and help them feel like they are living the second life they deserve.

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Twitter: @Najeew93