Patrick Vaughn is the vice president of student life in the Undergraduate Student Government. Having been involved in USG since his freshman year, this is his second year as an elected member in the organization. The Observer met with Vaughn to discuss his role in the Executive Committee and his expectations for this academic year.
Noora Somersalo: What does your job as the vice president of student life entail?
Patrick Vaughn: As my title suggests, my responsibility is to improve student life at Case Western Reserve University. I, along with the Student Life Committee that I lead, deal with a broad range of issues that concern the everyday life of the students here on campus.
For example, a major issue that we are working on right now is the new posting policy. It is not clear to the students where they are allowed to post their announcements and where they are not. The Student Life Committee is currently trying to find a feasible way to inform everyone about the posting policy and, for instance, come up with signage that would help the students find an appropriate place for them to post their announcements.
NS: How did you get involved with USG?
PV: I have been involved in USG since my first year at CWRU, when I became a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (USGDI). I actually started my campus involvement as a member of the Undergraduate Indian Student Association (UISA). That is how I became interested in diversity issues.
Even though I have not been an elected member in USG my whole college career, I am happy with the path I have taken. Being a member of other organizations allowed me to meet a great number of people, so I have a larger pool for student feedback now that I am dealing with Student Life issues in the USG Executive Committee.
NS: What do you enjoy the most about USG?
PV: I just really like USG, quite simply. Being in the organization has taught me to think about campus issues differently. Before I would just complain and never do anything about it – now if something bothers me, I start thinking about how I could fix it instead of just dwelling on it.
I always have my vice president hat on when I am on campus. I try to keep my ears open to what my peers have to say about matters that they would like to be improved. I also wish to pursue a career in healthcare, so I enjoy helping people. In USG, I feel that I can do just that.
NS: Do you feel that you really are making a difference on campus? What do you hope to achieve this year?
PV: I am biased, but I really am positive that I am improving the community. I think that what the students do not often realize is that many of the improvements USG makes are not very visible. As for my expectations, I cannot specifically tell what they are for this year since it is difficult to predict what kinds of issues will pop up during the year.
Generally speaking, I hope that I can do everything I can to make the students’ lives better. However, if I have to give a concrete example, one of the major improvements I hope to make this year is to develop a centralized room reservation system. Currently, if a student wishes to reserve a room in a certain building, he or she has to request the room from someone who is responsible for dealing with reservations for that building only. With a centralized system, students would be able to reserve a room in any building through one website.
NS: How can a non-USG member get his or her voice heard on Student Life issues?
PV: Students can contact us any way they prefer – via e-mail, by filling out the feedback form on the USG website, by talking to someone they know in USG, etc. We do our best to bring the issues up in the committee meetings as well as inform the staff and administration about them.
If there is a specific issue that concerns a student and he or she really wants to have a say in it, it is possible even if he or she is not an elected member of USG. In case a student wants to join USG but feels that it is too big of a time commitment, he or she should contact us so we can work something out.