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The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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USG Brief

Case Western Reserve University’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) did not meet last Tuesday, Jan. 24. Instead of holding a General Assembly (GA) meeting, it conducted its Spring Retreat to brainstorm and prepare for the semester. When its members came back, they were very motivated, as the GA meeting on Jan. 31 lasted much longer than most meetings in the past.

The meeting began with guest speaker Glenn Nicholls, vice president of the Department of Student Affairs, taking the podium to address the assembly about a number of endeavors that will impact student life. The football team will be switching conferences, moving out of the University Athletic Association. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will resume giving CWRU students free admission. Veale is steadily working on replacing its older and less reliable equipment, but there is still work to do. The Wyatt Athletic Center’s planning stages are nearing completion. A space comparable in size to the Thwing Ballroom will be devoted to cardiovascular equipment, with a moderately smaller room dedicated to weight-lifting and similar training machines.

The Uptown complex on Euclid Ave. and E. 115th St. is almost completely done; in fact, some of its attractions are slated to open this spring. The entire facility will be up and running by September of this year. The University Center is close to breaking ground, and a ceremony for that may be scheduled to coincide with Springfest. Nicholls finished his news with the current University Plan, which is nearing completion. It now needs updating as the University looks to new prospects and new goals, such as raising nearly one billion dollars in its Capital Campaign.

The Student Sustainability Council (SSC) will soon be implementing a new wave of sustainability posters focused on three key themes: food, waste, and energy. These posters will be put in residence halls and other campus buildings. They are also gearing up for Recyclemania, an eight-week competition between universities across the United States during the months of February and March. The aim is to reduce waste, decrease energy usage, and increase recycling. The SSC will coordinate events with University Program Board (UPB) to get students fired up about the competition.

USG president Divya Aggarwal then addressed the assembly to ask for its endorsement of the Student Life Improvement Grant (SLIG) Committee. SLIG is a program in which individual students, organizations, and university offices and departments may submit proposals for projects that are meant to improve student life. USG has set aside money from its internal budget to fund these projects.

The Information Technology Committee, led by vice president Tom Dooner, reported that Information Technology Services (ITS) has fixed one of the biggest issues regarding CaseWireless. The network had a maximum cap of users online at any one time, limiting the number of students able to use it simultaneously. That limit has been removed; however, further testing is still needed remove all of the kinks in the system.

Vice president James Hale of the Student Life Committee announced that the distribution of newspapers around campus is back. It should be noted that the program has been altered significantly to reduce costs. Various factors caused it to become inactive last fall, but it is back by popular demand for this semester.

The assembly also elected several new members. Patrick Vaughn, Linh Tran, and Turaia Ahsan were all elected to the College of Arts and Sciences Caucus. Abigail Sevier and Linda Relson were elected as representatives on the School of Engineering Caucus. Steven Cummins was chosen to be the spring 2012 Election Commissioner for USG.

The first topic of discussion during open forum was a message from a representative of Northwestern University, asking for CWRU’s USG to sign a letter regarding harsh treatment of student protestors in the Occupy movement at the University of California (UC) Berkeley and UC Davis. It has already been signed by a number of university student governments, and calls for universities to “engage in open and honest dialogue,” “craft transparent, fair, and non-violent policy to protect students and faculty,” and “uphold the freedoms of free speech and peaceful assembly.” The letter sparked a long discussion on how to best treat the issue while still representing the interests of CWRU. For now, the letter is being tabled.

The assembly also discussed changing its meeting schedule. The proposed changes would make the assembly meet every other week. During the times when GA would have met, all the Committees of USG would convene in Adelbert instead. The benefits of this model include more time for members and increased committee focus. However, representatives created a long list of concerns, including less personal time for representatives, less bonding between the members of the GA, possible slowdowns in the GA’s reaction times, interference with lab schedules, and representatives in multiple committees being disadvantaged by their multiple duties during the limited time period of those days when individual committees meet.

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