Name: Eliana Ondrejko
Major: International studies and marketing
Relevant Experience: First-Year Representative, Weatherhead School of Management (WSOM) Representative, Secretary of Undergraduate Student Government (USG)
Running for: President
In your words, what is the importance of this role?
The President sets the tone of the organization and represents the student body with the administration. A good President can unify Undergraduate Student Government (USG) to help it be functional and present for the student body, as well as maintain a collaborative relationship with the administration that is vital for positive change.
What is one initiative that you want to complete in your first semester?
I would like to make more strides toward creating an inclusive, supportive, functional environment in USG. Adding this approach to the external initiatives my Vice Presidents and I will focus on will ensure that USG remains effective and constituent-oriented.
What are some of the most persistent recurring issues on campus and how do you plan to address them?
One issue is the consistent perception of a disconnect between students and the administration. I plan to collaborate with the Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) and with the Division of Student Affairs to incorporate students in the implementation of the changes and strategies both parties have discussed in their most recent reports. Another one of the most persistent recurring issues on campus is students being overwhelmed by their schoolwork, extracurriculars, over programming on campus and the transition between college and the workforce. This issue leads to a decrease in wellness and in increase in apathy on campus. I plan to work with the USG committees and with the other umbrella organizations to gain a deeper understanding of student life and the policies that appear to affect it so negatively, therefore enabling the pursuit of policies more conducive to a healthy college experience. A final key issue on campus is the separation of general policy discussions from diversity and inclusion components. I believe improvement has been made in this area recently, but I plan to work with Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC), the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the administration to ensure that diversity and inclusion concerns are systematically incorporated into policy discussions on campus.
What accomplishments in USG are you most proud of?
In terms of my personal accomplishments, I have worked on initiatives involving meal plans and Thwing Center, but the accomplishment I am most proud of is supporting and connecting with representatives as a member of the Executive Committee. For USG accomplishments as a whole, I am incredibly proud of the collaborative work the organization has taken part in, for instance the recent work on the topic of menstrual health products. This collaboration shows how USG is truly at the service of the undergraduate student body.
Can you describe your influence in terms of representing the student body through the Student Presidents Roundtable?
The position of President of the Student Body carries some automatic influence based on the legitimacy of the role. In addition, I plan to work honestly and openly with other umbrella organizations, because we all have the same constituents in the end.
How do you plan on holding vice presidents and representatives accountable?
There are two parts to my plan in this area. The first part is my plan to set a tone and example of responsibility. As I mentioned in regards to the importance of the role of President, the President sets the tone of the organization. Therefore, I believe that modelling responsibility and accountability myself will be an excellent start to encouraging the same from my Executive Committee and representatives. As well, setting the tone and example of support in the organization will help members of the organizations fulfill their responsibilities. The second part of my plan is to work with the Chief Judicial Officer (CJO) to review and communicate the disciplinary sections of the USG Constitution and By-Laws. If there are any particular sections that seem outdated or ineffective, I would like to bring them to the General Assembly to improve upon the sections with the input of members, who would be affected by these changes.
How will your presidency be different from previous years? How will it be similar?
My presidency will be similar to previous years in that I will maintain the same positivity that the last several presidents, especially President Ivy Petsinger, have maintained. It will be different in that USG is facing new questions about its role on campus, and I will navigate those with openness and respect.
How would you differentiate the roles of USG VP of Student Life and VP of Diversity & Inclusion? How will you work with those VPs?
The Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion comes into play when a group of students who are systematically discriminated against in society and who face societal prejudices are facing issues in the microcosm of the campus community. These issues may or may not fall under the category of Student Life. However, the final distinction rests with the two VPs. In working with these two VPs, I will encourage them to communicate openly and share resources, because the abilities of two committees are greater than one. That being said, I will also encourage them to divide work based on my and their personal differentiation between their committees in order to be efficient in addressing a wide range of student concerns.