USG Downtown president Corina Tapscott on her education and the issues and opportunities of the downtown campus

Undergraduate Student Government Downtown President Corina Tapscott is on a mission.

In spite of her warm, self-effacing demeanor and willingness to keep her office open, Tapscott has fought tooth and nail for the rights and resources of the Downtown Phoenix campus. Now, she wants to change how people perceive it. 

She is adamant about ending the idea that ASU has a "main" campus. It's a keystone in her policy, and in USGD's set list of priorities, which includes "striving for equitable resources." 

Tapscott said this means ensuring downtown Phoenix students are entitled to the same opportunities and assets as they are in Tempe.

We sat down with Tapscott to discuss her presidency, her educational career and her goals for the downtown campus. The full interview is posted below, but here are a few highlights:

So I guess we'll start by getting to know you a little bit. What's your major?

I'm actually studying four degrees. I study social work, psychology, public service and public policy, and philosophy with a concentration in law.

And how many of those are majors? 

All of them. I really like learning. I just like to read and learn.

How did you get involved in USGD?

I've always been really involved in student organizations. When I first came to ASU, I was really involved in an organization called DPC Aware. I was the president of that my freshman and my sophomore year. 

It actually ended up just being that, Frank Smith, the president before me, ended up knowing me through my interactions with DPC Aware, and he ended up inviting me to run with him. He was the one who really opened up my mind about student government. The first year I ran with Frank Smith, I was vice president of services.

You obviously have a lot of classes contributing to you as a person. How do you feel your educational background has contributed to your time with USGD?

I think it's really helped a lot. I'm studying four degrees, which gives me four perspectives. I have public service and public policy, which means I'm able to understand the local legislature for the students. I have social work, which means I believe empathy is incredibly important in my job. I have philosophy, which really means I think we should get down to the foundation of all our discussions when we're having them. And I have psychology, which really cares about how we motivate people and engage the students.

What are some of the biggest policy points you've faced in your presidency so far, and what are some of the ones you'll address in the future?

We have four priorities that we've been focusing on, as far as USG Downtown. So, our four priorities are increasing student engagement, empowering student organizations, striving for equitable resources and then holistic wellness of all of our students.

How do these fit in with the political landscape on the Downtown (Phoenix) campus?

One of the unique priorities that you'll see downtown is striving for equitable resources. That's us really making sure that our students don't feel that they're off "main campus." 

We don't like to refer to Tempe as "main campus," since we believe that we're all just one of the campuses. In that one, we've been focusing a lot on getting a physical ticketing booth for the football games downtown. We've already been giving a timeline of expecting that in the fall, so it's my job to make sure that actually ends up happening and to see what it'll look like for the students. 

One of the biggest news items about the Downtown Phoenix campus has been the potential acquisition of more land down here. What's your take?

I think it's wonderful. I'm really excited to see that the Downtown campus will be expanding more. Really, the big thing that student government is curious about, as well as I know all students are, is we want to know what that land's gonna look like. So that's really the next step we're taking on that. We're going to ask questions of administration as well as President Crow, and say, what do you expect to use with that land, and how can we incorporate student opinion and student feedback into the development of that land? But we love it, we like to see that (the Downtown Phoenix campus) is expanding. 

What do you see, more broadly, as the future of the Downtown Phoenix campus?

In a very physical sense, I do see it expanding. ASU is going to have more and more students every year, and we get more embedded in the community every year. My ideal hope for the downtown location would be students engaging more and more in the development of the physical space around them. (The football ticketing booth downtown) really represented to the students how powerful their voice can be. Really, I would just hope that students realize how much power and potency their voices can have, so that they can engage in, not just the use of the spaces, but the building of the physical spaces themselves. 

What do you see as the "feel" of the Downtown Phoenix campus?

I definitely view Downtown always as the "helping" campus. All the students seem to enjoy an eclectic approach, where they really want to be involving all of their diverse majors together in order to help their communities as much as possible. I think this campus really holds true to ASU's charter that talks about the fact that we should be embedded in our community and helping find solutions for our community. 

Talk a little bit about your position of a USG president of a campus that isn't often thought of as the "main" one. 

I think when you become student government president, you realize how many of your priorities end up overlapping. I think part of it is reminding the students downtown that they have power, and it's not going to be Tempe that's the only location that's heard, and if downtown students speak up, they will be heard, and we will end up getting what we are needing as far as making sure we get the best education possible. One of the things we actually did is reminding our student government members, as well as the students, to not look at us as if we're not "main," since you're actually ripping power away from yourself. 

We've talked a lot about the challenges the Downtown Phoenix campus faces. What are some of the unique opportunities it provides?

Honestly, I've always felt that downtown is the perfect size. We're big enough to make lots of change happen, but not too big to come together and organize. We're the second biggest, and that means that we have a very large voice, and we're very important. But, I think we have much, much more community at our location. I really feel connected to this downtown location. We really are connected downtown, and we really want to listen to each other. 

Related Links:

Voting Guide: USG Downtown Presidential Elections

USG-Tempe President Isaac Miller on his background, policy goals and the nature of leadership

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