USG leaders reflect on turbulent semester, goals going forward

USGT leader admits 'poor management' in the organization led to problems

ASU's Undergraduate Student Government leaders addressed a tumultuous semester and promised better accountability and transparency in the future for the remainder of the academic calendar. 

Impeachment, presidential resignation and complaints of incompetence plagued the USG organizations across all of the University's four major campuses. 

“There has been ups and downs, but I think that was also typical of just running student government in general,” said Aly Perkins, president of Undergraduate Student Government Downtown and a senior studying public service and public policy.

Although each branch of the organization experienced its own unique challenges and victories, Undergraduate Student Government Tempe found itself especially entangled in problems throughout the semester.

Within days of each other and a month left in the semester, Vice President of Policy John Gimenez was removed from office and President Allison Sorgeloos resigned

Joshua Blinkoff, USGT senate president, said poor management was to blame for the chaos.

"I'm going to go ahead and blame this semester on the poor leadership from two executives who are no longer in (USGT)," he said.

Perkins said that members of USG often face challenges at the beginning of the year learning their new positions.

“I don't think you really know how you're going to get along with your executives until you're in a certain situation, and then of course you have to adapt to that,” she said. “I think we've gotten a lot of things done and there's been drama, unfortunately, but sometimes you just can't avoid that.”

Daniel Ashlock, director for the advancement of student initiatives and the faculty counsel for USG said the organization hit some bumps but they are working to recover.

"There's definitely been small hiccups because there's now less infrastructure to support the directors of USG Tempe right now, but the advisors were stepping up to help the transition, and things are working very well now," he said.

Ashlock also said that his role as administrator is not to interfere with the work students do in their student government positions, but rather to let them figure it out.

"My sense is that students in student government take their roles very seriously and that's why they chose to go down with the impeachment process," he said. "And if that's what they want to do then at ASU, we as administrators support the students."

Blinkoff said they were working to alleviate any damage that was done to continue on the right path and that despite the drama, USGT had a successful semester

"Although it was really tough and chaotic, I think specifically in the senate, it really brought my team together in a divisive atmosphere with a lot of conflict and a lot of drama, and at times, I felt embarrassed," he said. "But I know that on my side, we stuck together, and my senators did an amazing job throughout the semester."

USGT faced complaints when the organization failed to upload meeting minutes and agendas in a timely manner according to their bylaws. 

Read more: USG almost got sued - here's why

"I take full responsibility for the agendas and minutes," Blinkoff said. "I should have been more timely about posting those. But in our last session a couple weeks ago, we had a discussion about timeliness and potential changes in the bylaws to ensure that in future years the senate president is able to get the agenda up in a timely manner without making mistakes."

Uploading meeting minutes and agendas was not the only inconsistency that plagued USG across all ASU campuses. 

Undergraduate Student Government West and Polytechnic both experienced technical difficulties that barred them from giving their constituents full transparency.

"You know, any organization has a few bumps in the roads and has miscommunication issues," said Alexander Sojourney, the USGW president and a junior studying political science and justice studies. 

USGW and USGP both did not have fully functioning websites through which they could upload meeting minutes, agendas, bylaws, their calendars and contact information for the students at those campuses.

"But to combat the website problem, the Council of Presidents is going to roll out a transparency plan so we can face the issue head on, and here at the West campus, we're rolling out our new website specified for the West campus," Sojourney said.

This brand new website from the Council of Presidents will be released on Dec. 4. A new website specifically for West campus will be ready for next semester, Sojourney added.

"I think it's going to help shine light on the initiatives we work hard on as well as just shine light on us as people, as students and just as fellow human beings," he said.

Even after a semester filled with drama and scandals, the students running USG worked to turn out initiatives, keep clubs funded and host events.

"We ran events that definitely had a large impact on the student body even in the midst of the drama," Blinkoff said. 

Each campus had several events that pushed students to register to vote as well as new Lyft partnerships across some campuses and the widely popular West Express bus that 36,000 students have used thus far.

"We have a lot of cool events that we're working on, and I think next semester is going to be the rollout of what we want to leave behind," Sojourney said. "So I think that's going to be quite exciting to see and know we had the pleasure of being student body presidents and having the privilege to serve our constituents."

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