USG offers new incentives to increase student engagement

In an effort to improve relationships with students, representatives are offering incentives

The Undergraduate Student Governments across ASU’s campuses are implementing new programs this semester to promote engagement between student representatives and their constituents. 

The initiatives vary from campus to campus, but they have the common goal of getting students more familiar with their elected officials and the ways that USG can benefit the student body. 

"The biggest single goal really is outreach," said professional flight senior Dan Pasco, the president of USG Polytechnic. "We believe that we need to have an active relationship with the student body before we can be able to confidently advocate on behalf of them."

One way USGP hopes to improve its relationship with students is by offering free Scantron sheets and Green Books in their office.

"It’s not that much of a financial burden … but every time there's a big test on campus, there's 50 people in the bookstore, and one cashier, so it's (adding) a little bit of convenience," Pasco said. "It increases foot traffic for us into our office, which gets us to meet a lot of new faces and helps with our outreach initiatives."

USG Downtown, on the other hand, is offering a Lyft code to get its student body to start a conversation with USGD members about any concerns they may have or something as simple as how their day has been. 

"Last year, we used to just post (the Lyft code) on our social media, but something that we want to do is intentional student engagement," said USGD President Yasmin Alvarado, a junior majoring in public service and public policy. "Now we're posting about a Lyft code, but it's like a teaser ... Like, come to any of the USG staff members to receive a Lyft code, and talk to us about how you're feeling, what questions or concerns you have and then you get the Lyft code."

Alvarado said the interaction with students can help "put a face to the name" of who they are serving.

However, Alvarado said that for her, social media has been a surprising way that USGD has been able to engage with their students. 

"You can post and post, but that doesn't mean anything," Alvarado said. "But this year, I've noticed that our entire team is reposting stuff on their stories ... there's more of a presence."

Hanna Salem, the president of USG Tempe and a senior studying public service and public policy, said in an email that USGT public relations goals include doubling its Instagram following and promoting the ways the executive team fulfills its platform issues on social media. 

These goals will allow USGT to improve "USG’s overall visibility on campus through constant engagement with constituents both in-person and online," Salem wrote. 

Alvarado also said the larger social media presence could have contributed to helping USGD fill the vacancies it had at the end of the last school year. 

At the end of elections in March, USGD had six open senate seats. Since then, three of the seats have been filled. 

"I think it was just our marketing," Alvarado said in regards to how USGD was able to fill some of its seats. 

Read more: USG and GPSA elections end with lingering senate vacancies

Pasco, however, said he saw a bright side to having some vacancies.  

"There's value to not having every position filled in April," Pasco said. "First off, we have first year students and we want to give them an opportunity to be involved. Secondly, there's upperclassmen who might have some personal call to action to become more involved on campus, or their time frees up."

At the end of the elections, USGP had nine of its 12 senate seats open. Pasco said that by the first senate meeting in August, all the seats had been filled. 

"Not that we purposely want vacancies or anything, but I saw it as a good opportunity," Pasco said. "We were able to get another international student or two, a couple of commuter students, some of the demographics that are sometimes harder to engage with and get involved with student government."

Alvarado said the ultimate goal is to change the perception of USG across all campuses and explain the role that USG can play in helping students. 

"We are here to advocate on behalf of students, we're not just here to plan an event for you. We're here to plan an event that serves a purpose to help you, so you can help us," Alvarado said. "Something that we're really trying to work on is not only us coming to the students but for the students to feel comfortable enough to come to us."

USG West was unable to schedule an interview before deadline.


Reach the reporter at krquaran@asu.edu and follow @kiaraquaranta on Twitter. 

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