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Herberger students moving downtown face a lack of USGD representation

There are no candidates for the two newly allocated Herberger senate seats in USGD, and it's unclear if they'll be filled next year amid its transitional phase


"Herberger students are heading downtown to new opportunities in design, music and fashion." Illustration published on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Several Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts programs will be moving to the Downtown Phoenix campus in the fall, but they likely won’t have representation in Undergraduate Student Government Downtown.

The Herberger fashion program, popular music degree and design and E+I programs will be relocated to the new residence hall and student center expected to open in the fall. Two seats on USGD were newly allocated to Herberger for the move, but no one is running.

Stephani Etheridge Woodson, the interim associate dean for students at Herberger, said in an email that 50-100 art students are expected to live downtown, and the University hopes those numbers will increase year after year.

Herberger struggles with representation in USG, with only one candidate running for the two vacant senate seats on USG Tempe. That candidate, Lydia Grawe, attributes this to a lack of awareness among art students.

“It's a bit of a campus-wide issue, but especially with certain colleges like Herberger because students aren’t really aware of student government as a thing that they can participate in,” said Grawe, a sophomore studying film.

The issue could be made worse if upperclassmen in Herberger programs choose to live in Tempe and commute to the Downtown Phoenix campus. 

Sophia Bavishi, a sophomore studying popular music, said she plans to live in Tempe, though some of her friends in the popular music program are moving downtown. Bavishi isn’t sure if she’ll get involved in USGD as she’s involved in smaller programs within her major.

Megan Workmon Larsen, the director for student engagement at Herberger, said in an email she’s had several students tell her that they plan to run for downtown's Herberger seats, ensuring there will be representation for arts and design students. 

Grawe believes the low candidate numbers aren’t due to the Herberger move, but the lack of information about student government and elections.

“One barrier is that on the student government websites, there's just really not that much information on how to get involved,” Grawe said. “There's nothing on the USG Tempe website about how to get involved.”

Grawe explained it was difficult for them to find information to be able to launch their own USG campaign because the student government websites don’t promote it.

“It's kind of a cycle, like the fewer people get involved with student government the fewer people there are to make these systems work very well,” Grawe said. “So that's something that I'd really like to try and fix, the ease of information on the websites.”

Bavishi isn’t concerned with Herberger's lack of representation in USGD because of the diversity of majors Herberger will bring to the Downtown Phoenix campus.

“I’m not worried about (USGD) because I think that with the popular music students and many others moving downtown, it has allowed us to expand our program elsewhere and allow others to join,” Bavishi said.

Woodson is confident the Herberger move will add to the downtown community and eventually become more involved in student organizations like USGD.

“We hope that they add joy and vibrancy to the downtown community while contributing to the exciting student community already in downtown Phoenix,” Woodson said. 

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