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USG Downtown, Polytechnic update model for student representation

USGD and USGP are to switch from a Senate to a House model to better reflect student college populations

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Students walk to class on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

The Undergraduate Student Government at ASU’s Downtown and Polytechnic campuses is working to change its structure to reflect the U.S. House of Representatives, rather than the U.S. Senate.

These changes were sparked by an effort to bring stronger representation to ASU’s online students. Originally, online students had their own form of online student government starting in September 2021, but the Online Student Government was disbanded shortly after in February 2022 when USG voted to include online students in its student body delegation on respective campuses.  

READ MORE: USGT unanimously passes referendum recognizing Online Student Government

The House model is currently implemented for both USG Tempe and USG West. Despite USG being structured after the House, it will continue to be called the Senate regardless.

Discussions are now underway about how to best implement the new House model. Under the current model at USGD and USGP, each college, no matter how large a student body size, has two representatives. With the new model, colleges with larger enrollment sizes will have more student representatives while colleges with smaller enrollment sizes will have fewer. 

USGP did not respond to requests for comment. 

“What we’re discussing and looking into is the equity piece versus the equality piece," said Evan Lis, USGD president and an undergraduate student studying journalism and mass communication and geography. "In particular, we talked about a college with a low student body population, and if we make it so it’s just completely uniform so we build more equity in the system for when you do have lower student body numbers in a college.” 

One way of working around that issue is a tiered threshold system. 

Lis said that as student populations grow at each college, they will be put into a new ratio category that determines "how many students designate one senator." 

“I just hope that when it comes to the colleges that have less people they have enough representatives to be productive and truly represent their college," said Patrick Apap, a director of government affairs at USGD and a junior majoring in public service and public policy.

The plans are being discussed by the legislative branches of all USG campuses, where they’re figuring out the best way to organize the threshold’s ratio categories and representative numbers, but nothing is set in stone just yet. 

“Undergraduate Student Government recognizes its need to innovate as time progresses. With online integration and an increase in on-campus students, it is important to update and scale representation equitably and uniformly across all ASU campuses. This change will ensure that each student feels represented and included.” said Harrison Sears, USGD senate president and a junior majoring in philosophy and political science in an email.

According to Lis, the current hope for the details of the new model is to have them worked out during the spring semester and ready for implementation by the start of the school year this fall. 

“For me, I think the most exciting part of this plan is that we’ll get to expand our team so that they’ll have a higher rate of bandwidth for the tasks we need," Apap said. "So when it comes to government operations for legislation or external affairs for events we get to see more members involved so that we can do bigger, better things and possibly pull in more budget so we can do more for the students.”

Edited by Shane Brennan, Jasmine Kabiri and Anusha Natarajan.

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