SG promises increased student advocacy, resource promotion and internal reform
Unaiza KhakooMercury Staff
Fatimah AzeemMercury Staff
The Mercury sat down with Student Government (SG) President Kruthi Kanduri and Vice President Margaret Belford to discuss progress on their campaign promises made in April 2022.
Kruthi and Belford, who ran on separate tickets, expressed a uniform interest to put student needs at the front of their goals last year. Their agenda included bringing more awareness to student resources, encouraging collaboration between student organizations and initiating student-centric reoccurring events. Additionally, Kanduri said she wanted internal reform to help senators navigate their term for a successful semester. From sponsoring different legal services to starting and maintaining student-focused traditions such as the Blank Space Project and the annual campus “Scream” night, SG’s campaign promises are beginning to come to fruition. However, there is still work to be done this semester.
As the liaison between students and administration, SG has multiple outlets to help students better connect with resources around campus. For example, SG funds a general attorney and immigration lawyer to help students through issues such as traffic accidents, minor criminal matters and disputes with landlords. Previously, students were not aware that such resources existed.. However, since SG began spreading awareness, there has been in increase in students reaching out. Furthermore, SG offers the Comet Discount Program for students to get discounted prices for services across Dallas such as dining, housing and health and beauty if they show their Comet Card. Belford encourages students to reach out to her if outlets no longer offers discounts to UTD students so that SG can update their discount catalog.
“Something that student government has taught me more than anything this semester … number one is navigating bureaucracy, but number two is just how critical demonstrating the student need for something and the student desire is to actually getting it done,” Belford said. “There’s an information gap between the highest levels of admin and people who make the decision and on the ground what’ s happening … you need to bridge that information gap. People need to, you know, speak up.”
In order to keep addressing student concerns, SG plans to continue with internal reformation. This includes passing out brochures to new senators to help them throughout their term as well as updating document organization to help SG flow better. There is also a focus on reforming the senatorial election after frustration with the process arose last year. The overall goal of all these strategies is to get SG running efficiently to better advocate for student needs.
“The elections last year were quite frustrating for a lot of people because it seems student government was slow on the uptake, and that involved a lot of other organizations and candidates being kind of rushed in the election process,” Kanduri said. “So, a big goal that we have this time around is to really ensure that these student government elections are not only successful and smooth in the way they run, in the way they’re communicated.”
Another goal of Kanduri and Belford was to advocate for the restoration of departments like the McDermott Library. Through the collaboration of SG, the library committee and the Dean of Libraries, Ellen Safley, adjustments to the library schedule were made. The library is now open for 24 hours continuously from Sunday at 11 a.m. to Friday at 8 p.m., in addition to expanded Saturday hours.
“Primarily our advocacy lies in meeting with the right people,” Kanduri said. “So, with the library, we spoke to Dean Safley … I was on the library committee last year and, you know, we spoke to her … before the new fiscal year kicked in. And we did talk about how there’s outspoken student support about reopening library hours.”
The promises made by both the current president and vice president of SG during their campaigns align with the current actions they are taking to improve upon the organization. With a focus on student engagement, increased organization and accessible resources, the SG officers have made tangible progress towards their goals.
“It’s a privilege that student government has to be able to be that bridge between students and admin,” Belford said. “So, anything we can do to connect clubs that are passionate about something to admin who want to hear student voices on it and get something done about it is awesome. It’s an honor.”