ASUU says it works for students

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series focusing on the U’s student government and its role on campus.

That many students think the U’s student government needs improving comes down to a simple matter of misunderstanding, its vice president says. And missed publicity.

“When a student group that we give funding to doesn’t give us the proper recognition, then students do think we just sit around and eat pizza all day,” ASUU Vice President Anthony White said.

Some of the larger-scale projects that the Associated Students of the University of Utah funds prove that the student government is helping students, according to White.

“If you’re not involved in a student group, we provide things like the Hook Up card [the ASUU-funded student discount card], which is the best in history, and we are setting up traditions like the 5th Quarter and the Midnight Muss,” he said.

Both the 5th Quarter and Midnight Muss serve as before and after parties to sporting events, which White, who is also a safety for the U football team, values.

But he realizes not every student is interested in the same things as he is.

“I know ASUU doesn’t represent every student on campus…but I think we’re doing a good job,” he said.

Dirk Sprunt, the vice chairperson for the Senate, said he’s impressed with what he’s seen so far in ASUU.

As an older, nontraditional student, Sprunt said he thought he was going to go into the Senate to teach some kids how to run a government, but has had a different experience than he expected.

“I came in thinking ASUU was the bad guy and I thought, ‘I’m going to stand up and fix things,’ but maybe there’s not all that that needs to be fixed,” he said.

Other senators still see some areas that need repair.

Paul Hellinga, an ASUU senator who represents the School of Pharmacy, said that there is a breakdown in communication with the health sciences.

“The only thing I’ve noticed wrong with ASUU is that besides me telling students what’s happening on campus, the communication with ASUU isn’t complete,” Hellinga said. “I know there is a gap with every student on campus, and we have to be proactive to help that.”

Not every senator believes he or she should be the one to take the initiative.

“It’s not my job to go out and interview people about what they want,” said Catherine Spencer, an undeclared sophomore who serves as the University College senator. “My job is to serve on the Senate and to run a College Student Council meeting. If students need help, they can come to me and I’ll help them apply for funding.”

But Senate Chairperson Nate Terry, who stepped down this semester to run for ASUU office for next year, would like to see a more proactive approach to helping students.

“I feel like we should reach out more,” he said. “When I hold meetings, I know it’s infeasible to talk to every student, but I hope the Student Advisory Committees are talking to their members and they are talking to students.”

As far as more sweeping issues, Terry said the student government should better anticipate and initiate change on campus.

“The student government should be more proactive and figure out what will benefit both students and the U, and if that’s something we need to start, then we should,” he said.

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