Bringing it all together

The Associated Students of the University of Utah, more commonly referred to as ASUU, is the on-campus body of government organized for the students, by the students.

In the coming 2004-05 school year, that governing body will be headed by President Alex Lowe and Vice President Bobby Harrington.

As president of ASUU, Lowe is the sole voting student on the Board of Trustees, which means he is the one path through which students’ needs are expressed to the board.

The positions of president and vice president are more complex than the majority of the staff positions at ASUU, as they must be responsive both to the boards within ASUU and to the entire campus population of U students and administration.

As Chief of Staff, Patrick Barnes will be responsible for focusing more on the internal affairs of ASUU. That assignment includes overseeing the various boards within the organization and working with the directors of those boards.

Barnes described some of the projects ASUU is currently working on to implement in the coming school year, citing the main focus of student involvement.

Registration for

Involvement program

This program will focus on getting students involved in campus activities with a more proactive approach that includes more than simple tabling.

Organizers hope to set up a Web pop-up that will appear during online registration that will encourage students to sign up for extracurricular activities and get involved in several ways.

ASUU will also contact more student groups and collaborate with them to assure students receive the opportunities and information necessary to get involved.

Recycling project

Organizers do not expect to create profit from the recycling project, but they hope it will at least offset some costs and establish the U as a leader in the community in terms of recycling.

“We’re trying to find value in what we’re throwing away and try to offset costs,” Barnes said.

UCard

ASUU is looking to collaborate with startup companies around mid-August to transform the UCard into a debit card.

“It will be an opportunity for parents to put money on a card for their students so they can only be used at certain places,” Barnes said.

In addition to easing parental concerns, using the UCard as a debit card will save these startup companies debit card fees. Instead, that money will go toward student services at the U, which includes funding for different programs including child care and tutoring, among others.

Organizers hope that by being creative with funds, this program will help students receive more services without dishing out more money.

Campus relations

Organizers hope to establish more cooperation on campus with student groups.

“More coordination will yield less competition between ASUU and student groups,” Barnes said.

ASUU wants other groups on campus to know that rather than competing with them, ASUU intends to help to expand them.

“ASUU is a resource, not a student group. It actually serves other groups. We’re not here to compete,” Barnes said.

Harrington echoed that statement.

“We don’t see ASUU as our own student group. Our whole interest is in helping everyone out,” Harrington said. “There will be fewer [ASUU-only] events and more promotion and facilitation rather than competition with other student groups.”

Development and fund raising

ASUU is offering services to focus on helping students find development and fund-raising resources.

Barnes referred to ASUU as “a one-stop shop for students’ needs to obtain money and learn how to fund raise.”

Academic affairs

Elisa Jacobson is working to help U students get more involved in different committees. Doing so will allow students to nominate people and express their interests in a more fluid fashion that will yield more participation in U government for all students.

Government Relations Board

The board is working on a proactive approach to understanding government and the issues during this election year.

They are also working on a voter information packet to help students become more aware about the issues that will be discussed in this year’s debates and where the candidates stand on the issues.

Organizers hope this proactive approach, along with efforts to get students registered, will create a bigger student voter turnout and increase awareness of our nation’s government.

After the presidential elections, the board will lobby the state Legislature on important issues such as library funding.

Nontraditional students

Nontraditional students are classified as those who are married, older than 25 and/or international students.

According to Barnes, 40 percent of U students are married.

The student government group that focuses on this demographic is planning a family conference for students with families and an international week in the fall for students from abroad.

This group will also have a voice in other activities and will lobby for the demographics whom they represent as different issues arise, keeping in mind how those topics will affect nontraditional students.

Student advocacy

According to Barnes, student advocacy is one of the most important services ASUU offers.

The group offers advice in several forms to U students, including providing vouchers for legal sessions with an attorney, landlord-tenant issues and other important issues they may otherwise have to face on their own.

“They don’t necessarily have all the answers, but they can get students in touch with those who do,” Barnes said.

The advocacy group also offers small emergency loans for students in need.

In addition, the group hopes to establish a Web site that will provide information regarding renting and leasing, since the U is largely a commuter school, meaning many students live off campus. The site will teach students about laws and their options while providing them with the opportunity to recommend places to live to fellow students.

Work with the

Presenter’s Office

ASUU and the Presenter’s Office are collaborating to bring bands, speakers and other forms of entertainment to the U in events such as Redfest.

Finance Board

The goal of the finance board is financial transparency.

“The manner in which students’ funds are being spent is a matter of public concern and one that must be accessible to the public,” Barnes said.

ASUU is working to make these numbers accessible to the public and to make them readily available through the Internet.

Barnes says that doing so accomplishes two things.

“The financial information is made available to students, but also we at ASUU keep in mind that it’s the students’ money we are spending.”

Harrington called this transparency an essential element to student government.

“Student fees are a hot issue and we hope to link them to a site that will make those expenditures accessible through Ustudents.com,” Harrington said.

While $20 of student fees go toward ASUU, Barnes asserted that “there will definitely be more than $20 worth of projects and information available to students.”

Staff relations

Last year’s student government struggled in this category and Harrington says the new administration hopes to maintain positive relations throughout the semester by focusing on core elements.

“Hard work and serving the students are our key concepts and we’ll stick to those,” Harrington said. “Of course, things happen and we don’t expect relations to be perfect, but we have a great team and there is a lot of synergy.”

Communication and

collaboration

Communication proved problematic for last year’s government and some potentially exciting campus-wide events suffered because of it.

Harrington hopes to eliminate communication barriers between ASUU and student groups simply by meeting with them.

“We’ve already had a calendaring meeting with leaders from 10 to 15 student groups,” Harrington said. “That meeting was the first step in communication because it eliminates conflict and furthers collaboration.”

Harrington said service will be a common ground of collaboration between student groups and ASUU this year.

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