A Day in the LifeInto the mind of a Hunter Undergraduate Student Government official
Christina Chaise, a senior Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senator, has been involved with the USG for about a year now. According to Chaise, a USG Senator is the liaison between the class body that they represent and USG.
The most important job of a USG Senator is to recognize and understand the issues that students care about in order to address them. USG Senators have to make themselves available to students and establish an open avenue for communication. They meet and pass budgets and co-sponsorships, as well as vote on other matters important to maintaining operations at Hunter. USG senators also sit on committees (like Students Welfare, Evening Affairs, External Affairs, etc.) and discuss issues pertaining to the committee, as well as plan events that cater to students’ wants and needs.
With a double major in psychology and sociology, one would imagine that Chaise wouldn’t have time to be too involved with USG, but that’s not the case. Chaise said that her goals as a Senator have focused on bringing education and empowerment to the Hunter College community. From open mic nights to events on women’s rights and environmental justice, Chaise has put her time and effort into educating students on issues that are really important and directly impact them. Chaise said that she, “doesn’t want students to just be aware of social issues,” but wants to “empower them to stand-up and do something about it.”
Besides making Hunter more socially conscious and active, Chaise has also expressed as desire to make the campus more green. With her help, USG has been able to install water bottle filling stations this semester, with the intention of implementing 20 more over the summer. Chaise is also credited with starting The Bottle Exchange Program, where students trade a number of disposable bottles for a reusable BPA free one. These environmental initiatives are just the beginning of Chaise’s green plans, which she hopes to continue in the fall.
Chaise said that working with clubs is an ongoing challenge for Senators. “Clubs are underestimated, and I am excited to support them and work on new initiatives with them, not only to better the club-USG relationship but I think, together, we can better the Hunter College community.” An average day for a Hunter USG Senator, according to Chaise, starts in the USG office helping out students from clubs who come in for support, whether its paperwork or identifying resources for personal aid. Chaise also has friends in numerous clubs, so she tries to go to their events to support them. Her days are usually hectic, and she says she is “lucky if [she has] the chance to actually sit down and eat a well-balanced meal in peace.” However, Chaise acknowledges that each USG senator is different, resulting in a different workload each day.
One of the reasons Chaise joined USG was to improve the fragmented sense of community she found at Hunter. As a first year transfer, she felt left out at Hunter. “Our college years are the best years of our lives, and I want to ensure all students make the best of it,” Chaise said. Because of USG Chaise feels that she has become a far larger part of the Hunter community, putting herself out there to talk to “students from all different niches, faculty members from many departments and other staff persons vital to the functioning of our school.”
When asked what most students do not know about USG, Chaise emphasized that students and faculty should think of USG as a resource. “Many students don’t know that we have the Emergency Food & Shelter Program to help students in certain predicaments; they don’t know that they can come to us when they have an issue/concern; some don’t even know where our office is! Faculty, especially departments, don’t know they can reach out to us to help publicize events.”
Next semester, Chaise is taking on the role of Student Welfare Commissioner. Though she knows the workload she is taking on, she remains full of excitement, “I have a lot of ideas I want to make a reality to really improve student services and support, as well as strengthen and increase the student life at Hunter that fosters our community. I would share them, but then it would be as fun as a surprise!”