An insight into how the women of USGA overcame adversity this academic year

The Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) has experienced a high amount of turnover in its executive board (e-board) during the 2022-23 academic year. Over the past two semesters, the senior vice president, vice president of community, advocacy and diversity and president positions have all wound up vacant at some point. There has been a combination of old and new faces who have stepped up to the plate and helped avoid turmoil within our university’s student governmental body.

Cora Cogill, a senior business management major and former vice president of operations (VPOps), assumed the role of USGA president after former president Saniyah Brinney resigned in February. As president, Cogill cited her main responsibilities as heading all USGA meetings to make sure they run smoothly and assisting with the creation and function of new recognized student organizations (RSOs).

Cogill originally realized her passions for student government after embarking on the First Year Leadership Experience (FLEx) prior to her first semester and mingling with USGA e-board members there.

“My FLEx mentor was Kelly Adkins, who was USGA [executive assistant] at the time, and I remember the past USGA president came into the FLEx rooms and… introduced what USGA was,” Cogill said. “I just became interested because it sounded like a good way to be a leader at the university.” Cogill also mentioned USGA being a great way to become more ingrained in campus life as a commuter student.

Stepping in as president was not something Cogill ever expected for herself, but she saw it as an opportunity to further round herself as a leader.

“If you told me this in the fall semester, I definitely wouldn’t have ever thought that I would become USGA president,” she said. “But it’s been interesting. It’s been great to learn how to… step into new positions and roles, and learn about how other people carry out duties and what different positions entail within USGA.”

Jenn Tucci, a junior forensic science major and former executive assistant, was elected as interim VPOps after Cogill moved on from the position. As VPOps, Tucci’s main directive is to oversee the Senate within USGA and make sure the 14 current senators are able to do their job effectively, hosting weekly workshops and one-on-one meetings to provide assistance wherever possible. She also co-chairs the advocacy board and Traditions, Onboarding, Resources and Community Helpers (TORCH) Committee.

Tucci had plenty of positive things to say about the USGA e-board at this moment, plainly describing their dynamic as “really good right now,” especially since Spring Break. She mentioned that they are prioritizing going to as many RSO’s events as possible, including the Fire Science Club’s recent banquet, and truly getting to know each other.

Tucci was motivated to pursue the open VPOps position because the senate needed their leader. With her already having experience on the e-board, and multiple positions already vacant, it was a perfect fit. She described the transitional period as “a bit tricky,” but nothing she couldn’t handle.

Finally, Darby Brown, a sophomore forensic science student, is the newest addition to the USGA e-board, having started the academic year as the senator for women in sports. She was recently elected as interim senior vice president (SVP) after the former SVP Hailey Perez resigned last semester. Similarly to the VPOps, the SVP is expected to act as a leader for USGA’s house of representatives, and also co-chair the TORCH Committee.

Brown heard her call to student government in a more fun way: through events on campus hosted by USGA, and events she will now help in coordinating as SVP.

“Charlie’s Birthday and Pass the TORCH… [were] the first times I engaged with other peers involved with USGA and one of the defining moments [where] I decided I wanted to be a part of the change,” she said.

These three women are just a few members of what has been the first-ever all-women USGA e-board at the university, a fact which Cogill was especially proud to note. And while Tucci and Brown are currently running for president within USGA in this upcoming election cycle, Cogill will be graduating this May to attend Quinnipiac Law School, and described her thoughts about moving on as bittersweet.

“As we near toward the end of the year, it’s kind of like a sentimental time just because I’m a senior, so I’m graduating,” Cogill said. “USGA has been a part of what I’ve done my whole entire time I’ve been here at the university, so letting it go has been tough… but I’m excited for the end of the year because there’s a lot of festivities going on… and I’m happy with what I’ve done so far within USGA.”

One thing which Cogill, Tucci and Brown all rallied behind is that, despite their positions on USGA, they are still people just like the rest of us. Tucci was especially adamant about this, saying that “a lot of people see us as robots” as opposed to students with classes, jobs and social lives.

Voting for president, vice president of engagement and multiple senate position elections concluded this past Monday, and the results will be announced at this week’s USGA meeting on Friday starting at 2:30 p.m. in the Bucknall Theater.