Meet the 2021-2022 USGA election winners

The 2021-2022 Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) Election results were released via email on Mar. 11 after elections took place on the Charger Connection website. Junior communication major Sofia Martinez has been reelected as the 2021-2022 USGA President and junior forensic science major Timothy Vuong has been elected to be the 2021-2022 USGA Treasurer.

As the Treasurer, alongside the assistant treasurer, Vuong overseas, alongside the assistant treasurer, the $1.7 million-million-dollar budget allocated to the registered student organizations (RSOs). He has intentions to alter the current early budget process as he describes it as “tedious, time-consuming and stressful for an RSOs to plan an entire plan of stuff.”

Vuong has held the position of Senator of the Henry C. Lee College since fall 2019 and a part of the budget committee. Due to his past experience and knowledge in USGA and the committee and senate, Vuong felt he was “pretty well suited” for the position.

He hopes to change the system to a more by- need basis.“Having served on the budget committee for two years I know the yearly budget process from both angles, and it is very stressful from both sides,” Vuong said, “from the RSOs perspective you don’t know what potentially can be cut and from the… budget committee perspective you don’t know if you’re cutting something that is really important.”

Vuong said he is very excited to continue working alongside President Sophia Martinez and is looking forward to meeting the other executive board members.

Other USGA positions that were filled include Hermela Seifu as senator for international students, Ashlyn Mercier as senator for varsity athletes, Sophie Martinez as senator for students with disabilities, Drew Becker as senator for LGBT+ students and Russell Direnzo as senator for commuter students. The senator-at-larges are Nicholas Meaney, Cora Cogill, Emily Lavigne, Laila Soliman, Anna Marcotte, Ciara Wildes.

Sophie Martinez, sophomore national security major is the senator for students with disabilities and this will be her first term in office. She intends to be their voice to better the overall campus environment.

“This is really important to me,” she said,” I, myself, struggle with mental health issues so I thought if there’s like a position where I can help other people out and maybe help them feel more comfortable about it then this would be the perfect one.”

Martinez said she is eager to reach out to students, wanting to know what their main concerns are. She believes the university is a good school as it is known to value the opinions of its students, and “really tries to make this feel like home,” However, she feels the school needs to improve on letting their community know they are safe to speak up, which is where she will step in. She hopes the student body will feel comfortable in reaching out to her.

In talking about the importance of reaching out, Martinez said, “Sometimes with this topic, there is kind of a stigma around it. People don’t really want to talk about it. People don’t want to voice their concerns.”

Drew Becker, junior forensic science major, was reelected as the senator for LGBT+ students. They are very dedicated to their position and love to focus on their main project per semester.

Last semester, they were focused on proposing a Lavender Graduation at the university, as they said New Haven was one of the only schools in Connecticut that did not offer it. A Lavender Graduation is a ceremony for LGBT+ students on campus, and they are working to plan the Lavender Graduation alongside the 2021 class president to create one for this year.

“LGBT students are less likely than their peers to graduate due to homophobia they may face, having unsupportive family or just not having the resources to pay for college,” Becker said, “so schools will do a Lavender Graduation a kind of like ‘you did it,’ ‘congratulations.’”

Becker describes their position as a “listen to the population type of position” as they want to hear from the LGBT+ population and effectively advocate for them. As happy as they are with this school, they believe there can be improvements.

“I got involved in USGA because I wanted to make this school better and leave it better for people who are coming after us,” they said. “LGBT students on campus have been asking for change with an abundance of things like people getting deadnamed by offices and getting misgendered. They’ve been fighting the same battle that it’s, like, kind of silly at this point to fight this battle.”

In addition, Becker is focused on getting better diversity training to staff and faculty on campus with hopes that it will now be more up-to-date and inclusive. They also emphasized the importance of making these trainings mandatory.

Vuong, Martinez and Becker all encourage students to reach out and get in contact if there are any questions or concerns. USGA meets every Friday via Zoom at 2:30 p.m.