Swearing-in new USG elected officers spark tension on new cabinet member

Takeout options, compostable containers, and budget allocations to mental health services and training were among the other resolutions passed tonight.

The new Undergraduate Student Government president, vice president, senators and cabinet were sworn in during the USG meeting on April 6. Senators also passed a series of resolutions and amendments that touched upon mental health, sustainability, and campus religious and social life.

The new USG officers read their oaths with their right hands raised. The oaths of office were led by Chief Justice Benjamin Morain, who began by swearing in Alexis Areias and Lucy Warren as president and vice president, respectively, followed by senators Russell Agustin, Devin Ayala, Hunter Hinson, Diego Andrades, Hana Li, Arie Abija, Kevin Gutierrez, Nivea Krishnan, Tommy Nguyen, Brain Stowe, Ruben Romeo and Matthew Ayala.

The USG Cabinet nominations for 2021-2022 were also confirmed and passed with nine votes including Max Gomez Chief of Staff, Kros Day Chief Communications Officer, Adenike, Makinde Chief Financial Officer, Jessica Kim Chief Programming Officer and Kavita Rai Chief Diversity Officer.

The confirmation stirred tension during the open forum discussion when Alyssa Delarosa accused Sen. Gomez of “abusing his power and privilege as a USG senator to unfairly influence students to vote for their Areias and Warren campaign.” Antonio Okeke also expressed his concern with Sen. Gomez nomination and confirmation.

Chair of the USG elections commission, Anna Rodriguez, clarified that the sanctions imposed on Feb. 18 were to “prevent Senator Gomez from impacting the 2020 elections.”

“The intentions behind original sanctions were not set in place to prohibit Senator Gomez from seeking future office USG, as that would be a clear violation of our goals to act with fairness and morale,” Rodriguez said in the meeting. “Such a decision would have implications on an individual’s undergraduate experience, which we have no authority to invade. Every individual that seeks to be part of USG should do so upon their will and not the will of this commission.”

Separately, senators passed a series of resolutions introduced last week. These included plans to take safety precautions while maintaining sustainability in dining halls, from “Grab N’ Go’” takeout options to compostable containers, as well as a 2028 Sustainability Resolution that called for divestment and other sustainability initiatives on campus.

Other resolutions passed include the Gatekeeper Training Resolution. USC adopt Kognito’s 45-minute interactive program called ‘Kognito At-Risk for Faculty and Staff as a first-tier training’ which offers an interactive role-play simulation to build awareness, knowledge and skills about mental health and suicide prevention.

Faculty, staff and academic advisors act as “gatekeepers” and are often the first ones students reach out to about their mental battles. Hence, the Gatekeeper Training Resolution was drafted with supporting students exhibiting signs of psychological distress in mind.

The Senate Reserve Budget Allocation Proposal was also passed, which would add $1,000 into Tbh Mental Health, a mental health service that is catered to individuals’ identities “sessions with participants by shared identities or life experiences that are facilitated either by Life Coaches, Mentors, and/or Clinicians.”

Senators also voted on a series of USG bylaw and constitution amendments introduced last week, passing all of them unanimously. Changes include a new Advocacy Department in the legislative branch, and adding a Green Engagement Fund and an Accessibility Fund to the Funding Department. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council was also abolished, replaced by the new Social Impact Council and the Religious and Spiritual Life Council.