USG votes to include JAMS among recognized student assemblies

Incorporation allows the assembly of military-associated students to qualify for USG funding, access to programming and events and status as a cultural organization.

A photo of a group of USC students sitting in a USG meeting.

USG voted Tuesday night to incorporate the Joint Assembly for Military-Associated Students, or JAMS, as a newly recognized student assembly.

In a quick vote of approval after just a few minutes of discussion, the student government approved JAMS’ incorporation, which enables it to function as a student cultural organization and qualify for funding from USG. Inclusion also gives the group a voice in USG’s advocacy and programming departments.

“Everyone’s going to be really happy because we serve not just ROTC cadets who might have a space on campus, but veterans and military dependents,” said Javaughn Richards, JAMS’ executive director and a senior biochemistry major. “I think it’s nice to have that access, where we can come together as a full community.”

JAMS’ confirmation comes after a semester-long trial period where the organization was evaluated on several factors, including organizational and student support, effective use of funds and adherence to university equity and inclusion value. USG’s programming department assessed JAMS’ performance during a vote of confidence last week, voting in JAMS’ favor.

Several of the senators referred to this evaluation as a factor in their vote after USG President Hannah Woodworth and Chief Programming Officer Jillian Fallon presented their report of the programming department’s vote of confidence for JAMS’ incorporation.

“I’m glad you guys pointed out this is an equitable process in terms of the criteria and the rubric,” Senator Devin Ayala said before the vote. “That makes me, and I’m sure a lot of other senators, feel a lot more comfortable voting.”

While the vote itself was quick, the meeting began with a reminder from Naddia Palacios, the assistant vice provost for student equity and inclusion, about university protections surrounding discrimination of protected classes, which includes military and veteran status.

According to JAMS, approximately 2,000 students at USC are associated with the military, including but not limited to ROTC students, veterans and military dependents. JAMS hopes to work with other assemblies to introduce a resource center for commuter students, increase resources for suicide awareness and prevention and create designated disabled veteran parking at USC, according to JAMS’ materials presented to USG.

“Confronting the stigma associated with being either veteran, ROTC, [or a] military dependent… a lot of people just don’t know what that’s like,” said Elle Barker, JAMS’ advocacy liaison and a sophomore studying aerospace engineering. “What JAMS’ [goal] is, is to bridge the gap between this isolated community on campus and open it up to university students.”