USG Wants More Student Participation


Leighton Magoon, FCLC’ 16, on his way to the USG Office. (Jess Luszczyk/The Observer)


Many of the members of Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC) United Student Government (USG) agree that the club is in need of a larger amount of student participation for the organization’s programs and meetings. This is especially important as the club prepares for its planned bid with the USG at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) for Fordham to host the 2016 Presidential Debates. 

Only 13 students from FCLC and one student from Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center (GSBLC) were in attendance for USG’s weekly meeting on Feb. 19, the most recent meeting as per publication. Every student at the meeting was either a member of the executive board of the club or one of the club’s elected class senators.

All students within the Fordham community are not only allowed to, but also are encouraged to participate in these weekly meetings according to USG Treasurer Leighton Magoon, FCLC ’17. “I know that the majority of, if not all, of the general meetings are posted on OrgSync and all students are allowed to come to these meetings.”

 “We always say that all students are part of USG and try to make it a point to advertise that everyone is welcome,” Magoon said. “That being said, I don’t think we’ve done an effective job of letting students know that.”

Jacob Azrilyant, Vice President of Operations of USG and FCLC ’16, denied any problems regarding participation within USG. “Those who want to [attend] show up. The doors are open and everyone knows where it is. People who have issues come freely. We can’t force people to show up.” 

He also denied that USG does not advertise enough. “We do literally everything we can. The board is right by the cafeteria. If people don’t want to show up, we can’t drag them there. It’s their free will.”

Magoon has plans to spread information about USG through more channels. “I know that we could probably advertise more through social media and flyers, but the fact is that we have just not advertised enough that anyone can come to these meetings.” 

Regardless of attendance in the club’s general meetings, USG will most likely need a larger amount student support in anticipation of its attempt to bring a 2016 Presidential Debate to Fordham, according to Sophomore Senator Douglas Pardella, FCLC ’17. “[USG] simply does not have enough support from the student body to have the Presidential Debate.”

The plan to bring these debates to the University were outlined by Azrilyant. “We are trying to get a petition circulating with all senators tabling instead of having office hours to get signatures this week. We are also trying to get more support from the university potentially because it will cost the host institution a large amount of money to bring the debates there.” 

Earlier this year, FCLC’s and FCRH’s USG tried a similar tactic to bring a debate between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, FCRH ’79 and Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout to campus that did not succeed. However, Azrilyant does not believe that this failure was because of a lack of student participation, but instead a rushed plan and a lack of interest from Cuomo himself. “The Governor did not want to debate so that was a lost cause, so he wasn’t even considering having a debate. We will also be tabling for the week instead of the one day stunt that we tried to pull because we were only informed two or three days before.”

Azrilyant says that the lack of direct student body participation within USG’s general meetings will not affect participation in the bid. “In terms of getting a petition, it’s very different signing a piece of paper than committing an entire year to being a senator. The two are not even related.”

USG President Louise Lingat, FCLC ’15, believes that the organization does do a good job of getting the student body to participate in the programs it sponsors. “USG hosts Winter Ball and Under the Tent and [it] has done a good job in getting large numbers of students to attend.”

However, she does admit that USG has issues attracting students for leadership positions. Lingat continued, “In terms of participation within USG, we’ve always struggled with that. That’s been an ongoing thing. This year, however, we do hope to have competitive elections.”    

Lingat remains cautiously optimistic that the club’s extended advertising will provide USG with the student signatures needed for the petition. “We need 700 to 800 signatures to come from Lincoln Center. That’s the goal. We’re hoping to at least get as much as we can. I’m not sure if [tabling] has been working more, but we’ll see what happens.”