UC Davis students now have easier access to their student leaders with the introduction of a new channel on the MyUCDavis website today.
The new channel, called My Student Government (MSG), will appear on the bottom left-hand corner of all undergraduate homepages and will work similarly to other channels like My Student Housing.
The channel is part of an effort to make information about UCD student government more convenient and accessible to the students, said ASUCD senator Joe Chatham, who originated the idea.
“The MSG channel was one of three proposals I campaigned with during the fall 2007 election,” Chatham said. “It is designed to address the lack of communication between the student body and student government by providing real-time, tangible information about the operation of ASUCD and the services ASUCD offers.“
The channel will consist of a calendar and a fact list, Chatham said. The calendar will notify students of upcoming ASUCD events, while the fact list will contain general information about ASUCD operations, duties and areas of responsibilities.
“It is my perception that the large majority of students do not know much, if anything, about UCD student government, and are thus unaware of the extensive resources and services ASUCD could provide them with,” Chatham said. “I hope [MSG] will provide students with a better sense of what UCD student government is and how they can get involved and utilize ASUCD resources.“
Paul Harms, ASUCD controller, said he thinks the channel is a feasible way to increase communication between students and ASUCD.
“I think the channel will help increase the visibility of ASUCD without costing the association anything,” he said. “I commend Joe Chatham for his hard work in bringing My Student Government Box online.“
Chatham said that in addition to providing ASUCD a way to speak to the students, he also hopes to add a feature to the channel that will allow students to communicate back to ASUCD.
“We are working on a way to implement a discussion board where students can ask questions, which will then be directed to the person that can best answer them,” he said. “That is something that will be coming in the future. My biggest priority for now was getting this channel up and running before the upcoming [ASUCD] elections.”
The channel may also help increase voter turnout for ASUCD elections, Chatham said.
“The [MSG] channel will help in notifying students about when elections are,” he said. “It will also provide them with more specific information about the election issues that they otherwise would not have had, which I hope will lead to a higher voter turnout.“
The channel is one of several ways ASUCD is hoping to increase participation in student government elections, said Nick Sidney, outreach coordinator for the ASUCD elections committee.
“Low voter turnout in the past could be attributed to students not knowing how and when to vote or why their vote matters,” he said. “We have certainly identified the low voter turnout in the past and in this upcoming election we will be launching many first-time ideas.“
The new ideas will include allowing candidates to have commercial spots on KDVS and AGTV, as well as continuing to host forums in the dorms and candidate debates, Sidney said.
“The largest driver of voter turnout is the actual candidates and issues on the ballot,“ Harms said. “After being involved in the last six ASUCD elections, it has been my experience that when the students genuinely care about a ballot issue or when there is significant controversy surrounding particular candidates, turnout increases dramatically.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.