Student government president eyes run at second term

Written By Josh Croup

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The second semester for most United Student Government (USG) presidents is usually the last. However current USG President Blaine King says he is only getting started.

King began his second semester as USG President this spring after he was elected last March during his sophomore year. The junior broadcast reporting major plans to serve as USG President until he graduates.

“We get to be consistent,” King said in a phone interview Jan. 5. “We get to work at a better pace than previous years. We will be able to continue where we left off [next year], unlike previous years where you have to start and restart.”

As a student in the School of Communication, improving the way USG communicates with students is a priority for the second-semester president.

“As of right now, it’s OK,” King said. “It’s not good, it’s not perfect and it’s not bad. We definitely want to improve from OK to good, and from good to great. That’s our next step. We want to be good at communicating, and by time the year’s over, we want to try and get on the cusp of being great at communication.”

For Vice President Gabe Dubin, improving communication starts by increasing USG’s presence on campus.

“Part of that comes from just putting ourselves out there as USG,” Dubin said in a phone interview Jan. 9. “Some people just aren’t aware that USG exists and that they have advocates to help them with their issues. In a guerilla marketing type sense, going out into the community and showing people that we care is first and foremost.”

Last year, USG introduced student concern boxes across campus as a way to gather feedback from students. 

USG also has a presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and, most recently, Snapchat.

Snapchat was introduced near the end of last year and is still trying to gain momentum.

“We have to figure out the metrics and how people look at Snapchat,” Dubin said. “Is having a USG Snap Story something we want to do? Do we just catalog events happening on campus so people know what’s going on? It’s an interesting tool that we ourselves have to figure out the best way to utilize its capabilities.”

King wants to communicate to students that he, along with the rest of USG, is open to hearing any issue a student may have. 

“We are working for the students; we were elected by the students. It can be about any issue – any concern a student may have that can improve their time at Point Park.”

The top two concerns King said he hears are about WiFi and food service.

King said he is an easy person to contact. He has an open email policy and also welcomes students to contact him via social media.

“We’re open to and willing to answer any email; you can drop by our office, drop something in the student concern box, anything that makes you comfortable.”

Along with improving communication amongst the general student body, King plans to improve the communication he has with the numerous club leaders across campus.

Dubin said having an open line of communication with club leaders is vital to USG’s success. 

“It’s imperative to have a good level of communication with the club leaders,” Dubin said. “Club leaders are people who are more engaged and are going above and beyond what the average student is doing.”

USG allocates funds to clubs twice every semester. 

Last year, USG was penalized for over-allocating the previous year. It could not give as much money to clubs as it did in the past.

USG receives 11 percent of the student activities fee each semester which ranges from $40,000-$50,000 each semester.

Sophomore executive board member and treasurer Amber Mole said the number of on-campus organizations has increased, but the amount of money that clubs are requesting has decreased.

“This year, it almost seems like we have more than enough and that clubs aren’t even asking for the amounts that they used to, even though we do have more,” Mole said. “That could be just because we have completely new club members working on completely different things.”

The increasing number of clubs is a welcome sight for Dubin, who is in his fourth year at USG. 

He is faced with the challenge of educating the growing number of organizations on the proper way to spend the money USG gives them.

Allocated money not spent by clubs before the end of the funding period rolls back to USG. 

“We would like to see clubs spend their money just so we can show the administration that USG would like to invest more money so that we can give it out to clubs because clubs are using it for good reasons to improve the Point Park community,” King said.

USG is in close contact with club leaders when it is time to divvy out funds.

As the number of clubs continues to increase, communicating with each club leader can prove difficult.

“I try to email club leaders at least once a month to give them updates and see how everything is,” King said. “We try to make ourselves known, we try to attend events to show support for them, and we’re working with SAIL to improve communication with club leaders.”

Improving communication is just one item on King’s to-do list this semester. Re-election is another.

When March rolls around, King must run again to earn a second term as USG President. Last year, he ran unopposed. He does not expect this to change, but is open to competition.

“[USG members] like how everything is going so far, and they want to continue that progress,” King said. “We look at everything to be a two-year thing. We let everybody in USG know that we expect to be here again next year because we really want to make an impact at Point Park.”

Sophomore Parliamentarian Charles Murria said he would not be surprised if someone on USG decides to run against King, particularly the younger senators.

“Our first-year senators are really adamant about change,” Murria said in a phone interview Jan. 10. “I think some of them are going to run for president or vice president. It’s going to be an interesting election.”

Murria is on board with the two-year plan and said the young USG is still transitioning into the new administration. The group members adjusted to their new positions last semester and are ready to hit the ground running for the spring semester.

“This semester is really going to be our time to shine,” Murria said. “Blaine and Gabe have led us through it because they’re the most experienced out of anyone on USG right now. Their leadership is really appreciated.”

An open election that challenges the current administration could create an interest in USG that Dubin said has been missing in recent years.

“I personally think that having someone run against [King] creates a different level of intrigue around elections,” Dubin said. “In the past, there hasn’t been a lot of turnout for elections. I think that there can be some people that are just running to shake things up, but I think the level of cohesion of having a two year plan is good because we can have a consistent message over a long period of time instead of having a shake up with different administrations. Only time will tell.”

With a lot on his plate, King said he likes to stay busy and has loved serving the students as USG president.

“It’s been a challenge; it’s been fun and I enjoy it,” King said. “There are days where I’m like, ‘What am I doing with myself?’ I always look at it with a smile on my face and say, ‘Well, it has to get done somehow, someway, so let’s go.’”