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“What is CUSG?”: A look at the inner workings of student government

Clemson Undergraduate Student Government is responsible for distributing the Student Activity Fund of $1.4 million annually, according to their website, The Student Activity Fund is filled by the Student Activity Fee, which is a mandatory part of Clemson University tuition and fees.

Each fall and spring full-time undergraduate students are charged $40  for the Student Activity Fee, and part-time undergraduate students pay $4.00 per credit hour per semester (including Maymester and summer sessions). 

“The Student Activity Fee collections shall be combined with Education and General funds allocated for the express purpose of providing for undergraduate student organizations and activities,” according to Clemson’s undergraduate student webpage. 

The Student Activity Board is responsible for the allocation of the Student Activity Fund. The Student Activity Board consists of nine members: the student body treasurer, assistant treasurer, chairman of the finance and procedures committee of student senate and six students selected from the student body by the treasurer. Students are selected for the position by the treasurer using interviews. 

The student body treasurer is one of the cabinet members of the CUSG executive branch, which “performs the executive function of Student Government by coordinating and lending direction to Student Government initiatives, by providing diplomatic representation, and by appointing student officials,” according to Cabinet members are appointed by the undergraduate student body president, including the chief of staff, attorney general and treasurer. Shannon Kay, a senior industrial engineering major, is the current CUSG president.

“The cabinet is the most directly visible side of student government,” Kay said. Heading the judicial branch is the attorney general, which “shall have jurisdiction over the Student Body in all cases involving violation of any student regulation except those reserved to the administration,” according to the judicial branch bylaws.

CUSG Attorney General Lauren Whitmore, a senior political science major, said that student judicial boards hear cases about underage drinking, fake IDs and incidents involving Clemson University, Clemson University Police Department and the Office of Community and Ethical Standards. Sanctions are handed down by the student judicial board, including volunteer hours, writing explanatory letters to future employers and participating in Assessment, Choices, Training and Transitions Program, a program that reduces the risk of substance abuse. 

The attorney general can also provide legal aid vouchers, which permit students a free 30-minute session with a lawyer.

“We have a lot of people come in and ask for them,” Whitmore said.

Rounding out the branches is the student senate, filling the role of the legislative branch and which “shall perform the legislative function of Student Government by debating and enacting legislation concerning matters affecting student life and the operation of Student Government.” Student senate passes bills and resolutions. Bills include appropriation bills, which approve the Student Activity Fund Board’s recommendations on how much money to award clubs and organizations.

Each year, CUSG holds elections for president and vice president, who help student government run effectively and also build bridges between them and the students.

“My year was an interesting year. Most presidents don’t have to deal with some of the things that came up under my term. We had 6 reported student deaths in the first semester,” said Maddy Thompson, last year’s CUSG student body president. “Never before to my knowledge had a student body president spoke at a student’s vigil.”

CUSG presidents have also helped to build transparency, help run the student senate and help with finances over their year-long term. 

Ultimately, Clemson’s student leaders want the entire campus to get involved. 

“At the end of the day, you have to work with each other to reach a common goal. CUSG spends a lot of their time in meetings just trying to find solutions to common problems. Anyone can join CUSG,” said Thompson. 

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