USG says farewell to vice president

By Keaton Yates, Staff Reporter

The vice president of SIU’s Undergraduate Student Government announced her resignation at Tuesday’s meeting but said this is not the last campus will hear from her.

The executive board and senators of USG gave a standing ovation for service to Phynix Huhn-Simmons, a senior studying cinema and photography, after she made the announcement.

Huhn-Simmons said she had to leave the position because of a scheduling conflict and that it would be both unfair and impossible to change the USG schedule just for one person.

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“It has been a difficult moment for me because if you know me as a person, I don’t like starting what I can’t finish,” Huhn-Simmons said. “I took this position because I wanted to be a voice for students that felt neglected by this school.”

Huhn-Simmons’ duties as vice president included running the meetings according to Robert’s Rules and to create the agenda.

Colton Newlin, USG president, said Huhn-Simmons’ unofficial responsibilities went a lot further than that and she created the first housing task force to represent Resident Assistants.

Huhn-Simmons was instrumental in convincing administrators to allow RAs to hold a second job on campus, Newlin said.

Huhn-Simmons created the task force so RAs could voice their concerns about housing and have USG advocate for them.

(See more: SIU changes housing employment policy, allows RAs to have second job)

Huhn-Simmons said she will continue to be a part of the RA task force and she will continue to fight for RAs, Academic Peer Advocates and Desk Assistants.

Now, RAs are worried about discrepancies in their pay and this is the issue the task force is focusing on, Huhn-Simmons said. 

Newlin said Huhn-Simmons was essential in getting senators and students together to voice their concerns, work on potential solutions to problems they’re identifying and recognizing other voices on campus.

Huhn-Simmons said SIU’s biggest issue is communication.

“Administrators are still not providing information on stuff to us,” Huhn-Simmons said.

Huhn-Simmons said administrators pretend to care about communication and student concerns by attending certain events, but these events are in the middle of the day and don’t provide much information to students.

“Faculty and staff are also busy during the day, so who are those events for?” Huhn-Simmons said. “Faculty and staff can’t even show up because they’re teaching, they’re doing their jobs, students are in classes so they can’t come because they pay to be in those classes, so who is that for?” 

Huhn-Simmons said administrators hide behind these events because they are terrified that the right students are going to question the things that they say and the things they are doing wrong.

Despite this, Huhn-Simmons said she genuinely loves the school and wants to leave it going in the right direction.

Huhn-Simmons said she hopes USG will be able to positively impact the campus and that they will address the things students are concerned about.

Walter Metz, a film and television studies professor, taught Huhn-Simmons between 2017 and 2018.

Metz, upon learning that Huhn-Simmons was vice president, said she is the type of student who works hard at her classes but also knows that half of the education at a university is being involved and doing professional work and he is glad she is part of student government.

“I think that the kind of hardworking, outgoing person that she is makes her ideal both for the media production she wants to do but also for leadership,” Metz said.

Metz said he’s proud of Huhn-Simmons because she started with certain skills and worked hard to improve them.

Huhn-Simmons’ most recent project is forming a professional fraternity for the cinema department.

Huhn-Simmons said she has already reached out to the fraternity and sorority life coordinator and is currently trying to see if anyone outside of her classmates would be interested and how they would want things to be run. 

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @keatsians.

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