SGA’s #RealCards campaign highlights student concerns Saturday, Nov 21 2020 

By Tate Luckey —

As the first semester during the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, many may be wondering how the students themselves are feeling. The University of Louisville’s Student Government Association put together an online submission forum they dubbed “#RealCards” to ask U of L students how they were doing this semester.

SGA took inspiration from Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of sociology and medicine at Temple University, who started the #RealCollege campaign, helping refocus higher education on what matters most.

Students have been communicating these struggles with SGA, which has worked to “bridge the gap,” as Sabrina Collins, SGA president, puts it, between students and faculty.

“We wanted to provide an anonymous forum for people to connect with us on what this semester has been like for them. I spoke at length with Interim Dean Owen about this issue and how we can bridge the gap between students and faculty,” Collins said.

The number of anonymous responses surprised Collins. The responses all detail similar, serious problems students on campus are facing.

“It seems like the #RealCards campaign is reminding students that they are not alone in their struggle,” she said.

One major issue students faced this semester was that the workload given was just unreasonable, especially during a global pandemic.

Noah Vanrude, a sophomore music and new media major, said that “My main issue is just not having much time for a break, and some professors have not decreased their workload. Classes I’ve normally been doing great in I’m not doing well in.”

A junior from the College of Education and Human Development painted a more broad picture, saying that “being a college student trying to navigate college during a pandemic, civil rights movement, and global crisis is very, very draining.

For some students, communication via emails and Zoom meetings can only go so far.

“I wish my professors knew that I can only put in as much effort as they do for online classes,” freshman English major Cassidy Witt explained. “If they don’t care to have synchronous classes, and organized due dates, then I’m not going to feel attached to their class or feel the need to prioritize it.”

And with so many students on campus, many are also concerned with a lack of safety and accountability.

I wish that my professors knew how reckless students are outside of the classroom with the virus. I feel uncomfortable with my lab partner because I see pictures of where they were over the weekend. I’m doing my part to be smart with COVID, but I’m afraid I’m going to be the person to bring it home through school,” a junior from the College of Nursing responded.

I know I can be responsible for myself and know that I’m staying safe, but I don’t know if my peers are doing the same and being safe and socially responsible. I’ve seen them being irresponsible so that is hard,” another junior from the College of Arts and Sciences said.

SGA plans to connect with the university administration, including school deans, the faculty senate, and the Student Wellbeing Committee, with a report detailing the common themes in the results and how those might inform policy change for spring.

If you’d like to submit an anonymous response to SGA’s survey, you can do so here

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Students are a light to follow in the pursuit for racial and social justice Friday, Jun 5 2020 

By Brandon Cooper–

As University of Louisville administration addresses the racial and social justice issues making headlines, it is critical that they do not forget their greatest resource: students. The administration should focus energy on giving the power to mend injustices to those already in the streets protesting for such.

Student Government Association President Sabrina Collins said “the path forward has to come from students.”

“Our generation has the solutions, it is now up to U of L and universities across the nation to really listen,” Collins said.

As the university moves forward, they must base their actions off of those that are organized, focused and led by students. U of L professor Jason Gainous spoke passionately about the need to emphasize students during conversations relating to racial and social justice issues.

“Our students are the future of our community,” Gainous said. He has attended local protests with his 14-year-old daughter – who was pepper-sprayed and shot at with rubber bullets by police. He said he has seen first-hand the kind of passion and energy young people have and has faith in their ability to lead us through this pursuit for equality.

As a professor of digital politics, Gainous encourages students to continue using social media and other online platforms to organize, seek assistance and share their stories.

Gainous described university actions as a ‘balancing act’ – given the university’s extensive community ties that could be hindered by abrupt action that is not given extensive thought and planning.

At the onset of protests in Louisville over a week ago, actions and voices were faint from the U of L’s administration.

In recent days, Dr. Bendapudi has joined other administrators from the community to speak out against racial injustices. In addition to the administration’s recent statements and public appearances in the community, U of L Health has just announced a nursing scholarship fund in honor of Breonna Taylor. Though both great starting points, real action, policies and innovation must be implemented to enhance equality at the University of Louisville.

Bendapudi’s commitment to a student-centered ‘revolution’ starting right here at U of L is very apparent in her rather consistent communication with university stakeholders. The intricacies of university actions concerning social justice issues further highlight the need for extraordinary student engagement and leadership. When the future leaders of our community and nation speak, it is the responsibility of those currently in such positions to listen and act.

Anthony Taylor, a senior communications major, said he wants to see U of L become much more proactive about social justice going forward, rather than consistently reactive. Taylor believes that U of L has the resources to be on the frontlines of prominent social justice issues that directly impact our communities.

Hanah Jo Thurmond, a recent U of L graduate and attendee of local Black Lives Matter protests, said that the university should reinforce and expand the platforms for people of color to speak out on campus.

How will we, as a Cardinal family, respond to the impacts of these long-endured inequalities?

A critical step moving forward for the university is the implementation of required courses about white privilege and racial diversity for both students and faculty. Such courses could easily be added to the Cardinal Core requirements or implemented as curriculum in the Cardinal Orientation program. For employees, such courses should be added to the current employee orientation practices for all staff and faculty.

We should acknowledge the progress we’ve made thus far while continuing to call for action to implement the changes needed for racial equality and social justice.

U of L’s strength as a research and higher education institute lies in our diversity. With a spotlight on our students, U of L can be a national leader for higher education institutes to follow when addressing issues of inequality.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Student government hosts candidate forum ahead of ongoing election Monday, Feb 24 2020 

–By Madelin Shelton

The Student Government Association hosted a forum for the “Top 4” candidates Feb. 19 ahead of SGA elections.

Candidates introduced themselves, answered questions from current Top 4 officers and the audience, and gave closing statements.

The Top 4 positions are: Student Body President, Executive Vice President, Executive Services Vice President and Academic Vice President.

Student Body President

This office deals with university-wide issues and administration.

The first candidate, Brandon McClain, is the current director of outreach for SGA and founded the fourth branch of SGA, the Student Organization Advisory Board.

McClain advocated for altering the meal plan system at the university to better accommodate students at affiliated properties and to better serve students by creating a housing cheat sheet for affiliated and unaffiliated properties.

This cheat sheet would allow students to comparatively look at information about rent and amenities for the various properties on and close to campus.

McClain also would like to have recognized student organizations become official members of SGA, wherein they would be required to attend one senate meeting every year or two.

Academic Vice President Sabrina Collins is also running for president. Collins wants to create more transparency in SGA. She also wants to implement an SGA Cares hotline, where students could submit questions or request advice for navigating university life.

Collins said she would also allocate more funds to the PEACC Center due to increasing demand and advocate against hidden student fees.

Executive Vice President

The person elected to this office will be president of the student senate, promote diversity initiatives and work closely with the athletics department.

Candidate Joenima Wani said she was qualified for the position through her experience holding meetings for service committees and serving as Assistant Services Vice President.

Wani said she will make more funding available to the PEACC Center and the Counseling Center. She also wants to provide more support to The Ville’ns, a registered student organization on campus that seeks to create, reinforce and enhance the fan experience of Cardinal Athletics.

Lexi Raikes is the other executive vice president candidate. She said her work as appropriations committee chair for SGA Senate and her diversity initiatives qualify her for the job.

Raikes said she helped add a diversity committee to SGA  and is getting a more diverse group of people involved in SGA.

She said she would create more avenues of involvement in SGA, including creating a mentorship program for people from diverse backgrounds and elevating student voices that often get left out.

Service Vice President

This position focuses on working with student services, including housing, safety, dining and construction.

Candidate Henny Ransdell, executive director of the Engage Lead Serve Board, described herself in that role as working towards the principles of “sustainability, affordability and inclusivity.”

Ransdell said she would seek to accomplish these goals through elevating student voices. She has advocated designating the bathrooms in new residence halls safe for transgender students, encouraged university administration to not increase tuition as a first resort and prioritized student voices in the construction of the new Cultural Center.

Savannah Fairfield is on the ballot for services vice president but was not at the forum.

Academic Vice President

This officer works directly with deans and faculty.

Lone candidate Ben Barberie currently serves as the deputy chief of staff for the SGA Executive Cabinet. Barberie emphasized retention of students and proposed adding intervention points between students’ first and second years, as well as between their second and third years.

 He said the university could use this point to “provide resources to students who most need them.” He also highlighted the need for leveraging more community partnerships, like with the UPS. He also advocates for making college more affordable, specifically through lowering the cost of online classes for full-time students.

Ballots for the SGA candidates were sent to students through their UofL emails, and voting ends Feb. 26.

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SGA holds special election to fill senator position Thursday, Nov 28 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen — 

The University of Louisville Student Government Association hosted their second special election of the semester via email Nov. 20. The result has yet to be announced.

SGA President Jasper Noble said this isn’t unheard of. When senators realize they aren’t able to fully commit to the position, they step down, and the college then finds another student willing to fill the vacancy.

“It varies from year to year, some years where I’ve been involved there have been more, and there have been fewer,” he said. “This certainly isn’t an unheard of amount of vacancies that needed new students to serve in the senate.”

Noble said any students are able to run for the senate.

Four students ran this special election. They were Luke Moore, Will Randal, Alex Misalack, Delany Henson.

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