Student Government Association Looks for Student Concerns in Services Town Hall Wednesday, Oct 20 2021 

By Petra Stark–

As part of their first SGA Week, the Student Government Association hosted a services town hall, during which they asked students, “What are some issues around campus that you would like to see solved?” Additionally, Services Vice President Eli Cooper explained some of the services and initiatives that he focused on and encouraged attendees to be vocal regarding the changes they want to see.

Cooper began by listing some of the areas that captured most of his attention. His biggest concerns currently are expanding sustainability efforts around campus, expanding gender-inclusive and POC housing options as well as raising visibility for inclusive housing services that U of L already offers, and efforts to make walking around campus safer and more convenient.

Specifically, the areas under his jurisdiction include parking, housing, dining, public safety, sustainability, and facilities on campus. Cooper then opened up the floor to students, in order to gauge what issues are particularly noteworthy among the student body.

The first issue brought up was that the TARC bus’s route to the football stadium doesn’t operate on weekends, making it difficult for students without cars to make it to the games. In response to this, proposed solutions included expanding the Cardinal escort service to ferry students to the games in addition to their already-offered service of providing students with a safe ride around campus after dark.

Unfortunately, because the TARC service is handled by the city of Louisville, this makes any changes to routes or times significantly more difficult to see implemented, since SGA could not simply open a dialogue with U of L’s administration.

A second issue Cooper was presented with deals with the recent safety concerns as a result of crimes committed in apartments on and around U of L’s campus. While the L-Trail ensures students a well-lit route for when they’re out after dark, the trail notably peters out around the Ville Grille and the surrounding residence halls.

The L-Trail is supposed to receive an expansion into necessary areas, but the trail is state-funded, and U of L hasn’t received the funds promised by the state for the much-needed expansion. Cooper assured the concerned student, however, that the recent safety concerns would make the L-Trail expansion a much higher priority issue, and that the residential area around Ville Grille would be designated as an area that is in particular need of better lighting and safety measures.

Thirdly, after requesting any ideas for sustainability efforts students wanted to see on-campus, Cooper was asked what some of the biggest challenges regarding sustainability the university currently faced.

The answer had many components since sustainability includes many different efforts around campus, but some notable issues included expanding composting efforts, designing construction with sustainability certifications in mind, and flooding issues around campus.

Two more concerns raised by students regarding sustainability included lights being on in campus buildings far later than should be necessary, and the amount of trash produced by dining facilities that had no alternative disposal method like recycling or composting. Since dining facilities are handled by Aramark, the introduction of more compostable or recyclable packaging for food would have to be handled by them. They have resisted efforts to implement this change, citing a lack of student interest.

SGA is working to expand student coalitions for these different initiatives, but need students to express these complaints directly, or respond to surveys sent out by the SGA to gauge interest. If students have any other concerns or want to express their desire to see some of these changes enacted, Cooper encouraged them to email him at svp@uoflsga.org. More information about SGA can be found at their LinkTree.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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Student Government Association Hosts SGA Senate Town Hall Wednesday, Oct 20 2021 

By Petra Stark–

Many U of L students are problem solvers, looking to solve issues that they see in their daily lives while on campus, but aren’t sure where to start. The Student Government Association wants to fix this through their first SGA Week, during which they hosted a series of town halls to explain to interested students how they can get involved and make an impact.

The town hall on Tuesday introduced students to the senate, the legislative body of SGA.  SGA’s senate is a group of student representatives from all of U of L’s colleges, with each college having a number of representatives relative to that college’s population of students. Because of this, the College of Arts and Sciences has the largest number of representatives by a wide margin.

The senate’s goal is to pass resolutions along to U of L’s administration, notifying them of student concerns, along with possible solutions to those concerns.

These resolutions can be written by any student looking to have an impact on campus, not just senate representatives. In the event a student not in the senate writes a resolution, they would simply need to get any representative to sponsor it, not necessarily one from their same college.

This offers students an accessible way to make the changes they want to see around campus. After a resolution is written, the Senate will hold a vote on it. If the resolution passes it is handed down to SGA executives, who would bring the resolution to U of L administration to see how the resolution could be integrated into campus.

The rest of the town hall involved a student panel, asking them questions regarding what inspired them to get involved, and what avenues would current SGA senate representatives recommend for students looking to get involved.

The panel expressed a variety of opinions on ways students could get involved, such as helping with preexisting committees with connections to SGA, such as the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the First-Year Mentorship Committee.

Alternatively, students can reach out to current representatives and work to write their own resolutions, which the panel explained was one of the best ways to get a foot in the door. This would allow a student to campaign with the resolution under their belt. 

“You could write a resolution, then during the campaign, you could say, ‘I’ve already written this resolution, so if you want to see more changes like this one, be sure to vote for me!’” explained one of the representatives on the panel.

Members of the panel also gave some insight into some of the changes they are currently working on or would like to see considered by the Senate more broadly.

Such initiatives included more resources, and better awareness of preexisting resources, for survivors of sexual assault; improved funding for RSOs outside of event funding, since many organizations have to pay for resources out of pocket; resolving on-campus issues such as textbook pricing/availability and food insecurity (currently the Cardinal Cupboard, a food pantry available to members of the U of L community, is a major part of this effort, and can be found on the third floor of the Student Activities Center); and more transparency regarding SGA, examples including town halls like the ones hosted during SGA Week, and reaching out more to students who may be interested.

Any student interested in SGA’s senate is encouraged to get involved however they can, through committees, contacting their representative to write a resolution or even just attending senate meetings, which take place every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at the School of Law in Room 275 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. More information can be found by emailing a senate representative, or through SGA’s linktree.

File Photo// The Louisville Cardinal

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Fancyville Returns to UofL For 2021 Thursday, Oct 14 2021 

By Anthony Riley–

Fancyville returned to UofL in the Red Barn on Monday, hosted by SGA, bringing in a host of notable political leaders from Louisville to discuss pressing political issues both in Louisville and statewide. Louisville Mayoral candidates delivered their candidacy speeches in the morning, followed by a panel discussion of Kentucky legislators about the current political climate of Kentucky and Lousiville and current hot topics like the COVID pandemic and healthcare accessibility in Kentucky. Mayoral candidates in attendance included community organizer and activist Shameka Parrish Wright, entepreneur and attorney Craig Greenberg, Jeffersontown mayor Bill Dieruf, and pastor Tim Findley Jr. The legislative panel made up of the Louisville Metro Caucus included representative Attica Scott (D-Louisville), representative Josie Raymond (D-Louisville) and senator Gerald Neal (D-Louisville), among others. Catering was provided by Mark’s Feed Store.

Photos By Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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Petition for gender inclusivity in new dorm circulates among U of L students Thursday, Mar 11 2021 


By Madelin Shelton — 

A petition to make the New Residence Hall (NRH2021) gender-inclusive has begun circulating among the student body in response to U of L’s decision to postpone the gender-inclusive setup of the new student living space.

The petition, signed by 911 members of the U of L community and authored by Orvelle Thomas, criticizes the university’s decision.

“Allowing gender-inclusive floors would be a step in the direction of the University fulfilling its promise of maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus,” Thomas wrote in the petition.

Sabrina Collins, Student Government Association (SGA) president, provided a letter from June 2020 that the Top 4 of SGA sent to Campus Housing in support of gender-inclusive housing.

It included a description of what it means to have gender-inclusive housing. “An open housing policy, also known as all-gender housing at other institutions, would allow students to live together regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender expression,” it said.

“This school has consistently been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly universities in the South,” Thomas wrote. “But giving in to societal pressures, and maintaining a deliberate anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, does not make the University of Louisville deserving of that award.”

Collins has signed and advocated for the petition. When asked how the petition began, Collins said that there was no official announcement from the university that gender-inclusive housing would be featured in the new dorm.

“However, it was very clear to SGA and other campus-wide partners that this would be the case, as we have been involved in the design process from the very beginning,” she said. According to the petition, the university had decided to postpone this decision, saying that this policy needed a “trial year.” This decision by the university prompted student pushback.

SGA’s June letter also contains the Top 4’s belief in the importance of gender inclusivity in campus housing.

“SGA believes that every student has a right to equitable and accessible living opportunities on our campus,” they said. “Our current residential living system of sex-based assignment (male, female) does not support the members of our growing LGBTQIA community and non-binary community. U of L’s existing, sex-based assignment system has placed an undue labor on this resident population to request housing accommodations and repeatedly justify their gender/sex identity to unfamiliar staff members.”

Thomas Hardy, director of Campus Housing, reiterated the university’s efforts to diversity and inclusion.

“The University of Louisville is recognized as a national leader in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. U of L Campus Housing is determined to support and build on that commitment,” he said.

Hardy also detailed U of L’s recent announcement that the new residence hall is slated to include one gender-inclusive floor. Further, the university plans to include gender-neutral restrooms throughout the residence hall.

“We want to thank the students who have argued passionately about the needs for this accommodation, and we want to assure all our students that their well-being is at the forefront of all we do,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville

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SGA holds forum to meet this year’s running candidates Monday, Mar 1 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

Candidates for the University of Louisville Student Government Association’s Top 4 positions participated in a forum last week about their platforms. The positions for Top 4 include Student Body President, Executive Vice President, Academic Vice President and Services Vice President.

The SGA election will take place from March 1 to March 3. Ballots will be sent to U of L students through their email.


Student Body President / Executive VP:

Candidates: – Ugonna Okorie (President) and Sydney Finley (EVP)

The candidates for both Student Body President and Executive VP are running unopposed as one ticket.

Okorie focused on her three initiatives of reshaping SGA culture to allow for greater accountability, pushing for progress and anti-racism initiatives.

For reshaping SGA, Okorie wants to begin Senate recaps, monthly updates and regularly updating the SGA website.

She hopes to push for progress by advocating against unnecessary fees and tuition costs and amplify student voices in university administration.

When asked about how she would stand up for students in her role and make sure their values were represented, Okorie detailed her desire to make Senate meetings advertised more openly so that more student voices can be heard during those meetings. She also pointed to a broader desire to get a more diverse set of students involved in SGA as a whole to ensure different perspectives are being heard.

Finley focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, emphasizing campus safety and increasing student accessibility to student resources. Findley also detailed her plan to stay in touch with student organizations.

“One of the main things I plan to do should I be elected Executive Vice President is reaching out to different student organizations on campus,” she said. “Specifically, RSOs that represent stakeholders in really important campus issues that are at the forefront of student discussions and making sure that I’m getting information from those students.”


Academic Vice President:

Candidates:  – Alexa Meza

– Jacob Schagene

Meza’s campaign for Academic VP is about questioning current methods of grading, evaluating and teaching and introducing accessible and inclusive methods that help students succeed while at U of L.

Meza also echoed the importance of having adequate faculty representation when asked about how she would work to increase diversity in this area.

“I think that when faculty members look like us and have experiences similar to us, that’s when students really thrive,” she said.

Schagene has centered his campaign on building back trust between students and faculty, and between faculty and the administration that, he believes, has deteriorated in relation to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m going to fight to make online learning more accessible and also to make online learning less discriminatory,” he said.

Addressing the same question about faculty representation as Meza, Schagene said, “Faculty come and go but it’s not something that we can change overnight in regards to the representation of faculty members,” he said. “I think it’s important that we analyze faculty departments where there’s not been a lot of change in the faculty and how we can help them to better promote the ideas of representation and what positions we could put in place there in order to allow students to have some sort of representation in this area.”


Services Vice President:

Candidates: – Grayson Stinger

– Eli Cooper

The candidates for Services VP are Grayson Stinger and Eli Cooper.

Cooper’s candidacy for SVP is centered around being a voice for divestment and an agent for change in all meetings with the administration. He discussed how his platform of divestment could help the university reach its goal of being anti-racist.

“Specifically, for Services Vice President, as my responsibility as a candidate, I think divestment in all instances of the world, divestment from fossil fuels, divestment from Aramark, divestment from ULPD, everything,” he said. “I think that is one of the biggest impacts we can have to move towards being an anti-racist institution.”

Stinger is focusing his candidacy on student health, student inclusion and student advancement. When asked about the university’s anti-racism initiatives, Stinger echoed the other candidates in saying the university isn’t doing enough and said it was a top-down issue.

“One of the things I want to start if I become elected as Services Vice President is mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all staff and faculty on campus,” he said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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SGA announces changes to Campus Dining’s operation hours Saturday, Feb 27 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

In response to survey results about the University of Louisville’s decision to cut back campus dining services, U of L’s Student Government Association has announced adjustments made by the university to the dining hours of operation. The university has expanded dining hours for several campus locations, including Subway, the Starbucks at SAC East and more.

  • Effective Friday, Feb. 26, Subway will reopen on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Effective Saturday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 27, Starbucks at SAC East will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Effective Monday, March 1, Einstein Bros Bagels will be open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for GrubHub orders only, the location will not be taking orders at the counter.
  • Effective Saturday, April 3, Starbucks at Ekstrom will return to its regular Saturday operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Campus Dining will also be covering transaction costs associated with ordering Einstein’s on GrubHub. SGA President Sabrina Collins said that there shouldn’t be any reimbursement process or special step that students would need to take.

“My understanding is that this was done to limit the number of staff needed to keep the location open which in turn limits operational costs,” Collins said. “Decisions about closures were made with data regarding foot traffic and things like that, so Dining must have felt it necessary to limit operational costs at Einsteins through this decision while meeting student demands to bring the location back online.”

U of L Dining originally reduced its hours for some dining locations, even closing some entirely, as a result of a 39% reduction in student, faculty, staff and visitors on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students and parents immediately expressed their frustration once the initial change came out. U of L then asked for survey feedback from members of the U of L community to see what adjustments were desired and needed. The above adjustments were made in response to the survey results.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Ekstrom library will no longer require U of L IDs for entrance and will monitor for masks Thursday, Feb 4 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced on Jan. 29 that Ekstrom library staff will begin monitoring the library to enforce the mask mandate. This comes after a meeting between U of L’s student government association and Ekstrom library staff to discuss mask enforcement and the requirement to show a student ID in order to enter the library.

“We appreciate that most of the Cardinal Family has followed our public health policies around wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and practicing good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” Provost Beth Boehm and Dean of Students Michael Mardis said in their statement.

“However, some people are beginning to ignore these policies.  This has become a significant issue in some of our large public spaces, particularly Ekstrom Library. ”

Patrons of the library who refuse to follow the mask mandate, after being reminded by a staff member, will be asked to leave and could face consequences from the Dean of Students Office.

SGA President Sabrina Collins said that the SGA brought up the need for this policy in a meeting with U of L administrators as well as in an SGA senate meeting that was attended by Ekstrom Library Dean Bob Fox and Associate Dean Bruse Keisling.

“This practice has proven necessary because of the widespread lack of masking in the library despite other efforts to encourage compliance,” Collins said.

SGA also came to an agreement with library staff about issues with the library’s policy to require a student ID for entry.

“The practice of checking cardinal cards at the library was being done in an effort to de-densify the library and ensure that our students were the ones utilizing the space,” Collins said. “Additionally, administration hoped that having a checkpoint at the door would ensure people were reminded to wear their mask if they tried to enter the space without one. In practice, we know that this did not have the intended impact and, in fact, created a hostile environment for students of color.”

SGA announced in a statement on social media on Jan. 22 that this policy would no longer apply, but a security guard will continue to be stationed at the entrance to Ekstrom.

SGA urges students who have any issues or concerns with this situation to reach out to them at sgacares@uoflsga.org.

Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

 

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SGA Top 4 members give advice for upcoming elections Thursday, Feb 4 2021 

By Tate Luckey —

Among the various organizations and clubs here at the University of Louisville, arguably the most important is the Student Government Association. As stated in their preamble, the SGA serves to be a voice for fellow students on campus and the commonwealth. They are composed of an executive, legislative and judicial branch, as well as having ties to the Student Activities and Engage Lead Serve Board. 

Elections are next month, and with that, campaigns may begin as early as next week, but for an uninformed student, how can they get involved? 

“I’d recommend starting with something small at first like engaging with current student leadership,” Ben Barberie, SGA’s academic vice president, said. “I learned about SGA my freshman year through older friends who served in student government.”

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately get a position, though. Barberie lost his freshman campaign, and current SGA President Sabrina Collins used to be in the Student Senate before her rise.

Most members agree that wherever they end up elected, the ability to be a visionary makes it all worthwhile. 

“My favorite part of SGA is meeting other driven leaders who are passionate about making U of L a better place for students,” Collins said. She and the current SGA administration are undertaking the 2025 Strategic Development Plan, an initiative dedicated to making a difference for the student body. The 17-page document details the 5 key categories for student success that each administration should work toward improving. 

“I love the feeling of hope and optimism that comes with my work and the work of others around me,” Barberie said. “Sometimes the results don’t yield in weeks or even months, but it’s refreshing to think that the impact of your work could help a student 5 or even 10 years down the line.” 

The first step, however, is to campaign for a position. While it can be tough (especially this year due to COVID-19), Barberie says that if you have a good “why” behind your work, it will all be worth it. 

“If you’re committed to making campus a better place, don’t lose sight of that vision – often the best policy initiatives come from a place of passion, care, and creativity,” he said.

Applications for the 2021 election close Feb. 5, with the election itself taking place on March 1-3. You can find out more about candidacy here.

Graphic by Andrew Campbell // The Louisville Cardinal

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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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Campus responds to Breonna Taylor charges Wednesday, Sep 23 2020 

By Joseph Garcia — 

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a Jefferson County Grand Jury would charge only one officer, former LMPD detective Brett Hankison, with wanton endangerment in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi called the announcement “a reminder that we must recommit to pursuing racial justice and pushing for changes in law enforcement, our legal system, public policy and our educational curricula.”

Taylor was killed March 13 when three LMPD officers entered her home with a “no-knock” warrant. When the police came through the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a one round at police after asking who was there and receiving no response. The officers returned more than two dozen shots. Taylor’s death certificate says she was shot five times, however today, Cameron said she was actually struck six times.

Hankison is the only one of the three officers indicted. He is charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing into neighbor’s apartments, not for the death of Taylor.

A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony, it comes with a penalty of one to five years.

“While I am pleased that the grand jury has acknowledged the unlawful actions of this police officer and that he will be tried for the unnecessary violence he caused that night,” Bendapudi told students, faculty and staff.  “I am disappointed that our justice system allows these atrocities to occur all too often with relatively little consequence.”

Bendapudi said the attorney general’s announcement does not change the fact that Taylor was killed in her home.

“It does not fix a system that allowed that to happen,” she said, citing a Harvard study which found that Black people are three times more likely on average than white people to be killed during a police interaction.

U of L’s Student Government Association Top 4 said they too are disappointed that Taylor will “not receive the justice she so deserved.”

“For many of our students, waiting for this announcement has been an incredibly emotional time,” SGA said in a statement on social media. “These results will be very difficult to handle, especially for our Black students.”

The university is offering resources for students, faculty and staff to heal during this time.

Faculty and staff may use the Employee Assistance Program to receive counseling services. While U of L’s Counseling Center is offering virtual and personal counseling sessions for students, which SGA said is free to students as part of the $50 insurance fee billed at the start of the year.

“As long as you have not voided this fee on ULink, your visit to the Counseling Center will be covered,” they said.

Some professors have already begun listening to what their student’s are feeling and have canceled their classes.

“I want to respond to the needs of my students,” Siobhan Smith-Jones said after cancelling her 4 o’clock Mass Communications course.

Smith-Jones said she would have continued with class had the students wanted to, pushing down her own feelings of hurt.

“Because I am hurt, I know many of my students are too,” she said. “They are also confused, disappointed and disgusted. They want to protest or protect themselves and their families.”

“I’m here to help, not hinder,” Smith-Jones said.

She also added that the ramifications of this decision will impact Louisville, and therefore U of L, for years to come.

“Our students will have a hand in making the changes needed to our socio-political systems,” she said. “They have a perspective that no one else has; this is their city.”

“So in that,” she said. “Canceling class is a small thing.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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