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

The post Petition for gender inclusivity in new dorm circulates among U of L students appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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

The post SGA holds forum to meet this year’s running candidates appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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

The post SGA announces changes to Campus Dining’s operation hours appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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

The post SGA Top 4 members give advice for upcoming elections appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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

The post SGA’s #RealCards campaign highlights student concerns appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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 

The post Students are a light to follow in the pursuit for racial and social justice appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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.

The post Student government hosts candidate forum ahead of ongoing election appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

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.

The post SGA holds special election to fill senator position appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.