When 2016-17 Student Government Association (SGA) president Alexa Parsley stepped into her new role, it was with a solid foundation in inclusion initiatives.

“We made great strides toward that topic in the last year, and it’s something I want to continue by hosting forums and creating spaces for students to come forward and share their stories with others,” said Parsley, of Erwin, Tennessee, a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “I want students to have opportunities to educate others on the similarities between diversity and inclusion, the differences between them, and why it’s such an important topic.”

Parsley plans to build on the accomplishments of her predecessor, Tanushri Shankar (public relations ’16), who worked closely with the university’s InclusiveVT initiatives. Under Shankar’s leadership, the 2015-16 SGA hosted numerous events, such as My Culture is Not a Classroom and 29 Days of Black Feminism.

“This series of events solidified SGA’s strong stance on advocating for those in the margins and working toward making Virginia Tech a better campus for everyone,” said Joe Edens, assistant director for student governance and SGA advisor. “This passion has reverberated across the organization and serves as the foundation for much of the work SGA will move toward this year.”

Parsley is relying on more than 100 students involved in Virginia Tech’s SGA to advance these initiatives and make them a priority for all students. She plans to work with the Intercultural Engagement Center to educate students regarding available safe spaces on campus. She also hopes to establish monthly on-campus activities to engage students with the topic of diversity.

“I’m very passionate about student equality and a college experience that’s better and better each year,” said Parsley. “I came into this role knowing I want to make students uncomfortable with the reality of how many differences we all have and how wonderful it can be to work with one another on an equal playing field.”

Virginia Tech’s SGA was established to provide an effective organization for the administration of student activities; to promote academic freedom and academic responsibility; to establish and protect student rights; to foster awareness of the student’s position in the campus, local, state, and national communities; and to provide a liaison between the student body, faculty, and administration.

“Students’ voices, ideas, and opinions matter a lot,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo. “While Virginia Tech is a large school, we find ways to make students feel more connected. The Student Government Association is a means to garner and communicate the needs of the study body, which includes many unique and diverse voices. I look forward to supporting Alexa and the SGA as they enact positive change.”

In addition to serving as SGA president, Parsley is a member of Alpha Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and served on the public relations committee with Relay For Life. Parsley’s political science concentration is national security studies. She is minoring in geography, as well as peace studies and violence prevention. Following graduation in spring 2017, Parsley hopes to work with Teach for America and then attend law school or pursue a government job.

“My advice for incoming students and all Hokies, new and old, is to push yourself to step out of your comfort zone, to meet people and educate yourself like you never have, and to be involved in your university and your community, because we’ve been given four years here to do just that,” said Parsley. “Challenge yourselves to find knowledge here and start making a difference in the world. It can be done by kindness, by campus involvement, by communication, or by action.”

For information on how students can to get involved in student government, visit SGA’s website.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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