Undergraduate Student Senate wants to hear every student's voice
My name is Caroline Lohr, and I am your 2021-22 Undergraduate Student Senate (USS) president. The USS is a new form of student government, as it has a unilateral structure instead of the normal three branches of government. We are the only school in the nation that has this unique structure. It allows for every undergraduate student to be part of USS, and we want to hear your voice on campus!
If you followed my campaign, you know my platform motto was “be the change.” I am a progressive thinker and enjoy change and the challenges it brings. From change, we get the opportunity to look at our past and grow from it, and that is what I am focusing on as president this year. Together, we can make the changes at Virginia Tech we need to see so that our campus feels like home for every single student. Some main areas of concentration include making Virginia Tech safer, focusing on our mental health, and strengthening the ability to listen.
Safety is a very important issue for me as students will not be able to thrive within an uncomfortable environment. Currently, one topic of safety I am working on is making sure that our women and LGBTQ+ communities feel a better sense of security. Over the past semester, sexual violence has been a main topic of concern and students want action. I, as well as members of the USS executive cabinet, are striving diligently to make sure that voices are being heard on this issue and that we come up with tangible solutions to this horrendous issue. I, along with the undergraduate representative to the Board of Visitors, Paolo Fermin, are on the Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Working Group. In this group, we have started brainstorming not only solutions to this issue but have discussed what we believe to be the root of the problem. The goal is that we face this issue with a preventative mindset rather than a reactionary mindset. As with many issues we face, it continues to be important that we have conversations rather than debate as it is crucial to what we are doing.
The mental well-being of our students is another area that I am focusing on as the pandemic did a number on a vast majority of people’s mental health. Many of us in our community are still recovering, whether that be from personal traumas or various mental health issues. This is a serious issue that needs to be prioritized and talked about in a general setting. I empathize with every student struggling right now, and I want you to know that it is okay to not be okay. We are in the process of working with Cook Counseling. Together, we are trying to find resources that are more readily accessible to the student community that will also contribute to the general well-being of our campus and town. I encourage students that are struggling with mental health to reach out to loved ones and to remember that you are important and crucial to not only the ones in your life, but to your peers, community, and Virginia Tech.
Lastly, one of the biggest priorities I have set for myself not only as president, but also as a student and person, is the ability to listen. An aspect of Virginia Tech that is foundational to our collective successes are the Principles of Community. Given recent societal events within the past few years, I feel like those principles have lost their place on this campus. We have grown solid enough in our own mindsets to a fault and the thought of learning about someone's beliefs are paralyzing. Everyone wants to be heard. I encourage students, faculty, and staff to have discussions and listen intently to what the other person is saying. The construction of community is built on empathy, compassion, and respect. These should be pillars in how we live our lives; not only for our friends, but also toward strangers that we pass on the Drillfield or sit next to in class. It will take everyone to come together and build a safe, compassionate, and generous campus community, and I am so fortunate for the opportunity to lead you during this time.
If you have any questions or want to have a conversation with me, please don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com. I want to talk to as many people as I can and get the student voice out there!