Wow! What an exciting few weeks it has been! It is such a joy to be back on campus in the full swing of things. This energy that we are feeling within our students rivals the excitement and energy I felt among students in my first semester on campus. Seeing all of the new and smiling faces on the way to class and around campus has been such a joy. I know that this semester will be the best one yet!
This past month has been full of firsts for our students and firsts for the university. We began our first full week of classes and our first student organization engagements with almost 8,000 new students on campus. This is our most diverse class with the largest number of in-state students in university history. We are seeing record high activity and engagement between Fraternity and Sorority life interest and bids, athletic ticketing, student-run entertainment events and student organization enrollment. I hope each of our new and returning students had an opportunity to engage with our 556 student organizations at The Leadership and Service Center’s Student Organization Fair because I know that each of you has something unique to contribute to our Carolina Community.
Speaking of unique contributions to the university, we have seen an increase in gender and racial diversity in our university leadership roles. I believe this is the first time that the Chair of the Staff Senate, Chair of the Faculty Senate and Student Body President are roles simultaneously held by women. In addition, the Board of Trustees elected their first ever female Vice Chair with only two females considered for the position. I am so elated to be a part of this group and of this change at an institution that has not historically valued women in leadership. This month, we also welcomed the first African American Vice President of Student Affairs, Rex Tolliver, who serves as the chief advocate for students. He has proven to be student-centric through his efforts in his first few weeks here. He is committed to listening to student concerns in order to implement change on campus.
With the goals of hearing from the students directly, both the Vice President of Student Affairs and President Amiridis invited students to “Imagine Carolina,” a one-day presidential retreat curated for students to provide input and feedback on ways USC can improve the classroom experience, student life and wraparound services, campus climate and the transition to their future careers. In their first days in office, both Tolliver and President Amiridis held their first meetings with students, and worked with us in the planning of this event over the last three months.
During Imagine Carolina, we discussed opportunities for growth in areas including but not limited to: academic advising and infrastructure. These are two areas in which Student Government is very passionate. The conversations were rich and engaging, and I am looking forward to the actionable items that will come out of the data collected by students’ experiences. This was the first large step for President Amiridis’ leadership and bridging the gap between students and his administration, using this event to dictate a strategic plan. This student feedback summit held by university leadership, seems to be the first of its kind, but I do not think it will be the last.
In addition, we kicked off our football season this month with the first few games of the year. I loved feeling the Sandstorm build within the walls of the Williams-Brice Stadium and watching our student athletes “shine” under the new stadium lights. It was so fun to see our President, First-Lady and Vice President of Student Affairs jump up and down in the student section. Their willingness to get involved with student activities outside of the classroom is such a refreshing change of pace at Carolina. As an avid Gamecocks fan, I am so looking forward to a football season full of cheering on year two of Beamer Ball in the student section, our beloved Cockpit.
In Student Government, we have been working on various initiatives for the student body. I am excited to share many of our initiatives, but wanted to bring to light one of the first changes that we addressed this year. With the start of the semester, we have seen the adjustments to Thomas Cooper Library hours. The Student Government Executive Officers met in the spring with Dean McNally about adjusting the library hours based on the needs of the students. After listening to our input and assessing the operational ability, the library has updated and extended its hours, giving the student the opportunity once again to study late at night! The updated hours can be found here: Hours - University Libraries. We are also looking forward to meeting with our new Dean of Libraries, David Banush, and working with him to ensure the libraries continuously meet the needs of the students.
This month, we also lost members of the Carolinian community. My heart goes out to those who were affected by these losses. We must continue to support and love one another through these difficult times. Please take advantage of the free resources we have available for your support. You can reach out to one of our trained professionals through the in-person or online mental health services that best meet your needs. Students can call 833-664-2854 for free, 24-hour access to a counselor.
As promised, I want to continue to bring transparency and communication to the student body. In order to uphold this commitment, I will be sharing monthly letters through The Daily Gamecock to help bridge the gap between the students and the office of the Student Body President.
As the semester continues, feel free to stop by the Student Government Office located in Room 227 of Russell House or email me at email@example.com with any concerns or improvements that you have for our campus. I know that our Student Body Vice President, Maia Porzio, and Speaker of the Student Senate, Noah Glasgow, would be happy to hear from you all as well.
Forever to thee,