Singh and Zhang work towards a safe and connected campus community
Since Carnegie Mellon’s Student Government Elections are almost here, the Tartan spoke with Student Body President (SBP) Candidate David Singh and Student Body Vice President (SBVP) Candidate Lorraine Zhang. Singh and Zhang shared their views on key issues facing Carnegie Mellon.
While Singh was talking to his housefellow about Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence (SARV) issues, he found himself frustrated by the challenges of bringing positive change to the greater campus community. “I felt like my efforts as a lone [residential assistant (RA)], or even our efforts as a staff, were not impactful on the greater campus community if people were resistant to culture change when it comes to SARV,” he said. That night, he decided to run for the SBP position, so that he could talk to leaders on campus, both students and administrators, to help resolve issues through comprehensive efforts and a dedication to change.
Aside from experience as an RA in Hamerschlag House, Singh is heavily involved in the social organization Fringe — specifically dedicated to the group’s buggy team. He also represents junior Mechanical Engineers on the Mechanical Engineering Student Advisory Council and is the Design Competition Chair for Sweepstakes. His leadership experience and interpersonal skills have prepared him to take on the role of president. As a former high school swim team captain, he established lasting relationships with his teammates. While serving as a Senator on the Finance Committee, he learned the ins-and-outs of student government. He was also part of Dr. Michael Murphy’s leadership development class last semester. “I’ve formed productive relationships with people all across campus.... faculty, students, and administrators alike,” Singh adds.
“I want to see a Student Government that isn’t just more connected with the students, but one that forms lasting relationships with organizations, communities, administrators, and faculty. These relationships would work both ways,” Singh explains. He wants the Student Government to accurately hear and advocate for campus concerns. He hopes to have initiative promotion work both ways, where he and Zhang would promote student initiatives, and organizations and administrators would help promote those initiatives.
Upon talking to Singh, Zhang realized that they shared a vision for Carnegie Mellon and that the SBP and SBVP roles would allow them to implement the changes they desired on a larger scale. A big part of her vision is helping Carnegie Mellon students succeed and make the most of their college years. “We realized that we had the experience and the willingness to make this vision a reality and improve the student experience,” Zhang explains.
To help the Undergraduate Student Senate connect with and engage with their constituents, Zhang chairs the Communications committee. She has learned a lot about what matters most to the student body through this role. “I love finding new ways to engage the community in our work, hear different perspectives, and channel those perspectives into creating positive change that aligns with the needs of students, and I hope to translate those experiences into the SBVP role,” she adds. Zhang is also tackling food insecurity on campus with the Graduate Student Assembly. Additionally, she is a peer mentor for Dietrich College and a teaching assistant for two classes: 67-262 and 70-100.
Singh and Zhang’s plan is centered around engaging with, uplifting, and empowering students. Through programs and other efforts, they aim to engage with students in order to hear students’ concerns and improve life on campus for all students. They hope to empower students to enact changes through collaborative efforts and developmental experiences. By understanding and working towards the changes that students want and empowering students to make changes themselves, they hope to improve student experiences.
Additionally, with initiatives geared towards reducing mental health stigma, increasing opportunities for international students, and increasing support for low-income students, Zhang hopes to make Carnegie Mellon a more inclusive and understanding community. In Senate, Zhang has been focusing on moving from a one-way method of information distribution to a two-way conversation between Student Government and its constituents. “I hope to not only connect with and learn about what students are facing, but also make them an integral part of the process of turning concerns into tangible actions and improvements to the student experience,” Zhang continued. She plans on using social media, The Tartan, and postering to keep the student body engaged.
Singh further adds, “we will connect and represent students.” He aims to do so using a comprehensive student government website or app, where students can provide feedback and advertise their events and accomplishments. In addition, he plans to hold weekly office hours to hear student feedback in person and form a council of student leaders to discuss those concerns and bring them to sight for enacting. He has already begun assembling teams of students and intends to see this initiative through even if he does not win. “Should I win, I would have a more influential role in this group and would actively be meeting with administrators to address concerns,” Singh adds.
A consistent goal shared by Singh and Zhang is improving campus life and the experiences of students by listening to and acting upon student concerns on issues, whether they be minor, serious or tough. By engaging with students on even the toughest conversations, such as SARV, they hope to take action to bring change at Carnegie Mellon. Zhang emphasizes their determination to engage with and involve students on campus: “We would also work with student leaders to learn how we can best support their members and the work they are already doing to improve campus[...].”whether this be through regular email check-ins, infrequent meetings, or co-hosting student forums.”