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Student Body President: a semester in review

Credit: Courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman via Wikimedia Commons Credit: Courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman via Wikimedia Commons
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In my first semester serving as your Student Body President, I’ve been given the rare opportunity to work with the student body not only as a representative but also as a collaborator. And while I could ramble endlessly about all of the technical, Carnegie Mellon-specific knowledge I’ve gained, the learning experience that has impacted me the most are the lessons I learned in caring for one another. It’s no surprise that the transition to in-person learning presented a slew of logistical challenges, from re-densification challenges while practicing social distancing, to our campus population being the largest in recent years creating a need for more robust staff and services, or even just students finding their way around campus. With these sorts of challenges, the solutions are more set in stone with clear, logical responses. However, the obstacles that were most difficult to overcome are much more abstract. How do we make students feel at home on a campus that has been empty for nearly two years? What can we do to make students feel safe and supported? What makes a valuable in-person experience while we still find ourselves amidst a global pandemic? These complex issues share one thing in common: the ability to be overcome by caring for one another. Care manifested itself campus-wide through our shared acceptance of A Tartan’s Responsibility, when students, faculty, and staff committed themselves to protecting one another; also with Tartan Community Day; and with the robust philanthropy community events, which allowed for students not only to care for their peers who organized such events but also for our greater Pittsburgh community with philanthropic efforts. The efforts on the individual scale are too many to name, which can even be as simple as sending a text to check in with friends during midterms. These simple actions are not the complete response to complex issues, but they are the stepping stones to a campus that always feels like home — where everyone is safe, loved, and valued. Despite these changes, this compassion resulting from COVID-19 does not mean that such practices should be eradicated post-pandemic. In my nearly four years as a Tartan, I’ve had the honor of bearing witness to the most care, compassion, and love within our student body, and these actions have grown our campus in a unique and special way. With that, I hope that the rest of the student body will join me in continuing practices of compassion and empathy to continue making our time spent on campus meaningful.