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Looking at the glass half full: ASG’s plans for a new semester

Just like that, another summer is somehow over. 

It’s hard to believe that I’ll be starting my senior year in a week. It feels like just yesterday I was a bright eyed first year lugging my mattress topper into Hahne Hall. I remember actively avoiding eye contact with my mother, who was sobbing uncontrollably before we even left my driveway. 

It’s a cliché at this point, but nothing can truly prepare you for how fast your time at Miami can fly by.

Three years later, a lot has changed. At the same time, a lot hasn’t. Our university has made great strides since I became a student, but there’s much more left to do. I am so lucky to be in a position where I have the honor to work alongside Miami’s best student leaders, who have been working tirelessly this summer to plan a year which moves Miami forward. 

This year is a tricky one. Going into the summer, I hoped this fall would be a time for healing and growth. I still think that’s true, but the threat of the delta variant has opened up new wounds. It feels almost like we’re starting over, reverting back to the familiar feeling of hopelessness we all understand too well. How can we heal from this crisis as it’s still happening? 

Well, it’s hard to say. My best guess is to press on. This semester, there’s a lot for students to look forward to. A face-to-face Mega Fair, bus trips to Hueston Woods, another incredible inclusion forum and the revitalization of Miami’s backbone: student organizations. 

ASG has been hard at work this summer to lay the groundwork for a successful semester, both internally and externally. Our incredible Speaker of Student Senate, Victoria Villanueva, has spearheaded an Elections Task Force which aims to engage underrepresented student groups in ASG. 

Senate leadership has come together to foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment for new and returning senators alike. Thanks to the great work of our Speaker Pro Tempore, Wes Payne, and our Parliamentarian, Omar Elghazawi, student activists in our organization will have the resources they need to make changes successfully.

Broadly, our external goals involve prioritizing student wellness and diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as holding our administration accountable for facilitating an excellent student experience. Our team has some great plans for this fall, which will bring us even closer to achieving these goals.

Vice President Aidan McKeon has been preparing to launch an application for our first directorship, a Director for Transgender Equity and Inclusion. As we’ve said many times before, trans and nonbinary students at Miami have been overlooked for too long. This is a groundbreaking opportunity to uplift trans and nonbinary student leaders, and give more queer students space in decision making rooms.

Among her other exciting plans, our Secretary for On-Campus Affairs, Becca Pallant, is currently furthering an initiative to provide menstrual hygiene receptacles in residence hall bathrooms. A legal aid initiative is in the works for students in need of affordable legal services, headed up by our Chief of Staff, Jakin Wu. Additionally, our Secretary of Infrastructure & Sustainability, Alia Agee, is collaborating with the Sustainability Department and green organizations to launch a sustainability module for all students.

This fall, students can look forward to the third annual Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Forum, a collaboration between ASG and DAC led by our spectacular Secretary of Diversity & Inclusion, Vada Stephens. Vada is also spearheading Miami’s first multicultural Mega Fair to more effectively and efficiently immerse students in a range of clubs and organizations tailored to them and their experiences, and also working with MADE@Miami to expose more students to ASG.

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This is only a snapshot of this team’s hard work, and I am immensely proud of every single member of cabinet and senate leadership for their grit, perseverance, and commitment to the student body. We have much more to look forward to.

As we look onward to the fall, I have this to say to the student body: Stay safe, get vaccinated, and wear a mask. I know it feels like the goal post keeps moving every time we get close to the finish line. However, it’s still up to us to keep each other and our community safe. 

In order to have fulfilling face-to-face experiences, we need to do everything we can to prioritize public health. The only way forward is through, so let’s keep pushing. 

Here’s to a great year, and see you at Mega Fair!