I want to thank you all for coming out tonight to show your support for the student union and being a part of this significant occasion. In taking on this role as President, I am truly humbled, I am ready and I am excited for the year to come. This University is an amazing place because in it, every student can make a difference, a difference that can be felt across a campus and even farther beyond that. I have seen that first hand in the Student Union in the past two years. For tonight is not only a celebration of the present and what lies ahead, but a chance to be thankful for our past. To be grateful and reflect upon what got us to this point today.
The Student Union has accomplished a great deal under President Petsche and the 2012 executive board’s guidance in the last year. They have made great strides in areas of weakness and laid strong foundations for continued growth. We have learned so much from this administration, but, now is our turn, it is our time to take the momentum fostered in the past year to even greater heights.
The Student Union Senate by definition is “the only student organization which can represent the entire student body at John Carroll University.” In such a simple and seemingly effortless statement, the mission of this Student Union and this Administration is laid out. We are the voice of this student body and are such because they have entrusted us with that responsibility.
We are their voice but the only way that changes can be made and actions can be taken is if we are able to hear that voice to the greatest extent that I know it is capable of. This student body has so much to say but we must first give them the means to express their views and their ideas. Our efforts to increase outreach to the students will be spear-headed by Vice-President for Communication Brianna Lazarchik. We will utilize the physical suggestion boxes that are to be placed in central areas around campus to get a more tangible expression of students’ thoughts and opinions. It is our goal to create a more welcoming atmosphere for the general student body to be able to attend our weekly senate meetings as they can sometimes be seen as formal or intimidating. One should never be afraid or nervous to approach those that represent you. The class senators will reach out to their constituents through the planning and implementation of class projects for effective face-to-face communication. Communication however involves both sides. We will work to make the voices that are silent, stronger, while at the same time the Student Union will strive to make a substantial effort to let the students know what we are doing. Though the efforts of this student government seem apparent to those involved, it is not always so clear for the general student population. As such, this administration will create, and open up to the students, a series of weekly speakers who are representatives of departments or offices, from residence life to campus safety, that can speak on issues at hand openly with both the senate and students in attendance. We will better serve the students who elected us by increasing the accountability, transparency, and inclusivity in everything that student union does.
We also hope to foster tradition and sustain school spirit from convocation to commencement through effective programming and communication with the help of Vice-President for Programming, Chelsea Gerken.
Another major initiative of this administration that will be given significant time and attention is our efforts to focus on diversity and inclusion on this campus. Great endeavors have been made in the last year to celebrate diversity and further cultivate a welcoming culture of acceptance and inclusivity but we are far from perfection. We are looking forward to once again working with the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion for John Carroll’s third Diversity Week this spring semester. CSDI is an invaluable resource to our efforts to pursue this mission and we look to not only utilize this wonderful center but reach out to other resources on campus such as the Resident Assistants and the Office of Residence Life to involve them in these goals. While involving the different offices around campus is vital, the heart of this initiative will be to create a more effective channel of communication to discuss these issues directly with the students themselves as they are the ones most important to and affected by these efforts. A town-hall style forum will be revisited to encourage an opportunity for open, candid, and personal conversation on diversity. As members of Student Union, we are the voice for all students and as students of John Carroll University we must live out the Jesuit mission of being men and women for others. As such, it is doubly our duty to ensure that diversity is not only welcomed, but celebrated and cherished at this Institution.
While we have pertinent issues and goals we will focus on pertaining to this campus community, we cannot forget the communities that surround us, of University Heights and Shaker Heights, as they are just as much a part of student life here. I look forward to working with our elected counterparts in city government and I especially look forward to working with Mayor Infeld whose reputation of fairness, honesty, openness is something that can only better out future in John Carroll. We will also work with Dora Pruce, JCU’s Director of Government Relations, on increasing the involvement and outcomes by organizing an event in mid-March where students will travel to Columbus and meet with our elected officials in order to help secure funding for our higher education. To better these relationships we must first focus on how students are being portrayed in the areas surrounding us. The reputation of a John Carroll Student in the eyes of the greater community can generally be defined instantly by the few individuals who have made mistakes in our neighborhoods instead of the norm of a student being educated in the Jesuit tradition. It is our job to help the community understand that they are simply outliers from this norm.
Lastly, we cannot forget the essential reason that this university exists, academics. In the past year, the Academics committee, lead by Brianna, distributed an academics-related survey to the student body and compiled the information into a quantifiable expression of the students’ perception of scholastic structure, requirements, and opportunities. The data which has been passed on to the University’s Core Curriculum Committee will be used to evaluate the current system and a discussion will be had with students and faculty regarding potential modifications and amendments for future years. This respected institution of higher learning has a tradition of graduating respected men and women of esteem and value and it is simply our duty to make sure that that tradition continues strongly as it is ever done.
With all of these endeavors it is our goal to pursue them with resourcefulness, ingenuity, and inspiration. We will not let that which is simply routine get in the way of change and new ideas. Innovation will be a key factor and driving force in the efforts of this administration.
In the coming year, we know it is not about representing our own agenda and our own wants and needs, but the needs of the students who elected us. There will be a voice in every conversation and a hand in every process. At the heart of everything that we do, and every promise and every decision we make will be one overarching philosophy: the fact that we will not settle for anything less than the best interests of the students. We want to leave a long lasting impact on this university. We want to leave a mark on not just current students but students in future years
We are all a part of the same story one that has been growing for 90 years. And we are now entering that next chapter. Our chapter starts with those that were inaugurated tonight, but we will grow and end with the over 3000 voices that make up this student body— the students that make up this Union. We are ready to write the next chapter of this incredible book and I can only hope that you will all be a part.
President, Student Union