Hi! I’m running to continue representing BXA & SHS students on CMU’s Undergraduate Student Senate.
I’m a third-year in BHA from Queens, NY, studying Architecture and Social & Political History. This is also my third year on Senate: previously, I have served as chair of Senate’s Business Affairs committee (2019-20), and this year, I have served as chair of Senate.
My Record On Senate
Over the past three years, I have been proud to lead and to help support a number of initiatives to help create a better & fairer campus community for all students.
- Standing Up For Student Workers: As Business Affairs chair, I began Senate’s investigation into issues with student employment at CMU in March 2020. Working with the CMU Labor Coalition, we hosted a forum where student workers could share their experiences. These findings informed Senate’s white paper into the issue, which was completed in December 2020 by this year’s Business Affairs committee. This white paper recommends an increase to the campus minimum wage to cover the cost of living and that steps are taken to address systemic problems with workplace culture.
- Getting More Out Of Meal Plans: Last year, the Business Affairs committee worked with CMU Dining Services to survey the student body on a potential expansion of DineX payment to additional establishments near CMU’s campus, to make meal plans more worthwhile for students living in Oakland housing and to help support the local businesses around CMU. We compiled our recommendations to the university in Fall 2019. We also collected student feedback for recommendations on adding more fresh food and grocery items to our campus convenience store, Entropy, in Spring 2020, but this was placed on hold following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Connecting Senate To The Student Body: As chair of Senate, I have sought to improve our connection to the constituents we represent. Last fall, we hosted a series of office-hours-style events over Zoom for students to meet their representatives, discuss the issues they were facing, and provide input on Senate’s current projects. Additionally, I have worked with The Tartan to publish updates to the student body on Senate’s work, and, this semester, we will launch an initiative tracking document so the student body can see at a glance what their representatives are working on.
- Answers From The Administration: This year, wherever possible, Senate has used our meetings to provide an opportunity for the student body to hear directly from, and ask questions of, our university administration. This year, we have held discussions with University President Farnam Jahanian, COVID-19 Coordinator Daryl Weinert, and several other members of university leadership (with more planned for the rest of the Spring 2021 semester!) Over the summer, we sought to combat uncertainty around Fall semester plans by sending students direct answers from Housing Services on the most pressing questions.
On Current Issues
- Meeting Our Constituents Directly: It is past time that Senate held tabling events in academic buildings so we can reach out directly to the students we represent. While this was a goal for this year, which were not able to realize because of the pandemic, next year my goal is to build a closer relationship with our constituents, and keep Senate more accountable, by expanding our tabling events into academic buildings. Additionally, I think that we can go further, by returning to hosting outreach events in residential buildings.
- Thinking Beyond Campus: There is no Carnegie Mellon without Pittsburgh. Too often, we have not done enough as a university to acknowledge this important connection. Next year, I intend to propose and support student government initiatives that help to better connect the undergraduate body to the city, and hold the university to account over past—and any future—decisions which have a harmful impact on the Pittsburgh community. We have also seen on so many occasions just in the past year alone the impact that decisions taken by governing bodies outside CMU—whether at the local, state or federal level—can have on the safety and wellbeing of students, and I believe that student government can and should take a more central role in organizing the student body in standing up to harmful policies on behalf of fellow students.
- Continue Expanding Use Of The Media Fee: This year, Senate voted to fund digital access to The New York Times by using the student media fee, which also funds newspapers on campus through the Collegiate Readership Program. Next year, we should pursue further campus-wide media initiatives to make sure students are getting value from the media fee, to continue to improve the campus experience wherever possible, and to ensure that commonly-used resources do not pose financial difficulty to students.
Let me know how I can help!
I am committed to being open and transparent about the work I have done as a member of Senate and plans for future initiatives—and am always willing to help get answers to any student questions and use Senate’s resources to address any campus issues you are facing. Please feel free to reach out at any time via email, at loconnel @ andrew.