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Digital connections: How student-run organizations are uniting amid the pandemic

When Ithaca College announced that this year’s fall semester would be held online, members of student-run organizations began to think creatively about how they could continue to create unity and solidarity for the college community amid a global pandemic.

Connor Shea, Student Governance Council (SGC) president, said he entered the fall semester understanding that SGC would look and run differently than semesters prior.

“We need to be really flexible with everyone to make sure that…even with a virtual space, we’re still thinking about accessibility and equity so that anyone who wants to participate can participate and that we can communicate with our students despite all of us being all across the nation,” Shea said.

Changes During Uncertain Times

SGC’s Vice President of Communications, Deontae Guy, noted that the organization is committed to student voices. He said while SGC members “know some things” they don’t know “everything about what students need” during these uncertain times.

Since going virtual this semester, SGC has conducted all of their meetings through Zoom. A recent general body meeting is pictured here (photo provided by SGC).

“We’re being mindful of how to engage with [students]. We’re being mindful of their situations…of what our nation is really going through,” Guy said.

In an effort to reach out to every part of the Ithaca College community to hear what students from all backgrounds need, SGC has been communicating with various student-run organizations that have already been working towards amplifying student voices.
Shea said that SGC is figuring out ways to promote, elevate and offer services to these on-campus organizations in order to continue rather than duplicate the work that is already being done.
“When our senators have brilliant ideas, which they always do…it’s our job as the executive board to support them and to help them in whatever way we can,” Shea said.

The Students of Color Coalition

Photo provided by the SOCC.

One organization that SGC has been able to collaborate with this semester is the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC).

The Coalition is a collaborative effort amongst students of color to foster unity and solidarity across the greater Ithaca College community.

“We do more than just promote or bring awareness,” said Sebastian Chavez, the SOCC senator. “When it comes to the curriculum, when it comes to student life, when it comes to events, activities…we try our hardest to participate in everything we can do in order to strive for Ithaca College to be inclusive for all.”

As the first ever SOCC senator, Chavez took the initiative to collaborate with SGC on a virtual event that occurred in early October.

The Stand for Justice webinar was based on the Stand for Justice statement released by SGC and Chavez in June. The webinar was created to have POC students at the forefront in order to address issues of racial injustice on campus and to open up a conversation surrounding how anti-racist ideology and diversity and inclusion can be implemented in curriculums.

The flyer for the webinar hosted by the SOCC and SGC is pictured (photo provided by the SOCC).
“I hope students who attended, professors who attended, really think about how they can make change,” Chavez said. “It was a webinar that not only represented POC but it represented non-POC to really…think about what they can do in order to be a supportive ally.”
Within the SOCC, each school at Ithaca College has a representative to ensure that all voices are heard.

Alexander Paredes-Ruiz, the school of Health and Science representative in SOCC, said that the organization has plans to collaborate with SGC in the future to create more spaces where students of color can “have a seat at the table”.

While nothing has been finalized yet, Paredes-Ruiz said that the current events that SOCC has planned will place an emphasis on student wellness.

“This year has been in different ways, very traumatic for different groups across the country,” Paredes-Ruiz said. “We understand we [need] space this semester to just heal and recover for folks.”

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