The Undergraduate Student Senate held its election from Sept. 19 to 22. According to VTx, the newly elected cabinet consists of President Caroline Lohr, who was president last year; Ainsley Cragin, Vice President for Policy and Issues; Eireann Maybach, Vice President for Administration; Seungchan Jeong, Vice President for Shared Governance; O’Brian Martin, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Sam Yuzbashev, Vice President for Finances.
“I am so excited,” Lohr said. “One of the biggest things I've seen in my peers who have graduated, or their positions are only one year long and they couldn’t rerun or anything, was that they finally understood how to do it at the very end of their time commitment. So I feel the same way, but I’m really just blessed and grateful to be able to actually kind of have a better understanding of what I’m supposed to be doing and put that into practice.”
According to Lohr, the USS’s structure is unique in comparison to student governance organizations at other universities. Because it is relatively new, since the Student Government Association transitioned into the USS in fall 2021, one of Lohr’s top priorities is to establish a solid foundation within the USS.
As stated on her election platform, Lohr also plans to raise preventative sexual violence awareness and education, ensure Virginia Tech’s residential leaders are given the same benefits compared to other state universities and help international students receive the same college experience as other students.
Lohr has already put her plans in motion. She is a part of the Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group, organized last year by President Tim Sands, who “charged members with developing a framework for sustainable climate and cultural transformation that will establish sexual violence prevention as a shared responsibility of the entire campus community.” USS senators have also spoken with residential advisors across the East coast.
Lohr is also in contact with the university and Blacksburg Transit to help support international students.
“The thing that has been brought up to me is transportation systems for international students,” Lohr said. “Because if you’re an international student, and you fly into Dulles (for example), it’s up to you to find your own transportation from Dulles to Virginia Tech, same with Charlotte, or same with anywhere else where you’re flying into. That, I think, is going to take a lot more conversing because BT that runs on our campus is Blacksburg Transit; it’s not like Virginia Tech oversees BT.”
Lohr also said that senators are speaking to BT about overcrowding on buses as well, especially as new apartment complexes have opened for students residing off campus, bringing more foot traffic to some bus stops.
While Lohr feels a strong obligation in assisting the university and the students, having the community’s support has helped motivate her.
“I want to be a hub of resources for students, for administrators, for faculty and staff behind closed doors, in open doors,” Lohr said. “I am just gonna be advocating for students for these issues and anything else that arises, and truly it is up to me, our senators and our students to help with the passion and push things forward because I am only one person, and while I do have my position, having 30,000 people behind me back me up helps so much.”