At TC, as elsewhere, Covid upended every facet of academic life — the Student Senate being no exception. The Senate in ordinary times is immersed in event sponsorship, advocacy and acting as a liaison between TC students, the faculty and executive offices.
A campus absent students, faculty and administrators therefore posed “a big transition, even for those of us who’ve been around for a while,” says Student Senate President Marion Bakhoya, a doctoral candidate in Movement Science and Education Department’s Applied Exercise Physiology program, who will serve the student organization during the 2021-2022 academic year.
The Delta variant means the return to campus won't exactly usher in a return to business as usual. But Bakhoya promises the Senate, undaunted, will be among the groups helping the TC community adjust to a learning environment reshaped by the continuing pandemic.
“We see this as an opportunity to be better advocates for students,” said Bakhoya. “There are things we did in the past that we can't do anymore, which got us talking about the areas where students will really need support as we move into this new phase.”
In addition to addressing student needs and concerns, the Senate also dedicates time to committee reports and event planning. But while preparing for the upcoming academic year, the conversation among members quickly turned to prioritizing student mental health and well-being.
“The difficulty of graduate school will be compounded by all the difficulties of the last year,” Bakhoya explained. “We realized that we more than ever need to be more conscious and vocal about mental health by letting students know it’s okay to not be okay under the circumstances.”
Bakhoya was not immune to the emotional toll of the abrupt campus lockdown that will come to an end with the September return of staff, students and faculty.
“I’m a very social person,” she said. “I never had a chance to say goodbye to my friends. Everything just ended, there was no transition. We were together one minute and then we just scattered.”
Bakhoya, during the coming year, will juggle her senatorial duties and doctoral studies with a position as member of the TC Neurocognition, Early Experience & Development (NEED) Lab — ground zero of Professor of Neuroscience & Education Kimberly Noble's groundbreaking study on the correlation between financial subsidies and infant brain development.
She predicts TC students will also break new ground in the year to come.
“This is our time to carve our own path,” said Bakhoya. “We’ve never been in a position like this before. Now is the time to remember and pursue the reasons we chose to come to TC.”
— Steve Giegerich