With a new administration poised to take over the reins on Wednesday, University of Cincinnati (UC) Student Body President and Vice President Logan Lindsay and Karl Dierking spoke with The News Record in a look back on their term in office.
Lindsay and Dierking were elected in March of 2020, just days before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the university to close its doors and transition to remote learning.
Since then, their administration has presided over an academic year turned upside-down by a once-in-century pandemic comprised of zoom meetings, daily health checks and minimal person-to-person contact.
“It was really challenging at the beginning, because…I had watched my three predecessors before me navigate their presidency, and I was coming in with an idea on how I would lead in this role,” Lindsay said. “There's no playbook for a virtual presidency.”
“But regardless of that, I think we adjusted pretty well and really set the standard for what it meant to be a thriving organization during a pandemic,” he added.
Dierking said the pandemic created an extra layer of uncertainty in preparing for their roles in Undergraduate Student Government’s (SG) highest office.
“Even when you run for it in a normal year, people always get into the position and they’re like, ‘Wow, this is completely different than maybe what I thought,’” he said. “And so we actually experienced that up to a whole new level.”
SG recently released its end-of-year report, outlining initiatives implemented by the organization throughout the year.
Despite any setbacks that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lindsay and Dierking delivered on most of the initiatives they promised during their campaign.
Lindsay said that in the beginning, uncertainty about the pandemic left some university officials hesitant to help with SG’s initiatives.
“We were very scared coming in because we had just ran on these platform points and promised these things to students and…you couldn’t commit to anything, you didn't know what tomorrow was going to look like, let alone fall semester,” said the fourth-year computer engineering student.
“But as we kind of got into the groove of things, and we got into a normal, normal routine, a silver lining was that we actually found that it was pretty easy to implement a lot of our initiatives,” Lindsay added.
One initiative they were unable to implement due to the pandemic was a sexual assault prevention campaign focusing on local bars and restaurants.
“Given that most bars and restaurants were closed for most of our term – and also they experienced many financial setbacks – it was extremely difficult for them to sign up for this sexual assault prevention training,” Lindsay said, adding that he hopes SG will take up the initiative again once the nightlife around campus reemerges.
Lindsay said he’s most proud of assisting in the university’s COVID Careful campaign.
“I think that they [university officials] were able to keep students safe, healthy and ensure that they had everything that they needed to grow and strive towards their degrees,” he said.
Dierking, however, points to the SG’s work with Dean of Students Daniel Cummins and the Bearcat’s Pantry as one of his proudest accomplishments.
“…We were meeting bi-weekly, basically, throughout the summer, fall and spring with him and his team to discuss ways that we can support them better,” said the fourth-year mechanical engineering student. “So being able to support the bearcats pantry in the way that we did at a time when so many students were utilizing it was certainly something to be proud of.”
Both Lindsay and Dierking are graduating this semester and each has spoken out against the university’s decision, which has since been reversed, to hold commencement ceremonies online.
“I will forever be grateful for my experiences in student government,” Lindsay said. “This experience, especially this past year, just has helped myself grow in ways that I couldn't even begin to imagine.”