The Student Government Association is tasked with advocating on behalf of UofL’s student body. That includes everything from safeguarding academic freedoms to promoting diversity and fairness.
The SGA works in tandem with administrators, Staff Senate and Faculty Senate to achieve goals that aren’t too unusual for a college campus – keep college affordable, make sure foodservice options are plentiful, provide sufficient programming and resources, lobby for higher education in Frankfort and so forth.
However – unquestionably – we are in unique times. This could make things interesting for SGA’s newly named president, Sabrina Collins.
Collins, a senior majoring in Political Science with a track in law and public policy and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, has been involved in SGA since her freshman year in 2017.
“As soon as I came to campus, I joined the Freshman Arts and Sciences Council, where I served as the president. SGA made it easy for me to get involved as a freshman, take on leadership roles, connect with older student mentors, and feel like I was making a difference on campus,” she said.
Collins worked her way up in the organization, last year serving as the academic vice president under Jasper Noble’s leadership. That experience, she says, helped her grow as a leader and find a clearer voice to advocate for students.
“When campaign season rolled around, I felt uniquely prepared to take on the role of president and continue giving back to the campus that has given me so much,” Collins said.
That said, her list of priorities has grown given recent circumstances. During her campaign, Collins focused on advocating for survivors of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking on campus.
“In light of the new Title IX regulations, it is more important than ever that we elevate the voices of our student survivors,” she said. “It is our responsibility as a community to ensure that they have the support, resources and options for recourse that they need.”
Shortly after the SGA elections closed, COVID-19 shifted UofL’s operations offline and changed the entire landscape of higher education in general. Now, as the university prepares for the fall semester, Collins said it is her administration’s primary concern to ensure that our students are heard throughout the decision-making process.
“My team is grateful that the university has prioritized student voices in making decisions for fall,” Collins said. “I am confident that student voices will bring the solutions to the challenges facing higher education as a result of the pandemic.”
Collins is also mindful of how global protests in response to George Floyd’s death are affecting our local community and our students.
“In light of recent injustices that have taken place in our Louisville community, it is SGA’s responsibility to elevate the voices of people of color on our campus who have not been heard and we back them fully in their demands of the university,” she said.
Despite the current – and unprecedented – challenges that exist, Collins is optimistic, particularly because, as she states, “our UofL community is a resilient one.”
“In the past few years, UofL has gone through many challenges; however, we have met each one bravely as a community. As a campus, we continually strive to be a Community of Care, and I think that sets our university apart,” she said.
Indeed, Collins’ favorite thing about being a Cardinal is the sense of pride she has for her school.
“UofL feels like home and there is nowhere else I would rather spend my undergraduate years,” she said. “I come from a small town in Northern Kentucky. When I visited UofL for the first time, I was surprised by how welcoming a campus of this size could be. During my visit, it was evident that every student and staff member I spoke with cared deeply for Louisville’s campus. Now, as a student I see why.”
Collins, who is also a Grawemeyer Scholar and a member of Kappa Delta, will spend this year doing what she can to make sure UofL is a student-centered campus. She will do so by encouraging administrators to keep an open mind as students bring forward ideas for progress. That is what makes the position of SGA so unique and exciting.
And, for Collins, such a position will likely suit her well after she graduates. Her career goal is to work in education policy.