Kate Lyden, ‘24, right, and Ashley Kim, ‘24, left, speak to the Student Senate about new clubs in Sinclair Auditorium on Oct. 6, 2021. Lyden is the club affairs chair. (Wesley Huang/B&W Staff)

Student Senate is addressing diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as mental health concerns


Lehigh’s Student Senate recently met to discuss aspirations for the semester, including resuming life on campus following pandemic-induced restrictions. This year, the senate is focused on diversity and inclusion efforts and addressing COVID-19 related mental health concerns. 

On Sept. 8, Lehigh shared a five year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan with the campus community. Allie Kirkpatrick, ‘22, vice president of communications for student senate, said the senate is aiming to gather feedback from the student body on the plan. 

“We just got permission to release that plan to the public on our Instagram and we are asking for feedback from the general community and Student Senate,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are going to bring that feedback back to the administration and work with them and other cultural and community groups on campus.” 

Student Senate President Victor Cochrane, ‘22, said the senate has received feedback from Greek organizations, the Alumni Institute for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and the international relations department. 

He said student feedback is crucial to the function of the senate.

“It’s not just us who are voicing our opinions,” Cochrane said. “We’re also trying to reflect attitudes from different organizations that would be impacted by this plan.” 

The student senators discuss legality of clubs during their meeting in Sinclair Auditorium on Oct. 6, 2021. They meet each week on Tuesdays and are open to the public. (Wesley Huang/B&W Staff)

Sean Davis ‘25, a member of the public relations committee, said the committee has spent a significant amount of time gathering information from students. 

He said the group wants students to understand that Student Senate is a resource for them to voice their opinions and facilitate change on campus.  

Kirkpatrick said she wants to make students aware of all the opportunities they have on-campus and increase collaboration between Student Senate and other on-campus groups. 

The senate’s health and wellness committee is currently focusing on reforming student mental health resources on campus. 

“Right now, our health, safety and wellness committee is trying to do an overhaul of the mental health policy on campus, (we are) trying to work with the counseling center in order to secure better mental health resources,” Cochrane said. “(The committee) feels as if this has been lacking, and I would agree with them on that point that there are a lot of people struggling right now.” 

Cochrane said the waitlist for an individual appointment at the counseling center is currently two weeks long. He said this is extremely problematic for students who may be in crisis and changes to how the counseling center operates are necessary. 

Nick Chiu speaks during an discussion in the student senate meeting in Sinclair Auditorium. Chiu is part of the on-campus constutuency. (Wesley Huang/B&W Staff)

Kirkpatrick said the health and wellness committee is working on a survey to gauge student experiences with the counseling center and will ask participants how the senate can work to improve those resources. 

Cochrane said he is working on a long-term proposal that would create a permanent position for a student to sit on Lehigh’s Board of Trustees. He said this role would allow students to better enact change on campus.

As Lehigh’s undergraduate population expands, Cochrane said he is also focused on expanding current facilities, such as the mail center and the gym.

“If Lehigh is going to continue to accept more and more first years and expand the student population, we need to expand facilities as students are using on a daily basis,” Cochrane said. 

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