It’s a weird time to be a student at Huntington University. Please know that there are students (like me) who you can bring your concerns to.

By Michael Lehman, Editor-in-Chief (and SGA Baker Hall Representative)

It’s no secret that Huntington University’s campus is grappling with some pretty big changes right now.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, classes have shifted to an online format for the remainder of the semester. Most students aren’t living on campus anymore. Beloved spring events like the junior/senior dance have been canceled, and graduation has been postponed until Saturday, Aug. 15.

Construction on the Hub has finally started and will continue into the 2020-2021 school year, causing the temporary closure of Hardy Hall and the sudden reclassification of Baker third from a boy floor to a girl floor. The fall semester will also introduce a brand-new Tuesday/Thursday class schedule, which was announced earlier this semester.

People are confused. People are hurting.

But as a graduating senior, a member of the Student Government Association, and someone who’s had the privilege to call Baker third home for the past three years, I want you to know that everything’s going to be okay.

We’re going to get through this — together.

I also want you to know that HU’s student government is always here for you. We’re a team of 28 students who want to actively represent the student body we serve. As always, you are more than welcome to message or email your concerns to any one of us, and we will bring them up during our weekly Zoom meetings every Wednesday at 11.

Discussing student concerns is something SGA has done for years, and we’d love to keep helping everyone out during these especially difficult times.

Ashley Spirek, who was recently elected as next year’s SGA president, also wants students to know that you have plenty of student leaders who care deeply about you — because we are you.

“I would like to tell the students, first and foremost, that SGA is here to represent and communicate needs,” Spirek told me in a recent email interview. “We are the communicative bridge between the student body and the administrative body, and we’re here to make sure that student voices are being heard.”

TOMORROW’S LEADERS: Meadows Hall representative Ashley Spirek will step up as student body president next year, and Miller Hall representative Josh Wilson will serve alongside her as vice president. (Photo provided by the Student Government Association)

Spirek, who is currently a junior majoring in history, philosophy, political science and international development studies, will be filling current president SangJin Woo’s shoes once he graduates this May. She says she wants to be a voice for the voiceless next year.

“We are here to listen to the student body and to move forward strategically and accordingly through not only communicating with one another, but through the writing of proposals, the adoption and adaptation of legislation, the planning of incredible events, and the fostering of a campus-wide community through those events,” Spirek said.

But she knows she’s stepping into the role at a profoundly complicated point in HU’s history.

“I think there is a huge window of opportunity for SGA to participate in a pivotal moment of growth that our HU community will be going through next year,” she said. “It will be hard year, and it is a year that is marked by tremendous change. I think it might be possible that I could bring a certain perspective would be helpful to SGA next year as we learn to listen to a community who is going through change and instability.”

Spirek, who describes herself as a visionary who cares deeply for the HU community, believes that her upbringing has equipped her with the empathy needed for the challenge.

She grew up in Kyiv, Ukraine, a city that experienced a violent revolution called the Euromaidan Revolution (or the Revolution of Dignity) in 2014. She says that the revolution — along with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine — forced her family to consider evacuating their home.

“We packed our bags and had no idea what would happen next,” Spirek said. “In my life, that was the epitome of change and uncertainty. Though the changes we are going through now are different from my own life example, we are facing the difficulties of change right now that are taking place as a result of the current global pandemic, as well as the changes that are taking place at HU.”

She believes that with tremendous challenges come huge opportunities for growth and revitalization.

“As the HU community, we are facing uncertainty and instability and, for that reason, we have an incredible window of opportunity to find creative ways to build community and, thus, a sense of stability in the midst of instability,” Spirek said. “I hope that I can contribute this perspective as we move forward as a Student Government Association, and I am excited for the opportunity to think creatively and intentionally about what is best for our student body.”

Spirek, like so many other SGA leaders I’ve had the honor of working alongside these past two years, truly has a heart for the students at our school. I’m often humbled by all the ways I see my fellow SGA members working tirelessly behind the scenes to do good things for their fellow students — huge, substantial things that generate real change on our campus.

Things no one ever hears about. Things they happily do on our behalf without ever getting recognized for it.

“I chose this role because I care a lot about Huntington University students,” Spirek said. “I am also a visionary who sees the potential that we have to grow as a community in incredible ways, and I love working with diverse groups of people who bring different skills, perspectives, personalities, and strengths to the table as we work strategically toward common goals and objectives.”

This year’s SGA and next year’s SGA both have a lot of work to do, no doubt, but we all want you to know that you can direct all your fears and frustations — all your ideas and doubts — to us. We exist specifically to help serve you, and you can help make this campus a better place in the year ahead by directing your concerns to someone who can pass them on.

As for me, a graduating senior, it’s been a blessing to live with all of you these past 2.75 years and to serve on SGA for two of those years. I love you all more than you’ll ever know and would be glad to voice your concerns during these final few weeks of the semester. Stay healthy, and hang in there.

Thank you.

Follow this link to the HU portal for a list of your current SGA members and their email addresses.