LSU Student Government President Stone Cox and Vice President Hannah Barrios celebrated their long-awaited inauguration ceremony Thursday evening.
After seven months in office and pandemic delays, Cox and Barrios took to the LSU Law Center steps to formalize their positions and reestablish their “REACH” campaign platform.
“Our goal was to empower each student,” Cox said. “We wanted to make sure that every student felt like they had a place in student government, and they feel represented.”
Throughout the summer, the pair worked diligently to provide students with a safe return to campus amid pandemic risks and national upheaval.
“COVID was the number one thing we worked on over the summer,” Barrios said. “We worked with administration. We worked with students to see how we can improve the way classes are done, how events can be held and how students can connect while being apart. Secondly, our Black communities faced a lot over the summer, and we’ve been working on our diversity roadmap so we can see how campus can become a more inclusive and diverse space.”
Cox said working remotely was “one of the hardest parts.”
“Having to plan for COVID-19 and prepping how we were going to talk to administrators about how students were feeling, whether it be the pandemic or Black Lives Matter, were very difficult,” Cox said. “Especially with Black Lives Matter, as two white individuals, we had to lean on our team because we knew that there were a lot of long-standing struggles that had boiled to the surface. It was difficult because we wanted to let them know that they are loved by their student leaders and administrators, but it was very hard to do so socially distanced.”
Despite the unpredictable events of 2020, Cox and Barrios plan to move forward by staying connected and responding to students' needs with action.
“Post-inauguration, I’m hoping we can increase student capacity for events here on campus but make sure we are doing so safely,” Cox said. “That’s a big thing we are working on with administration right now”
Along with COVID-19 safety measures, Barrios said campus accessibility is something she’s passionate about.
“I’m on the physical environment committee and we look at how to make campus more accessible, specifically ADA accessible,” Barrios said. “We focus on other ways to make campus more inclusive too so we’re looking at how we can use the money, funds and all the things that we have to increase that and make our campus better for all students.”
The pair is working on re-launching the “We’re Committed” campaign to end campus sexual assault and violence for students.
“Though we’re not over COVID, we have more of a grasp on how it’s going so we get to go back to our campaign push cards and our initiatives there,” Cox said. “We just started working with our executive staff on Wednesday on those and we’re going to keep going for the rest of the year.”
Despite an unconventional school year, Cox and Barrios promise to advocate for the student body and ensure their safety.
“Our motto is ‘To lead, advocate, and serve’,” Barrios said. “To be a good leader, you have to be a servant leader, and you have to be out there really listening to students and seeing what they need. We’re here to listen, and do the best we can.”