The Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Council will prioritize amplifying underrepresented students’ voices and bridging the gap between students learning remotely and in person, according to several of the council’s members.
In interviews, four members of HGSE’s Student Council, who sit on the Student Advocacy and Issues Committee and the Programming and Events Committee, shared their goals for the 2021-22 academic year.
Members of the events committee said they will try to host events that accommodate students who are learning remotely.
Lisha M. F. Bornilla said the events committee will try to accommodate all students.
“We’re going to try to aim for 100 percent of the events that we want to do [to be] inclusive in terms of creating a hybrid model where we hold in-person events, but give people the ability to access those events remotely,” she said.
Bornilla also said that she hopes to create events that address student mental health.
“I’ve talked to people who are definitely feeling like they don’t have the tools to handle the stress, the workload,” she said.
Jasmine N. Stecker, a member of the advocacy committee, said she believes students are still experiencing adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think the pandemic is still affecting most students, if not all, and one of the more silenced voices right now are part-time students, especially students that aren’t on campus,” she said. “They have been advocating for more access to online courses, or even in-person courses if they happen to be in the area.”
Students who are learning remotely this semester were accepted into an HGSE special admissions program during the summer of 2020 that enabled students, many of whom work full-time, to enroll part-time and virtually at HGSE.
Stecker said she believes her role on the council is to highlight the concerns of students who do not speak up.
“It’ll be an interesting challenge for the council to really seek out those communities that need a voice but aren’t loud,” she said. “It’s hard at Harvard because there are so many communities that are very, very loud, but we can’t just take those who are loud and forget those who are not.”
Xidong “Max” Tang, who also sits on the advocacy committee, said he will strive to support underrepresented student groups.
To better support first generation students, for instance, he said the council and University should provide workshops on “how to get a good job.” He also said he believes there should be more resources on campus for BGLTQ students.
Council member Kanan Dubal also said she believes the school’s administration should solicit feedback from international students, especially as HGSE launches its new Master’s program. The program, announced in February, places emphasis on teaching students foundational knowledge before more specialized training.
“I feel like student voices will be very important in defining these programs and getting feedback from students,” Dubal said. “I wanted the international student community’s voice to be heard on those particular issues as well, to make sure that the programs are more inclusive, they’re reaching all sorts of populations, and not just catering to a specific subset of students.”
—Staff writer Omar Abdel Haq can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.