Inaugurated Dec. 12, 2021, sophomores Nate Roark and Andrew Lora(’24) recently began their terms as President and Vice President, respectively, of the Drew Student Government. Roark, a Tennessee native, is working towards a major in Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Comparative Religion and Political Science, planning to be the first candidate for the combined master’s program in divinity. Lora, born in Virginia but having lived in New Jersey for the past 11 years, is pursuing a major in Mathematics and planning to declare a minor in Art, all with plans to attend grad school after Drew to pursue engineering and architecture.
Roark said, “ I was drawn to Drew for its community atmosphere and an environment where I could explore my own interests while making meaningful interactions.”
Roark was one of about 20 first-year students to live on campus during the fall of 2020. In his time at Drew thus far, he has participated in admission operations, worked as a tour guide, helped with the Drew Student Voter Project during the 2020 election and is a current Action Scholar. Taking a somewhat unconventional path in Student Government, Roark began first as a Senator-at-Large but was appointed Vice President in the 2020-2021 school year when the previous VP resigned, and also served as Chair of the Dining Concerns Committee.
“I think that all of my leadership styles are consistent in the sense that I like to engage in different communities and bring people together to form the most positive and least harmful option,” said Roark.
Arriving on campus in the Spring of 2020, Lora is an EOF scholar and has worked with Drew Nightlife since then, an experience he said helped him meet new people and learn to manage leadership positions. Last fall, he worked as an orientation leader, “my main goal was to help first-year students enjoy being here and feel like there are people that care about them,” said Lora. Both Roark and Lora served on the board for the LGBTQ+ mentorship program and are current RAs.
“I think these leadership roles have influenced me and helped my student government role because I just love getting to know people and making sure people have the best experiences here at Drew,” said Lora.
Roark and Lora began their terms immediately after the Student Government elections. Their first actions were to establish their cabinet and lay other critical groundwork for their administration. Within the first week of the spring semester CFO Tattyanna Morales-Vega was appointed along with CCO Eva Burns. Four senators resigned over winter break leaving the seats to be filled by Rudy Cazenave (‘25) and Jenni Grafilo (‘25) as Senators-at-Large, Erisdania Marinez (‘23) as a Junior Senator, and Delaney Redford (‘22) as a Senior Senator. Additionally, in the first weeks back in the Senate, the pair abolished some committees and liaison roles while introducing a whole new set of committees.
A big motion was resurrecting the Constitutional Revision Committee, “One of our goals this year is to revise the Student Government Constitution,” said Roark. “We felt it would be a good time to review some discrepancies and solidify across the board what the constitution says and make sure it is still serving the needs of the students.”
“Ultimately, the goal is to have a school for the students, by the students,” said Roark. “The administration will serve as a leeway to not only help the students and community grow, but to also empower Drew students to challenge problems themselves and show them the resources available to create change without relying on institutional methods.”
Another goal is to have more conversations on developing a student empowerment center. Roark and Lora would like to see a space where student advocacy groups and clubs can gather and have a home, as opposed to temporary spaces that need to be packed up and cleaned out. Another aspect the pair is making an effort to prioritize is the seemingly small parts of campus life that were disrupted by COVID-19. There are now approximately three full classes that never had a full first-year experience. Roark and Lora would like to rebuild that campus strength and provide resources to students. They are brainstorming ways to streamline communication in hopes of reaching students in a way that is accessible and comprehensive. There is potential to utilize the Path (path.drew.edu), all in the hopes of increasing transparency. Roark and Lora are also hoping to start sending out monthly CLA emails, with the first one coming out as soon as next week.
Both Roark and Lora want to emphasize that anything-a compliment, concern or chat- can be emailed to the student government email (email@example.com) which goes directly to both of them. They want to remind students of general resources available on campus like the Textbook Lending Library, a project developed by Senator Gabriella Ramirez (‘23) to have students borrow textbooks on a need-based basis. Both also stress that Student Government meetings are always open to students, taking place Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. in EC 145 or via a Zoom link that can be provided though the Student Government email. They want to make it known they are approachable and understand the first step to helping students is hearing students.
“I could have never imagined running for Stu Gov president, especially getting here I would have never thought I’d be in this position but it has been an honor just this far,” said Roark.
They are excited to see what the rest of their term will bring and what they will accomplish. The two hope to bring more voices to the tables, learning that there truly is no such thing as too many voices. Both feel there is more room for people and for growth in the community, which happens when people know there is a space for them and that their voices are valid. For any questions, comments or praise for the new co-presidents, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students with any concerns that need to be brought forth to the Student Government can come to meetings that take place each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in EC 145.