By Rebecca Dewy and Sohail Mathur
This year, Stern updated its brand to “Change,” as a “call to action to thrive in today’s business world.” For most of our time as SGov Co-Presidents, an apt slogan could have been “Change. Drive it.” But with the arrival of the coronavirus and the many changes it has wrought on our community, a more appropriate phrase might be, “Change. Ride through it.” We are living in unprecedented times. Our Class of 2020 is finishing their Stern experience far from friends, professors are teaching from their home offices and living rooms, and all of us are now aware of how much privilege we had to walk freely through the world, travel, and generally enjoy the presence of others.
Yet, even in the current uncertain and worrying environment of isolation, self-quarantines and social distancing, we see Sternies pulling together. Individual students, like our MD/MBAs, are coordinating a student effort to collect personal protective equipment for frontline medical professionals. Clubs, like OutClass and Adventures, are organizing Zoom game and movie nights. Individual students are doing their part to keep our community safe, without losing touch with each other by staying home and taking their happy hours and gatherings virtual. Administrators have put in an incredible amount of work to get students living in Palladium re-housed, spring break travels refunded, and policies updated. Professors have shown immense grace and flexibility, getting their classes online in a matter of hours and providing options for students who may now find themselves taking classes from another time zone or caring for homebound kids, sick family members, or even nursing themselves through illness. Our community has shown remarkable resilience in these trying times.
This deep sense of caring, community, and civic engagement is what drove us to run for SGov co-presidents. We came into this journey with enthusiasm and idealism and are now leaving with a sense of perspective and accomplishment.
This year, we achieved a great deal for the school, using our original platform of Transparency, Inclusion, and Quality of Life as a guiding vision. Our accomplishments are largely thanks to an active, engaged, and hard-working board of nearly 90 members – representing MBA1s, MBA2s, and the Focused MBAs – as well as our Stern administration partners, who were willing to say yes far more often than they said no.
Some highlights include:
- Implementing Microsoft Teams as a unified messaging platform for everyone: full-time, focused, and part-time students
- Updating the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Belonging programming for full-time students, in coordination with Dean Gary Fraser
- Launching the technology lending program with the Stern IT department
- Refreshing Stern Social with more inclusive programming, including the family-friendly Community Dinner
- Being there to help our classmates whenever they needed us – from requests as small as standing desks in the reading room to making sure their voices were heard during Stern’s efforts to extend OPT eligibility for international students by classifying the full-time degree as a STEM program
The year we spent as SGov Co-Presidents has been as challenging as it has been rewarding. We feel we are leaving the school at a moment of great change, but we know the Class of 2021, and especially new presidents, Antonella and Ashwin, are up for the challenge of steering the community through this uncertain time.