Vishnu Tirumala, a junior political science and philosophy double major, was recently elected the 2017-2018 Student Government Association president.
The SGA election had the largest voter turnout in UofL history with about 3,800 student voters — about 20 percent of the student body.
In addition to his new role as president, Tirumala is a member of the Student Orientation Staff and has been involved on campus in housing and Greek life. Off campus, Tirumala has interned with the state legislature, the Kentucky Attorney General, AmeriCorps and the World Affairs Council of Kentucky. The Corbin, Kentucky, native has always been interested in politics and history and plans to strengthen the university through his position.
UofLNews had the chance to talk to Tirumala about his interests and goals as SGA president.
UofLNews: Why did you choose to attend the University of Louisville?
Tirumala: Coming from a small town I was looking to go to a bigger city for college. At the same time, I did not want to go too far from home. I had heard good things about UofL. I had a really solid tour in my first visit here. It just seemed like the best fit, all things considered.
UofLNews: What’s your favorite thing about UofL?
Tirumala: One thing that I’ve always liked is how close our campus is: physically and figuratively. You can walk our Belknap campus in less than 20 minutes. Over time you also begin to recognize a lot of familiar faces on campus. I’ve also realized that pretty much every student is just a few degrees away from every other student. I like the idea that we all kind of know each other; a big UofL family. A close second is probably the city itself. I’m still discovering new events and things to do.
UofLNews: How long have you been involved in SGA?
Tirumala: I’ve been involved since I was a freshman. I was a member of Taskforce Freshman where I assisted the SGA Communications Director. I also served as vice president of Freshman Arts & Sciences Council. Last year I was an Arts & Sciences Student Senator and Chair of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. I currently serve on the Executive Board for our service branch, the Engage Lead Serve Board.
UofLNews: Further, what made you pursue this leadership role in the organization?
Tirumala: Like I mentioned, I have been involved in Student Government for a few years now. SGA does a lot of things behind the scenes that help make student life easier. I like to help people so this was a good outlet for that. Next year is a pivotal year for our University so I ran to make sure that SGA continued to represent and advocate for students effectively.
UofLNews: What are your biggest goals as SGA president?
Tirumala: We want students to feel safe and included at the University. We want to hire a new University President that will put students first. We will make sure that the University and the Foundation are being transparent. We will also advocate for accountability from affiliated housing, object to further limitations on parking, and set aside additional funding for bigger campus events.
UofLNews: What are your biggest challenges serving in this role? Your biggest rewards?
Tirumala: One of the biggest challenges will be hiring new administrators. These are major decisions that may impact our community for decades. I want to act with great caution since I know my actions speak for thousands of students. There’s a lot of complex decisions that may be coming up before the Board this year. Therefore I will try to consult as many students as possible. At the same time, this is a huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. I know the work will be difficult but I am excited to get started.
UofLNews: How would you describe your leadership style?
Tirumala: I am very consensus driven. I don’t have the answer to everything so I like to gather as much information as I can before I make a decision. I will be working closely with my SGA colleagues as well as student leaders across our campus. SGA represents all students so I take the consequences of our actions seriously. At the same time, I am not afraid to take a stand when I feel that something is important. I will not accept students being ignored and I will certainly speak out when I feel that student interests are being threatened.
UofLNews: When your time as president comes to an end, what do you hope your legacy as SGA president will be?
Tirumala: I’m hoping that by the end of my tenure, the University is in a much stronger position with a new President and senior administrators. Internally, I’m hoping to make SGA more efficient and effective in helping students. This means following through on promises about accountability with housing, construction projects, and improving campus life.