Setting a foundation

Ross Lordo knew he wanted to be a leader from the moment he completed high school. Now, after four years of serving in student government, the Fort Mill, South Carolina, native is spending his senior year serving at the highest student government position — student body president.

“Coming out of high school I knew I was really looking for a foot in the door, and I was hoping to attain leadership positions at the University of South Carolina,” says Lordo, a public health major. “I’m a pre-med student, so it wasn’t the politics I was looking for, but more of the ability to influence and push for change on campus.”

Lordo chatted with us before the start of the fall semester to discuss plans for the upcoming school year, as well as his perspective on Homecoming and the largest freshman class in Carolina history.

“My ultimate goal is setting a foundation for student voices in the future,” says Lordo. “There are things we can do now to facilitate the ability for the student voice to drive our institution, and that’s how it should be. I think that’s the track that we’re on, and I’m hopeful that we’ll continue in that direction.”

How did you get involved in student government?

“I applied for Freshman Council, and after being selected, I spent the year learning from older students and figuring out exactly what student government was all about. In March, I ran for the Senate for the School of Public Health and was elected, then the Senate elected me president pro-tempore for my sophomore year. At the end of my sophomore year, I ran for student body vice president, and I was fortunate enough to work with (president) Michael Parks. I was debating not running for president, but I really felt that I had the responsibility and the ability to use my experience to push for another year.”

What are your plans for the upcoming school year?

“My whole mindset is let’s keep what works, let’s fix what doesn’t. There are a couple things from last year that we want to continue, like Cockstock after how successful that was, and remaining focused on sexual assault awareness through the ‘It’s on Us’ campaign. But, there are a lot of things we’re bringing to the table. One of the things we campaigned on was implementing digital Carolina Cards, and starting this fall there will be an app where you will be able to have student identification through a barcode. We’re really excited to launch a variety of mental health initiatives through our mental health engagement week, and engaging populations from across campus like our first lady and different student groups who will put on events. We also have some exciting news with a couple different entities that are coming together that will make the Friday night of Homecoming something that I hope will have a lot of students excited.”

What is in the works for Homecoming this year?

“This year, we’re looking forward to Spurs & Struts and the Step Show taking place during the week, sponsored by different organizations like the NPHC and the Pan-Hellenic Council. I think the Friday night of Homecoming is going to become a staple of what Homecoming week is all about. We’re moving it into Colonial Life Arena, because the Alumni Center puts on an event at Foundation Square in the early evening that students will be able to enjoy, then go into Colonial Life Arena to partake in a very exciting program with athletics and stay into the evening with the concert. The difference this year is the hope that all of this will be open to the public, and people will be able to buy tickets to get into Colonial Life

Arena for both the athletic event and the concert, and students will be able to go in for free. So, we’re engaging our alumni, and allowing them to relive an old campus tradition. I think that five years from now, we’ll always look forward to that Friday night before Homecoming where there will be a big event in front of Foundation Square and students will be able to hang out and have dinner, then go in for the concert late at night.”

How do you feel about serving as student body president to the largest incoming freshman class?

“I think it’s exciting. We call it the ‘basketball bump,’ because of the success of our basketball teams. I think its tremendous that we are able to be larger in our numbers. It shows that we are doing things the right way, because we’re recruiting and attracting more and more students every year. I’m hopeful that we can continue to work with the administration on having infrastructure to accommodate all the incoming students, because there is a lot that goes into maintaining the Carolinian experience, like smaller class sizes and the intimate environments that you have with advisers and professors so that you can learn on a one-on-one level. I hope we can build on this opportunity as a university in order to attract more companies that want to engage with USC to offer more internship and co-op opportunities to students so they are prepared to go into the workforce or graduate school after their four years here.”

How do you plan to improve the Carolina community and student life on campus?

“I think that one big factor is being visible, being approachable and being a student. It is important that students feel like they have someone to talk to, and that they know I am not a distant person who can’t engage in conversation with them. One thing I tried this summer was giving my phone number to the freshmen, in hopes that we can engage more of our freshmen in wanting to become leaders on campus. I think that identifying needs of programming for all populations of campus is important, but it doesn’t just have to come from us. I’m a big advocate of co-programming with organizations on campus. There are a lot of organizations that already have great events, and there’s no need for us to step on anyone’s toes. If anything, our job can be to help support and embrace those initiatives and events that they have and really put them at the forefront of students’ minds. I’m really looking forward to building those connections with different departments and student government as a whole.”

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