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USA President Deacon hoping to rebuild community after COVID

Alyssa Deacon wears many hats in her role as the president of Canisius’s Undergraduate Student Association (USA), but her main goal for this year is to restore the campus community after more than a year of the pandemic, when community has lacked due to health requirements.

Deacon, a senior, is in her first year as president of USA and acts as the de facto face of students when it comes to working with members of administration, including President Hurley and Dr. Estanek, the president for student affairs. As president, Deacon also serves as the student representative on the Board of Trustees and the Institutional Advancement Committee, along with other boards involving the student body.

“I basically consider myself to be the most out-facing member of the e-board,” Deacon said. “I try to have a good line of communication with them where I can bring up concerns and then, hopefully, we can work together to address it.”

On the student side of things, Deacon regularly works with club leaders to help them with programming. She also works on mass communication with the entire student body, including updates on COVID-19 policy and information on monthly NFTA passes that Canisius students can sign up for.

Getting involved in student government was not initially in her plans, Deacon said. She did not at first run to be a freshman senator, but there was a vacancy and she ended up being appointed after some encouragement from upperclassmen. After her freshman year as a senator, she also took on the role of public health chair for her sophomore and junior years. After being in that role for two years, she decided she was ready to take the next step up.

“I really enjoyed working with students and programming and I wanted to take on a bigger role. I talked to our previous presidents, Patrick Eugeni and Abby Hughes, a lot, just to kind of test it out and see what being president involves,” Deacon said. “After conversations with them and just really enjoying being on the Public Health Committee, I wanted to take that step up to serve students in a bigger capacity.”

This year, she has also spearheaded the Council of Representatives, a new program which sends a club leader to a monthly meeting with other club leaders around the school to educate them on how to better lead their groups and improve their programming.

“I think that we have a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors that are stepping up to take on leadership roles, but they haven’t experienced a full year without COVID. I think any sort of resources that I can give to them or the rest of the e-board could give them would be great,” Deacon said.

One thing that she is doing this year that most USA presidents historically do not do relates to the upcoming retirement of President Hurley at the end of the school year. Deacon is on the search committee as the voice of the students in the search.

During the senate meeting on Oct. 5, the student government discussed which qualities and characteristics they wanted to see in the new president. However, on top of that, Deacon is trying to hear from as many students as possible so that the committee can hear what students have to say.

“I try my best to really talk with students to see what they want,” Deacon said. “I really try to ensure that I’m reflecting the opinions and thoughts of students as the college moves forward with a new vision.”

In terms of the search, she is helping to build a website that will allow students and alumni to track where the committee is in the search process, with hopes that it will be available soon. Candidate names will remain anonymous until they are at finalists, a stage that only two or three candidates will reach. It is the goal of the committee and Board of Trustees to recommend and select a new president by early spring, with Deacon’s help.

“Overall, I’ve been really encouraged by how engaged and active students want to be this year and how much everyone wants to see us get back to where we were before COVID,” she said. “While there have been challenges, I’m just excited for what’s to come.”

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