Graduate student president: ‘You belong here and this institution needs you’

Luis Tenorio, a sociology graduate student and president of the Graduate Assembly spoke to new students at Friday’s convocation. (UC Berkeley video)

Before I address the students, I want to say a congratulations to the Chancellor, the academic departments and units represented here today, the staff, faculty and administrators and even the undergraduates.

You are all incredibly lucky to be receiving such a brilliant class of graduate students.

I really want to emphasize that and, to the students listening, I want to impress upon you that this institution needs you.

I want to make sure one of the first words you hear on campus, even if virtually, is that you belong here. There are not enough times nor ways I can convey that.

You belong here and this institution needs you.

The second thing I want to convey is that we are here to support you.

Whether it is me, and the Graduate Assembly, the Graduate Division, your advisors, etc., there is a community invested in your success here.

The third thing I want to say is thank you, in advance.

I cannot guarantee that your efforts will always be recognized, but know that they are never in vain. You make this institution shine.

I want to make sure one of the first words you hear on campus, even if virtually, is that you belong here.”

– Luis Tenorio, Graduate Assembly president

Whether it is in advancing its research mission, supporting faculty research, cultivating undergraduate discovery, or in your own work pushing the ways we will think for generations to come, or whether it is in advancing our educational mission, you are also entering into an incredibly vibrant, vocal, and vivacious graduate student community, a community that has an incredible legacy and a legacy that you have a place in.

In just the going on 5 years that I have been here, I have seen the lights of Sproul Hall transformed into the colors of the Pride flag when speakers who sought to incite violence came to campus—thanks to graduate students and their organizing, community being built around better and fair compensation given the high costs of living in the Bay Area—thanks to the work and voices of graduate students, and in championing the fight for a public health approach to university campus safety—thanks to the cries of graduate students.

Whether it is in the evaluation that your students will leave you letting you know you are the first Latinx instructor they’ve ever had, or thanking you for introducing yourself with pronouns that are not just “he” or “she” and making them feel seen and like they belong, or in advancing a positive community through department care packages and grocery runs as we saw since the start of the shut down due to COVID-19.

I can confidently say thank you in advance, because I already know all the great things you will do, and continue to do for this campus, its community, and helping it light the way.

With all that said, welcome and thank you.

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