This past week I have enjoyed reading your candidate mission statements, watching your campaign videos and learning more about your platforms through various social media. This week also allowed me to reflect on my term as SA external vice president during the 2014-15 year, and this reflection led me to write this letter. I know the election process has been exhausting and filled with ups and downs, but as you approach the final days of your campaigns, I urge you to keep the following (hopefully uplifting) pieces of advice in mind.
Regardless of the results of the election, do not forget about the issues you stand for.
The issues for which each of you advocate are all equally important. Meal plan reform, expanding the work of the SA beyond the hedges and increasing student representation in academic departments are all worth addressing. At the end of the day, do not forget the issues you want to tackle. I'd encourage you all to pursue each of your missions whether the results of the election are in your favor or not. I have seen too many people become discouraged from what at first seems like a disappointing result, only to abandon the issues they once believed in so strongly. I hope you will still advocate for students and your missions regardless of the outcome of this election because Rice needs passionate leaders like you all.
You hold the power to effect change at Rice without being an SA executive.
This next point is as much to those running for an SA position as those students who hope to address campus-wide issues. A mentor once told me that leadership and authority do not go hand in hand. A leader is not defined by the authority or title he or she holds. Does an SA executive position give you readily available access to certain resources on campus, such as face time with administration? Yes. Does it grant you exclusive opportunities to be a leader on campus and enact the changes you want to see? No. If you are looking to make a difference on campus through the Student Association, holding a position in the executive cabinet is not necessary. I can remember countless times as EVP when I worked with students from different colleges and backgrounds who were not involved in the Student Association. One of the programs I helped create during my term, the Graduate/Undergraduate Mentorship Program, was proposed by a graduating senior at Jones who had never been involved in the SA. His idea has made a positive impact on over 200 undergraduate and graduate students, and he did not need a position or title in the SA to do that. Instead, he leveraged the resources available through the SA to fight for something he believed in. Every student has the power to do this. I believe this is the beauty of Rice — diverse groups of students can come together to make an impact on the campus regardless of their positions in clubs.
Candidates, even if the vote is not in your favor, I urge you to keep this in mind as you look for ways to contribute to campus. You are and always will be a leader despite what the title says at the end of your signature.
Rice appreciates you.
Whether the Thresher editorials and social media comments have been in favor or critical of your campaigns, know that Rice appreciates your willingness to serve this campus. Regardless of whether you are voted into office, there will be people who do not appreciate your efforts to address issues on campus. Do not let this stop you from advocating on behalf of students. I wish this was something I had heard while I was SA EVP because many times the work seemed unappreciated. I found it discouraging when students had no idea what the Student Association was working on despite how much work we put in and our efforts to increase transparency and visibility. Yet, amidst the disappointing moments like these, I found fulfillment working with other student leaders who desired to make positive changes on campus and who understood the intricacies of the work the SA was doing.
Candidates, I know I speak for many others when I say that I am confident each one of you will have a positive impact on Rice’s community. Though we may not say it enough, we, the students of Rice, are thankful to have people like you who yearn to advocate for us. At the end of this week, I hope you remember that we value and appreciate your service to this campus.
Amritha Kanakamedala, Student Association EVP 2014-15, Brown College ‘16