A past to shape the future
Over the next week and a half, I will share my goals and vision for the next SA term in almost every place imaginable on campus. However, these ideas will only be thoughts without you understanding who I am and why I think I would be good for Rice.
I have been with the SA since my freshman year, beginning as a NSR feeling completely lost because I didn’t understand how Senate operates. My work on the Peer Mentoring committee (now obsolete) felt so disconnected from all the legislation and Senate debates. I found myself at a loss when confronted with the question, “What does the SA even do?” I couldn’t come up with a solid answer. All I knew was what I did as NSR. I was supposed to be working for the benefit of students, but how was it beneficial if I couldn’t connect the work to any other initiatives or anything that students were actually talking about?
My next term as SA Treasurer was different and better in many ways. The SA was more present on campus, we delved into Rice Education of the Future, and people showed that they cared about changes to blanket tax processes and began to understand that blanket tax is student dollars. I even handed out some burritos on top of 180. Marketing helped students finally see the SA, but there was still little engagement in what was being accomplished.
My role as the SA External Vice President in the current executive team has been one of the most fulfilling. This team has accomplished a lot of big things, including approval of new clubs, digging deeper into priorities of campus culture, and taking leaps to tackle sexual assault and sexual education. But what do discussions about these topics around campus sound like? It’s been a constant back-and-forth within our executive team about the importance of framing and delivery. We’ve established our presence on campus, but are all students engaged? Do they care?
Fast forward to this election. I have considered many of the changes I want to make as a motivation for my candidacy. However, what really fuels me to run for SA President is the process of reflecting back on previous terms and realizing how the SA has evolved and how that sets us up for what we do next. The SA has accomplished a lot. It is internally restructured and cohesive. We have taken great strides to address some of the most pressing issues on campus. But I know we can do better.
Student conversation is a huge piece missing from our current purview. What we accomplish as an organization is important, but the process we use to accomplish these things is just as important as the accomplishments. It does not matter what legislation gets passed if students do not believe it will affect them. Let’s talk about what’s important to you. The SA is not a separate entity from students, so let’s work together to ensure that isn’t the case. I am running for President because I want to have these missing conversations, and I hope you trust me with your vote to take the lead in starting these conversations.
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The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have given rise to a new phrase that has been thrown around by media outlets and social media users across the country: “We are all in this together.” Don’t get me wrong — I am not denying the fact that every person in this country has been impacted by the virus in some capacity, and I am certainly not denying the rise in local expressions of solidarity. Over the past couple months, we’ve seen students and volunteers across the country donate their time and resources to help their neighbors. Young people have come together on social media platforms to address issues surrounding mental health and online learning, creating a sense of community while also practicing social distancing. I am not denying the presence of solidarity. What I would like to discuss, however, is the fallacy of solidarity in a racialized society.