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Kim, Brown College president, runs for SA president on platform of advocacy and internal reform

Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     2/13/24 11:08pm

Finishing his term as Brown College president, Jae Kim is running for Student Association president. He has previously served Brown as a senator and new student representative.

Kim said he has worked on diversity, equity and inclusion, student wellbeing initiatives and sustainability projects throughout his term as a college president. By running for SA president, he hopes to continue to pursue these projects and further advocate for student needs. 

Previously, Kim has worked with other college presidents to allocate SA funding to the Student Success Initiatives pantry, fix volleyball courts and install floodlights at the North colleges. 

According to his campaign website, ensuring accommodations for transgender and gender nonconforming students at each residential college is a priority; hence, Kim is working with Housing and Dining to create an all-gender bathroom at Brown College. 

“Using that insight, I gave the DEI commission a lot of useful feedback, and they presented a resolution [about housing and bathroom accommodations],” Kim said.

Kim said he hopes to increase student engagement within the SA. He wants to show people what projects the SA is working on and what their priorities are. He plans on doing this through project-specific town halls and Senate fact sheets for students who want to attend SA for the first time.

He also said that he feels the need to refine the way SA advocacy works. NSRs and senators are new and enthusiastic, he said, but they may see a resolution as a final solution to an issue. 

“They oftentimes see a resolution as an end all, be all, like, ‘If I write a resolution, no matter how big the scope, this will enact change on campus,’” Kim said. “[I want to] redefine that a little bit and make sure that every piece of advocacy the SA works on goes through thorough research and stakeholder conversations, and that the resolution is only seen as a statement of support rather than the SA actually enacting that change.”

As a diversity facilitator responsible for “promoting campus unity and respect for diversity,” Kim said he wants to continue working on DEI initiatives within the SA as president. He mentioned that he wants to strongly support the recommendations made by the task force for slavery, segregation and racial injustice, as well. 

Kim has also worked with other college presidents to provide $2,000 worth of funding to the Student Success Initiatives pantry, according to his campaign website.

“I want to do a lot of food insecurity and dining changes,” Kim said. “I want increased and sustained funding for the SSI pantry, not from the Student Association, but from administration. I think that SSI is one of the most strained offices in the university, but they do important work.” 

Kim said he wants to continue expanding late-night food options on campus. He also mentioned that he thinks it’s unreasonable for every on-campus to purchase a full meal plan, and students should have more flexibility in choosing their meal plan.

“The fresh food vending machines installed at Duncan and McMurtry came from conversations I’ve had with [Housing and Dining Director David McDonald]. I think that’s a good start,” Kim said. “But I think we should have late-night food options, because not everyone might enjoy vending machines.”

Kim said he wants to improve the residential college system to make it easier for minority students to find a community within them. He also wants to create a more streamlined and sustained funding process for cultural clubs.

“I also want to get a Blanket Tax status for Rice PRIDE,” Kim added. “I think it is an organization that has such a huge reach and serves such a huge population of the Rice University student body, so I think a small amount of Blanket Tax funding would be beneficial for them.”

Kim said that the internal components he wants to change within the SA are all connected to these initiatives. 

“A more effective advocacy system, a more efficient way to allocate SA funding, more robust communication between us and the student body between us and the residential colleges … are prerequisites to be able to pursue these kinds of projects that benefit students,” Kim said.

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