School: SFS’ 16
Major: STIA with a concentration in Business Growth and Development and a Certificate in Asian Studies
Where are you from? I’m originally from Myanmar and I lived there for the first 13 years of my life before moving to New York.
What is your campus involvement?
SAC (Student Activities Commission), The Hoya, College Democrats, GUWOC (Georgetown University Women of Color), SFS Academic Council, CMEA Peer Mentor
Off campus, I am also involved with ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Union) which is a non-profit organization that holds an annual conference for Asian-American students among other projects.
What is your role in SAC and what has been your experience been with the organization?
I started SAC in the spring semester of my freshman year and I really enjoyed my time on it. I wasn’t very interested in finance to begin with, but then once I got to be part of it, I found that the most interesting part of it was the fact that each commissioner was supposed to have a relationship with all his or her groups. It was great to try and be an adviser to them and help them out. This semester, I’m New Club Development Coordinator so I sat on the Council of Advisory Boards which is a group made up the different heads of the 5 advisory boards as well as some representatives. There we all decided which clubs we thought should be let into the process and which boards they should be under. I was in charge of the groups we decided to let in this year as well as groups from last year that didn’t make the cut, so I’m in charge of 11 groups. It’s really interesting because I’m helping them create a good relationship with SAC in the beginning and build a good foundation of institutional knowledge.
What has your experience been with GUWOC and your interaction with other SOCA groups?
I was actually involved in AASA last year, but I was unable to continue after I took on the role of co-chair for ECAASU, but I definitely enjoyed my time with AASA and GUWOC as well. It’s great being involved with GUWOC because I get a different perspective. The organization is open to all women of color, but people often feel as though it’s only for black women. I felt that my personal mission as a board member is to open up the group so that other minority women feel welcome to join. It’s a great group of people to be a part of and I want other people to enjoy this experience as well.
What is your view on minority involvement in campus organizations that aren’t necessarily culturally based? Do you feel like minorities are well represented in more “mainstream” or general student groups?
I do find that there aren’t as many minorities in the “mainstream” groups but I feel that there is a place for them. I feel that regardless of my ethnicity or my gender I feel very welcome. We bond over our common values; for example with Dems those would be democratic values, and with SAC it’s our interest for forming relationships with other student groups and finance. I do think there is a place, but I don’t think that we are being represented as well as we could be in these groups.
Why did you decide to run for SAC Chair?
Well, this is my second semester on SAC and it’s a large learning curve so it’s taken me a while to look at it from a broad point of view. I’ve seen that although SAC is great, I think there’s a lot more that could be done with it because nothing is perfect; there’s always room for improvement. Through my time there, I’ve come to see that SAC could be better in terms of its reputation and the perception that it has. A lot of the student body either doesn’t know what it is or has a negative perception, and those who don’t know usually go along with what they’ve heard from others. I want to change this idea and make SAC more effective. I think a large part of the reason people don’t like SAC is because they feel like it’s another group of people telling them what to do, but I want them to realize that it could be a valuable resource. I felt that I had a lot of good ideas to implement in order to address these issues and that’s why I wanted to run.
Tell us more about some of the ideas you would like to put in place.
I feel that communication between SAC and student groups is one of the greatest problems. I would have each commissioner to go to at least one event of each club every semester. This could be a larger event or a general body/board meeting, just something to help the commissioner gain knowledge about the group. This way, the student leaders get to establish a stronger connection with their SAC commissioner so that they can ask for advice and assistance when needed. I would also like to foster greater collaboration between groups with similar themes and goals. During the second semester of their one-year term, each SAC commissioner would be put in charge of these similar groups to facilitate a more cohesive effort and to avoid duplication of related events. I would also like to work with CSE to improve the Blueprint training for student leaders and make it more effective.
You’ve talked a lot about communication being a big part of your vision for SAC. How do more open lines of communication affect the process of student groups working with SAC?
SAC requires a lot of things from groups just to make sure they’re on the right track, but I feel that if there is miscommunication or no communication at all, it adds a lot to the bureaucracy and obstacles that student groups have to go through. If there was clear communication and groups knew what was expected of them from the beginning, we can avoid future issues. I think communication will be he easiest and most direct way to clear up confusion.
How does the election process work?
Each SAC group gets one vote and whoever gains the majority of these votes wins the election. Any group that has access to benefits is eligible to vote. Ideally, the executive board of each group should be working together to vote for one person. The official election date is November 13th 2013 and it will be held via Hoyalink.
What legacy would you like to leave behind at Georgetown?
I would definitely say it has to do with SAC. SAC has the authority and purview to do so much good and I feel that right now we’re not operating at our best capacity. I want to help reform SAC and improve the relationships between SAC and student leaders. At the end of the day we’re supposed to be the advocates of student groups and we’re not doing that to the best of our ability. So I would want my legacy to be making SAC better.
Zoe Gadegbeku, Editor-in-Chief
Photo credit: Zoe Epstein, Graphics and Photography Staff