Students ponder diversity as SGA elects new leadership

SGA president Vivek Kuruvilla, right. Photo by Shayla Bailey.

Zobia Nayyar, Contributing Writer

State and national leaders get elected in the fall, but the spring brings college students to the polls.  

Elections for the Student Government Association were open from Wednesday to Friday last week.

The upcoming elections allowed students to vote for the candidates of their choice for president and vice president of undergraduate and graduate students.

The university features diversity and inclusion as part of its core message, and current officers said it’s important for SGA to also uphold those ideals.

Junior Hassen Hafiz ran for president of undergraduate students. He currently serves as chairman of the appropriations committee. He said he doesn’t think SGA is diverse or inclusive in terms of the colleges within the university that students yield from.            

“It’s not a true representation,” Hafiz said. “I think one day SGA will get there. SGA will practice more diversity and more inclusion but currently, SGA is not diverse nor is it inclusive.”

He said that most elected students are from the College of Humanities and Sciences, and SGA lacks representation from the business, engineering and arts colleges, which creates a bias toward one college.

Vivek Kuruvilla, the current undergraduate SGA president, said he believes SGA is “getting more diverse.”

“You can see that in the debates and discussion that occur in senate and committee meetings,” Kuruvilla said. “People are now asking more questions and searching for information as issues come up.”

Kuruvilla said he encouraged inclusion during his presidency, but acknowledged that there are more voices to be heard.

SGA’s student life committee started a new program called Level With Me. Six students with opposing viewpoints host a panel discussion about certain issues in order to give students the opportunity to express their thoughts.

“I feel this really emphasizes the idea that inclusivity and diversity go hand in hand providing an outlet for people to voice their own opinions as well as hear out others,” Kuruvilla said.

Hafiz agreed that it is important to have more diversity programs. He said he started a “Senate Walk” to get SGA representatives to walk around campus and talk to students to gauge their needs and concerns.

“I think this university is really good at talking about [diversity and inclusion], but I don’t see a lot of practice. Or when they practice it, it’s very separate from the student body — like not a lot of people know what’s going on,” Hafiz said. “We need a stronger and bigger pulse on the student body to represent them and advocate for them.”

The results of the election will be announced March 20 at noon on VCU SGA’s website, sga.vcu.edu.

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