Students will elect student body leaders this week, including a new Augustana Student Association president and vice president.
Juniors Sara Alhasnawi and Tsegab Arega are the only ticket running for the positions, with Alhasnawi as president and Arega as vice president.
Both have served in ASA the last two years. This year, Arega was a committee chair and Alhasnawi was secretary. Alhasnawi said the two decided to run after noticing “deficiencies” around campus.
“Me and Tsegab kept having these conversations about ‘this needs to get worked on, that needs to get worked on,’” Alhasnawi said. “Once we consolidated them, at that point it was like ‘Why don’t we run for president and VP to try to address them?’”
Alhasnawi and Arega are running on a platform that targets four issues on campus: enhancing well-being resources, increasing student engagement, improving ASA’s structure and communication and building an affinity space.
The pair expanded on this platform at the presidential open forum held on May 2, saying that an overall lack of student involvement across campus, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is what drives their platform. They want to see more student involvement across all areas of campus, especially with ASA.
This year, Arega served as the first ever chair of ASA’s diversity committee, a new addition this year. She said the committee made it a priority to work with affinity groups and ensure that they have the resources they need to support systemically non-dominant students on campus.
As part of continuing this work, the pair hopes to create a physical space for affinity groups on campus. Arega said this will include working with the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and affinity organizations to plan and build the space. Arega said they’re also looking into creating an affinity floor in one of the residence halls.
Two of their platform projects, student engagement and ASA communication, go hand in hand. Alhasnawi said ASA was more involved with student organizations before the pandemic, going to their meetings and attending their events. Since then, there’s been a disconnect between the two.
One of Alhasnawi and Arega’s ideas to reconnect ASA to student organizations is to send ASA members to student organization meetings and become more involved in their groups, which will provide ASA with more awareness of the issues they face.
Arega said they want to have each organization tied to one of the six ASA committees. Examples of this might include having the human and public relations committee work with SKOL and having the co-curriculum committee work with athletic groups.
“We want to be not only doing projects but also really inviting [student organizations] to the table so that they can be part of the decision process and part of the project planning,” Arega said.
In addition, the pair wants to see ASA have an increased presence on campus. Alhasnawi said most students only hear about ASA either by knowing someone who’s connected to it or when it comes time to apply for funding.
“One of the biggest things that me and Tsegab are going to try to do this upcoming year is finding how we can have a louder ASA,” Alhasnawi said. “Whether it’s having a larger presence on campus, engaging with those student organizations more, inviting students to come to our meetings, just any way that we can make ASA have a louder voice on campus to the point where it doesn’t seem like we’re an exclusive group.”
Overall, both Alhasnawi and Arega agree that they’re excited about the upcoming year and the chance to serve the student body as president and vice president, roles that Arega says they’ve spent the last three years preparing for.
“Both of us have been very involved on campus, whether that’s through Better Together, ASU, Lost and Found or iGNiTE,” Arega said. “We have gained so much leadership skills just through being in those organizations. We have learned so much about Augustana and also ourselves along the way. It was time for us to transition to this kind of position.”
When asked what they’re most excited about for the upcoming year, both agreed that it was just about everything.
“I’m just excited to see how it’s going to happen, because we have so many goals that we want to see happen,” Alhasnawi said. “I can’t wait to make them a reality.”