August 14, 2018

Progress happens when we step outside our comfort zone

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

I love Webster University. I love what Webster stands for. This is a place which brings students together from around the world, with different backgrounds, genders, social classes, religious beliefs, etc. As an international student, I feel very welcome. Webster has been my home for the past few years.

I wanted to give back and contribute whatever I could to make things better for my fellow students. This is why I decided to run for the position of Student Government Association (SGA) President. I did not run to pad my resume. I have more than enough global experience to fill pages. I did not run to make myself feel important. I have more than enough on my plate on a daily basis.

I ran for one sole purpose: to make the college experience of my fellow students at Webster University better. As a complete outsider of the SGA political structure, I defied the heavy odds and won thanks to the strong diverse support from many different student groups. I take this job very seriously, and I do not want to let my fellow students down.

“Every successful organization has to make the transition from a world defined primarily by repetition to one primarily defined by change. This is the biggest transformation in the structure of how humans work together since the Agricultural Revolution.” (Bill Drayton)

After I began my term as SGA President, I soon discovered many within the SGA did not want change. They were comfortable with their status quo. Their main focus was to maintain their “power” and not do everything possible for the best interest of fellow students.

For example, in the previous year, many of us were led to believe that Student Grant Fund and Programming Pool ran out of money a month and a half before the school year ended. Little did we know, SGA did not run out of money. They just decided not to allocate additional money. I only knew about this when I saw the budget numbers for 2016-2017. The leftover budget was enormous. This is a clear indication that unless students have “inside connections,” they will be left out, and the SGA was not there for “all” students.

This is very wrong and extremely unfair. One should not run for SGA for personal or political reasons. Changes are hard. Fighting the status quo is always an uphill battle, especially when the “insiders” are doing everything they can to block new ideas.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Andre Gide)

The biggest problem I had faced this year is there has been a clear divide between the “Americans” and the “Non-Americans.” I am always cautious in using the word “discrimination” but this is how some of us on-Americans feel within the SGA. Some of them made fun of the way I talk, my accent, my culture, etc. Their focus on my outside differences got in the way of them performing their job. They would focus on the way I say things instead of what I’m actually saying.

I still love Webster University. I still cherish my experience here. I just hope everyone can do some soul searching and learn to believe in what I strongly believe in, that all are created equal, even if we do not speak “perfect” English or have fully mastered the “American culture.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … ” (Thomas Jefferson)

SGA President (2017-2018)

This piece was in response to Caitlyn Vanover’s guest column.

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