Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, September 23, 2018

Op-ed: Always on duty: Valentina for student government president

Five resident assistants endorse Valentina Fernández for student government president

Op-ed: Always on duty: Valentina for student government president

Student government voting opens tomorrow, and as resident assistants, we demand a student government president that supports our community. We understand the importance of community building, selflessness and supporting each other in our communities. We also experience the challenges that come with being a student worker.

This year, only one candidate has the ability to understand the complexities that we experience. Valentina Fernández is that candidate.

As an RA, you learn to be selfless. The lines between on-the-job and off-the-job become blurred as you prioritize your students and the community you are leading. Your home life also becomes your work life. At times, we experience unrealistic standards and expectations with short term changes, a lack of clarity in our rights as student workers and unfair repercussions.

In order to do our jobs to the best of our ability, we need an SG president who will champion the needs of student workers. In a school where the student government race often devolves to ego-championing, we need somebody who can put their community first; someone who takes listening to the next level and puts actions behind it.

We see Valentina exemplify this everyday. She is intentional about the words and programming she uses to benefit the students she represents. She facilitates and handles the most challenging and sensitive topics that affect our communities, from diversity and inclusion to roommate conflicts, mental health crises and even substance abuse. Valentina is a community builder and will lead with pervasive understanding of what community means on our campus.

We know that we can go to Val when we are dealing with challenges relating to our personal, school or work life. She is a friend, but also a reliable professional confidante; something that makes the work-life balance a little easier for all of us.

For many of us who work with first-year communities, our students were excited to hear Valentina was running for president. Many of them remember her as their first friend at AU when they were moving in for the first time. Building these genuine connections is typical of Valentina’s leadership style and her passion for creating a positive student experience.

Any candidate can put student workers’ rights on their platform, and we don’t doubt that other candidates are sympathetic to our issues. However, with Valentina’s experiences as a student worker, it gives her unparalleled insight into our challenges and positions her as the best possible advocate for our rights as student government president.

Although we do not speak for the entire Housing and Residence Life department or for all RAs, when we reflect on our own journeys and the way we engage with our communities in an intimate matter, we are confident in Valentina’s abilities to change how things get done. Valentina has the passion and drive that many candidates and AU students have. But this is coupled with experience, knowledge and professionalism that leaves her as the obvious choice for becoming our next student government president.

We do not need more self-serving student leaders who prioritize their resume over their peers. We need a leader that is willing to center student experiences and the need for community on our campus. Valentina Fernández is that leader.

In confidence,

RA Morgan Stahr, LeCloper RA

RA Caleb Jackson, Andertennial RA

RA Zach Avis, Andertennial RA

RA Lili Zugo, Nebraska/Cassell RA

RA Aisling McGinley, LeCloper RA

Morgan Stahr is a senior in the School of Public Affairs. She is an outside contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are hers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff.

opinion@theeagleonline.com


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