Meet your 2021-2022 Student Government executive board candidates
Voting closes on April 11 at 12:45
Editor’s note and update: Max Rubin and Maanasi Natarajan, staff columnists for The Eagle, were not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this article. This article has been updated to state that polls have been extended, and, due to technical difficulties, "virtual paper ballots" have been sent out for students who were unable to complete their ballot.
With election week underway, here are the candidates for Student Government’s 2021-2022 executive board. Polls open Friday, April 9 at noon and close Sunday, April 11 at 12:45. More information from the Student Government Elections Commission about the candidates and elections can be found here.
Due to technical difficulties with the online polls, AUSG later sent a “virtual paper ballot” to students who were unable to finish casting their ballot.
The Eagle asked candidates about their policies, goals and their plan for the expected fall return to campus after over a full year online.
The President is the chief spokesperson for SG, meeting with administration and other entities on behalf of the student body. They are also in charge of several advocacy groups, including the Community Service Coalition and Center for Advocacy and Student Equity.
Brodie is a sophomore studying political science in the School of Public Affairs. Brodie’s campaign is centered around three main tenets: advocacy, community and transparency.
According to her platform, she said she will prioritize uplifting and advocating for the voices of BIPOC students on campus, through creating a coalition of student leaders from different perspectives and communities. She also plans on improving the accessibility of mental health services for students, while also pushing for more BIPOC counselors to be hired.
Brodie hopes to build more community at American University through an on-campus pilot program that would pair two residential floors together to create more community engagement. She also plans to hold more programming events with on-campus clubs on the quad, listing movie screenings, dances and night markets as potential events.
She stressed that there has been a lack of transparency on behalf of the administration in making impactful decisions. If elected, Brodie says she will “fight to include students in high-level conversations affecting us,” listing grading decisions, camera policies and tuition changes as important topics to have students’ perspectives on.
If elected, Brodie said that she will host monthly town halls with the student body, where they can voice any concerns they have. She said that students should not have to be the ones starting petitions to make changes.
“I will fight for you, tooth-and-nail, to elevate your voices and raise these concerns to the University,” Brodie said when outlining her future plans.
Brodie was unavailable for an interview, so her policies and plans have been sourced from her campaign’s social media pages and public announcements.
Jamar is a sophomore studying public relations and strategic communication in the School of Communication. Jamar’s campaign is focused on creating a safer and more accessible campus, improving diversity and inclusion and advocating for a greener AU.
One of Jamar’s main goals is to enhance safety services for the campus community. This would include posting instructions for handling situations such as alcohol overconsumption and drug abuse in bathrooms, making self-defense classes public and more available for all undergraduate students and offering NARCAN training for medical professionals at AU.
Jamar also wants to work with the administration on revising the Student Conduct Code to eliminate loopholes that she says allow for racist and discriminatory behaviors.
AU’s student conduct code outlines a sanctioning process for students found responsible for bias incidents.
As part of Jamar’s plan to enhance safety services, Jamar advocates for the recommendations made in the final report from the SG Commission on Preventing and Handling Sexual Assault Cases. One involves centralizing key resources such as those for sexual assault, AU policy legal procedures and academic integrity codes to make them more accessible for students. She stressed that these resources, although they can be found through the student portal, are not in plain view.
As part of the Changemakers plan for AU, Jamar wants to move forward with the idea of an “Eagle Wellness Nest” in Hurst Hall, making it a central location for student wellness and Title IX services.
Jamar plans to continue working with the new Office of Equity and Title IX to address power-based violence. Jamar told The Eagle that, in an unofficial capacity, she has voiced her concerns to the new office and the Center for Student Involvement and has talked about training for student leaders. She hopes to continue having conversations with these offices about requiring relevant training for student leaders and having regular discussions about biases and sexual assault.
As part of her platform to improve diversity and inclusion, Jamar is advocating for a number of policies.
Jamar wants D.C. history to be a part of the American University Experience (AUx) core curriculum.
“I think having these conversations can help AU students find how to respect and have personal and productive conversations on these topics inside and outside of the AU community,” Jamar said.
Addressing improvements for SG, Jamar wants to make the organization more accessible for students, improve transparency regarding their work and create an inclusive environment. As part of her goal to improve diversity and inclusion, Jamar hopes to create a Student Diversity Committee within SG.
Jamar said she does not yet have a plan for the return to campus as she is waiting to hear more about the University’s fall plan. She said, if elected, she hopes to be included in the conversation with the administration about the plan. Jamar said she will work to ensure a safe reopening of campus.
The Vice President’s main duties involve any SG programming, with Kennedy Political Union, Women’s Initiative, Founders and Student Union Board under their purview.
Darrien is a sophomore studying communication, economics, legal institutions and government (CLEG) in the SPA. Darrien’s campaign focuses on reimagining Founders Week and providing more funding for school and class councils and other organizations.
For Founders Week, a controversial event that has come under fire in recent years for the University’s historical ties to slavery and for its ballooning cost, Darrien said that, while he has ideas about the reform, he wants to include the campus community in the discussions.
“It’s a harmful history and it is not meant to be celebrated, but rather acknowledged, and we should learn from it. I think we can use Founders as a time to celebrate our current students, athletes, the people who don’t get the same sort of shine or bandwidth on campus and also our current alumni,” Darrien said. “I think it can be a space to bring the entire community together in an equitable and inclusive way.”
One of Darrien’s goals involves making organizations like the Women’s Initiative more directly involved in SG. He said that this year, the school and class councils have played a huge role in holding events to engage the campus community, despite being limited to virtual events. Darrien hopes through more funding, the school and class councils will continue to have a large role in creating a sense of community among students. He also wants international students to have space to program events.
Transparency and accountability are other big aspects of his campaign. He said he wants to meet with students about their ideas and policies, and working with other representatives and stakeholders, try to implement those policies.
For the return to campus, Darrien hopes to work with the Undergraduate Senate on reestablishing the fall transition group, a collaboration between the executive board and the senate created last spring to ensure an equitable transition for the return to campus in the fall.
“I want to make sure the transition is fair and equitable,” Darrien said.
Chowdhury is a sophomore studying international relations in the School of International Service. Chowdhury stressed that her campaign is focused on promoting healing, DEI and rebuilding AU’s community after more than a year apart. She hopes that, if elected, she will be able to spearhead programming that makes students feel proud to be at AU.
One of Chowdhury’s top goals is addressing the controversial history of Founders with what she calls “Reimagining, Renaming and Rebuilding” the event. She plans to create a student-led commission focused on overhauling Founders.
“I want to move away from celebrating our founders, and move towards celebrating the progress we have made as a student body and the changes we still have yet to make,” Chowdhury said. She believes it is important to work with Black affinity groups and clubs on campus, as well as the Antiracist Research and Policy Center while reimagining Founders.
Chowdhury also explained the importance of bringing in a diverse group of speakers and focusing on uplifting those voices.
“Given the rise of hatred in the past four years, we need to do some healing and growing,” she said. “I believe these speakers are important for that.”
When asked about returning to campus, Chowdhury told The Eagle that safety is her number one priority, and her campaign has formulated plans for both a return to pre-pandemic levels of operation and a continuation of online classes.
The Secretary is the chief of communications for SG, and their responsibilities include maintaining the SG website, any social media platforms and the directory. They also handle external communications and branding.
Natarajan is a sophomore studying CLEG in the SPA. Natarajan said that the main aspects of her campaign are increasing social media accessibility, as well as creating a more inclusive campus both in SG and at AU.
She hopes to develop stronger forms of communication and dialogue between SG and the student body through introducing online forms that ask for feedback on how to improve accessibility. She has also talked to other executive board candidates about hosting monthly town halls with the student body.
As the deputy director of online engagement under the current secretary’s administration, Natarajan hopes to continue the work they have done, including working toward establishing a SG resource page. She hopes this page will help certain communities at AU find more representation and resources.
Natarajan also hopes to expand on it, creating an AAPI resource page that would provide history and ways to contribute to the cause. In addition, she plans to add a portion to the website that discusses the history of marginalized communities on AU’s campus.
Natarajan plans to create paid on-campus opportunities specifically geared toward low-income students, which will also provide experience in relevant fields.
“It can be really difficult to get a job if you don’t have experience, but it can be really difficult to get experience if you can’t take unpaid experience,” she said.
The Comptroller is in control of the majority of SG’s budgets, excluding the programming budgets. They oversee spending and accountability on matters related to finance.
Rubin is a sophomore studying CLEG in the SPA. Rubin said that he wants to run with much of the progress previous comptrollers have made. However, he hopes to add an advocacy component to the position, which he believes has been missing.
Rubin stressed that SG should have more of a role in AU’s planning by providing alternative reports published by the body. He hopes to open up more lines of communication with other D.C. universities which he said would benefit all parties involved.
“We’re in this together, whether it is COVID[-19], general wellbeing or helping the community in D.C., I think we could all benefit from this collaboration,” Rubin said.
Rubin also explained the importance of an expansion of the Eagle Endowment Grants so that they include more resources for potential projects.