Fatma Jaber, a senior in the College of Education, put in her official application to run for president of Student Government Wednesday along with her vice presidential running mate, Chris Vanwasshenova.
Running as a write-in candidate, Jaber’s name will not formally show up on the ballot.
“I’m not going to let the fear of being a write-in candidate stop me,” Jaber said. “The hardest part is that people don’t know that you’re running. We have to stress to people that they must write in either my first name, Fatma, and/or my vice president’s first name, Chris.”.
If elected, one of her initiatives is to help student organizations get more funding from Eastern Michigan University.
“Providing more funding for student organizations is easy to do and can be done without delay,” Jaber said. “I would change the strict policies that student organizations have to go through to get money. There are rules that the organizations need to go through to get money that is, essentially, their own money. The money is there and we have it, so why prevent them from getting it, especially if they have shown responsible use of the money in the past?”
Jaber supports the idea of keeping Halle Library open 24 hours, and has already tried to work with Student Government to get that initiative through.
“When the issue [of keeping Halle library open 24 hours] came to StudentGgovernment, I was the only one who voiced against closing it at all,” Jaber said. “I wanted it to remain open for 24 hours and if I get elected I will be sure to make that happen. It’s doable, it’s needed and we have administration backing us.”
Jaber said she wants to work with EMU to provide more reflection rooms for students of all faiths.
She said she will work to try and improve communication between students and professors.
“We have a reflection room in McKenny now, a place to meditate and it is open to every single EMU community member of all types of faiths, but we are working on getting more,” Jaber said.
Jaber also hopes to improve communication between professors and students. “I have already submitted a resolution that would state that information about [ombuds], advocates for students who are having a problem with a professor, will be provided clearly on class syllabuses.”
Jaber expressed her support on issues like reducing the price of food on campus and free parking on weekends. She recognizes that these issues aren’t easy to solve and can’t be guaranteed, but she will be a strong advocate for them. She also wishes to start an anti-bullying campaign.
“I think anti-bullying is important,” Jaber said. “I don’t see people focusing on that. Having someone bully you every day causes stress that can affect a student’s performance in school. I would do that by having programs, advertisements, classes and possibly theater shows.”
Vanwasshenova is a first year graduate student in the College of Education and studying higher education and student affairs.
“A large part of my decision to run with Fatma had to do with how great I think she will be in the position of president,” Vanwasshenova said. “I’ve also had a lot of experience with student government in high school and college and it ties in well with my degree. I think Fatma has great plans for next year and I am completely on board with all of them. I’m a graduate student, so of all the things we want to accomplish, the 24 hour opening of Halle Library is close to my heart. I am also very supportive of the additional reflection rooms. As the campus and school is growing, I think that’s one thing we need to accommodate.”
Vanwasshenova said that Fatma’s decision to start running for president so late didn’t change his mind and he is optimistic about their chances of winning.
Jaber said she is confident and calm even though she is entering the race so late. She said there were originally three parties that were supposed to be running, one being Desmond Miller. Two of the groups dropped out last minute, and that led to Jaber turning in her application late. She believed in two of those groups and since they decided to drop out, Jaber said she took it upon herself to run.
“I feel very calm about my chances, I’m not stressed out at all,” Jaber said. “I do believe that what is meant to be will happen. People should vote for me because I’m truly genuine. There’s no hidden agenda. I will really work for the people. I put my heart into my work. If they come up to me with an issue and help me on it, then I will help them as well.”
Hanan Al-Shahly, vice president of the EMU Muslim Student Association, said she and the rest of MSA strongly support Jaber’s campaign.
“I support Fatma Jaber a hundred percent,” Al-Shahly said. “I know that she will try to do her best for all EMU students. I’ve known her for a couple of years now and I know her to be a very selfless and wonderful person. I think the changes she will try to implement will greatly benefit the entire student body.”
“It’s definitely going to be an uphill struggle for her because, as a write-in candidate, there won’t be a picture of her or a button that people can press,” Nino Monea, the current VP of SG said. “You have to type in her name in the text box. I don’t know of any student election where it was done.
It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely a difficult feat in politics to win as a write-in candidate.”
Monea said he had advice for both candidates.
“It’s better to keep things positive than to go negative while campaigning,” he said. “Generally, students don’t want to hear you trying to tear somebody down, they want to hear what your vision is for the school especially because both probably agree that they want a better campus, but they may have different ideas and platform. In my experience, it’s seldom the candidate trying to tear the other down as much as them filing election complaints. We have certain rules that the candidates must follow.”
Monea said one example of the ways in which the rules keep the SG races from getting dirty is that no one is allowed to tamper with an opponent’s ads, such as defacing them or tearing them down.
“Fortunately, I haven’t seen anything like this happen, but it has happened in the past,” Monea said.
He said he would like to see the future president continue what the student government has been working on already, like getting bus passes for all student residents and commuters.
Jessica Thomas, a sophomore studying Public Relations, said that she would vote for current president of SG.
“I feel like Desmond’s points sound better because the situation with the undocumented immigrants is very important to me,” Thomas said. “I feel like he is working a little bit harder and beyond the basics.”
On the other hand, Sarah Mead, a junior studying secondary education with a concentration in math said she would vote for Jaber.
“I don’t really like Desmond Miller’s initiative about granting illegal immigrant(s) coming to EMU in-state tuition because if they’re illegal immigrants then they’re not paying taxes,” Mead said. “The only reason we’re paying less money for in-state tuition is because we’re paying taxes. I thought
Fatma’s policies looked good. They sound more light-hearted and nice.”
Jaber plans on campaigning as much as she can this coming week through the window of elections, which is from Wednesday, March 26 until late Thursday, March 27.
“I believe it’s important for good people to be in student government,” Jaber said. “I believe I could make a big difference. I believe that I have what it takes and that my team has what it takes to improve the EMU community.”
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