The Power of Representation: Three Women of Color Running in Campus-Wide Elections

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves and Student Government have been talking a lot about diversity, and what that should look like on campus. However, with all this “dialogue” occurring, one wonders when the action will actually begin to take place, and make students of color and other underrepresented groups feel safe and welcome on campus.

Story by Mia Uhunmwuangho

Rather than talking about how UT gives a voice to such students on campus, ORANGE is taking a step back and passing the mic to three women of color who are running in this year’s campus-wide elections. Today is the last day to vote—you can do so online at utexasvote.org.

Editor’s note: these interviews are not equivalent to endorsements.

 

Sarah Ogunmuyiwa—University-Wide Representative

Major:

First-year women studies and philosophy double major

Campaign Slogan:

“Minorities are priorities.”

What inspired you to run:

This year I participated in Student Government through the Longhorn Legislative Aide program and I constantly saw issues concerning minorities being tossed to the side, or being debated by people who did not hold those identities. It was very frustrating to watch, so I decided to run so that I could pass the mic to marginalized students so that they would have a space within SG.  

What are you hoping to improve and or change if you are elected:

I'm hoping to make SG more accessible so that it can be more representative of the student body.

What is the most important aspect of your platform:

The most important part of my platform is making a safe space for women of color and making the Counseling and Mental Health Center more accessible to marginalized students.


 

Fabiola Barreto—College of Liberal Arts Representative

Major:

First-year government major

Campaign Slogan:

“Form with Fabi.”

What inspired you to run:

I always loved the impacted that student governance and an empowered student voice could have on the university. However, I tend to overthink things, which almost made me not want to run. After Emily Ramshaw, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, spoke in my Latina Politics class, I felt empowered to run for office and represent those who don't usually feel represented.

What are you hoping to change and or improve, if elected:

want to see a more involved student body. We have to do that by including everyone’s voice, giving students a platform, and making sure people know what their Student Government is doing.

What is the most important aspect of your platform:

The most important aspect of my platform would have to be how it can affect people personally. Once we start taking steps to actually help our undocumented brothers and sisters, there will hopefully be less anxiety at what can happen in the future. The promotion of the Title IX office would allow for more visible resources for victims of sexual harassment, and show that we are taking even larger strides to eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment from UT.


 

Alexis Allen—University-Wide Representative

Major:

Second-year government and Plan II double major

Campaign Slogan:

#AlexisForUtexas

What inspired you to run:

I have grown to love UT, with its issues and flaws—a love that makes me want to better on our university for each and every student, community, major and identity on our campus. Sitting in my first Student Government meeting in an appointed position, I noticed the lack of representation and all of the missing perspectives in the room. I wanted to help bring diversity and more narratives to the table, but I know that I cannot speak for all students. As a result, I was inspired to pass the mic and give underrepresented students the opportunity to give a voice in SG.

What are you hoping to change and or improve, if elected:

If I have the opportunity to serve as university wide representative, my initiatives will focus on what matters: the student experience, openness in SG, and representation. I want to develop an initiative to combat the rising costs of parking, housing, transcripts, food, and practically every aspect of being a college student at UT to increase student involvement and success in the classroom and on campus. This initiative would also include creating more food options that are healthier and inexpensive, as well as the expansion of the mental health center. Lastly, it includes freshman success because it is important for freshmen to start out well and strong with a support system, orgs they are interested and more and that can be achieved by the reorganization of resources on online platforms. Candidness between SG and the student body makes students develop a trust and care for creating solutions. I hope to push for an online resource page that explains the processes and current activities of SG and how students can get in working on these concerns. Finally, a point that is very important to me is diversity and representation on this campus and in student government. While I cannot speak for all underrepresented groups, I know that I would have the opportunity to pass the mic— providing space for students to be heard. This is especially important when these concerns are not heard the regular.

What is the most important aspect of your platform:

To me, representation matters most, not only in student government, but also on our campus. As a minority student, it is a top priority on my list of initiatives. Representation is an overarching theme that affects the majority of issues on our campus. No student is just a number. Every student deserves to feel valued and protected, both mentally and physically on this campus and currently that just isn’t the case.