From serving as first-year Class President to recently being elected as President of ASWC Senate for the 2016-2017 academic year, junior Amer Rashid is no stranger to leadership roles. As he prepares for his senior year and his term as President, Rashid sat down with the Quaker Campus in conjunction with KPoet to discuss the election process, his takeaways from this past year and his hopes for the future.
Park: Talk to us a bit about the election process and how that worked out for you.
Rashid: Since I was running unopposed the campaign process looked very different than it has in years past. Last year I had an opponent who you know was a very qualified opponent, [junior] Max Hoversten, and you know it was a fairly heated race, it was a good race and I learned a lot. This year I was unopposed so it was a little bit of a different tone and pace. But I realize that what people really waned to know and what my job was, I couldn’t win unless [ I had majority votes].
So just because you were running unopposed didn’t mean you had the position locked in then?
Right, I still have to mobilize voters.
Do you think that makes it easier at all? Do you think that makes it even more challenging knowing that you’re kind of on the bubble there?
Yeah, I think it’s more challenging because the average assumption is that, “Hey there’s no one running against him, he’s gonna get it.” So that’s already the assumption, so less people are going to feel the need to vote because the feel is it’s not going to matter.
So how do you get people to vote then?
You have to explain to them the rules. (laughs) Yeah, you have to explain to them how it goes and I think it’s the same in our current political system, right? People get really frustrated about the political system and whatnot, but nationwide, it’s been proven that it’s kind of irrational to not vote sometimes because the costs are too high, you know you can’t get off work or you don’t have the time or you don’t feel you know enough about the candidates.
It’s very similar here on the smaller scale at ASWC. And so it’s the job of the candidates, whether you are on a national scale or here for the ASWC, to mobilize voters, and to do that, you say, “Hey, these are the stakes, this is how things are gonna work and in order to have an outcome come out in a way you would like and make it seem like your voice is actually the one deciding, not some system, you need to do X,Y and Z.”
So what would have happened had you lost that election race? What would have happened to the position for next year?
Essentially, there would have to be a different election. So they would have to call up the candidates, look at the write-ins and as an election committee, have an independent decision on how they were going to move forward. But essentially,they would have to have a separate election with separate candidates.
You just served as Vice President of ASWC, since it is still fresh in your mind, what are your thoughts on this past year and on serving as Vice President?
I think for anyone who’s been here for the course of this year, it’s been a very turbulent year, to say the least.
And because of my various hats on campus, Vice President included, I’ve kind of been in the thick of a lot of it. And so this year has been a very big learning year for me, a very big transformative year. I’ve watched the community kind of showcase what makes it a community. I’ve watched and experienced numerous individuals who have made it their goal to make this place feel as much like home as possible and get the surrounding community on its feet and through a lot of what’s been happening.
And that comes from a lot of the complaints we received at the very beginning of the year. At the very beginning of the year, we had really full meetings of people coming in and discussing complaints with the College. And then we had the hate crimes that I had to deal with and then the Senate had to deal with. That in itself was a learning experience. How do I, as someone who looks at myself as a Muslim-American advocate, who just experienced this hate crime, not sway the way the table votes because I sit on the table and I chair the meetings as Vice President? I don’t want to solely put out my opinions to sway that.
How do you stay objective in a situation like that?
I didn’t actually come forward and say [I was the victim] at first. I didn’t want to. Particularly when I knew it was going to come forward at Senate. So during the Senate meeting, the only people who knew were the cabinet. Just because I said, “Hey, if at any point if I seem frustrated or whatever I might have to leave for a little bit.” So they were all aware and that didn’t happen, so everything was fine. But I let the table have the conversation it was going to have, without the knowledge that this was the person that’s leading our meeting. That way they didn’t feel like they had to say or do certain things because I was in the room and leading the meeting. There’s an awkward power dynamic there and I wanted to shrink that as much as possible. They planned an event and I didn’t say anything until after the Senate event because I didn’t want the Senate event to be centered on me. I wanted it to be centered on the issue.
From everything you’ve said, the main take away I’ve gotten is that this year you’ve just seen the community get together in times of crisis. So with all that in mind what are your expectations for what you can do next year as President of ASWC Senate?
I think we have some intense momentum. President Duarte’s administration has definitely given us that and so my goal is to take that above and beyond.