A few weeks ago, when I was sitting in bed and recieved email from MVision offering me a position to run as a representative candidate, I was truly overjoyed. I felt everything I had worked so hard on this year was building and good things would be coming my way. I was proud to be a part of something that was not only a campaign, but also a message to the people on this campus. I am so glad I accepted the offer and I am writing now as an elected representative. I want nothing more than what incoming Central Student Government President Daniel Greene and Vice President Izzy Baer want: to bring communities together to solve common ground issues. However, the criticism, backlash and negativity surrounding the campaign and my identity as a Pakistani-Muslim has left me shattered. I have been called a token and have become both the ammunition and target for people in their never-ending fight against the winners of the CSG election.
I am not a token. Calling me a token de-legitimizes all of the work I did on this campaign. My achievements have been invalidated as a person of color. On this campaign, my identity was never used to promote the platform or target voters. I was treated just as every other person on this team was, and I worked hard to win my seat in this student assembly. I was asked to join this party because I am highly qualified, extremely passionate and very hard working. That is also why our message resonated with the student body, and I won my seat.
I am not a diversion. I am a woman with thoughts and opinions. Claiming my purpose on this campaign was to assuage concerns of Muslim representation in CSG diverts attention from important causes we need to talk about, like building bridges between communities that haven’t found compromises and providing increased access to mental health and sexual assault survivor resources. We should always strive to have diverse representation in CSG, and MVision has only attempted to begin achieving this goal by creating a team predominantly comprised of diverse and powerful women representing many visible and invisible identities. While CSG has a long way to go, as does the community, my election is a start, but I can assure you it is not the end. I will always fight for more representation and support of members of all communities and backgrounds because all our voices deserve to be heard. As a woman and a person of color, I can understand how frustrating it is to feel underrepresented, especially after making strides in a community. I applaud those who stand up for their communities and continue to promote inclusivity and representation.
I am not going to back down. In dealing with criticism from both sides, I have been attacked and tormented by strangers and peers. I encourage people to use their voices not only critically, but effectively. Greene, Baer and I have been elected, and we promise to serve you and work with you to enact the change you wish to see on campus. As one of your elected representatives, I want to work with you to make productive change. We concede, like every other campaign that ran in this election, there are things MVision could have done better. However, we were voted into office because students believed in us and our message. Nothing can change the results of the election, but we can change the culture on campus into one that ensures every person is heard and supported. I invite you to criticize. I invite you to complain. But I invite you to do it in a way that pushes us forward. In a way that works with us, and not against us. As a constituent, you are responsible for what happens next in our community. I can assure you that our MVision family wants to help you make it a better one.