New Student Government Leaders Push for Ways To Improve Racial Equity
President, VP Want To Create New Committee, Help Underrepresented Groups
Students at The University of Texas at Dallas for the first time have elected women of color to serve as their president and vice president of Student Government.
New president Sara Brennan and vice president Rutendo Chando of the Amplify ticket said they will seek to support voices of marginalized communities and advocate for equitable change on campus.
Brennan and Chando defeated a challenge from the ConnectUTD ticket, represented by Ali Darvishi, a public affairs senior, and Stephanie Royer, a biology senior.
Q&A with New Student Government Leaders
Sara Brennan, president
Previous experience: “I served as a senator on the legislative affairs committee, and led and organized the Womxn in SG event to encourage more women to run for Student Government.”
Why she ran for office: “A group of students wanted to push for racial equity through Student Government and needed someone who had the dedication to lead them.”
Her ticket’s goals: “To amplify student voices on campus, especially the voices of those from marginalized communities. We want to create a diversity and equity standing committee, fight for budgetary justice, promote scholarship equity and transparency, and address COVID-19 specific concerns.”
Strategic goals: “First, we plan to implement a diversity and equity ad hoc committee in Student Government. Next, we want to make the committee a permanent committee. This will require a student body vote to change the Student Government constitution. This committee and existing ones will be utilized to both create new initiatives for racial equity and to push for existing ideas, such as increasing the transparency of the Academic Excellence Scholarship’s diversity profile and creating a coffee fund to foster mentorship between students and faculty, similar to the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College’s mentoring meal program.”
What she likes most about UT Dallas: “I love that UTD is a new and growing university. Because we are only 50 years old, there is so much opportunity for students to make an impact on campus, and there is more flexibility than at older universities.”
What she would like to see improved: “I want the University to be anti-racist by implementing more programs that benefit the underrepresented minorities on campus. Though we pride ourselves on diversity, there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Best advice she’s been given: “Get involved on campus, and step outside my comfort zone.”
Who she most admires: “The individuals in my life and historical figures who persevered in the face of adversity and discrimination.”
Her favorite quote: “I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.” — Maya Angelou
Ultimate career goals: “TBD. I am interested in public service, law and economics.”
Rutendo Chando, vice president
Major: history, sophomore
Previous experience: “I was a member of the graduate and international affairs committee for Student Government last year.”
Why she ran for office: “Student Government has the ability to focus on more structural issues this year, seeing how all activities have shifted to online platforms, and I hope to foster this environment to focus on the issues.”
Her ticket’s goals: “We hope to create a committee dedicated to focusing on diversity and equity as well as transparency in publishing the diversity profiles for scholarships awarded by the University.”
Strategic goals: “First, by creating an ad hoc committee dedicated to racial equity and diversity, which we hope to make into a standing committee. This committee is dedicated to fighting for some of our platform goals, like the scholarship transparency. We also hope to advocate for more translations of University documents and class transcripts by working with the Office of Student AccessAbility and the Center for Translation Studies.”
What she likes most about UT Dallas: “There is always something for everyone, whether it is a student organization or class about a topic that interests you.”
What she would like to see improved: “I would like to see UTD strive to become a more equitable place for underrepresented students.”
Best advice she’s been given: “Always have a generous spirit.”
Who she most admires: “Women and minorities in history who have paved the way for me to be in this position.”
Her favorite quote: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Davis
Ultimate career goals: “I hope to become a teacher and eventually work for school boards or the Texas Education Agency, where I can help write curriculum.”
The mission of the Student Government is to ensure that UT Dallas is fully committed to serving the collective interests of the student body. In this capacity, it serves as the official student voice to UT Dallas administration, the UT System Board of Regents and other governmental entities.
Structure: The Student Senate is a diverse body of senators from each academic classification and school. With the exception of officers, each senator serves on a committee. Each senator is either elected or appointed to a one-year term. The president and vice president are elected by the student body. The secretary, treasurer and committee chairs are nominated and selected by the Student Senate.
Senate Committees: Academic Affairs, Communications, Graduate and International Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Residential Student Affairs, Student Affairs, Technology, Green Initiative and Ad Hoc
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].