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Illustration courtesy of NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government

Kevin Bansal and Grace Bechdol elected First-Year and Arts and Humanities Representatives

The Gazelle sat down with NYUAD Student Government’s newly elected representatives to learn more about plans for the upcoming semester.

Sep 27, 2020

On Sept. 20, the NYU Abu Dhabi Student Government’s Elections Commission announced the results for the First-Year and Arts and Humanities representatives: Kevin Bansal, Class of 2024, won the First-Year representative elections with a margin of six votes while Grace Bechdol, Class of 2023, won in the Arts and Humanities Representative elections with a margin of four votes.
The election cycle began on Sept. 6 when students could nominate their peers or declare their own candidacy. On Sept. 16, eight candidates for the position of First-Year Representative and four candidates for the position of Arts and Humanities Representative participated in the Candidates’ Forum and communicated their plans and goals for the upcoming semester.
The election for the First-Year Representative had a turnout ratio of 44.62 percent while the election for the Arts and Humanities representative had a turnout of only 11.87 percent.
The Gazelle reached out to the newly elected candidates to learn more about their campaign, their plans for the upcoming semester and the challenges they might face this unique semester.
Although the university has been making significant efforts to preserve the nature of the first-year experience, the remote semester has made it challenging for first-year students to connect with their peers. Bansal spent the last nine months reaching out to people: “I would randomly just message them and just ask about how it’s going with them ... That was how I actually was able to get to know a lot of people who then voted for me because they actually knew me from the conversations we have had.”
Bansal attributed his victory to these relationships and his focus on “visual representation” during the campaign.
“During the candidates' forum, I knew we would all be very nervous … So I needed to make a mark there as well, so I actually wore a suit … I was as nervous as all of them … Just wearing that suit made me stand out just a bit,” said Bansal.
While discussing his plans for the upcoming semester, Bansal shared that he wanted to focus more on the needs than the mere wants of his peers. For instance, he plans on preparing a database of the courses that first-years wanted to take but were not able to and sharing it with the Office of the Registrar.
Three days into taking his role, Bansal has already started working on plans he brought up in the Candidates’ Forum: “I also found that students on partial or no aid were getting very bad communication. Their queries were not getting answered, so I had also said that if elected I will actually make a support group [for them] … On my first day as class representative, I actually made this group and there has been a lot of support for it as well.”
Bansal has had previous leadership experience as the president of his high school’s TedX Conference, but he has never been a part of student government.
“Leading a class of 500 students is something new for me but I am up for the challenge,” he said.
Bechdol was a part of her high school’s student government in her senior year and has taken up leadership roles and responsibilities in the past. She described her decision to run for Arts and Humanities representative as “a very spur of the moment kind of decision.” She further added that she only declared her major over the summer and was not even eligible to run for the position before.
On the topic of academic representative elections having notoriously low turnouts, Bechdol commented that it is frustrating that a lot of freshmen and sophomores who have not yet declared their majors or students with minors in a certain area are not eligible to vote.
“I think that I will genuinely be able to work with people in this role even if there is not much turnout for things like elections because I think students really do care about these issues. It's just that the logistics of the elections can make it difficult,” commented Bechdol.
Bechdol acknowledged that the remote model has been challenging, “especially with the ‘arts’ part of Arts and Humanities — that is a very difficult thing to take online when the arts are traditionally thought of as performing on a stage, painting on a canvas, performing something live.”
Noticing that many students are interested in the Arts and Humanities but have not been able to take classes in the discipline due to time and credit constraints, Bechdol plans to “bring the Arts and Humanities to more students on campus.”
“[We are] figuring out how better to bring it to students inside and outside the classroom and how to make it more accessible in terms of extracurriculars or outside events as well,” said Bechdol.
Both representatives have already started acting on their roles and they seem enthusiastic about working with the Student Government and the NYUAD community.
Aayusha Shrestha is News Editor. Email her at
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