Illustration by Alexandra Najm

The New Student Government: Journeys and Visions

The newly elected Student Government for 2021-2022 was recently introduced to the student body. We spoke to the incoming members to learn about their motivations behind contesting and plans as representatives of the student body.

Apr 4, 2021

On March 28, the Election Commission announced the results of the 2021 Student Government General Elections. They introduced a new Executive Board as well as the Class and Academic Representatives who will serve the NYU Abu Dhabi student body in the 2021-2022 academic year.
Voter turnout increased drastically compared to last year, with almost 50 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots for the Executive Board positions. In comparison, the General Elections in 2020 had a turnout of 30 to 40 percent.
We spoke to some of the newly elected representatives to learn about their experience and plans for the coming year.
“The most important thing for me is students and I’m going to keep saying this until I graduate. For me the student voice and the student opinion [are] the most important [factors] and … the reason why I’m running,” said Ayham Adawi, Class of 2022 and newly elected President of the Student Government.
Adawi has extensive experience serving the NYUAD community. He has been a part of the First Year Experience and Marhaba Committees. He has also previously served on the Student Government Council as Class Representative and Senator.
One of his first objectives is to restructure Student Government so that more council members’ voices are heard and students can reach out to a greater support network. He also plans on working with the Health and Wellness Center to address gaps in counseling, in addition to tackling problems related to diversity, inclusion and equity.
“I know I’m elected as president but I cannot do anything without the people that are involved in Student Government. We are all working together to move forward and to be better,” Adawi stressed.
“I want Student Government to be more involved with the student body and I want Student Government to be more visible. I don’t want it to seem like this foreign entity that just exists … or to be recognized as an organization that sucks [up] to [the administration],” he shared. “Student Government is student oriented and that’s what it’s meant to be … That even if [the administration] did something that is not right or doesn’t fit us, we will call them out and we will act upon that. That’s going to be prevalent during my time as president.”
Vlado Vasile, Class of 2022 and incoming Vice President, shared that he decided to run for the role after seeing the “tangible and positive impact” that the incumbent Student Government made during the pandemic.
“I think we saw Student Government [trying] to be as engaged as possible, to listen to as many student concerns as possible … I personally wanted to run for the election … because that desire to assist the community has been very inspiring for me,” he explained.
Vasile will be a part of Student Government for the first time and plans on focusing on issues related to student life on campus: “A key goal for me will be to ensure that every student, regardless of their background or identity, will have a means to express their concerns, their worries or their questions to the administration.”
“Being Treasurer of the Student Government has always been a dream of mine since freshman year,” confessed Yusril Nur Hidayat, Class of 2022. “I will get the chance to maintain the wellbeing and productivity of our student body by ensuring that every budget allocated to us … will be spent based on the wishes and the needs of our student body.”
Having previously run for the position of Class Representative in both his sophomore and junior years, Nur Hidayat learned the importance of campaigning. “This year I created a poster and put all my vision and mission and my goals if I get elected [on it] and shared it on my Instagram channel and also [personally] texted … some people.”
The newly elected Treasurer plans on increasing transparency by publishing monthly reports on budget spending instead of the end of semester reports that are currently available. He also aims to provide training for Student Interest Group treasurers to ensure that they have the ability to manage the budgets allocated to them.
Yesmine Abida, Class of 2022, signed up to run for Arts and Humanities Representative three hours before the deadline because she thought nobody else was running for the position. Though her decision was last minute, she is by no means a novice as she has experience working on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, a body which reviews syllabi for new courses to ensure they meet academic and administrative standards.
In her role, the History and Arab Crossroads double major plans on providing more support for students who switch to Arts and Humanities later in their academic trajectory. She also wishes to liaise with the Career Development Center to better assist graduating students.
“There [is] a lot of conversation about making [the curriculum] more diverse, more inclusive and that’s something I’ve always been passionate about,” said Abida, who further hopes to decolonize the Arts and Humanities syllabus.
Sameera Singh, Class of 2022, was originally torn between applying for an Executive Board position and Senator at the wider Global Network’s Student Senators Council – the student component of the University Senate that hosts representatives from all the different NYU schools.
She ultimately ran for Senator and won the position. She plans on studying away in New York, pandemic-related restrictions permitting. “I was so sure that I would like to remain in touch with Abu Dhabi in some way while I’m studying away so it was an easy decision for me to run,” she explained.
Singh revealed that during her campaign, she prioritized encouraging students to vote over promoting herself: “For me it was really important that people do vote because when you vote you put someone in place who number one, deserved [the position] and number two, you need the best candidate to represent you because this is a very precarious time for all students right now.”
“In the past year, as we were going through the pandemic, Student Government has really, really shown up for students,” shared Singh shared her gratitude for the incumbent members, contrasting the hate messages sent by some students to Student Government members. “Be it something as small as laundry or something as big as mental health support or Title IX, conversations are happening daily in the background that students don’t know about.”
Yaghsha Mir, Class of 2024, has been a part of the First Year Experience committee for two semesters. Although she has enjoyed serving her class through different programming initiatives, she bemoans the lack of in-person activities: “I decided that I should run for sophomore [representative] so I would have a greater role in actually planning events and doing things for the class.”
One of Mir’s agendas as the incoming Sophomore Representative is to host a ball for all members of the Class of 2024, should Covid-19 restrictions allow. “A lot of us haven’t had a formal resolution to high school,” she noted.
As the pandemic subsides, Vasile is also preparing to welcome students back to campus with extensive programming. The upcoming Vice President intends to hold a Marhaba-esque event that reintroduces students to campus and to one other.
“A lot of people found it difficult to socialize through online classes … people are speaking less and less … My key focus will be on facilitating that re-socialization and reintegration of campus,” he said.
Vasile is also incredibly excited to assume his role, a sentiment that is echoed by other Student Government members. “I would like to thank the campus for giving me the opportunity to serve as Vice President next year and I very much look forward to hearing and listening to as many [student voices] as possible and in trying to serve [you],” he expressed.
Charlie Fong is News Editor. Email her at
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