Abrar Chowdhury Contests 7-Candidate Field for International Student Seat on SRC
Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Program: 3-year Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Year: 1st year student
Running for: International Student Representative
Q: What made you want to run for Student Representative Council (SRC)?
A: Basically, I saw the posts on Facebook that the elections were coming, and then – there’s obviously these different positions – President, Executive Vice-President, the SRC; and then I read about it because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was right? … They’re [, the SRC,] the committee that maybe don’t run the day-to-day, but they make the most important decisions as a joint group, as a committee. After that I was just looking at my options, what I could represent.
Obviously being a BHTM student, I could have run for the Shannon School of Business, and then I realized – does it speak to me? Does it resonate with me so much? And I looked at the other choices, there was [the] Resident seat as well, because I live on residence; and then I thought about the International seat, and then I realized the sheer volume and amount of people I meet, I know, and I’m friends with here that are international students. And I just thought about it like – why not? You know what I mean? I know so many of these people already, and if I am able to get the opportunity to represent them in the Student Union; any issues, any problems, any concerns they might have, I would like to be that voice for them – to represent them, and hopefully to build a bridge between the Student Union and these international students.
Q: Speaking of issues, what kind of issues do you think you might bring up to the SRC?
A: Any sort of issues they [international students] might face. It could be regarding their classes, professors, other students …
Q: Do you have anything specific in mind? Anything in speaking with people during this campaign that stands out – that you would want to bring forward if you were elected?
A: No, I’m sure issues that people have can vary from person-to-person, so I just want to make it very, very clear to everyone that if I were to be elected as International Student Representative, any sort of issue – anything they want to talk about – they should feel free to be able to come and talk to me, about anything whatsoever.
I’m not entirely sure what issues they might have right now. It could be – I know the majority of students live off-campus – they might have issues with transportation or something, but it could be like, even though they feel like there’s a problem, they don’t have the voice or they don’t have the courage maybe sometimes to speak up or to come to the Student Union and talk about it. I just want to make it clear that I am your go-to guy, any problem, anything you guys want to talk about – just talk to me and I’ll bring it to the committee, I’ll bring it to the meetings, and I’ll bring it to the Student Union, and see what I can do about it – or what we can do about it as a collective.
Q: These elections are probably the most competitive that we’ve ever had, certainly there are more candidates than we’ve had before. What kind of things set you apart from the people that you’re running against?
A: I’d like to start off with the fact that not only do I know international students, many, many of them – not just from one part of the globe, not just from my country, or from India – but [from] absolutely anywhere; people from China, people from Vietnam, people from Zimbabwe, just from all over Europe, so I have many many international people that I know here. And then there’s the fact that I live on campus, that’s I’m easier to reach in that sense – that I’m always here … And then there’s the fact that I’m also part of the House Council, as the first year representative for Cabot Residence, so being involved with that – what we do is organize events, we plan and host events, we have weekly meetings, so I have that sort of experience already; being involved on campus, events, planning, and general things like that … And my personality, of course, I believe in sociability, engagement, [being] approachable, I’m always willing to have a chat, conversation, [I’m] easy-going. So with all of that in mind I thought I should make a stand, I should run for this role representing International Students.
Q: Obviously this academic year, the increase in international students has been a lot of what we’ve been covering, a lot of what University administration has been dealing with … what do you think about the University’s recruiting efforts?
A: To be honest I think there should be a little more diversity, I think, in the places these international students are coming from. It could seem like – from an outsider’s perspective – like maybe there are a lot of students from the same place, or the same area, even though that may not be the case. I feel like the University should maybe market itself, promote itself more to – I don’t know, places like Europe, Africa, places where there are less students, international students, coming from those places.
Q: Anything else that you’d like students to really know about you before they head to the polls?
A: I just want them to know that I will try my best, if I get elected, to be a guy that they can trust, to be a guy that they can speak to, to be a guy that they can come approach, have a chat – about anything – like I said, this is my main concern and my main goal. I feel like there are a lot of international students, at times they don’t know where to go to, or who to talk to, when they have a problem or an issue. So I would like to be that voice, or that representation, so I will be able to help them out there – or maybe solve these issues – make it clear, make it known, take it to the Student Union, to the meetings, to the committee; any issues that they have I just want to make it clear that I want to be able to help, and I want to be able to be that guy who represents us as a whole.