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OPINIONS

Why Stanford needs SASA

Stanford African Students Association (SASA) was one of only two student organizations not granted special fees by Stanford’s student body in the ASSU Elections last week.

We are a community of students of African descent and students interested in African studies committed to promoting awareness about the African continent. We work to create an intellectual and social space for Africans and those interested in Africa at Stanford.

Our events have been highly attended and inclusive of the broader Stanford community. Our most recent cultural show packed CEMEX Auditorium last year. Faculty, staff and students attended our tribute to Nelson Mandela. Our collaboration with the Graduate School of Business’ Global Speakers Series and Africa Business Forum brought world-renowned experts to the Stanford campus. Our candlelight vigil in solidarity with victims of the Kenya mall attacks also brought the campus together and was featured on the front page of The Stanford Daily. A SASA-produced video featuring Stanford students reciting poetry in the words of Maya Angelou’s Mandela poem has been viewed thousands of times online and was featured in the Stanford Report. We also have a Big Sib mentorship program for 40 upperclassmen and about 20 freshmen to provide academic support, introduce them to the college environment and help them transition to life in the United States.

As leaders of SASA, we were heartbroken to find that we fell only 0.76 percent short of the required 15 percent of student support in order to receive special fees. For the 2014-15 school year, we requested joint undergraduate and graduate special fees in order to fund our activities.

Seventy-five percent of undergraduate voters supported SASA’s special fees, while 53 percent of graduate voters voted in our favor. This was surprising to us because we have always collaborated extensively and successfully with graduate students and their groups. Graduate students from the medical, business and law schools, as well as the Schools of Engineering, Education and Humanities and Sciences, actively participate in our events. While increased support from either undergrad or graduate students could have made a difference in our case, we note that more than three times as many undergraduate students voted in favor of our fees than graduate students.

There may be any number of explanations for why we did not receive more support from either undergrads or graduate students. The bottom line is that we need resources to continue to operate. The events and programs we host have an impact on the quality of life for many at Stanford, especially international students from Africa who depend on SASA as a supportive community. SASA’s efforts contribute to the intellectual and cultural experiences that help make Stanford a proudly diverse community and to deprive us of the support to celebrate and share our culture is to deny us a voice.

Our annual flagship event, the African Cultural Show, happens to be this Friday, April 18 at 6 P.M. in CEMEX Auditorium. If you think SASA deserved special fees, or if you’re unsure or don’t know enough, come check out the African Cultural Show. There will be delicious food, celebrated Kenyan musicians, a fashion show and performances from student groups. Come see firsthand where the special fees you kindly supported us with last year are going. We are very proud of the work we have done all year long to make this a great event, and we hope to see you there.

2013-14 SASA Executive Board
Ubah Jimale Dimbil ’14
Nina Papachristou ’14
Belinda Tang ’14
Elizabeth Sigalla ’15
Saida Ali ’16
Kemi Lijadu ’17
Musila Munuve ’17

To learn more about SASA and to contact the SASA team, please visit sasa.stanford.edu.

  • bittergradguy

    I strongly support SASA and it’s efforts. But why on earth did you apply for Graduate Special fees?!?! The voter turnout for graduate students is dismal and they even caused Stanford Legal Services to be denied despite a healthy 70% vote. SASA requested 12,000 from the GSC and that could have been supplemented purely through general fees requests using a 40% split to reach the 9,600 requested using a combination of the 6,000 that come with general fees supported by SSB honaria fees.

    I never once got a single email from SASA. I never got the impression that SASA made an effort to convince graduate students to vote for special fees. This was a massive miscalculation on your part but I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming year.

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