Campus sophomore Aasim Yahya is running for ASUC Senate as the candidate endorsed by the Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSSA, in order to help members of the MEMSSA community find their place on campus.
When Yahya first came to UC Berkeley, he felt lost, a feeling that he could not shake. When he joined the ASUC, however, he found the MEMSSA community and finally felt like he belonged on campus.
“If I could be at the forefront of creating that community for someone else, I knew it was worth it,” Yahya said. “Especially internally with ASUC and with administration, I will take steps and measures to show that MEMSSA students exist and matter on this campus, even if we’re not a huge majority.”
Yahya’s platform proposals include representing the MEMSSA community through continuing the effort for a MEMSSA mentorship program, a MEMSSA and South Asian, Southwest Asian and North African, or SSWANA, resource center and the creation of a designated prayer space on Northside, among other projects.
He also hopes to represent the prelaw and pre-public service community and build on the projects started by current prelaw ASUC Senator Haazim Amirali. His ideas include creating a free online GRE and LSAT preparation course through a bCourses module for students, a project he called “very optimistic” but “very possible.”
Yahya’s platform also includes holistic wellness. He plans to focus on accommodating students who cannot attend every lecture by expanding Course Capture, as well as increasing access to mental health resources.
“It’s not just about what you do in the office,” Yahya said. “It’s about organizing effectively and building a community when it’s necessary to stand in support for one of others.”
Yahya first joined the ASUC his freshman year, when he worked as a project manager in former MEMSSA ASUC Senator Imran Khan’s office. During this time, Yahya built a comprehensive mental health resource tool that allows students to more efficiently find the resources they need by filtering preferences.
He then ran current MEMSSA ASUC Senator Sumrit Grewal’s campaign in 2019 and now serves as her chief of staff.
“Being the MEMSSA senator is no easy shoe to fill; you’re representing a wide range of communities,” Grewal said. “(Yahya)’s so responsible and knows how to handle every single situation that comes his way.”
If elected to office, one of Yahya’s main priorities will be to unite the different groups within MEMSSA, which is extremely diverse, according to Yahya. He added that he plans to put community organizations at the forefront of his office to make sure they feel included.
Khan added that the MEMSSA candidacy is independent, which is designed to keep senators’ first priority and obligation to the MEMSSA students they represent, rather than a party.
Yahya was endorsed by the 15 official organizations in the MEMSSA coalition through a slating process, according to Yahya’s campaign manager Qazi Ahmad.
“One thing that people often miss about Aasim is the fact that he has done a lot already without having full capacity of an elected position,” Ahmad said. “Aasim has accomplished a lot, and that’s a sign of what he will do in the office as senator.”