Khwal Rafique, a UC Berkeley sophomore, is running independently for ASUC president on a platform rooted in the “ABCs”: accessibility, belonging and connection.
Rafique, who became involved with the ASUC upon entering UC Berkeley, is passionate about uplifting the voices of all communities, increasing transparency and promoting mental health in the campus environment. Her experience as chief of staff in the Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian ASUC Senate office particularly shaped her perspective on community issues.
“As I meet with student leaders to hear what they feel the most frustrated about, I keep hearing about how many times student leaders on campus have to do extra work because both administrators and students would make decisions for and about their community without including anyone from their community,” Rafique said in an email.
In addition to being a proponent of inclusivity, Rafique wants to create spaces on campus that do not contribute to the “toxic productivity mentality,” which she noted is often seen at UC Berkeley. She proposes building spaces, such as dedicated recreation centers, to provide students a respite from imposter syndrome and the intense study-focused atmosphere.
According to Rafique, during her first semester, she interned in a Senate office and initially was not sure if the ASUC was the right fit for her. Although she planned to leave office during a one-on-one session with the senator, she ended up being promoted to head of staff and had a transformative experience that shaped her passion for serving in the ASUC.
“Not only did it make me an intersectional advocate for various communities after seeing how they were affected solely for standing up for Palestinians and human rights, but it made me realize how important it is for the ASUC to have people who continuously listen to the students,” Rafique said in the email.
If elected, Rafique plans to continuously meet with student leaders from various campus communities in order to adequately represent them. She further stressed the importance of listening to the needs of all communities and supporting them in their unique movements.
Rafique is also dedicated to upholding transparency and inclusivity within the ASUC under a “students first” model. She recognized that some students, especially those from marginalized communities, have suffered in the past and find it difficult to trust that the ASUC will put them first. According to Rafique, she plans to address this by including diverse voices in decision-making.
“We need to change the values the ASUC embodies, and that starts with the people who run for these positions,” Rafique said in the email. “Even if I don’t win this election, I’m going to be so happy if next year someone else who understands the intersectionality of these different communities and is running for the students decides to launch a campaign.”
ASUC elections will be held virtually from April 5 to April 7.