The sole candidate for Activities Officer, Sara Siddiqi focused her manifesto on being the “voice” for the clubs and societies. In line with emphasising the collaboration of different societies and clubs as whole, she had met with committee members from different societies and combined her own ideas with the others’.
Despite starting her speech by ensuring that she was not going to make ‘lofty promises and campaign slogans’, she introduced a number of ambitious proposals. The biggest one was to subsidize two of the biggest events in UNMC: Freshers Week as well as the UNMC Ball. In regards to Freshers, she proposed the idea of bringing new students on a day trip away from Kuala Lumpur compared to previous years where they brought the freshers to the IOI Mall for ice skating and shopping.
She also planned to implement a strict non-harassment policy in all societies. In order to execute this, Sara said that she would further collaborate with the Well-being department and possibly various societies such as Feminist Society (FemSoc) to find resolutions to her proposals.
Next, Sara expressed her desire to bridge the gap between international and local students which involved hosting a cultural awareness trip, hosted by local Malaysian students. She also proposed to organise events like UNMC’s Fashion Week and UNMC’s Got Talent, which received a number of claps from the audience. She did not go into the details or give concrete strategies on how she is planning to implement these ideas which will be addressed by the audience later.
Apart from organizing events, Sara promised to deal with obstacles faced by clubs and societies such as lack of proper storage facilities and room bookings. She also aims to raise more awareness on the EMT (Events Monitoring Team) system. As has been previously explained, EMT members maintain, carry out routine tests and report any necessary repairs on SA equipment.
She ended her speech with the slogan ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, asserting that she has the potential to make the university better by contributing and giving her best, and that she would be a great team leader by dedicating time and effort to personally approach people to add to her team.
Question and Answer Session
The biggest concerns about Sara’s promises have to do with the subsidization of Freshers and the UNMC Ball. Current SA Activities Officer Sarah Soe Jia Wei brought up the fact of rising costs and budget cuts experienced by the SA. One member of the audience asked if they will be subsidized fully or partially. In Sara’s opinion, all the events will be partially subsidized which will be achieved via sponsorships and changing the structure of the events to make them more affordable.
The difficulty of obtaining sponsorship is questioned a lot firstly by current SA President Tormalli, then Soe Jia Wei who pointed out that attracting companies to sponsor events that they are not interested in is not an easy task. In response, she stated that she believes she can still try considering previous officers have managed to do so. She further elaborated that in order to cut ticket costs, she gave the example of bringing the Freshers for a trip to Melaka instead of the mall, as they would only need to pay for the bus. In addition, she proposed to do the trip at the end of Freshers Week with a planned itinerary and a tour around Melaka. An audience member questioned the efficacy of taking new students, many of them international, to a location that they might have never heard of and may incur more costs outside of the bus fees.
Next, Sara was asked by the head of the EMT team on how she plans to reintroduce the EMT to students. She answers that she will explain it to all of the societies’ presidents and vice presidents after the next year’s committee have been chosen. She pointed out that the awards given at the end of the UNMC Ball are based on the evaluations of the EMT which is why it is important for students to know of their role. She also suggested that instead of the clubs and societies giving EMT agents’ free tickets to their events, they would be subsidized.
Furthermore, when asked how committed she was during her two years of being on the Activities Network for her to run for SA officer Sara answered that her term meant that she understood the inner-workings and so would be in a position to make changes if she wanted to.
Regarding the no-harassment policy, IGNITE Editor in Chief Lhavanya questioned Sara how she would implement and enforce it. She responded that she will mainly be collaborating with the Well-being Department in launching awareness events. When asked to further elaborate on the structure of these events, she answered that since she’s not a professional she will leave the matter to Well-being. One major idea is to conduct seminars. The events are intended as a safe platform to encourage victims of harassment to share their voices that had been hushed down due to factors such as societal pressure. She drew on her past experiences as the basis for her passion in raising awareness on different forms of harassment to the rest of the student body. IGNITE later asked what her major goal for this proposal is, to which she responded that she wants serious action to be taken by the University to make sure there is accountability regarding the issue.
Finally, when asked how she was going to manage organising the events in addition to managing 54 societies and signing 300 proposals, she responded that it all boils down to time management and collaborations with different organisations.
In conclusion, her overall speech consisted mostly of ambitious campaign promises, while lacking in concrete plans in how to implement them other than to ‘work together’ with different societies to make them happen and through will and persistence.
Written by Ungku Luqman ‘Arifin
Photographed by Joann Chua Rou En