Day 1 of the Hustings began with speeches by the candidates running for Home Officer. Following their presentations we then moved on to the 3 candidates running for International Students Officer, starting with Ahmed Misbah followed by Nate Ahmad and finally Samawiyah Ulde. The candidates started off by introducing themselves briefly and then moved on to their manifesto’s, highlighting key points on what they plan on achieving and finally ending with a question and answer session.
The ISO Hustings began with the first candidate Ahmed Misbah. He began his hustings by greeting everyone in multiple languages and explaining that a simple smile can bring everyone together. He went on to state “even though we are separated by citizenship we can be united through friendship”.
He then began to describe his manifesto where he focused on implementing an international fresher’s night and a UNMC Transition Group. International Freshers Night would be an event where all International Freshers get to hang out and get to know each other and the UNMC Transition Group is a group of students who would support each other academically and socially.
Additionally, he proposed on working with the ISB (International Student Bureau) and the introduction of language classes such as French and Mandarin classes. He also proposed informational emails where students would get emails about different cultures and countries.
Next, he spoke of implementing a Best Culturally Dressed contest during International Cultural Week where students could vote and for where the audience votes would also be considered.
From here on he went to explain his work experience which included working at the MIRA, the tax authority in Maldives where he had to work with international managers and then went on to work at the Central Bank Maldives and again worked with internationals.
Question and Answer Session
A member of the audience then questioned if Ahmed, although he has sufficient off campus experience, had enough on campus experience. He replied being he felt that he could use this off campus experience in the ISO post and seeing as he learnt all his off campus experience from scratch he can do so as the ISO.
A member of the audience then requested Ahmed to elaborate more on the LEP (Language Exchange Program). He explained that he has already spoken to the Chinese and Mauritian Society so that French and Mandarin classes can be under the umbrella of ISO and monitor it closely.
A member of the audience stated that students already receive a lot of emails and how can he be sure that the informational emails will be read. Ahmed believes that most students would read the emails and intends on making it colourful and informative.
Nauman, the current FASS representative once again brought up the LEP and how they are currently optional modules and part of the NAA modules. Ahmed then explained how some students are not able to take them as modules and the LEP will be more flexible for students.
Nikko, the current ISO raised the questions that by giving the audience voting power it could bring about bias since some nationalities are bigger than others on campus. Ahmed felt this won’t be much of a problem as then all the competitions held on campus is subject to bias.
Nate started off his speech by describing his background and where he grew up, making reference to a certain nationality. Little was it expected that this would cause an uproar and controversy as the hustings continued (see the Question and Answer section).
His first point was to have a Facebook page for the new students to join in order to ask for any kind of help required even before they get to campus especially in the event they face delays. This page would apply to international students. And will be run by volunteers or mentors as he called it as some sort of support system for the new students.
His second point was getting internationals and local students to interact more through an event where local and international students come together, to take place in the first semester so that these two people have some time to be friends and get to know each other in the event one of them is or going abroad for an exchange programme at the end of the year.
With regards to International Cultural Week, he suggested having an Instagram contest which would encourage more participation in the event. Adding to this he also said that during this week there could be stalls from different countries and the students can be given some form of a paper passport which they could get stamped from the stalls they visit.
The issue of campus services such as maintenance in the accommodation halls was also addressed. He stated that these requests will be followed up on but was cut short due to time constraints.
Question and Answer Session
A question was asked with regard to the volunteer service and what would make the mentor’s volunteer without payment to which he hesitantly replied he was still unsure of certain things especially with respect to the financial matters.
The next questions was about how the new students would get to know about the Facebook page prior to arriving on campus to which Nate replied that the international office would have all the contact details of the incoming students and that this wouldn’t be a problem.
FASS representative Muhammed Nauman Khan posed the next question based on Nate’s response to a previous question referring contact details of the international students stating that there is a privacy law that prevents the campus from giving out contact details to which Nate immediately corrected himself stating it will be the management in charge who will inform prospective students about the page.
The highlight of the evening was a “question” by a fellow student who was deeply offended by Nate’s reference to “Noisy Arabs”. This progressed into a heated argument where voices were raised and lead to ultimately be intervened by Miflal who was chairing the event. This was followed by another question targeting Nate’s statement how he spent a majority of his life in Malaysia and why he didn’t run for home officer rather than international student’s office to which Nate stated that he doesn’t possess a Malaysian passport.
Samawiyah, better known as Sam, got straight in to explaining her manifesto where she pointed out many attempts are being made to promote harmony and awareness but what was missing is incentive so she proposed a module for NAA credits and began to explain what the module would contain.
Samawiyah also proposed that she would want to take the first 4 days of ICW to have cross cultural challenges where teams would compete for a cash prize. Students will have to enroll individually and each team would include at least one Malaysian student so that students will get to know all countries and cultures better.
Samawiyah also stated that instead of foodstalls from outside, cultural societies will set up their own menus and find their own caterers to give a larger and more authentic spread.
Samawiyah then moved on to address student welfare. Seeing how Freshers were often lost during their first days, Samawiyah suggested the campus tour be compulsory and students will also be shown the important offices such as the Visa office and Finance Office.
Samawiyah then went on to suggest that she would publicize a personal Whatsapp number (not her own current number but a new one with a different SIM card for this purpose) so that international students may contact her at any point and finally went on to recommend that the list of ambassadors and their numbers would be given at the beginning of Fresher’s week so that students know who to approach.
Question and Answer Session
A question was brought up that NAA module intercultural awareness already exists and if Samawiyah was aware of it. Samawiyah replied that she had already spoken to the convener and the current module is very scientific while the module she hopes to implement would give more in depth information about the cultures. She states has already contacted the head of NAA and she too is on board with the idea.
Nikko then brought up that she had talked about the hotline with the management but the proposal was rejected due to the possible complications. Samawiyah made it clear that her hotline was in no way official and extremely friendly and would take personal responsibility on the outcomes of it. Nikko followed up on the question stating the same would imply if it’s not an official number to which Sam once again replied she would personally take responsibility and no one else would be involved.
Lhavanya, The Editor in Chief of IGNITE brought up that she had the pleasure of working with Samawiyah for a while and questioned if Sam was capable of replying to the messages when she had not replied to her personal messages. Samawiyah says she understands the fact that she has to significantly change herself and intends to do so as ISO and the fact that she stands as a candidate proves that she is capable of taking responsibility to whats important.
Written by Aneeqah Macan Markar and Dona Shehani Amarasinghe
Photographs by Kuan Meng Xian