Two weeks ago, the students of UMKC chose Ida Ayalew, along with the rest of the UMKC Alive team for the Student Government Association’s executive positions.
“Honestly, I feel extremely honored and humbled that people feel that I have the capability to help lead this school in a positive direction with the help of others,” said Ayalew, the newly elected SGA President.
Ayalew hopes to bring together students to form a supportive community, something she feels is currently lacking at UMKC.
“When I came to UMKC as a freshman, I didn’t know where I fit in,” Ayalew said. “I didn’t know how to get involved. I think the biggest thing UMKC needs is community spirit. We need to support our athletes, and we need our athletes to support us in academics.”
More than anything, Ayalew wants an “all around better support system for our students.”
“We know that you can never have radical change in a short term,” Ayalew said. “What we want to do as an exec board is set up a goal where we have a five and a 10 year plan. What do we see UMKC doing five years from now?”
Ayalew also wants to make sure that UMKC students’ voices are heard. “If we pay tuition, we are the students that go here and it’s our decisions that should actually matter; it’s our decisions that should be heard,” Ayalew said. “We want to give students a platform.”
Making students’ voices heard means listening to how students feel about being at UMKC, in light of not only the academic climate, but also the political climate.
“Everything going on in Baltimore, the race riots, the LGBTQIA community, the things going on in the Middle East, every single one of these issues affects our students in some way,” Ayalew said. “We want our students to know that we support them in progressiveness. We want them to know that they have the ability to liberate their minds and their Senate supports that.”
Ayalew thinks UMKC needs to pay more attention to the cultural climate at the University as well.
“I was excited that we had a climate survey for sexual orientation, but we didn’t have one for race, and that to me is extremely disappointing,” Ayalew said. “[race] is just as an important topic and our students need to be honest and be able to voice their concerns about it.”
Ayalew is a Black Studies major, and is well-versed in the problems facing the black community, but would like to know how all students at UMKC feel about race.
“It’s extremely important that we know the climate of these classrooms so we know if [students] feel comfortable enough to either discuss or contribute to these classroom settings.”
Aaylew’s concerns aren’t limited towards race, she also wants to make sure religious minorities are represented on campus as well.
“Our people who are underrepresented in religious perspectives don’t a voice on campus,” said Ayalew. “Our Muslim students don’t have enough prayer rooms, and that’s an issue. Islam is a way of life, and people aren’t given the access to pray, and that’s a problem.”
Ayalew says she feels the same way about Christian students having a place to pray, and said she would support a student measure to get prayer rooms on campus.
Ayalew is a junior studying Philosophy and Black Studies. She hopes to become a professor and help “liberate the minds” of future students.