Name: Masuma Khan
Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Major, Year: International Development Studies, Fourth Year
This position requires lots of advocacy work and organizing campaigns based on student’s special interest groups, what experience do you have in doing this?
I have been the president of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association for the past two years. As president, my job is to advocate on behalf of the Muslim students on Dalhousie campus. I have been actively tackling Islamophobia on our campus through organizing educational talks like “I’m a Muslim, am I a Terrorist,” World Hijab Day and a vigil for the victims of the Quebec mosque shooting within five hours.
In the past year, I have worked at the Dalhousie Student Union’s Equity and Accessibility office as the Campaigns and Outreach Coordinator. I have helped in organizing the Day of Action, cultural appropriation campaigns, allyship workshops, running anti-oppression workshops and am currently organizing a racial justice symposium. In addition, I have dedicated my self to being a social justice activist using the power of my love of poetry to educate the general public on systemic racism and its intersections.
What is it that inspired you to run for this position?
I was inspired to run for the VPAE position for many reasons. This year, I have sat at every council meeting as a non-councilor. Even though I did not hesitate to make my opinion known, I lacked the power to vote and that meant I could not create change.
While working in the DSU over the past year, I have seen first-hand how our members are so disconnected – they have no idea what the DSU does or even what the DSU stands for. Personally, the DSU is where I feel at home on campus – maybe it’s because I’ve been going to Friday prayers in room 307 since I was a little girl – but nonetheless, my love and dedication to the Union is strong. The majority of my inspiration comes from the resilience of our members who juggle debt, while dealing with the lack of mental health support, the lack of safe spaces on campus and a lack of support from the university in general. I want to make sure students receive the Union they pay for. In short, our members are my main inspiration. Without them, there would be no DSU and surely no Dalhousie.
What is one campaign, that is your own idea, that you hope to effectively organize on campus?
I call it the “IT HAPPENS AT DAL” campaign. This campaign focuses on the injustices that happen on our campus on the daily, to which students are unaware of or often disbelieve such events occur.
For example: at the top of the poster page it reads “RACISM” in large bold letters. Below will be the definition: “A system of advantage and privilege based on race, in which one group of people exercises abusive power over others on the basis of skin color and cultural heritage.” Below the definition, in large bold letters “IT HAPPENS AT DAL.”
This campaign serves in two ways: as an educational tool and as a means of communicating with our members that issues like systemic racism is a daily battle for students from the BIPOC community. It’s time that we actively engage with our members on the issues of our campus. If we lack in communication how can we as a union ever actively advocate on behalf of them?
What is your long-term goal for the position, and also your short-term goal?
None of my goals are short-term. Within our Union, due to the fast turnover rates with new executives coming in every year, it’s important that as VPAE, I do not see these goals as short-term but rather goals that will continue to prosper and build capacity in our Union.
My goal is to be an active VPAE who advocates for all students! That means Sexton students, Carleton students, agricultural campus students, international students, students who are sexual assault survivors, graduate students, LQBTQ2s+ students, students with disabilities and so much more.
In the past year, I have found a lack of advocacy and communication with our members. My goal is to have campaigns that are specific to our Union made by our Union in consultation with our Union members.
Most of all, my main goal is to be a VPAE that is approachable, communicative, active, transparent and accountable to our members.
What is your favourite thing about Dalhousie?
My favourite thing about Dalhousie is all memories I have made. My memories span from being a five-year-old who used to watch INDISA rehearsals, going to the Friday sermon in room 307of the SUB, to bussing with my sister to Dal every morning to eat breakfast together on the quad while I was in junior high and high school.
I have grown up on Studley campus, even though I’ve only been a Dalhousie student for four years, so much of my life has revolved around Dalhousie. I have had my fair share of good days and bad, but every time I’m on campus I feel like I’m home. There is an immense sense of comfort when I’m at Dal, but more specifically, the SUB. I automatically associate the SUB with family, friends, community, and the memories that have been created. I wouldn’t have it any other way.