Elections for the 2021-2022 positions in the Student Senate are currently active, and the presidential candidates are Michael Moussa, a third year computer engineering major, and Anuja Badeti, a third year computer science major. Moussa has served as the Vice President of Finance this past academic year, and Badeti has served as the Vice President of Student Affairs. The two competitors were interviewed about their plans and reasons why they are competent to serve as the following academic year’s Student Senate President.
Moussa’s goals include “increas[ing] the sense of community and pride among NJIT” students, with his main course of action being reaching out to student leaders to “receive their support and outreach.”
“It is not a secret that the Student Senate can not reach all 8,000 undergraduate students that attend NJIT; however, we are provided with a direct link to all organizations that are present on campus,” he explained. He also mentioned that this ties into the divide the virtual setting introduced last year. Due to the considerably high volume of students who have not had proper face-to-face experiences this year, he said, “I believe that holding a forum early on in the semester to discuss student needs and concerns and presenting those to NJIT faculty will facilitate a smooth transition to in-person learning… I hope, as president, I am able to provide this normalcy to the student body.”
Being the Vice President of Finance this year, Moussa has gained a greater understanding of Student Senate, organizations and university finances. He also currently sits on the Board of Trustees Auditing and Finance Committee, in which he has “a direct voice to the individuals that make financial decisions on behalf of the university.” He aims to “help student organizations receive the funding they need in order to hold events and different activities on campus for the student body, while at the same time [working] with Senate to create and propose larger, funded events, similar to the previous A Boogie Concert.”
Moussa expressed that the best way to increase student involvement is through different organizations, whether they are funded by Student Senate or not. “One of my goals as president is to work with the Vice President of Finance and the Director of Student Organizations to create an ‘Organization Success Grant’ in order to allow organizations who were able to make an impact on campus to continue to hold events and impact campus positively.”
A matter that Moussa would like to address as President is the student body’s unfamiliarity with Student Senate and its functions. “I hope to provide the student body transparency with the Senate for them to see its impact on campus. Creating transparency, while being a vague goal, is a necessary goal,” he stated, since he has noticed students complain that Senate does nothing or that they are corrupt. “While these two statements are false, students have not been provided proper insight defaulting them to have this mindset.” He would like to hold events to which the students can come and provide feedback for the Senate while also being introduced to the Senate’s purpose and goals.”
During his time in Student Senate and other organizations in the past, Moussa is proud to have achieved several goals for the NJIT student body, including refunding approximately 35% of the Student Activity Fees to students in the spring and working with administration to ensure that NJIT was able to have a balanced budget without increasing student tuition. He also started the Student Senate publicly accessible Drive and organized it in an easily accessible fashion. As Commuter Representative, when he noticed the lack of representation of commuters, he helped to establish the Off-Campus & Commuter Association (OCCA) with the goal of representing all commuters, similar to the Resident Hall Association.
Moussa indicated, “I was able to accomplish all these goals by making myself available to the student body and being able to place myself in the position to examine and listen to my peers to help them as much as possible in my elected position.”
Badeti has similar objectives if elected as President in the coming year; she stated, “I want to collaborate with student organizations to be able to work together on events and/or initiatives, have bigger and better engagement from students and bring more awareness to their communities.”
She explained, “The main motivator towards this becoming a staple in my campaign is from my experience as the Vice President of Student Affairs. One of the initiatives that we were able to pass and complete was designing and distributing [reusable] GDS bags” after students showed concerns about sustainability on campus. “I took that feedback as an opportunity to work closely with NJIT Green to come up with a sustainable replacement for plastic bags and to see how Senate’s resources were able to help.” According to Badeti, Student Senate and NJIT Green will continue to work together to make Earth Day the best that it can be.
“My ultimate goal with regards to activities is to get as much engagement as possible to boost pride in NJIT and make campus lively. This means delegating tasks to my fellow e-Board members and their committees, prioritizing as many streams of advertising as possible and knowing when to fight for certain controls and when to relinquish them,” she described.
Three of the most prominent matters that Badeti projects to work through are “having a greener campus, boosting NJIT pride and establishing transparency of ongoing senate initiatives. In regard to boosting NJIT pride, I want to collaborate with NJIT’s athletics department, its commuter association and other larger organizations to be able to host and execute large scale events for the NJIT community,” she said. “I want to address the transparency issue by either creating or enforcing the utilization of the Student Senate discord” in order to relay up-to-date information about Student Senate’s initiatives.
Badeti believes the most pressing concern at the moment is the transition to a fully in-person semester. With this in mind, she mentioned that the OCCA is “an organization that I envision having the biggest adjustment going from an online semester to a completely in-person one… I want to put a large focus on planning events for our large commuter population.”
While speaking about her experience as the Vice President of Student Affairs, she said, “I think that out of all the e-Board positions on Senate, the Vice President of Student Affairs is most similar to President in that I am very close to students in listening to their feedback, and I’m able to direct and delegate tasks to my committee to work towards the goal of solving these issues.” She added that “the role of Vice President of Finance, in nature, requires less student interaction and problem-solving abilities.” Badeti believes her role has allowed her to “advocate for students with campus-wide changes, understand how to view finances on a macro level and to fight for the changes that students want to see.”
Two initiatives that she has created and completed include providing reusable bags in Gourmet Dining Services and purchasing introductory level textbooks to be available at the library. She has made substantial progress on “providing free pad/tampon dispensers, buying solar paneled outdoor umbrella tables, collaborating on Earth Day and Mental Health Day plans and drafting plans to have a firepit on the [campus] green.”
She stated, “I have worked on a wide range of projects that will affect students in all communities, and I hope to continue to have this level of ambition and dedication in my role as President.”