am writing to the Review to ask Oberlin students to vote for me
in the upcoming Student Senate election. I am a third-year Economics
and Religion major. I am Filipino American.
I have a full term’s worth of experience serving as a senator,
having been on the Senate for the entire previous academic year.
I entered Senate in the company of some of Oberlin’s fiercest
and most brilliant leaders. The community is blessed to have some
of these people still here: Ni’Ja Whitson; Shahana Siddiqui;
Behrad Mahdi; Leila Green; Rebecca Ganetsky. By their example, these
students and others challenged me to fulfill my potential as a senator
and leader. It was difficult, very difficult at times, but I did
not give up. Amazingly, I began to find my own voice among a group
of highly passionate, talented and sometimes very intimidating people.
During my second semester, I served as Organizational Coordinator
for Senate, an officer position. I am pleased to say that I was
able to help several groups of students define institutional spaces
for themselves by going through the chartering process. Among those
groups are: the Student Global Aids Campaign, the Hip-Hop Committee,
OCNORML, Olde English, Tzedek and the Filipino American Student
Around this time, Oberlin’s administration began to deal with
their faltering financial situation. To my anger and disappointment,
their plan for resolving this situation would have resulted in the
crippling of two departments of student life at Oberlin: the Multicultural
Resource Center and the Office of Chaplains. Without consulting
any of the students, the administration planned to remove all interns
in the MRC and cut the position of the Protestant chaplain –
who was and is a dear friend of mine - to half-time.
I joined the ensuing coalition to protect the MRC, which was ably
organized by a number of dedicated student activists, and in time,
the administration rescinded their decision. But many students at
Oberlin still had not heard about the downsizing of the Protestant
chaplain’s position. I took it upon myself, as a senator,
to disseminate that information to the students, and attempted to
organize a coordinated resistance to the administration’s
attack on religious life at Oberlin. We were victorious. The administration
also changed its mind about the cut to the Office of Chaplains,
and agreed to leave the position alone. This still stands as one
of my proudest moments at Oberlin.
Already new conflicts have made themselves known this semester,
and we can be sure that more are to come. However, I have a theory.
I think that the most powerful tool a leader can use is compassion.
I think that problems are resolved most efficiently and most humanly
when they are responded to in a compassionate way. Whenever I have
forgotten this in my own life, it has led to strife and hurt. When
I have remembered this, it has led to joy.
If chosen for a next term, I want to test out this theory. I want
to see if there are better ways to address conflicts than sound