SGA Candidates: Connor Murphy and Shassata Fahim

Her Campus: Where are you from and how has that influenced you?

Connor Murphy’s family is mostly from Arkansas, but he’s spent most of his life in New Jersey or on a train to New York City. His dad grew up on a farm and worked to fund his own higher education, taking 8 years to graduate college because of his responsibilities. Connor says his dad and those humble beginnings “ground him,” while his time in New York has sent him to the sky. He recognizes his own privileged experience and hopes to use that to “make resources available to others,” an issue close to his heart.

Shassata Fahim was born in Bangladesh but moved with his parents to the United States at the age of four to seek better educational opportunities. He grew up in Charlottesville, VA and attended public school. His unique background as a Bangladeshi-American immigrant and a Muslim led him to have “identity struggles,” but he ultimately found a sense of community beyond these identifiers. Now he works to defend marginalized communities across the board.

HC: Do you have a cute "Why Davidson" story you'd like to share? What drew you here?

Connor was looking to return to his roots by heading South. When he visited Davidson, his grandma joined him on the tour and loved the school. Her excitement enthused him as well, an emotion furthered by his encounter with Dr. Chris Alexander. Connor was blown away by how Dr. Alexander took interest in him as an individual and took the time to converse, engaging him in a discussion about international politics. Today, Dr. Alexander is Connor’s advisor. D’awwww.

Shazzy applied to Davidson through QuestBridge, a scholarship program for “low-income high achievers.” His Dad was hospitalized in North Carolina at the time Shazzy was considering college options, and Shazzy decided to go to school nearby. Having recovered from a surgery where his chances of making it out were “50-50,” Shazzy’s dad joined him and the entire family on a tour of Davidson. Everyone loved it, but what truly won Shazzy over was his tour guide’s honesty; when asked about Davidson’s diversity, she responded by commending the administration’s commitment to diversity, but noted that they were “still working on it.”

HC: What is the issue closest to your heart these days?

Connor: My answer is twofold. Personally, my younger brother has severe autism. He’s going to need a lot of help in the coming years. People like him are mostly ignored in legislation and politics these days, but part of our goal [his and Shazzy’s collective goal] is to be "a voice for the voiceless." In high school, I worked on the issue of autism employment, and I plan to continue that in the future. Then, my broader issue is the availability of resources.If this school wants to commit itself to a socioeconomically diverse student body, but we’re not willing to commit ourselves to provide the resources that a socioeconomically disadvantaged populace demands, then we fail our community.”

Shazzy: “The xenophobia and exclusionary rhetoric” that’s been surging recently. As an immigrant and as a Muslim, I am deeply troubled by the Islamophobia that has manifested in our country and even on campus. You can tell it’s an issue even here by looking at how many people are coming to solidarity events. It’s the same faces. We need to more dialogue and less political correctness. “If someone asks me ‘Isn’t Islam basically rooted in violence?’ I will be offended, but if the question is sincere I am more than willing to engage in that conversation.” We need to “foster a community” that is comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations. We’re used to making conservatives lean into liberal discourse, “but what about liberals having to lean into a conservative discourse?” I stand with the LGBTQIA+ community, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Muslims, immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and everyone marginalized in our nation. Davidson should be a “microcosm of society,” so we need to have “diversity of thought,” not just diversity in our identifiers.

What are your areas of influence at Davidson?

Connor is the current vice president of the SGA. He’s worked on most aspects of student life, most recently addressing the challenges of overcrowding in housing and various aspects of religious life policy. He’s also a part of SAE, and before taking on so much student government responsibility, he was involved in the Pre-Business Society.

Shazzy is the co-president of Davidson’s QuestBridge program and leads their discourse on intersectionality, especially in terms of class and socioeconomic status. In his QuestBridge position, he’s been working closely with the administration and President Quillen to provide tangible resources to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds through initiatives like DavidsonShares. As the vice president and the Interfaith Liason of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Shazzy has been heavily involved in interfaith work in cooperation with Better Together and the wonderful Elizabeth Welliver. He’s also a Bonner scholar and engages in 140 hours of service per semester, volunteering previously at Ada and DCPC preschool. On top of all that, he serves on the Committee on Campus Religious Life (CCRL), and he’s worked on the school’s alcohol and drug policies for two years. And apparently, he still eats and sleeps!

HC: Are you involved in any sexual assault prevention student organizations? If not, in what ways do you work to make students’ on-campus experiences safer and better?

Shazzy: Connor and I are “working with Dean Shaffer to form a male-led sexual assault committee” that would provide “mandatory bystander training to every fraternity.”

Connor: “Peer accountability is so huge.”

HC: And the issue is even more enormous.

Connor: “To call it a problem is an understatement.” Our goal is really just “the bare minimum” for students to be safe.

Shazzy: “We need to fix the gender imbalance” of the commitment to preventing sexual assault.

HC: What specific actions can you as SGA officials take and what can the broader Davidson community do to combat sexual assault?

Shazzy: I think “SGA takes a reactionary standpoint instead of an ‘actionary’ one” when it comes to sexual assault.

Connor: We’re running to change that…

Shazzy: by “mobilizing in it from the top down. We want to hold organizations accountable,” so when a rape occurs it’s “not just individuals who get punished, but also their fraternities.”

Connor: The PCC organizations are partly responsible if they don’t train or discipline their members. We need “more transparency.”

Shazzy: We can’t have “the same voices saying the same things. Everybody needs to stand up!”

HC: In what areas do school and politics sometimes overlap that they really shouldn't?

Shazzy: The administration is very progressive, sometimes more so than the student body. For example, no one asked President Quillen to send that email (the “Call for community action” missive we all received on Tuesday). However, the administration “can’t grapple with every need of every student, so it’s up to us as liaisons” to represent you to them.

How important is voting in the SGA elections as compared to the local or national ones?

Shazzy: Davidson doesn’t disenfranchise its students like our nation [among other countries] does—you have a voice! Use it! Your vote counts here.

Connor: Everyone at Davidson wants to improve Davidson. We have a common vision.

HC: You have four words to describe Carol Quillen. They do not have to be adjectives. Go.

Connor: I can’t. In four words, I can’t. I have something to say about her, but it’s too long.

HC: I’ll give you 140 characters. A tweet.

Connor: You have to respect and admire her for her willingness to commit to a cause. And considering how she’s faced a lot of opposition, especially as our first female president. Many would surrender before they have to sacrifice, but not her.

Shazzy: I got this in three words. Willingness to engage. She’ll sit down with me and listen to how I’m feeling. She’ll say, “I don’t have the words because I can’t understand what you’re going through. But I am here for you and Davidson is here for you.”

What’s your motto?

Shazzy: “#fromourfoundation we are #for our future”

Connor: also, a voice for the voiceless.”

HC: So do y'all have a Facebook page or a Twitter for your campaign so we can stalk you?

Shazzy: We have a website.

HC: So official.

Connor: www.murphyfahim2017.weebly.com

HC: Best of luck, you two!

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