Meet Helie Dharia: A Students Party Senator

 

In Gujarati, an Indo-European language, her surname means “strong-willed.”

That is one of the qualities a good politician must possess to battle odds and succeed, and it is a trait Helie Dharia embodies through student politics on campus.

The 20-year-old junior said it is important to be informed about the issues and take the opportunity now to learn about candidates before elections, which begin October 1. Her own involvement stemmed from frustration she had with campus nuisances.

Between a combination of the one-hour wait for advising at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the removal of national papers from campus newsstands, and a faulty voting system, Dharia said she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She has been involved with Senate for two years, and last year, she became the District D Student Government senator. Since then, she has sponsored a bill to encourage online voting, has worked towards improving the CLAS advising organization, and has requested the return of the New York Times and USA Today to campus.

Her efforts may have been to no avail in the past, but growing popularity to the Students Party gives her strong hopes for the future.


When she runs again to maintain her senatorial position, Dharia said she plans to implement her previous ideas, bring more lighting to campus at night, and raise awareness of sexual assault for student safety.

The $18.9 million budget, she said is not always handled effectively. She wants to change that, and being surrounded by determined peers has positively influenced her. Besides learning about leadership, organization, and time management, Dharia said she has gained a network of passionate friends who have worked toward the same goals as she has.

“SG attracts a lot of driven, motivated people,” Dharia said. “They care about their community, and they usually care about other politics as well. It's full of people who really believe they can make a difference.”

She said being active in the student government has branched over to her studies, future career, and free-time activities. When she isn’t spending eight hours a week in the senate – and 30 hours per week when campaigning – she volunteers for local county commission campaigns and supports Democratic candidates during election times. She banks, canvasses, and talks to voters on their behalf. Student government, she said, is just as important as broader politics, and there are parallels between the two.

“SG plays a huge role in your college experience… I am very liberal, and I think that the idea of giving power to the people and letting the everyday student have a voice is something that progressives have in common with the Students Party.”

What started as motive to make a few changes in the university and local community has helped Dharia grow as a leader, and she said she wants to extend her power to benefit the student body as a whole.

“Being a leader means understanding the needs of the people you are leading and helping them achieve what they want,” she said. “We take it really seriously sometimes, and that's because we really want to make sure SG is the best it can be for all students.”