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As ASUW elections continue through today, many students anticipate the outcome of this year’s elections and what the future will hold for UW students. There are a great deal of qualified candidates this year, running unopposed: a particularly exceptional group of students running for office with their campaign Uplift UW. These students have had numerous legislative experiences in the past and come from many diverse backgrounds: a true representation of the UW student body.

Uplift UW and their continuous contributions to the student experience

The campaign called Uplift UW is comprised of eight students running for office. The Uplift UW ticket for 2021-2022 ASUW Board of Directors includes:

  • President: Mustapha Samateh
  • Vice President: Kaitlyn Laibe
  • University Affairs: Lukas Illa
  • Diversity Efforts: Shewit Alemayehu
  • Campus Partnerships: Michael Saunders
  • Community Relations: Geeta Iyer
  • Programming: Ruba Ayub
  • Internal Policy: Nicole Hishmeh

All of the candidates are devoted to increasing inclusivity and strive to “uplift” the student experience at the University of Washington. The candidates have been involved in extensive advocacy work in the past and are dedicated to dismantling discriminatory systems that remain at UW. They are aware of the systemic barriers that underrepresented students face on a daily basis and pledge to work tirelessly to address solutions. The candidates are involved in their community, engaged in social activism, and recognize the importance of uplifting students’ voices; ensuring that students of colour feel heard.

As a whole, the candidates are confident and prepared to help students transition smoothly to a “new normal” (resuming in-person classes and campus life). Through bringing students together via forums and similar events, they plan to help ease this uncertain transition back to campus in the fall. While ASUW has accomplished a great deal on behalf of UW students in the past, they haven’t always been an accessible resource to all students. The Uplift UW candidates want to change that by ensuring that ASUW is truly representative of every student’s needs.

a brief summary of my thoughts on The Daily and their recent actions

I was extremely disappointed by the offensive cartoons that The Daily chose to publish last week, especially since I have always supported them in the past and have enjoyed reading many of their older articles. Upon first glance at the drawing, I was confused what I was even looking at and didn’t find it funny in the slightest. After reading the accompanying text and additional comments the author had made regarding ASUW candidates, I was shocked that this had ever been published, and felt that the images were very offensive to the 2021 ASUW candidates.

In hopes of further insight and opinions, I asked my boyfriend about his thoughts regarding the cartoon, and as as a person of colour, he was able to explain lived experiences he has had that this cartoon particularly discredited. He did a much better job of articulating the prominent issues of this piece. 

He said that first and foremost, racism aside, it’s just offensive to be likened to an animal (in the cartoon) and that if he were running for office he would certainly take even more offense to the publication. It was an unnecessarily hurtful action and the paper could have simply chose to say that they don’t endorse the candidates this year, instead of poking fun at the candidates and trying to turn something offensive into humor.

Since The Daily had referred to some of the candidates as “lazy,” along with numerous other microaggressions, he made a point to explain that this has been a term used for decades to mask systemic racism (for example, it has been used in the past to label specific groups of people without taking into consideration the oppression they’ve endured that may have prevented them from reaching their full potential, in contrast with their white peers who have a blatant advantage). This shows the ignorance (or disrespect) of the author and The Daily for not realizing how their actions would impact the UW BIPOC community.

Overall, the publication was offensive and unnecessary, and diminished the humanity of these outstanding candidates. We stand with the candidates and feel that actions such as this are completely intolerable. In the future, Uplift UW will continue to curate a safe space for all students and condemn anything less than supportive of students and their identity.  

cast your vote!

ALL students are eligible to participate and vote in the ASUW elections. This is an excellent way to make your voice heard and your opinion matter.

You can learn more about the Uplift UW candidates at https://www.upliftuw.com/

And you can vote at http://vote.asuw.org/ (then click on the ballot link)

Voting closes tonight (May 5th, 2021) at 11:45pm PST so please make sure to get your votes in early!

Mercy Johnson

Washington '23

Mercy is a second-year physiology major at the University of Washington who hopes to become a physician someday. She enjoys journalism, ethics, and anthropology courses. In her spare time, she loves to run, ski, hike, slackline, garden, travel, and read. She is also a devoted coffee connoisseur!
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