Fatkhulloeva/Kayitare win: International student duo to lead student body

After a few hours of wait, election results were announced in the Maize, to name Amina Fatkhulloeva and Eunice Gikundiro Kayitare as the college’s new SGA president and vice president and serve for the 2021-2022 term.

Born and raised in the mountainous Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Fatkhulloeva is a junior international student majoring in accounting and finance with a minor in French. Fatkhulloeva is not only the first student from Tajikistan but also one of the first United World Colleges (UWC) graduates and Davis scholar to step a foot on Concordia’s campus. 

“One of the reasons that I decided to run for SGA this year was because I knew students needed to be better represented in the school’s board and have better communication with the administration about our well-being,” she said. 

One of Fatkhulloeva’s main campaign goals is transparency and open communication. She explained her frustration that a lot of decisions that were being made for the last fall did not involve student voices. 

“We are the ones that are being affected by these decisions, we should be present and play our part,” she added. 

Fatkhulloeva was not part of SGA before running for the president position. However, she is the student representative in both Concordia’s President’s Sustainability Council and Offutt Student Leaders Organization. 

“I thought I could be a leader in different parts of the college and still be a proactive part of my community. However, although I have done a lot and been a member of many things, it did not give me enough platform to push for change that I and many other students wanted to see,” she said. 

Fatkhulloeva believes in SGA’s strong platform by making the organization more active. She decided to run for president just three days before ballots were due. But she decided it was one of her only chances to be a better active student leader on campus with the help of her vice president, Kayitare. 

Kayitare is also one of Concordia’s first two Davis scholars to come all the way from Rwanda alongside Fatkhulloeva. She also graduated from UWC and decided to major in neuroscience. Being SGA’s new vice president is not her first leadership position. She is also the president of the International Student Organization (ISO), where she works to integrate newly coming international students to American culture and help them get to know each other. 

“Being the ISO president has taught me a lot. I learned that we are not just representing international students but also we help bring Cobbers together by celebrating our diversity,” said Kayitare. 

Kayitare said that it is possible to bring Cobbers together, but she recognizes that student involvement on campus is low at the moment. 

“The fact that no one was running was a question mark for me. It is a clear indication that students are not aware of what is happening to them,” she said. 

According to SGA’s election marshal, Uyanga Naranbaatar, the general student body engagement this year was 22.9% in comparison to 40% from last year’s election, a significant drop. 

Naranbaatar is SGA junior class representative for 2020-2021 but she has voluntarily stepped in to serve as 2021 election marshal. Her role replaced the Election and Credentials Council (ECC) Chair, Christian Elmer, as he was running for election this year and could not serve as the election marshal. 

“I think it’s not a good reason to look at the number change. Because of COVID-19 and many other things, there were not a lot of candidates running for positions, and most importantly, there was not any competition,” she said.

Last year’s SGA election had three junior class representative candidates and three pairs running for SGA president and vice president. This year there was only one ticket for president, two for juniors, one for seniors and none for sophomore class representatives. 

There are many factors for low student engagement both in running for positions and electing. Naranbaatar mentioned that some students, especially among the first-year student population, did not even know what SGA was. 

“Even though it is hard, we cannot blame COVID-19 for everything, we could have done better,” she said. 

Fatkhulloeva and Kayitare’s goal is to make SGA more present in students’ lives through more open communication and better transparency, and with strength and resilience. 

“It is not about our biases, our differences, or where we come from, it is all about our common goals, and the goal is to learn and progress through this process,” she added.

On February 23, Cobbers were encouraged to practice their democratic right to vote for their representatives in Student Government Association (SGA). Election season at Concordia College began on Feb. 8 as students expressed interest to run for leadership positions, and continued until candidates were voted in by the student body. 

After a few hours of wait, election results were announced in the Maize, to name Amina Fatkhulloeva and Eunice Gikundiro Kayitare as the college’s new SGA president and vice president and serve for the 2021-2022 term.

Born and raised in the mountainous Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Fatkhulloeva is a junior international student majoring in accounting and finance with a minor in French. Fatkhulloeva is not only the first student from Tajikistan but also one of the first United World Colleges (UWC) graduates and Davis scholar to step a foot on Concordia’s campus. 

“One of the reasons that I decided to run for SGA this year was because I knew students needed to be better represented in the school’s board and have better communication with the administration about our well-being,” she said. 

One of Fatkhulloeva’s main campaign goals is transparency and open communication. She explained her frustration that a lot of decisions that were being made for the last fall did not involve student voices. 

“We are the ones that are being affected by these decisions, we should be present and play our part,” she added. 

Fatkhulloeva was not part of SGA before running for the president position. However, she is the student representative in both Concordia’s President’s Sustainability Council and Offutt Student Leaders Organization. 

“I thought I could be a leader in different parts of the college and still be a proactive part of my community. However, although I have done a lot and been a member of many things, it did not give me enough platform to push for change that I and many other students wanted to see,” she said. 

Fatkhulloeva believes in SGA’s strong platform by making the organization more active. She decided to run for president just three days before ballots were due. But she decided it was one of her only chances to be a better active student leader on campus with the help of her vice president, Kayitare. 

Kayitare is also one of Concordia’s first two Davis scholars to come all the way from Rwanda alongside Fatkhulloeva. She also graduated from UWC and decided to major in neuroscience. Being SGA’s new vice president is not her first leadership position. She is also the president of the International Student Organization (ISO), where she works to integrate newly coming international students to American culture and help them get to know each other. 

“Being the ISO president has taught me a lot. I learned that we are not just representing international students but also we help bring Cobbers together by celebrating our diversity,” said Kayitare. 

Kayitare said that it is possible to bring Cobbers together, but she recognizes that student involvement on campus is low at the moment. 

“The fact that no one was running was a question mark for me. It is a clear indication that students are not aware of what is happening to them,” she said. 

According to SGA’s election marshal, Uyanga Naranbaatar, the general student body engagement this year was 22.9% in comparison to 40% from last year’s election, a significant drop. 

Naranbaatar is SGA junior class representative for 2020-2021 but she has voluntarily stepped in to serve as 2021 election marshal. Her role replaced the Election and Credentials Council (ECC) Chair, Christian Elmer, as he was running for election this year and could not serve as the election marshal. 

“I think it’s not a good reason to look at the number change. Because of COVID-19 and many other things, there were not a lot of candidates running for positions, and most importantly, there was not any competition,” she said.

Last year’s SGA election had three junior class representative candidates and three pairs running for SGA president and vice president. This year there was only one ticket for president, two for juniors, one for seniors and none for sophomore class representatives. 

There are many factors for low student engagement both in running for positions and electing. Naranbaatar mentioned that some students, especially among the first-year student population, did not even know what SGA was. 

“Even though it is hard, we cannot blame COVID-19 for everything, we could have done better,” she said. 

Fatkhulloeva and Kayitare’s goal is to make SGA more present in students’ lives through more open communication and better transparency, and with strength and resilience. 

“It is not about our biases, our differences, or where we come from, it is all about our common goals, and the goal is to learn and progress through this process,” she added.

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