Letter to the Editor: Because our struggles are not just bullet points

This past week, campus has been inundated with buzzwords about change, paradigm shifts, social justice and streamlined communication. As Muslim students who are often overlooked or simply lumped in with other marginalized groups in these campus conversations, we feel that it is time to speak up and align ourselves with the candidates who are finally including our specific needs in the conversation. Although both campaigns have included some of the aforementioned buzzwords in their platforms, only one has shown a true understanding of their definitions. Christina and Macs have demonstrated that they are not only qualified to represent us as our next President and Vice President of ASG, but also that they will do so with a nuanced understanding of both the collective and individual needs of the many diverse communities on campus, including those of the Muslim students.

As marginalized students on this campus, there is the everyday social justice that we engage in simply by existing. However, we know that social justice must consist of more than mere protest-by-existence and more than just a bullet point on a political platform. Christina and Macs have demonstrated again and again during their time at Northwestern that they understand the importance of true engagement with social justice. Their extensive track records with regards to issues such as Unshackle NU, Fossil Free NU and NU Divest have proven that they are willing to elevate marginalized voices and support social justice through the means in which those voices have expressed their own wishes, rather than ignoring our desires and using means that are more traditional or simply easy or in line with the status quo — and thereby less effective.

We recognize that Muslim voices have been silent on a number of campus issues in the past; however, we realize the stakes of this election and feel obligated to voice our support for Christina and Macs. While we have nothing but respect for all candidates running, we must acknowledge that Christina and Macs are the candidates that will best serve as our President and Vice President in the upcoming academic year.

When it comes to forms of representation, we firmly believe that substantive representation and a track record of tackling the difficult and divisive issues ASG often faces is more important than descriptive representation and playing to both sides of an issue. As students from an array of backgrounds, all of which have been stifled by some of our fellow Northwestern students at one point or another, we know that there are some issues — such as combatting Islamophobia, racism and discrimination, or promoting the respect of basic human rights and human dignity —  that do not have two sides.

To regain the trust of marginalized communities on campus, ASG is in need of more than just a “paradigm shift” — there needs to be a complete overhaul of the hostile system currently in place and the way we are represented in our student government. Our identities and our struggles are not political capital to be addressed only when convenient. Muslims are disproportionately affected by social justice issues; we and our fellow marginalized students need leadership that is not only cognizant and respectful of this but also eager to work towards changing our experiences as students on this campus for the better.

We, individual Muslim students of Northwestern, don’t settle. Come Thursday, we hope that you choose not to as well and vote for Christina and Macs.

Sumaia Masoom, SESP ‘18
Ruba Assaf, WCAS ‘17
Zahra Haider, Medill ‘17
Kareem Youssef, MCAS ‘17
Naib Mian, Medill ‘17
Omar Shanti, MCAS ‘17
Laila Hayani, WCAS ‘16
Nida Bajwa, Medill ‘17
Alisha Punjwani, Bienen ‘18
Yusuf Kudaimi, WCAS ‘18
Imane Ridouh, WCAS ‘19
Alaa Mohamedali, WCAS ‘16
Besim Becoja, WCAS ‘17
Zoya Khan, WCAS ‘17
Maryam Salem, WCAS ‘19