Some candidates in this year’s undergraduate student government election said they think international students participated more actively compared to past elections.
Newly elected General Representative 2 Kayla He said she thinks international students who were previously unaware of the Undergraduate Students Association Council participated in this year’s election by campaigning and voting.
“There was definitely more participation,” He said. “My campaign had a lot of Chinese students who didn’t even know what USAC was before.”
She is one of the two international students elected to serve on next year’s council. This is the first time since 2015 that USAC has had any international council members.
She said she was able to engage more international students in her campaign through her involvement in different international student programs, such as the USAC President’s Committee of International Relations.
“Through USAC international relations committee, I met a lot of students from different countries,” He said. “So when I started campaigning, I reached out to international students by explaining what USAC is and how they can voice themselves through the council, and this gave them the motivation to be on board with the election.”
Vivy Li, incoming USAC internal vice president and another international council member, said she thinks the support she received from her international friends helped her throughout the election.
“I personally know 400 to 500 international students,” Li said. “Although I didn’t ask them to flyer or update their Facebook for me, they (still) did and helped me in this campaign.”
Ung Lik Teng, a first-year political science and statistics student, said he thinks international students have been historically indifferent about USAC elections because the council tends to overlook the international community.
Ung said he hopes Li and He will help better represent the international community on the council table next year.
Ung, who is currently the policy co-chair of the International Student Leadership Coalition, said his coalition created a video series this year to better inform international student voters about the different candidates in this year’s election.
“There hasn’t been enough motivation for them to check out everyone’s platform and make an informed decision,” Ung added. “And quite frankly, Chinese international students might have only voted for Vivy and Kayla.”
Some international students said this year’s election was the first time they voted.
“I voted this year because there was someone (Justin Jackson) I knew and trusted who was running as general representative,” said Hyunkyong Lee, a third-year psychology student from South Korea.
Jenny Wang, a third-year international development studies and mathematics and economics student from China, said she voted because one of her friends recommended she vote for Jackson and He.
Other international students said they knew about the elections but did not vote.
“I saw the banners everywhere on campus, but I didn’t vote because I’m not that into politics,” said Ramie Pham, a third-year sociology student from Vietnam.
Kayla He said she thinks international students are not engaged with USAC because they are not well informed about the council. She added she plans to encourage more campus involvement from the international community as a council member.
“I plan to further unite students from different cultures and encourage them to get more involved with on-campus clubs and events,” He said. “I want to stress the fact that I am not going to represent but serve international students.”