Kiannah-Nicole Karani, a first-year environmental science major, traveled nearly 10,000 miles from Nairobi, Kenya to get to the Hilltop. She has just been elected the newest senator for the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF) Senate, and in her term in office, she wants to improve campus safety and streamline communication between students and administration.
“It is insane – it feels like so much has happened already,” Karani said. “So far I’ve voted on the resolution to accommodate Sikh identifying students to carry their Kirpan with them, and the menstrual product provision resolution too. We have held a town hall, heard over six resolutions presented in the senate weekly meetings, and I’ve attended my first Internal Affairs meeting.”
Karani said that her desire to run for the Senate started when her friends talked to her about issues they saw on campus. “It was literally orientation week, and there were already so many concerns,” she said. Karani said a lack of awareness about campus activities, worries about security, and dismay over the absence of toilet seat covers were the most common concerns.
“I wanted to be in a position to hopefully bring these concerns to people who could do something.” The next step for Karani was to begin campaigning, an experience she described as intense and intimidating. “Printing posters and using social media was the most stressful part of it all because it’s very much centered around trying to stand out to the people who’ll be voting.”
After registering to run for Senate, Karani was allowed to begin campaigning, where she ran on a platform of “For you, with you.” She said, “Because I’m in the position of being a voice for the freshman class, I can’t only consider my own opinion. I’m trying to focus on gaining a collective understanding of what students want to see and letting that be the message I’m trying to push.”
Karani said that lots of students in her year specifically are worried about public safety. “This is one of the problems that us freshmen are especially concerned about because we’re in a new environment and being in this environment, having your safety compromised is very concerning.”
As reported by the Foghorn in September, there were two separate occasions of students being robbed in a month as well as reports about an alleged stalker near campus. Additionally, Karani said that students have expressed frustration with transportation, specifically the wait times with the Public Safety shuttles.
In addition to these issues, Karani said, “A lot of the freshmen feel as though they don’t know what’s happening on campus. The consensus I’ve heard is that they just need a better way of receiving that kind of information.”
Karani has proposed a new method of communication between admin and students beyond just social media posts. While SLE sends out the “Phoenix” newsletter with campus events every week, Karani wants another line of communication that is student-run. “I’m currently in the early stages of working on designing a mailing list, because while not all students have social media, we’re all required to have a USF email, so everyone would have access to it,” she said.
The desire for this student-run newsletter, sharing campus activities, stems from Karani’s struggle to find community nearly 10,000 miles from home, she told the Foghorn. “On a more personal level though, figuring out how to survive so far away from home was definitely more difficult than I previously thought it would be.”
Reflecting on her experience campaigning, Karani said “I am grateful for everyone who voted for me because all of the candidates were literally so amazing and it was just fun to be running against such smart, capable people.”
While Karani said she still has a lot to look forward to at Senate, she said she is grateful for the community she has already found in student government. “I feel as though the Senate is family. It feels as though you can go to anyone and they’d be willing to help you.”
Jordan DelFiugo is a second-year psychology major and a general assignment reporter for the Foghorn. She can be reached at email@example.com.