When Anu Atte ’19 came to Bryn Mawr, she had no plans to run for any position in the Self-Government Association (SGA). Now, Anu is Bryn Mawr’s first ever Social Justice and Equity Chair.
This year, Anu hopes to help guide SGA toward goals aimed at social justice and inclusion. “I’m basically a megaphone for the communities on campus that need to be heard but aren’t usually,” she says. Anu is eager to focus on substantive change, saying, “It’s so important that we think about social justice in terms of consistently achievable goals.”
Anu aims to use her position to voice concerns from different communities, particularly groups within the Alliance of Multicultural Organizations (AMO). She hopes to amplify their voice within the SGA and Bryn Mawr community. “A lot of the initiatives that I’m working on with the rest of the e-board are bringing AMOs to the forefront,” she says.
Among the initiatives they’re trying this year is “Night Market,” a low-pressure event for AMOs to share parts of their culture. SGA Secretary Shannan Stafford '19 came up with the idea for this event over the summer as the e-board was discussing how they envision the new position.
Bryn Mawr’s first Night Market is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26, from 7-9 p.m. in Old Library. Groups will have booths, tables, snacks, and activities for people to explore. “We really want AMOs to collaborate. The A literally stands for alliance,” says Anu. “They all have kind of similar goals for the groups that they represent, and showing up together as a strong unit for the student body is really important.”
Anu hopes the event will be fun and relaxed. “I think about self care a lot. As people from marginalized communities, we tend to bond because of marginalization and the struggles we share. That’s good for thinking about ways to make change, but it’s a stressful way of thinking, so it’s important to bond in a way that’s not centered around suffering. Instead, we’re focusing on who we are and the parts of our culture that are fun and not about strife. We need that,” she says.
Last year, the 2017-18 e-board, created the Social Justice and Equity Chair position in an effort to make SGA more inclusive.
As the first institution in the U.S. to give students the responsibility to decide how they should govern themselves, Bryn Mawr takes a lot of pride in its SGA. The tradition of student autonomy and responsibility has created a unique campus, and Anu hopes that students will continue to take advantage of the benefits of self governance.
“SGA has your back!” she says. “SGA has so much power on this campus. We’ve been given so much power on this campus to make change. Of course, you don’t have to go through institutions to make change; people can make change outside of SGA. But we are here to provide resources and support and connect you with other students doing similar work. We really are here to be a resource for students.”
In addition to serving on the SGA e-board, Anu works in Dining Services. Now in her fourth year, she is a supervisor at Erdman dining hall. Originally from Nigeria, Anu says, “Freshman year, I was pretty homesick for a bit. Very quickly and surprisingly, working in Dining Services became a fun outlet for me,” she says. “A lot of international students end up working in Dining Services and that atmosphere was very welcoming. For me to feel like the people I work with were also my friends, I wasn’t expecting that out of a job. That’s why I’ve been working there all four years. It was what I needed.”