By Gabriela Flores
Punching in the third ticket for the USG presidential race are Malak Yafai and her running mate Hozifa Sowkat, two Brooklyn College sophomores. As student leaders who are active in their respective clubs, the duo is committed to leading the student body with inclusivity, mental health wellness, and student engagement at the forefront of their campaign. Together, they hope to promote a safe, supportive campus culture while actively addressing student needs.
If elected, they hope to lead a student government that carries its constituents’ interests in mind.
“I hope to have a clear vision and mission that reflects the values and priorities of its
members. This can help to guide decision-making and ensure that the organization is
working towards common goals,” wrote presidential candidate Yafai in a statement to The Vanguard. “[…] This includes identifying and empowering talented leaders, promoting transparency and accountability, and fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity.”
Yafai is a Muslim American who emigrated from her native Yemen to the United States, serving as the vice president of the Bridges for Yemen club. Sowkat is also a Muslim American, hailing from Bangladesh and arriving in Brooklyn at only four years old. The pair met through a Muslims Giving Back event, where Sowkat serves as secretary. They connected through club collaborations and joined the presidential race given their shared “enthusiasm, commitment, and willingness to seize opportunities,” according to Sowkat.
“Given our shared passion and excitement, we would form an excellent team,” she further explained, noting Yafai had approached her with the idea of running on the same slate.
Being one of the most ethnically diverse colleges in the north region, BC’s campus environment and its inclusivity are chief factors the duo intends to improve if elected. To address allegations of discrimination at the college, they plan to implement educational programs and workshops; clear policies and procedures that prohibit discrimination and allow students to report incidents; as well as provide open support groups. Concerning mental health wellness, they envision increasing support and resources that help students not only academically, but personally too. Boosting student engagement is another goal of theirs, where they hope to expand learning opportunities, better support student organizations and initiatives, and help students in their pursuit of academic and professional success.
“Me and my partner have asked many Brooklyn College students around campus in the
changes they want to see in the future, and most of the answers we got were about the
expansion in the networking opportunities around school,” wrote Yafai, explaining that the pandemic impacted students’ interactions and motivation, which she and Sowkat hope to improve.
Through their intended efforts to better resources and experiences for students on campus, they believe they will be able to “draw a lot of attention” to BC.
“I believe campus activities and organizations [are] what would make a great contribution with boosting enrollment rate,” Yafai wrote, noting campus climate also plays a significant factor.