Op-ed: Amma for president

I first met Amma during the picture day for our pre-orientation. We were both part of the Building Engagement and Access for Students at Tufts (BEAST) pre-orientation program, which focuses on acquainting first-generation, low-income students at Tufts. We were all wearing our bright yellow BEAST shirts, but even in a sea of yellow shirts, Amma stood out to me. I would soon get to know Amma even better through our year-long FIRST seminar, which focused on development for first-gen, low-income students, as well as our time together on Roti and Rum, Tufts’ Caribbean dance team. I got to know her as an incredibly resilient, smart and talented young woman. Little did I know that she would soon join me in the Senate as one of our communities’ fiercest advocates and become one of my dearest friends. I have seen her develop into an incredible leader in the Senate body and there is no one else I would trust more with the role. I hope to show you why you should also vote for Amma.

Amma never planned on running for TCU Senate president. Her Senate career was never focused on creating a resume for this position. Rather, Amma saw that in the current times we are living in, our communities need a leader like her. Amma has always stepped up to the plate when she sees real problems and issues she wants to address. Amma decided to run for Class of 2022 senator our sophomore year after seeing real problems in every aspect of her Tufts experience. As an engineering student she saw many issues with the curriculum. She realized that engineers were underrepresented in the Senate and wanted to make real, tangible changes. She quickly got to working on ensuring that Africana Studies classes were added to the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences requirement for engineering students. When any academic resolutions would be proposed on the Senate floor, she made sure that engineering students were taken into consideration, as they would be impacted differently than Arts and Sciences students. She co-authored the exceptional pass/fail policy, ensuring that it was equitable for all students at Tufts, regardless of their major. 

Amma does not just use words and phrases like equity, accountability or “working with marginalized communities,” she actually commits to these principles. After one year in the Senate, Amma saw that the Black community faced many challenges at Tufts. She was elected as the Africana Community Senator. As a former Class of 2022 senator and Latinx community senator for the past two years, I can say that being a community senator is the most challenging role in the Senate. Community senators have to put a lot of emotional energy into an already draining job to ensure that our communities’ voices are heard and centered. Despite this, Amma took the role head on. Amma continuously calls out any inequitable practices or resolutions presented on the Senate floor. Oftentimes she is the first senator to call these issues out. She has never let anyone silence her or her communities’ voices. As Africana Community senator, Amma also led the Africana Advisory Alliance, the council that overlooks all the Black Student Organizations at Tufts. She makes sure that all these organizations are supported and have the resources they need. When any “incident of bias“ has occurred at Tufts, Amma is called upon to ensure students are supported and obtain the resources they may need. Amma and I have worked together to ensure that community senators are communicating with their communities and directors. Amma does not just talk about uplifting marginalized communities; as the only community senator running for president, she is the only candidate that has real experience working for and with these communities. 

I can not speak about Amma without highlighting the fact that she is a Black woman. As a woman of color myself, I know how hard it is to navigate being a student at Tufts and the difficulties that come with entering a space like the TCU Senate and advocating for our communities. For Black students, these difficulties are exacerbated. Amma is an incredibly qualified person for this position. She is a biomedical engineer with a minor in biotechnology on the pre-medical track. This course load alone is incredibly challenging and time-consuming, and despite this she has taken on numerous other commitments, such as the roles of Black Student Union president, a teaching assistant for courses, class and community senator and a dancer for Roti and Rum. Amma does all of this while constantly experiencing racism and anti-Blackness in this institution. Despite this, she excels at everything she does. She is resilient. She is strong. She is powerful. 

A vote for Amma is a vote for the first Black woman president. In the past week Amma has received official endorsements from many Black and brown student organizations like Black Student Union, Caribbean Student Organization, Association for Latin American Students and Tufts Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, among many others. I ask that white students at Tufts actually listen to these voices. If you claim to want to help marginalized students, here is a perfect way to do it. Listen to what we are saying. Listen to what we are saying we want and need. Listen to our stories; listen to why Amma is the only one we trust with our vote. As a brown, first-gen, low-income woman, I know that values like equity and accountability are not only key words for Amma’s campaign; they come from real experience. 

I hope that on April 22 and 23 you help me elect a brilliant and resilient student body president. Amma’s leadership will change the way that the student body functions and will actually center all students at Tufts. As the Latinx community senator for the past two years and as a first-gen, low-income student myself, I know Amma is not full of false promises; she takes action. She works to ensure that every aspect of Tufts life is better. Her campaign is one that centers not on what we can do for her, but what she can do for us, because “She’s with Us!” I am excited and hopeful to see the change that is to come.

Carolina Olea Lezama is a junior studying American studies. Carolina can be reached at [email protected]