Student Senate president steps down

Natalie Connors, Editor in Chief

Participating in Student Senate is one of the most direct ways people can get involved and make an impact in their school. Student Senate President Tariq Anjum stepped down this week from his seat, and has opened himself up for a Clarion interview.

Anjum started attending Madison College in 2010, an international student from Pakistan. After just taking classes and working for a few years, he made the decision to get more involved and run for senate office in 2013. When he first came to Madison College, Anjum described himself as “a shy person, I didn’t mingle.”

After leaving to go back to Pakistan, he returned to the U.S. to attend Madison College, and this time resolved to be more involved at school.

He applied to be student representative on the state level for Madison College and was interviewed. In the end he said he was passed over, and after asking for advice on how to improve he was told he should try something else.

“They advised me that I would be a more suitable candidate for (student) senate presidency official,” said Anjum.

He began to think of the position, “Not just to challenge myself, but to help others as well,” he said.

He spent two semesters as senator and was inspired by friend and former Student Senate president Colin Bowden to run for office. Anjum ran and won this past fall and has been serving as president until he decided to step down in early February.

Anjum enjoyed being Student Senate president and improving student experience. He came into office focusing on textbook cost reduction, improving advising services and empowering students.

“My hope, even though I’m leaving, is by the end of the semester, Student Senate will make some progress in textbook cost reduction,” Anjum said.

Unfortunately the time commitment made him reconsider the position. Student Senate president comes with a boatload of responsibilities that can be time consuming.

Anjum spent 10-12 hours in meetings each week in addition to open office hours and time spent emailing. Being student body president also requires you to be full time student, and Anjum carries 16 credits.

Two of those classes are physics and chemistry, and Anjum said grades were the tipping point that caused him to make the decision.

If school and senate weren’t enough, Tariq also works multiple part-time jobs. He spends another 12-15 hours a week at school as continuing education student help and 30-35 hours working as a cashier downtown. Facing a decision to either fail classes or step down from Senate, Tariq chose to focus on school.

“The problem is … most of the time (in liberal arts) you are taking general courses. But this semester I am taking chem one and calculus. Those are not hard classes, but they require more and more time to practice,” he said.

“Since I don’t have enough time to practice, I have fear in my mind that if I continue I might suffer in my academic area. … I could step down from one of those jobs, but then how will I pay my bills?”

But Anjum said he doesn’t want to relate his personal situation to this position.

“We all came from different background. Not everyone has the same financial resources, so I believe in order to attract more students, in order to create a good leadership team, and create healthy competition, it’s important to have some sort of compensation for that position.”

“I’m not a fan of compensating this position by hour,” said Anjum. Instead, he thinks that a full scholarship would attract strong candidates to the position.

Anjum pointed out that, logistically, that could get complicated. The fee structure for out of state students is totally different than instate tuition. International students pay much higher tuition than Wisconsin residents.

Currently, Student Senators are awarded stipends at the end of each semester, $250 for senators, and $350 for officers.

“I will really miss Student Senate itself, Student Senate team and my colleagues at Madison College,” Anjum said.

In the case of mid-semester resignation, a new president must be selected from the current body of student senators. Senate members elected Isaac Brown as president by a vote of 7-6 against A.J. Cifuentes on Thursday, Feb. 12.