Ghufran Salih brings compassion and selflessness to her Student Association presidency
Salih offers SA presidency selflessness, compassion
Kyle Rosenblum met Ghufran Salih last summer when they shared a kayak together as orientation leaders. As the group of students approached a land divide in the river, Rosenblum and Salih kayaked down one path while the rest went down the other. They were both late to the next activity after they decided to go ashore and got lost on their way back, Rosenblum said.
Since that day they’ve become close friends and running mates. They recently won the 2018 Student Association election for vice president and president at Syracuse University.
Salih, the newly elected SA president, is a first-generation American in her family and one of about 200 students who self-identify as Muslim at SU.
“There was always an expectation that I was to represent my community with everything I do.” Salih said. “That’s just how the world works, and I’m viewed as a representative of my community.”
Both of Salih’s parents emigrated from Sudan, and she was born in Chicago. Later, she moved to Malaysia with her mother and four other siblings. When Salih was a sophomore in high school, she decided to move back to the United States alone to live with her grandparents in Texas, where she stayed until she arrived at SU.
Although she frequently visits her father in Chicago, who stayed behind to further his career, Salih hasn’t seen her mother or her siblings since she left Malaysia.
“It’s difficult but I think that it’s made me grow as a person and it makes the reunion that we’re going to have a lot better,” Salih said. She frequently talks with her mom on the phone and said she is her biggest role model.
Rosenblum said, “Her mom has been one of our biggest supporters, it’s really been amazing. Her mom has been with us the entire way.”
A sophomore information and technology major, Salih is an active member both on and off campus. She is the assistant stage manager for First Year Players, a theater organization for first year students, and works as an event laborer for Student Centers and Programming Services.
Salih also mentors two high school students at Nottingham High School. She spends two hours a week reviewing their homework and checking up on them. She is currently helping one of her mentees with college applications, which is not a new task for Salih.
Enia Robles, Salih’s best friend from high school, said Salih also helped her with college applications back in senior year.
“I knew I wanted to go to college, but it was hard for me to get the jumpstart on that,” Robles said. “If it weren’t for her I don’t know if I would have made it this far without struggling. I owe her a lot for that.”
For some students, it is this compassion and selflessness that makes her the best candidate for SA president.
“She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. She is always thinking of other people before she’s thinking of herself,” Rosenblum said. “I think that’s so critical, to have a student body president that is so in-touch with the student body and so compassionate about their voices and their needs. That’s, in my opinion, what makes her the most qualified.”
“I think she’s exactly what SA needs in a president,” said Marcella Desharnais, Salih’s mentee in First Year Players. “Her and Kyle both, they really want to hear what the students want to change and I know for a fact that she will make those changes.”
Salih said she and Rosenblum hope to change the dynamic of how students view the Student Association, as well as encourage communication between students and board members. They also want to increase transparency regarding the recent Invest Syracuse tuition increase of $3,300 for incoming students.
Invest Syracuse is a $100 million academic fundraising plan and the university hopes to raise $30 million through the tuition premium. Salih and Rosenblum plan on pushing the administration to release a report detailing the allocation of the extra money and how many students would be receiving financial aid to cover the increase.
Salih, who pays for school with her father, said $3,300 is a lot of money.
“We have to make sure that the administration is aware these things are happening,” Salih said. “That there are students that are being directly affected, not only by the new raise but by the raise of inflation.”
“Education is not a privilege,” Salih said. “It’s a right.”