Fighting for what's right

11 May 2018 | People

Eusebio Omar van Reenen (21) recently made history when he was chosen as the student association president at the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), where he is currently studying.

This feat ensured that the Walvis Bay born and bred student became the first international student to be chosen as president of the prestigious facility.

Van Reenen says he is extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to advocate for the more than 8 000 students at the university.

The student association is a non-profit organisation that seeks to empower and represent the voices of the students at SUNY Oswego. The organisation promotes policies for the prosperity of students while overseeing the funding and allocation of a U$1,8 million to the more than 200 student clubs and organisations on campus.

Van Reenen explains that as president of the body he wishes to continue empowering students to fight for what is right, and says no student and student organisation should be left behind.

“We will push for policies that promote diversity on our campus such as urging the administration to install gender inclusive and gender neutral bathrooms for transgender students. We also want to see funding allocated for free and equal access to menstrual products (such as tampons and sanitary pads) in all academic buildings for our female students. The women's club sports teams should also be provided an equal opportunity to thrive on our campus. We will do this by reforming our financial branch to alleviate the unequal funding of our men's and women's sports teams.”

Omar is of the opinion that the measure of any society is how it treats it women and girls. The aforementioned initiatives will thus serve as a platform to champion environmental best-practices, women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, rights for students of colour, students with disabilities and inclusivity of all minority factors.

As freshmen senator for 2016-17 in the legislative branch of the student association, he wrote the Black Solidarity Day resolution.

The resolution fights for the liberty to celebrate the day where students, particularly those of colour rally to show the significance and impact of the absence of people of colour from the community. The faculty is also urged to not assign test and quizzes to allow students to freely participate in the day.

Other resolutions he worked included the 'Affirmation of support for international and different action for childhood arrivals (DACA) students' which called for the campus to become a 'sanctuary campus' that's welcoming and hospitable for all, regardless of the country of origin and immigration status.

He also presented the Plastic Action for commitment to sustainability affirmation (PACSA) resolution which set standards for protection of the campus environment and pushed for the ban of plastic cups in the dining halls.

The Gun Control resolution he wrote was presented and passed by the senate. This affirmed that the university waves the disciplinary actions for prospective high school students applying to the university who took part in civic engagement (peaceful protests) on gun reform across the United States so that their admission would not be in jeopardy.

The #EqualPayForEqualPlay movement which stood up for equality on campus and bridging the gap of women's club sports teams being funded 65% less than the men's club sports teams was also initiated.

Omar is currently pursuing dual degrees in Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and Bachelors of Arts in Political Science.

“It's no easy task balancing two degrees. Being a student leader on campus, doing lab research and working to fund your own studies encompasses a vast amount of late nights. If you however have a passion and the driven determination to pursue your destiny, it's worth it”.

He encourages learners to believe in their dreams. “No dream is too vast, too big or inadequate. Arm yourself with knowledge and pursue your destiny. Young Namibia's have the God-given potential to push humanity forward, I know and believe this. All little girls in Namibia, need to know that they are powerful, valuable and deserving of every chance and opportunity to pursue and achieve their own destiny and dreams, regardless of their gender”.

Omar says he is grateful for his roots, culture and hope to push Namibia and its people forward with progressive policies someday.

“Every change is followed with resistance but it is those who believe in themselves, the people they fight for and their beliefs, that make positive amendments to this world. I hope I have carried the Namibian flag high and promoted the inclusive values we share as an African nation. Every day is indeed a great day to be Namibian.”

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