Mehraz Rahman, a Plan II Honors and marketing senior, is proudly serving as UT Student Government (SG) vice president. This fall, she and SG President Colton Becker are working to make UT Austin a safer, more inclusive place for the entire campus community. We caught up with this talented UT Outreach-Austin alumna to learn more about her advocacy work and how her mobilizing efforts fall right in line with her campaign motto, “Let’s get started!”
What made you decide to run for office?
I originally had no intention of running until Colton, my running mate, asked me to run with him. Initially, I faced feelings of impostor syndrome, which I still sometimes feel, and I did not feel like I was qualified enough to run for this position. However, as I thought about it more, I knew that I was sure in my love for this university, which translated into a desire to make this a better and more welcoming place for all students.
What issues are most important, and how do you aim to make a difference?
Before developing our platform, we wanted to make sure that we were taking into consideration the issues that were important to all Longhorns and, in turn, the solutions that would improve the quality of life for every Longhorn. We put together a committee with voices representing all areas of campus. In our platform, we had five areas of focus: student empowerment, interpersonal violence prevention, diversity and inclusion and campus climate, health and wellness, and student life. Beneath each of these areas, we had a few different platform points we wanted to implement and get started on. The issues that I, myself, am working on right now are bringing more reflection spaces to campus and making menstrual products available in campus bathrooms.
Last year, you served as a director for SG’s Diversity and Inclusion Agency. Why was this role important to you?
As a Muslim woman of color, I have felt how my external appearance causes some to treat me differently. As someone who has been to countries like Bangladesh, I have seen that many people struggle to succeed more than others simply due to the difficulties they faced before and after they became naturalized in this country. The American Dream that I’ve been taught in school is inclusive to all people and has relied on immigrants since America’s inception.
What advice would you give an incoming Longhorn?
You belong here, even when you may not feel like you earned it or you feel like you are not enough compared to your peers. The social comparison that comes with being a college student is something that everyone feels, I promise, and it’s something that stings especially hard if you haven’t had the same opportunities as many of those around you. As a woman, as a person of color, as a Muslim person, as someone with immigrant parents, I understand those pressures. You belong here, and you are enough. Don’t let what’s around you or those moments of self-doubt stop you from believing that.