UC Berkeley posted a job listing for the coordinator of the campus South & South West Asian and North African, or SSWANA, Initiative on Sept. 25.
The SSWANA initiative is currently a part of the Asian Pacific American Student Development, or APASD, office, which serves underrepresented, low-income, first-generation Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Under the APASD office, the new coordinator will aid South Asian, Southwest Asian and North African students on campus.
“(The coordinator position) is really essential because these communities have consistently had a lack of resources on campus; this is the first step to providing them with the resources they need,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay. “It helps fill the gap between SSWANA students and their needs.”
As the SSWANA initiative coordinator, the candidate is responsible for creating different programs that help SSWANA students, planning multicultural events and pointing students in the right direction toward the resources they may need. The candidate must also be knowledgeable about the issues faced by students with SSWANA, multiracial, multiethnic, immigrant, refugee and/or LGBTQ+ backgrounds.
Former ASUC senator Sumayyah Din originally proposed the position in 2015. Din’s chief of staff, Alaa Aissi, Aissi raised funding for a part-time SSWANA coordinator during her time as a senator in 2016. Khalfay continued Aissi’s project in 2017, while Khalfay was an ASUC senator, by looking to establish the coordinator job as a full-time and recurring position.
To obtain the necessary funding and develop the position’s details, Khalfay worked closely with Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion Oscar Dubón and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. With their help, Khalfay raised funding at the end of 2017 and set the job opening for the 2018 fall term.
“I think it’s extremely important because this role will facilitate students’ academic success and their experience here at Cal,” said ASUC senator Imran Khan. “They will serve as a guide for the wide and diverse community.”
Khan’s role now is to hire the person who will carry on this position. Khan plans to leave the job listing live for several weeks in order to get a large pool of applicants before closing the application later in the semester. This would then allow Khan to look through the applications and proceed to interviews for the remainder of the semester. According to Khan, the new coordinator is set to begin working next semester.
Khalfay added that this is the first step toward the long-term goal of establishing a SSWANA resource center separate from the APASD. This, along with the coordinator position, would offer SSWANA students more targeted support at UC Berkeley.
“The immediate next steps are getting the most qualified and competent person in the position,” Khalfay said. “We want to ensure that they are in the position (to) help most students.”