Running independently for ASUC Senate, sophomore Karima Itayem’s platform is one that seeks to build bridges across a variety of communities by listening and responding to both concerns and ideas.
She hopes to strengthen the relationship between the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities on campus, uplift themed Greek life and bridge pre-professional groups such as pre-law and pre-med. She also hopes to improve practice spaces for club sports.
“For me, the biggest issue is a lack of actually enjoying or wanting to be on campus other than having to be there,” Itayem said. “That’s what I want to change, making people more comfortable and feeling like they belong on campus.”
As chief of staff for ASUC Senator Manuel Cisneros’ BIPOC inclusion platform, she hopes to carry on the plans for a showcase for themed Greek houses, and an “Olympics-style” event with the purpose of showing people that somewhere, there is a community for them.
She also wants to showcase pre-professional organizations to allow their members to share how they’ve benefited from the organizations, and to allow others to learn about them.
Itayem’s goal is to allow members to share similar experiences as pre-professionals despite not being in the same career path, as networking with people with different backgrounds can “open your eyes” to new ideas of how to gear their college experience towards a specific career.
“I try to make myself someone who is approachable and understands that everyone’s experiences shape them in a way I might not understand, so I have to enter every conversation or interaction knowing that,” Itayem said. “If I do get into office, the first thing I plan to do is have conversations with people who run these organizations or are in these organizations to understand what they need.”
Itayem is currently a pre-law student majoring in legal studies and minoring in disability studies and public policy. She works for the academic retention director for the Middle Eastern and North African Recruitment Retention Center, and she’s an intern for the Underground Scholars Program in addition to working two jobs.
She also advocated for extending gym hours to accommodate Muslim-identifying students during Ramadan, resulting in Memorial Stadium gym’s hours being extended to 11 p.m. on weekdays.
According to Itayem, as a Muslim and Lebanese and Palestinian student, her personal experiences inform her platform, and this is part of the reason she wants to strengthen the relationship between the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.
“I want to bridge all the communities I can or start to because we have these shared experiences that we don’t know that we have because we don’t talk about it,” Itayem said. “Once you do it’s like, ‘Oh my god, you’re just like me.’”