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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

student govt

IGNITE ticket pushes forward in journey for representation at IU

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When current IU Student Body President Aaliyah Raji first began her campaign under the IGNITE campaign, she knew exactly who she wanted by her side. 

“Let me ask a wonderful black woman,” Raji said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student about the new Vice President Marsha Koda. 

Raji said originally, she was advised by some to run with a man as her vice president, but Raji wanted to support black women in power and wanted IGNITE to push for representation within IUSG. 

Raji and Koda have become the first Black women to be elected for either of their positions in IU Student Government. Raji and Koda were inaugurated at the 76th inauguration on April 14 and are planning for their historic term.  

[Related: IGNITE candidates sworn in Friday at IUSG inauguration]

“This campaign meant a lot just because I knew when we were doing it that if we were elected, we were going to be the first,” Raji said.  

The new executive leadership said during their campaign, they purposely did not publicize they would be the first Black women to fill this position if they were elected, because they wanted students to focus on their policies.  

Raji and Koda hope this moment for IUSG inspires students from all backgrounds to believe they can make a difference.  

“Us being the first starts that precedent, allows students who look like us who've never had role models to take a step forward,” Koda said.  

Raji said IGNITE wants to inspire people to apply for cabinet positions to create a diverse and representative executive branch. Applications for cabinet positions are due April 29 and they are looking for students interested in helping to uplift the IU community.  

Koda says this achievement can inspire little girls to see it’s possible for two Black women to win an executive position and become the voice for students at IU. Koda said it was moving to follow in the footsteps of many other alumni of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, who have gone onto historic positions, such as Vice President Kamala Harris.  

IGNITE officially started campaigning after Raji asked Koda to join her as her running mate for the 2023 executive IUSG election. The two had previously known each other from being a part of the Kelley School of Business and student government. Raji was a co-director of the first-year internship program at IUSG and Koda served as vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha and outreach Kelley Student Government.  Alpha Kappa Alpha is a historic African American sorority that has 1,061 chapters at many universities all over the country and 11 nations, according to their website. 

[Related: IGNITE announced as preliminary winner of IUSG presidential election]

During the campaign trail, IGNITE said they had a smooth campaign and felt that their social media presence established recognition with students. They plan to use their Instagram to reach out to students and be transparent once they officially take over IUSG’s Instagram account.    

“Since we’re both African American, the Black IU side will be more involved and I know a lot of them who didn’t know what IUSG was before, know because it was me and Marsha running,” said Raji.  

Raji and Koda are preparing to meet with the IU dean of students and IU President Whitten to discuss potential initiatives, as well as plan permanent recurring meeting dates between the executive branch and IU administration. IGNITE is currently taking applications for positions in their cabinet for the 2023-2024 school year, which is linked in their Instagram bio and on the student government's website. Raji said agenda setting and planning for next year will begin this summer to prepare for the following semester.  

The ticket plans to reach out to multicultural organizations, students and other groups on campus to listen to their needs. This will be done by initiating events to collaborate with multicultural originations instead of just donating to them, Koda said.

A few initiatives Raji and Koda want to accomplish include launching a student bus-driver program, investing in the IUSG Plan B budget and expanding the interfaith prayer space.  The student bus driver program would propose a system to combat the driver shortage, as well as offer students jobs. Raji and Koda would also like to expand the Plan B budget to continue the accessibility of Plan B on campus for students.  

[Related: IUSG amendment removes minimum required representation for multicultural seats]

Raji and Koda want to expand interfaith prayer spaces for students by creating accessible offices and spaces for students of all religions on campus to practice their faith. Koda said the interfaith prayer space in the IMU is not a big enough room for people from all religions to practice their faith.  

“IGNITE is not just me and Marsha it is a team of wonderful people who will help change IU for the better,” Raji said.  

Raji said she wants to collaborate with their cabinet and all the branches of IUSG to ensure transparency between all the branches.  

IGNITE is excited to be the first Black women in these positions but have emphasized they will not be the last. They said they are excited to begin this position and continue to meet with students and organizations to advocate their needs.  

“All these different minorities, I just hope this inspires them and tells them that it's really possible because if we can do it, they definitely can,” Raji said.  

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