New student body president and vice president aim to create change across campus

 

There’s no denying that the incumbent student body president and vice president are passionate about Wichita State University, focused, driven and a force to be reckoned with.

With their goals set on campus transparency, inclusivity, mental health and college affordability, they want to ensure students’ needs are met.

President Rija Khan and Vice President Mackenzie Haas were elected for the 2020-21 academic year. Both have previously served with the Student Government Association in cabinet positions and senator roles. They were virtually sworn in on Thursday, April 23 through a Zoom call.

Rija Khan, a sophomore studying criminal justice on a pre-law track with a minor in philosophy, found her niche in politics after participating in debate and forensics in high school.

“I’m the first in my family to attend college in the United States. I realized early on the role politics play in our everyday lives,” Rija said. “As soon as I started at Wichita State, I joined Student Government Association.”

Through her roles in SGA, she has built strong relationships throughout the university community. During the 62nd session of SGA, Rija was the Liberal Arts and Science senator and chair of the ways and means committee, which takes action on current issues related to student organizations. She is a co-founder and vice president of the Wichita chapter of Mu Delta Alpha, a professional Muslim Sorority.
When deciding to run for student body president, Rija spent time researching the issues students are facing now and in the future. She constantly interacted with students, heard their stories and shared her own. She became well-versed in SGA and life outside of government.

“I love spreading positive change and look forward to being on this journey together with the student body,” Rija said.

Mackenzie Haas is a junior in integrated marketing communication. As a commuter student, she wanted to get involved and be engaged on campus, which led her to joining several clubs and organizations. Currently, Mackenzie is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, the director of public relations in SGA and a transition mentor.

“Working as a transition mentor allowed me to see that SGA wasn’t used as a resource for the student body,” Mackenzie said. “I fell in love with student government, and I knew I needed to help make changes.”

In her role as director of SGA public relations, she communicated with students about student government and saw real change take place. When thinking about her upcoming senior year in the fall, she realized that she could do even more with another year to serve in SGA. In November 2019, she decided to run and teamed with Rija.

“I felt like Wichita State needed someone who could get into the nitty-gritty and get stuff done,” Mackenzie said. “I knew Rija and I were that team.”

As the two begin that role as president and vice president, they are excited about the opportunity to grow the university and take it in the right direction.

Rija and Mackenzie plan to first tackle diversity and inclusion on campus by creating diversity and Title IX training for staff onboarding practices. With a vastly diverse student body, they want to ensure there is inclusivity with a welcoming environment on campus. They also plan on providing more resources for mental health and making the university more transparent when dealing with student fees.

“When our time is done at Wichita State, we want to be able to look back and say we left campus better than when we started,” Mackenzie said. “If we impact one or 15,000 students, it’s worth it.”


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