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Presidential candidate Sabah Randhawa visits Western

Sabah Randhawa, the preferred presidential candidate to replace Bruce Shepard, talks to a tour group of prospective students outside of Old Main on Monday, April 4. Randhawa was shown around campus with his wife, Uzma Ahmad, and then met with Associated Students leaders and the AS Board of Directors to discuss topics of campus climate and student collaboration with University administration. //Photo by Ian Koppe
Sabah Randhawa, the preferred presidential candidate to replace Bruce Shepard, talks to a tour group of prospective students outside of Old Main on Monday, April 4. Randhawa was shown around campus with his wife, Uzma Ahmad, and then met with Associated Students leaders and the AS Board of Directors to discuss topics of campus climate and student collaboration with University administration. //Photo by Ian Koppe

Western Board of Trustees’ preferred candidate for president, Sabah Randhawa, visited and toured campus with his wife, Uzma Ahmad, on Monday, April 4. His visit at Western will continue as Randhawa is set to engage in an open student forum at noon Tuesday, April 5, in the Viking Union Multi-Purpose room.

Randhawa, the current Oregon State University Provost, met with Associated Students leaders and the AS Board of Directors to discuss some of the issues facing Western. Much of the discussion focused on how students felt unable to speak their minds with authoritative voices on campus; they emphasized a need to create a safer environment for students to come together and speak.

Specifically, AS President Belina Seare asked Randhawa about “creating safe places and safe spaces and curriculum” for students here at Western.

Randhawa said he plans to take on the issues of diversity on campus with a lens of social justice.

“The framework that I bring is that there really are three core elements to looking at this thing, and it’s almost like an onion,” Randhawa said. “You start peeling it and reveal the different layers of it.”

Randhawa said that he plans to take on the issues of diversity on campus with a lens of social justice.

“The framework that I bring is that there really are three core elements to looking at this thing, and it’s almost like an onion,” Randhawa said. “You start peeling it and reveal the different layers of it.”

“Honestly, part of it is that you work really hard at making sure that you understand what the key needs and expectations are of the faculty and how to be aggressive.”

Presidential candidate, Sabah Randhawa

Each layer of an issue has to be addressed by the president and leader in order to foster an inclusive campus, Randhawa said. The three layers that need to be peeled back, Randhawa said, are: geospatial issues, informal learning and the values and behaviors of people.

AS Vice President for Diversity Abby Ramos brought up the current university structure that hinders students’ ability to collaboratively work with administration in decision-making processes. One solution she proposed was having office hours for the president in order for students to directly discuss issues of importance.

“When we are talking about — say the budget or any major element affair —  [OSU] typically has open forums with students and invites anyone who would like to come and talk with us,” Randhawa said.

Randhawa also addressed another one of Ramos’ concerns: the university’s need for a multi-cultural center.

President Bruce Shepard brought the need for a multi-cultural center to Randhawa’s attention. OSU has four different cultural centers, but Western has none. Randhawa said that one large multi-cultural center would promote interaction amongst different student groups.

AS Vice President for Governmental Affairs Patrick Eckroth asked Randhawa what his relationships with unions is like since OSU doesn’t have a faculty union.

Sabah Randhawa meets student trustee Seth Brickey during his tour of Western’s campus on Monday, April 4. // Photo by Ian Koppe

“Honestly, part of it is that you work really hard at making sure that you understand what the key needs and expectations are of the faculty and how to be aggressive,” Randhawa said. “Whether it’s hiring faculty or whether it’s competitive salaries for the faculty and staff.”

Prior to the meeting, Randhawa took a tour of the campus lead by Student Admissions Representatives and senior Carmen Green, a student ambassador. Green said Randhawa struck her as down to earth and relatable.

“I was really nervous going into it, but him and his wife, Uzma, were both very friendly and really receptive to all of my personal stories that I was sharing with them about the campus,” Green said. “They seemed really great to me.”

The tour started at Old Main and made its way through south campus, ending at the Wade King Recreation Center. Along the way, Randhawa saw the renovations to Carver Gym, sculptures on campus and met with potential incoming students.

Randhawa learned that Western has neither a Greek system nor a football team, but that the university is environmentally conscious.

On his walk back to Old Main, Randhawa showed a sense of humor by cracking a joke about all of the photos being taken of him.

“Thank you for showing me the campus. However, I was going to tell you after the first couple of photos of me, that they weren’t going to get any better,” Randhawa said, laughing.

Once Randhawa finishes his meetings at Western, the Board of Trustees will meet in executive session at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in Room 340 of Old Main. There will be an open session at approximately 5:30 p.m. to vote on the preferred candidate.

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