A Conversation With: Nosheen Ullah, ASG Presidential Candidate
- Nosheen Ullah, current ASG vice president, is running to be next year’s ASG student body president. She is running unopposed.
- Ullah’s leadership experience spans many years, starting with her student council experience in elementary school, to being Horner ASB President, to her current Vice Presidential role in Irvington High School’s ASG.
- Ullah’s main focus, if elected, is to bounce back and ensure a smooth transition from virtual learning back to in-person learning, innovating on events to make sure ASG is prepared for whatever they are handed next school year.
- Ullah would like to see more lines of communication open between ASG and all its programs and the student body, especially in regards to the clubs system and ICC/SIA.
- Ullah hopes to better outreach to students by hosting more collaborations between clubs and ASG. She hopes to open up ASG workdays to the general student population so that students get a better idea of what happens behind the scenes planning ASG events.
- While she knows the future is uncertain, Ullah reassures that she will prepare ASG for whatever happens in the coming months, making it more ready for an extended virtual learning period while also preparing for an eventual return to in-person learning and events.
As part of our coverage of the upcoming ASG elections, the Irvington Voice interviewed Nosheen Ullah, the only presidential candidate running in this election. Below is our conversation with her.
Editors’ Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Geoffrey: Hi, I’m Geoffrey, a reporter at the Irvington Voice.
Nikoo: And I’m Nikoo, a features editor for the newspaper.
Geoffrey: So as part of our ASG election coverage, we’re interviewing candidates to get a better understanding of their policy stances and their vision for the next year. But let’s start out with some questions about your background. Currently, you’re the vice president of ASG, so you’ve campaigned once before. But how has campaigning been different this year?
Nosheen: This year has definitely been different. Firstly, everything is online, so there’s been no in person posters and banners. But we do have to put emphasis on social media, so we’re thinking about whether people will see all of the content we put out for elections. Usually, we get to have an assembly and have a good reach with the student body and get them to vote, but this year, it’s been a concern. Branching off of that, another huge difference is that there’s only one presidential candidate this year, compared to two vice-presidential candidates when I ran last year, so my campaign process will look a little bit different. I think my goal this year is to get more people involved in the voting and explain my vision for next year if elected ASG president.
Geoffrey: Speaking of your campaign, if you were to describe your campaign in one word or phrase, how would you describe it? Whether that’s clubs, rallies, spirit, etc, what’s your main focus?
Nosheen: I want to focus on bouncing back from this year, and setting ourselves up for success next year when we hopefully are back in school in person. Being at home, there’s not a lot of school spirit, and the events we do plan are still virtual. We’ve got this period of disconnection, from our friends, from our school, just from each other. So to answer your question, I guess I would focus on rebuilding our campus culture.
Nikoo: Going back to your background, can you describe all the different types of leadership experience you’ve had, and why you’re qualified to be president?
Nosheen: I’ve been involved in student council since elementary school and ever since then, I’ve found this passion for leadership. Back then, I loved being in student council because I got to plan events, communicate with my peers, and I loved it so much, so I kept going. Then I was able to be Horner’s ASB president, and that was also a really cool experience because it was like elementary school leadership, but elevated, so we were able to have a lot more freedom and were able to plan more events.
When I came to Irvington, I was the freshman class officer for the Class of 2022, and that experience really taught me how the Irvington ASG class works. I was able to be in the class for two years before stepping into the vice president position, giving me an understanding of what works or what doesn’t in class, how, as class officers, we plan a lot of bench building activities, class bondings, and class fundraisers. That really gave me some concrete event planning and outreaching skills. This year, I was able to serve as ASG Vice President and that has been such a different experience. I was able to step into a leadership role more behind the scenes running the class, setting other leaders up for success, and making sure that everything behind the scenes is running smoothly.
Having a virtual year this year has also taught me a lot this year. We had the realization that things were going to have to be different, and we would have to innovate and do new things instead of the ASG traditions that we are used to and turn them virtual. But I think this experience has really shown me how to create new solutions and work on little details that I haven’t had to worry about before. We’re so used to events that we repeat each year, but this year has really forced us to look at the little details, have backups, and start from scratch.
Geoffrey: In terms of your experience as a vice president, you’ve obviously had a lot of challenges with COVID and virtual learning, but what is one defining moment in your vice presidential experience that has made you who you are today?
Nosheen: I think the biggest defining moment would have to be when the class officers and I realized that we would be all virtual this year. There were a lot of moments where we asked, how are we supposed to do a bonding online? How do we do fundraisers? How do we promote connection and break the ice? I think that the whole process has been such a defining moment, because I don’t think I’ve ever had to really innovate like that. I really want to make sure that we plan our events the best way possible, find ways to include as many groups on campus, and keep innovating on how we can do things better.
Something that I really want to help support with the future Vice President if I’m elected ASG President is to revamp the way that we do our bench building process. From my personal experience as a freshman and sophomore class officer, it’s sometimes really tough to build a huge wood structure when you’re only 14 or 15. I want to be able to support all the class officers and revamp our procedures of material collecting and fundraising so that it’s more efficient for the people making the final product. And I hope we can translate that to all our other events, and innovate them, even if it’s in person, to make them the best they can possibly be.
Geoffrey: Is there any one event you’re particularly proud of that happened during virtual learning this year?
Nosheen: I’m super proud of the virtual bench process that we created this year, hosting our bench buildings online through these bench kits that we gave all our class officers. We’ve been able to package bench building and have a Zoom bench building where we all build it together, kind of replicating how a normal bench goes. That’s something I’ve been really proud of, but I’m also super proud of everything else ASG has done in light of our current circumstances.
Nikoo: You’ve touched on what you’ve done so far this year. If elected president, what do you want to do to finish out this school year?
Nosheen: One thing that I really want to do going into next year is to recognize student achievement a lot more. School spirit doesn’t have to be dressing up, it can also be being in a club or winning awards or doing service work.
One thing that we should also do is utilize our club leaders on campus. Even with you guys at The Voice, you guys can talk to all these clubs and gain all this knowledge and report all of their achievements. We should collaborate and bring that recognition to ASG events and announcements and rallies. But you know, again, we’ll have to innovate.
I think there are some ways that we’ve already started recognitions, such as with our service spotlights where we’ve been able to spotlight service projects that are happening that students are doing. And our senior class officers have also started senior spotlights where they’re spotlighting people from their class. Social media is such a powerful tool for that recognition, and I really want to focus on that second semester, because a lot of clubs are going to have more events. I’d love to bring that recognition and utilize all those collaborations to our announcements and rallies.
Geoffrey: As part of our reporting on The Voice, we’ve also noticed there’s sometimes a disconnect with some students and what ASG does. In terms of outreaching to people that might not necessarily know what ASG does, or who’s on the leadership team, how do you plan to do so?
Nosheen: Outreach has definitely always been an issue we’re working on in ASG. There are always people who aren’t interested and don’t know what ASG is. And I think the biggest thing is that they don’t know because you’re not doing anything to interest them. I think the biggest thing that we can do is to increase that transparency and showcase more of what ASG does. I’ve noticed during my underclassmen years that ASG does all these internal things to plan events, but our name isn’t always attached to it. People just don’t know the scope of what we do, and we should be starting that off by informing students when they’re freshmen utilizing our LINK program.
One thing that has been in the works that we had to postpone this year was hosting these work days to help increase outreach. Every time we have an event, ASG has these work days where we paint posters and decorate, and I think it would be really cool if we were able to open that up to the broader student body for them to see the behind the scenes of our events. And we can also reach out to clubs to help us, whether that’s making homecoming decorations or painting posters or whatnot.
Finally, I think ASG also needs to diversify more of the events we’re putting on, not putting on the same spirit week, the same repeated event, the things that will only attract the same audiences every time. We did The Clash of the Classes last year, and we were able to host a video game tournament that attracted a whole new audience of people I’ve never seen ever come to spirit week.
So yeah, those are three things I want to implement to hopefully get people to learn more about ASG and get them out to more of our events.
Nikoo: If you were elected president right now, what is the first change you would want to implement to the school?
Nosheen: The first thing I think we need to do is train our new incoming leaders and equip them with the tools they need to succeed. With a virtual year, so many people, ASG or otherwise, don’t know what the in-person environment is like. Whether that’s clubs planning events or my own ASG classmates going to workdays, we have to start off with a good foundation before we can do bigger things.
Geoffrey: One of the biggest things that ASG controls right now is ICC and SIA, the councils that handle clubs at Irvington. There’s been controversy this year with how clubs have been handled, especially in regards to club acceptances. Now as President, you don’t directly serve on ICC or SIA, but what types of procedural changes would you advocate for? On the other hand, what are some good things that you think they’ve been doing with this transition to virtual clubs this year?
Nosheen: I’ll start off with some of the good things. I definitely think the increased club collaborations, especially with the services clubs, have been really great to foster community and introduce people to our club systems this year. We really tried this year, even with our rallies, to incorporate clubs by asking them in our ICC meetings whether they wanted to participate in our rallies or help out in our ASG events.
I do think we can definitely improve on our communication. There’s this lack of transparency between the club commissioners with the rest of the ASG class and the school, and you really have to be in a club and be an officer of a club to know what ICC is and what their meetings even do. If you’re just a student on campus and you want to start a club, it’s really tough for them right now to find all the information easily if they don’t know where to go. There are these forms, there’s a whole process, but even I didn’t really understand the process of what happens in ICC when I first joined ASG. Many of my peers came up to me and asked me about clubs, but I couldn’t address many of their concerns without going to the commissioners and asking them myself. Now that I work with the club commissioners, however, I understand why things are the way they are. But I’d love to really open up some lines of communication in ASG so that we can update people on how clubs are doing so that everyone has that transparency and knowledge of why things are the way they are.
I also think we can set up better systems of getting input from clubs, beyond what we do with ICC and SIA. We should do more personal outreach, reaching out for feedback about meetings to address concerns, having more of those one-on-one conversations so that we can be more effective in what we do. Hopefully, if I’m elected President, I can work with the future club commissioners to help implement some of these ideas and make the system way better.
Nikoo: One of the concerns we’ve heard from some people is that some actions ASG carry out feel super rushed, but that it was because those decisions came down from school administration and were outside ASG’s control. How do you ensure that ASG makes and carries out truly represents the student body?
Nosheen: Right now, I do think there’s a pretty good distribution of power between teachers, students, and the administration, but there will always be a few of those decisions that will come up that we don’t make. Personally, I think that our class should give a lot more input in those kinds of decisions, because if we are representing the student body, but we don’t have input on certain things, then we start to lose people to back the overall decision.
Nikoo: Is there anything else you would like to let the student body know about your campaign?
Nosheen: Nowadays, things are so uncertain. We don’t know what’s gonna happen next year, but I want to work hard to make sure that no matter what we are presented with, we have a good foundation to still host events and bring back some of the things we’ve lost this year. With my campaign, I hope that I’ll be able to do as much as possible so that we’re ahead of the game for whatever we get, instead of rolling with the punches like we are now. We need to put everything in place and have the proper systems, communication, and transparency, and bring to fruition all these things that we’re experimenting with right now. Virtual or not, I’m going to do my best to make the year a good one.
Geoffrey: Thank you so much for your time, Nosheen.
Nosheen: Thank you so much.