Ayoub Mohammed, a former Chick-fil-A student worker and political science junior, is running for president on the Labor ticket. Six out of the 10 members on his ticket are also former or current student workers, many at Chartwells, the campus food service provider.
Mohammed said he hopes his ticket’s “outsider” status will allow them to bring a fresh voice to Student Government and better represent the diversity of the student body. He said he chose the name “Labor” to reflect the fact that many of his ticket members are or were student workers.
Mohammed said he had been thinking about running for a while, but the deciding moment for him came when he met with the current SG administration about issues at Chartwells, where he worked at the time.
“I’ve seen these things first-hand,” he said. “I’ve experienced them.”
Mohammed said he’s not afraid to be direct in addressing issues and said he hopes to apply that attitude in addressing student concerns with Chartwells and beyond.
“We want to go in and have a Student Government that works for the student body, not for the administration or the Student Government itself,” Mohammed said.
Thomas Hobohm is an economics sophomore and one of the Labor ticket’s senatorial candidates. Hobohm and Mohammed met at the Student Union’s Chick-fil-A, where Mohammed worked as a shift leader. At first, Hobohm was just a familiar face amongst many customers. Eventually, the two started talking. Hobohm said he was drawn to the ticket because of Mohammed’s passion for advocating for other workers.
“I was like, ‘I want to help you by making a website for your campaign.’ Eventually, I decided I wanted to run, too,” Hobohm said.
Together, the two started recruiting other student workers to join. The ticket has been endorsed by the Indian Student Association, the Arab Student Association and the Democratic Socialists of UTD.
Mohammed and Hobohm said while Chartwells was the catalyst behind their decision to run, they don’t want voters to see them as a single-issue ticket. The three main priorities for them will be transparency within the administration and SG, increased student engagement and increasing pressure on Chartwells to improve conditions for workers and customers.
“There are issues of inequality right here on campus, especially with some of the international students and the more disadvantaged students,” Hobohm said.
Mohammed said they also hope to improve access to mental health resources and introduce new sustainability initiatives. The two said their ticket would like to make improvements within SG itself, such as increasing accountability, transparency and student engagement.
“There are lots of people in Student Government who are doing their best, who are great people,” Hobohm said. “But the history of Student Government shows that outsiders are needed to get things to change.”
The two said
that low student engagement in SG was an ongoing issue as well but hoped that
their more direct, “common-man” approach could increase engagement.
“Currently, it’s such a closed group of people. I don’t want to just represent the 50 senators. I want to represent the whole school,” Mohammed said. “I’m not going to hide behind a desk and wait for people to come to me.”
Additional reporting by Bhargav Arimilli