Reflecting on this past year with Student Government at Parsons Paris
– Zahra Mansoor Hussain, President of Parsons Paris Student Government 2020/21
2020-2021 was tumultuously fast and painstakingly slow at the same time. It was strange, starting off as President of a team that I was mostly meeting for the first time on Zoom, working for a virtual student body, but we eased into the stage that the pandemic had set for the rest of the year.
(Team members not in photo: Marianne Proops, Faith Kukla, Sude Ozdemir and Pablo Sanchez)
Fall was mostly about orienting ourselves and setting up our main event- the Change Summit 2020 on November 18th. The summit was a school-wide event forming a dialogue around testimonies from one-on-one conversations that Student Government members had with most of the student body to uncover problems that needed to be addressed and stories that needed to be told.
We built a close partnership with the American University of Paris over the past year as well, holding a Parsons Paris x AUP virtual cocktail event in spring, and continuing to host events in collaboration with them, including being participants in the AUP Zero 2021 event and working together during Fashion Revolution week last month, for which AUP also took part in our Clothing Swap. Additionally, we made an effort to engage students on instagram (@stugovparsonsparis) and provide virtual sources of entertainment by holding instagram music live streams with a musician and student government members performing karaoke during lunch break. Smaller workshops were also organised such as the Anti-bias workshop led by Aubrey Briggs, and a Felting workshop led by Irina. For Women’s history month, we asked students to share women that they look up to and set up a sticker board in the Tech Lab to converse around the topic.
Regular initiatives set up by Student Government in spring included weekly Community Live Drawing sessions and Café Mehfil sessions on Saturdays, which we also published as a weekly podcast. Both initiatives were valuable in the sense that they looked to the students themselves as a resource for other students. I personally felt a great and fulfilling sense of community from both initiatives and enjoyed the dialogue that both these sessions set up in their diverse media of visuals and audio.
To finish off the year, we worked on changing the election system for student government for the coming terms, and revamping the structure of the government based on our experiences over the past months. We also organised the acquiral of student government logo sweatshirts as a gift for the student body to bring the year to a close.
I am deeply grateful for the team that I had the opportunity to lead over this year, among whom I found some valuable friendships, and the support system that our Communications group (shout-out to Irina and Mikaela) gave us. I am also grateful to be able to have felt a sense of community through the work that we did and I hope that I managed to convey this feeling to others at Parsons Paris. Lastly, I feel lucky to have had a driven vice-president, Aishwarya Pureti, working alongside me and looking back, it is gratifying to see the things that we achieved together.