Budget Baddies, part 3: The advocate

“Being part of SFAC has taught me the value of perseverance and teamwork. Together, we’ve been able to push for change and hold university leadership accountable,” Ortega said. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?fit=620%2C413&ssl=1″ class=”size-full wp-image-249404″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=810%2C540&ssl=1″ alt width=”810″ height=”540″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?w=1620&ssl=1 1620w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=620%2C413&ssl=1 620w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=1536%2C1024&ssl=1 1536w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=810%2C540&ssl=1 810w, https://i0.wp.com/thedailycougar.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/SFAC-Anahi-2.jpeg?resize=1140%2C760&ssl=1 1140w” sizes=”(max-width: 810px) 100vw, 810px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

“Being part of SFAC has taught me the value of perseverance and teamwork. Together, we’ve been able to push for change and hold university leadership accountable,” Ortega said. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

Budget Baddies is a series chronicling the lives of the individuals representing the student body on the Student Fee Advisory Committee. More information on the ongoing dispute between the committee and the Board of Regents can be found under The Cougar’s “SFAC” tag. 

In the complex workings of university governance, where decisions can often seem distant and detached from the student body, technology leadership and innovation management senior Anahi Ortega emerges as a passionate advocate for transparency and accountability. 

Her journey into student leadership was not a predetermined path but a response to the pressing need for student voices to be heard and respected. Ortega’s descent into the Student Fees and Advisory Committee began with a keen understanding of the disconnect between students and university decision-makers. 

“I felt like there was a gap in communication,” Ortega said. “Important decisions were being made without genuine student input, and it didn’t sit right with me.” 

Motivated by a desire to bridge this gap, Ortega decided to throw her hat into the ring and apply for a position within SFAC.

Ortega’s persistence eventually led her to appointment as SFAC vice chair, where she was tasked with overseeing the allocation of university funds along with other students and faculty representatives. It was here that she encountered firsthand the lack of accountability that plagued the decision-making process.

 “I realized that there was a real need for transparency in how university funds were being allocated,” Ortega said. “Students deserve to know where their tuition dollars are going and have a say in how they are being spent.”

Being a member of SFAC is not without its challenges, as President Renu Khator rejected their recommendations for the first time in her 16 years as president. However, Ortega’s unwavering determination and commitment to student welfare propelled her forward. 

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was determined to make a difference,” Ortega said. “I refused to be stopped by setbacks.”

Along with the rest of the committee, Ortega embarked on a mission to challenge the pre-existing norms and demand greater accountability from university officials. Together, they meticulously prepared for a critical meeting with the Board of Regents, determined to amplify student voices and create meaningful change. 

“We knew that this was our chance to make a real impact,” Ortega said. “We wanted to make sure that student concerns were front and center, really demanding the attention they deserved.”

As they prepared for the high-stakes meeting, the committee deliberated over the best strategy to convey their concerns effectively. They ultimately decided that SFAC Chair Yusuf Kadi would serve as the primary spokesperson, presenting a unified message to the Board. 

“We wanted to avoid any potential confusion and make sure that our message was clear and concise. It was about putting student interests first and foremost,” Ortega said.

As she reflected on the outcome of the meeting, Ortega expressed cautious optimism. 

“We were relieved and content by the Board’s willingness to engage in further discussion,” Ortega said. “It was a step in the right direction, and it made our belief in the power of collective action and advocacy to be strengthened.”

With their sights set on the next steps in their advocacy journey, Ortega remains steadfast in her commitment to holding university officials accountable and pushing for greater transparency. As the Board of Regents prepares to reconvene in May, she understands the importance of sustained pressure and vigilance. 

“I hope that our arguments are considered thoroughly by the Board of Regents. I can’t predict the outcome, but I’m hopeful about our position,” Ortega said.

Beyond her role in student governance, Ortega draws strength and inspiration from her family, who have always supported her endeavors. 

“My parents have been my biggest supporters,” Ortega said. “Even when the going gets tough, they always encouraged my involvement and cared about the work I’m passionate about.”

In her free time, Ortega finds solace in activities like playing rugby and spending time with her beloved Pitbull mixes. 

“It’s important to find balance amidst the chaos,” Ortega said. “Doing things that bring me joy helps me refocus on the work ahead.”

As Ortega continues to advocate for transparency and accountability within student governance, her impact echoes throughout the university community. With her unwavering dedication and tireless advocacy, she serves as an inspiration for her peers, reminding them that positive change is possible when they unite behind a common cause.

Being part of SFAC has taught me the value of perseverance and teamwork. Together, we’ve been able to push for change and hold university leadership accountable,” Ortega said.

[email protected]

This post was originally published on this site