By Jackie Bueno
This year, the Restorative Justice blog is highlighting candidates from both Student Action and CalSERVE, to find out what their platforms are and why they’re running for ASUC Executive positions and ASUC Senate. First off is Amma, Sarkodee-Adoo, a sophomore at Cal. Amma is running for Senator with Student Action (SA). The RJ Center wishes Amma nothing but the best of luck with her campaign!
To learn more about Amma’s campaign, click this link here!
Here’s our interview:
Jackie: Tell me about where you grew up.
Amma: I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. I’m from a really suburban part of Phoenix. Actually, the county I grew up in is the largest metropolitan area that voted for Donald Trump at masse. They call it the Trumpiest county in America, so that’s a whole thing.
Jackie: How was your experience growing up in Arizona before you came to Cal?
Amma: So I think for awhile, it made me really complacent, because Cal seemed like a fairytale, in terms of equity and just my voice being heard, and it took me awhile to realize just because things are better here than they were in Arizona, doesn’t mean they’re perfect. And that took me a while to realize.
Jackie: What motivates you to run for Senate?
Amma: What motivates me to run for Senate is just, honestly, the things I know that could be better. A lot of it has been my experience with Greek life, which have been, some of my most treasured experiences here. I love Greek life, but it’s always been a little bit painful for me because I, as much as I love it, don’t think it’s a welcoming space to a lot of people, and I don’t think it’s an accessible space for a lot of people. So, it’s been really hard for me loving it so much, and yet feeling like it sometimes doesn’t want me or people like me. — Systematically at least. I think the people in it are different from the system itself.
Jackie: Why did you decide to run with Student Action (SA)?
Amma: I decided to run for Student Action in part because of a lot of the people I met in SA. I met a lot of the Greek candidates this year and from this year’s past and seeing what they wanted to change in Greek life is similar to what I wanted to change in Greek life, and I was inspired by them and still am.
Jackie: What are your main platforms?
Amma: My main platforms are Greek accessibility and supporting underrepresented Greek councils, and then increasing diversity and inclusion among student organizations, and then increasing engagement with Berkeley City politics.
Jackie: What is your leadership philosophy?
Amma: Definitely running for Senate has helped me figure it out because I recently announced my candidacy, and at every point, I stop to ask someone for feedback. Every week, I try to send out a survey to every person working on my campaign once a week because I think if there’s one thing I know, it’s that I know very little, and other people have so much to teach me. I can’t go off my own beliefs all the time because other people show me things I don’t know every single day.
Jackie: As a Black womxn, how do you think your identity will influence your activism and leadership if elected?
Amma: I definitely want to work on uplifting Black voices because one thing that strikes me at Cal is the percentage of Black students at Cal is the same as the percentage of the number of Black students at my high school, which is insane. I think a lot of people don’t realize that black students in particular are marginalized and silenced here, so I want to focus on uplifting those voices, but I also want to be aware of the fact that I can’t and never will be able to speak for all black people, so I wanna make sure that other voices besides mine are heard, and I’m not taking the reins on that.
Jackie: In a time where our nation is currently divided, what are you hoping to accomplish as Senator if elected, despite most students feeling divided on how to approach our current issues?
Amma: I think that’s something my background plays into a lot. I grew up constantly having to defend my beliefs in an area where I was a very, very, very small minority. And so I think I have a lot of empathy for people who are defending what they believe, even if it’s something I don’t agree with or believe in. So I want to promote productive dialogue as much as I can and try and find productive solutions to problems as much as I can. I don’t think most people are coming coming from a place where they want to hurt others. I think that they’re trying to do what they think is best, so I think the first step is to understand why people think what they think.
Jackie: What are you hoping to accomplish as an ASUC Senator?
Amma: What I’m hoping to accomplish as a senator are programs that can be carried out beyond my term as far as Greek accessibility goes and support for the Greek councils that are underserved. I want to make it so that if someone needs spaces or funding then they don’t find themselves completely lost when my term is over. I want to make sure organizations are supported by tangible means. I want to be communicative and approachable and comforting as much as I can.
Jackie: How do you think RJ can help organizations on campus such as the ASUC resolve issues it faces?
Amma: I think what’s so great about Restorative Justice is that it puts so much emphasis on literal conversation and being in a room together. When you have a conversation, you can’t ever ascribe a motive to someone that they didn’t say themselves because they know themselves, they’re expressing their motives directly to you. And if at the end of the day you don’t like it, you’re coming from a place that’s informed. And that being informed is necessary for any kind of productive collaboration.
Jackie: Anything else?
Amma: I’ve been thinking a lot about whether things are so inherently flawed that they have no hope, especially in relation to the Greek community. And I just want to say recently, I’ve been feeling really hopeful for productivity, for development, and for growth. I’m really excited right now, and I think the future’s bright.
Jackie: What influenced this shift in your thinking?
Amma: I think I started vocalizing a lot of the things I felt were overlooked early this academic year, and I think hearing people, how much they want to change, and actively search for solutions is so inspiring. I think that’s a thing a lot of people don’t know about Greek life, is that people desperately want it to be better, so that’s what gives me hope.
Jackie Bueno is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Sociology. For further inquiries or if you would like to be featured, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.