Eusebio Omar van Reenen, a freshman international student at Oswego State, has always had a passion for student advocacy and said he believes that in America there is a great platform for students to represent one another.
Serving as a senator in the Oswego State Student Association for the past academic year, van Reenen has used his passion to fight for international and undocumented students, as well as expanding diversity and inclusion across the Oswego State campus.
At the SUNY Student Assembly conference from April 7 to 9, van Reenen was elected to the position of university colleges representative.
“The university colleges representatives on SUNY [SA] basically serve the constituents of state colleges or four year colleges,” van Reenen said.
The university colleges representatives are assigned a certain number of SUNY campuses as their constituencies, based on their location in the state. The representatives then speak on behalf of those campuses to SUNY SA and foster communication between the student governments of their constituencies.
“It’s also acting as a linkage and a bridge between the [student government] presidents in the colleges you represent,” van Reenen said.
Van Reenen said he works in his Oswego State SA position to ensure policies that help the campus are implemented and made as effective as possible.
“Wherever there is a crack in policies that can help push our students forward, I make sure I fill it and fill it with the determination to uplift our campus,” van Reenen said.
As an international student from the African country of Namibia, van Reenen said he is pleased that SUNY students were willing to elect not only him, but another international student as well to SUNY SA positions.
“Even though we are not subjected to Pell Grants and TAP and FAFSA… the students still trusted us to fully fight for policies that embitter them,” van Reenen said.
The other international student elected as a university colleges representative, Vrinda Kumar, is also the president of SUNY Plattsburgh’s SA. Van Reenen said he believes this is the first time two international students have served as university colleges representatives.
The election process takes place at the SUNY SA spring conference, which was in Rochester this year.
“You get nominated from a voting delegate, which is a president and a vice president of a student government or a student association from the campuses,” van Reenen said.
The nominees then present their platforms to a caucus of the voting delegates, who then vote for the candidates they want to represent their campuses at the end of the caucus.
Van Reenen has been an active member of the Oswego State SA as a senator.
“Senator van Reenen is an extremely passionate and dedicated senator who works tirelessly to represent those under his constituency,” said Emily Nassir, the Oswego State Student Association President. “I am confident that he will put the same passion and drive to his constituents in the University Colleges caucus of SUNY SA, and can’t wait to hear about all of the great things he will accomplish.”