The Associated Students of Minerva (ASM) is a student-run organization that aims to represent the student body of Minerva University. It serves as a platform for students to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas, working towards improving the student experience.
I was fortunate enough to have conversations with three enthusiastic individuals who were some of our 2021-2022 representatives — Makenzie Hanson (M23), Kate Fourie (M24), and Alma Pinchuk (M25)—in order to gain a better understanding of the organization and its significance within the Minerva community. With a genuine concern for their community, they were motivated to make a positive impact on the lives of students, and as such, I am excited to explore the valuable contributions they have made.
The primary purpose of ASM, as Alma explains, is to "bridge between the student body and the administration," which allows students to voice their concerns and suggestions directly to those who have the power to make changes. Unlike usual student governments, they do not have a designated leader or hierarchy, which means that everyone's voice is equally important. This allows for a more collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making and ensures that every member of ASM has the opportunity to contribute and make a difference.
ASM focuses on creating ‘working groups’ or student-led problem-solving spaces.. "ASM is all about empowering students to make changes that they want to see," Kate notes. Students always have the opportunity to suggest and implement projects that they believe will benefit the community. This can range from organizing events and workshops to advocating for policy changes. As Makenzie explains, "ASM gives students a platform to create positive change and see their ideas come to life."
One such project aligned with Minerva's dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While collaborating with a staff-wide team, the DEI committee emphasizes the importance of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, regardless of their background. To promote DEI, the cross-level committee has undertaken various initiatives, such as hosting open-forum discussions with and without faculty presence, evaluating class readings for inclusivity, recommending policy improvements, and exploring ways to diversify the integrated learning courses. "ASM is working to make sure that every student feels seen and heard at Minerva," says Makenzie.
One of the projects that ASM has been involved in is the Global Rotation Working Group. As Kate explained, the working group is a student-led initiative that seeks to improve the global rotation program at Minerva. The group comprises students from different regions who have experienced the program firsthand and can offer insights on how to improve it. The goal is to ensure that the program continues to provide a valuable and transformative experience for all Minerva students.
In addition to these initiatives, students highlighted the work that ASM has been doing to improve the mental health support available to Minerva students. As they explained, the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many students, and ASM has been working closely with the administration to ensure that students have access to the resources they need. This has included lobbying for increased counseling services and mental health awareness campaigns.
While ASM's work is rewarding, it also requires a considerable amount of time. Juggling ASM responsibilities with academics can be demanding, given the plethora of projects members can undertake. It is natural to be allured by several ASM initiatives, but determining their priority can be challenging amidst classes, work-study programs, and exploring the city.
Despite these challenges, ASM has accomplished a great deal in building a welcoming and inclusive community and organizing events that cater to the diverse interests of Minerva students. Their passion and commitment to making a positive impact are truly inspiring, and it is evident that they are having a real impact on the lives of students at Minerva. We are thrilled about the future, particularly with the newly reelected members for the upcoming academic year. Congratulations to Johanna Seidel, María Juaristi, Dimitar Ivanov, Lydia Etherington, Abdullah Khurram, Ema Austeja Bazaraite.
If the story of the Associated Students of Minerva's initiatives and priorities inspire you to further pursue your passions, start your Minerva application today