The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI student Will Haddy steps into his role as the new MENASA constituency senator

Third-year Will Haddy is filling the new USG constituency position representing MENASA students at the University of Iowa.
Matt Sindt
Senators listen to speakers at a University Student Government meeting in the Black Box Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022.

The University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government established several new constituency positions last spring semester, including one called MENASA.

The MENASA senator position, which stands for the Middle East, North African, and South Asian, will be filled by third-year student Will Haddy, who will represent marginalized communities ethnically originating from those geographic regions.

Haddy grew up in Iowa City and has always been very interested in politics, especially international politics, as well as the study of linguistics as an Italian major.

He said he was reluctant to join USG at first but ended up accepting the position because of its drive for inclusivity and creating a better student experience for undergraduate students.

Before accepting the position, Haddy noticed that when going on the MyUI student administration website landing page, there is a section where students can submit their ethnic background and racial identity, but there isn’t an available option for students who identify as MENASA.

Students from this marginalized group are categorized as people of European origin, which made it hard for Haddy to know exactly where he lands as the MENASA constituency senator.

“Essentially, I don’t even know how many people I’m representing because there are no statistics, questions, or characterization even on the forum where I can identify with my ethnic background or racial identity,” Haddy said.

As a new constituency senator, Haddy said he wants to add a MENASA cultural center. The UI has four UI legacy cultural centers, including the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center, the Latino Native American Cultural Center, and the Pride Alliance Center.

The UI is also working to create a space on campus for students with disabilities, UI President Barbara Wilson told The Daily Iowan in May.

Haddy said the other cultural centers for student organizations have been very helpful in cultivating a sense of community, and he believes that would be a worthwhile goal to pursue.

As a community that has previously been underrepresented, not just at the UI, but across the U.S. according to Berkley Law, Haddy is excited for these students to be recognized.

“I think this seat is so important because there’s a large MENASA population at the school, and it’s a very loving and nice population,” Haddy said. “I know having this seat isn’t a whole lot of power, but just the fact that it’s there and that there’s some sort of record of identities being supported is important.”

When the USG originally considered adding the seat, there was mixed discourse about it. Some USG members expressed concern over the lack of input from MENASA students when USG was drafting the bill to create the seat.

There was just so much back and forth that at one point the seat was up in the air. Eventually, Jenna Khan, the president of the MENASA student organization for the 2022-23 school year, asked Haddy to fill the position.

Other members of the USG agree with the establishment of the new position and look forward to seeing the advances made, including USG President Mitch Winterlin.

I am excited to see more representation present, and excited to see Senator Haddy joining the team,” Winterlin said.

Another important result of Haddy’s new senator position is the reforms to be made to the entire constituency senator program.

Marco Morel, director of justice and equity for USG, hopes that Haddy’s position will inspire these new changes and encourage natural diversity.

“Something we’ve been working on is reforming the constituency senator program to onboard new identities never served before, but not adding identities specifically for the reason that we need that representation,” Morel said. “We want to revamp the admissions process to accept a generally more diverse student population, and not using the program as a way to buy diversity.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Julia Rhodes, Reporter
Julia Rhodes is a first year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications and minoring in Dance. She loves writing as well as presenting that work on screen and is hoping to be equally a Daily Iowan reporter as well as a DITV reporter. She enjoys writing about all topics from crime and politics to arts and public health.