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Roman Bahadursingh Vying To Be Next Student Body President

For the first time since 2020, two candidates are vying to be Penn State’s next University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) student body president. As March 27 quickly approaches, candidate Roman Bahadursingh is gearing up for the election.

Bahadursingh is a junior double majoring in finance and economics and is a first-generation immigrant from the Caribbean. At the end of his freshman year at Penn State, Bahadursingh realized he wanted to do more after not getting involved right away.

His first step was joining the International Student Council (ISC) with the hopes of helping out other international students who were facing a culture shock just as he had.

Throughout the past several years, Bahadursingh branched out to become a widely involved student. He’s on the executive board for Movin’ On, Sovereign Magazine, ISC, and is the vice president of Penn State’s Global Engagement Community.

He’s involved with the Association of Residence Hall Students, Student Legal Services, and is part of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee in the State College Borough.

Bahadursingh worked on ISC’s treasury committee for about a year. Toward the end of his sophomore year, the organization was looking for students to become UPUA representatives.

“I said, ‘Why not?’ I’ll go in there and say whatever I think… When I got into the UPUA, I started speaking my mind, and I got more involved with student leadership,” Bahadursingh recalls.

Within UPUA, he’s quite busy. Bahadursingh sits on the strategic planning board, an internal group that helps give future UPUA assemblies structure and ensures that projects don’t get lost with the changing of representatives each year. He also serves as UPUA’s Movin’ On liaison — a perfect fit for him.

After spending about a year in UPUA, Bahadursingh realized that he had bigger goals and wanted to move beyond the legislative branch. If he hadn’t chosen to run, the student body would have been faced with its fourth uncontested election in a row.

“The debate in that situation has become something where the guy who’s going to win tells you what he’s going to do. You don’t get to say anything,” he explained.

Throughout the past several weeks, Bahadursingh has been hot on the campaign trail, talking to a wide variety of student organizations. But he’s recognized throughout the process that he can’t speak for every member of the student body.

“I’m not in a sorority. I don’t know what their problems are. But I am the guy who will listen to their problems and reach out to make sure each of their [UPUA] representatives is actually representing the group,” Bahadursingh said.

Ultimately, he wants to get closer to the student body as a whole, and that starts with being more on the side of the students than on the side of the university’s administration.

“One thing I want to make clear is that I’m not [going to be] the administration’s president — I’m the students’ [president],” Bahadursingh said. “What I want to do is make the UPUA something that students can go to for help with anything.”

For him, that would consist of holding consistent office hours and encouraging legislative branch members to represent the students. He explained that he would be open to criticism about any mistakes and hoped that students would hold him accountable for his decisions as student body president.

Currently, UPUA doesn’t hold any type of office hour. Anyone wishing to speak to leadership about an issue would have to send an email or sit through a general assembly meeting and hope to grab the president on the way out. UPUA offers an Open Student Forum, but due to procedural rules, a conversation cannot be held. Leadership and representatives just listen to that student speak.

As a result, Bahadursingh feels that the current UPUA is not representative of the students at Penn State.

“I think they’re detached from the community and the problem is they’re not having the humility to understand that they’re detached from the community,” he said. “You have these higher-income students that are able to go into college, and they’re able to go into programs like the Presidential Leadership Academy.”

Those programs invite first-years in and set students up in the “pipeline” of being the future UPUA president and lead to “systematic bias” in the way that student leadership is selected, according to Bahadursingh. He explained that there are not many pathways for sophomores or juniors to jump in and get involved in leadership if they’re unaware of those options in their first year. For many first year students, especially those a part of marginalized communities, getting involved in student government is not a top priority.

To help combat this, Bahadursingh chose rising senior Jackson Carmichael as his vice president. Carmichael has no previous UPUA experience but has an interest in working in the federal government and is heavily involved across campus.

Bahadursingh also feels strongly about the recently implemented 19-credit surcharge which has caused problems for students. The policy hurts students who are taking required courses to be TAs, LAs, and RAs. Additionally, it puts a limit on how much students can learn.

“Let’s push students to do as much work as they want to do. Let’s push them to be excellent,” he said. “And then with that excellence, we’ll show the government that this [university] is something worth funding.”

If the university leaves the policy how it is, Bahadursingh feels that it only leads Penn State down the wrong path. Certainly, students could take more than 19 credits. However, many do not have the financial means to do that since any number of credits above 12 is a flat tuition rate.

“Where do you stop? You cut down the credits everyone can do, and everyone on average is less academically impressive to the government,” Bahadursingh explained. “The next thing is that the government looks back and they’re like, ‘Wow, the college really is useless. Let’s cut it even more.'”

A final, crucial pillar of Bahadursingh’s campaign is transparency and internal reform within UPUA.

Currently, a piece of legislation has to pass through the steering committee before it can be voted on by the legislative branch. Steering is made up of the president, vice president, speaker of the assembly, and chairs of each committee within UPUA — all of the leadership positions.

This process results in a scenario in which the outcome of a bill has pretty much been decided before it ever hits the floor. This is reflected in the fact that almost all bills pass unanimously, even if it will cost the assembly a lot of money.

Further, if leadership within UPUA strikes down a bill, there’s no way for representatives to appeal that decision. Bahadursingh feels that this needs to be changed.

“I think everything that can be voted for should be voted for,” he said. “I don’t want to diminish the UPUA’s power. I want to redistribute it amongst the members of UPUA.”

Bahadursingh says he’s not the only one in the assembly who feels this way, either. He notes that other members “blindly say yes” because they don’t want to stir the pot and make sure their track records are “clean” to move on to leadership positions.

Bahadursingh recognized that his opinions and plans may be surprising, especially to members of UPUA. However, he feels that change within the organization is necessary to ensure the improvement of student life.

“If I let this stuff continue, it’s just going to be an uncontested election perpetually,” he said.


Bahadursingh and Carmichael are running against the Zion Sykes/Rasha Elwakil ticket.

Election day is Wednesday, March 27. Students can cast their votes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on an online form. Along with the president, students can vote on at-large representatives, academic college representatives, Faculty Senate representatives, and a referendum regarding minimum wage on campus.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a senior studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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