An Interview w/ Kangkana Koli


Kangkana Koli, Director of Social Justice at EMU Student Government; studies Pre-Law / Political Science at Eastern Michigan University.

Q. What do you want readers to know about the #SomervilleKoli2017 campaign on Eastern Michigan University’s main campus, and its impact on campus life?

Through this campaign we want to unite different organizations across campus and get people involved in not only campus life, but even university matters. We want to positively impact and empower as many students as we can get involved and actively seek change through this campaign. Annie and I have overcome many obstacles in life yet today we stand as two qualified women of color ready to fight for students against administration as needed. We want to inspire students and make them proud with our unique stories and this campaign. Know this campaign will be kind, clean, respectful and inclusive of all just as I promise you both me and Annie are.

Q. What about the opportunity to serve as Student Body Vice President first interested you in committing your time and energy to its mission?

Student Government has had a positive affect on me as an individual, and really strengthened the goal I have of seeing this campus become the best it can be. Through the connections and responsibilities that the position of student body vice president has to offer I hope to accomplish my personal goals for this campus, as well as that of the students.

Q. What do you think are the five key characteristics of a great Student Body Vice President?

Responsible, Friendly, Dedicated, Trustworthy, and open to criticism.

Q. Community engagement is a significant obligation of public service. With that in mind, can you tell us about your experience in engaging campus life with Student Government led on-going initiatives?

As the Director of Social Justice for Student Government I’ve had the privilege of planning programming on campus to positively promote a diverse and inclusive environment. I’ve planned events to educate students about various racial and ethnic issues, cultural appropriation, mental health awareness, sexual assault prevention/awareness, governmental affairs, voting rights, and mass incarceration.

Q. Would you be willing to share a memorable moment from your campaign trail as a candidate for Student Body President?

When me and Annie were in the primitive stages of our campaign we came across the question of whether two women of color had ever held the position of student body president and vice president. Someone told us they hadn’t because it would be impossible, you would have to run with a man or else you would be unable to gain enough votes. I was shocked, Annie was shocked and maybe you’re even shocked reading this. I have never felt so empowered as I did in that moment, not to say I’m seeking this position to prove someone wrong but instead to show people that you can truly do anything you put your mind to. There were no laws, no physical barriers holding us back from running yet this person told us we couldn’t do it. To everyone being told they can’t do something when there’s no real barrier holding you back, this campaign is for you.

Q. Student Body Vice President and President bring perspective, local contacts, and a range of schools of thought to the decision-making table. Can you tell readers a little bit about your perspective?

Administration runs this school on their perspective, student body president and vice president are here to provide their perspective on behalf of all students. My own perspective is similar to that of most students, I want my tuition dollars that I work very hard to pay to be put to use. I want this school to provide me with the tools to graduate, go to grad school, get a job, or if I don’t know what my post-graduation plans are to help me learn them. We go to college to learn and seek a better future, but learning does not only stop at the classroom. We need to pay close attention to the things that happen outside the classroom which is what I will be bringing to the decision-making table all year long.

Final thoughts from Kangkana Koli: I’m a junior here at EMU. I’m majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Law and Government and Asian Studies. After Eastern, I hope to attend law school and eventually be a leader that can help bring positive change. I love the diversity on this campus, I love my department, and I love the friends I’ve made for life at this institution. However, I do see the flaws in this University and I want to be apart of the effort to minimize if not rid us of those flaws. I’m the vice president of the university’s mock trial team, a co-founder of RepresentUs, member of the honors college, political science tutor, and student government’s Director of Social Justice. I believe my experience as a student leader on campus since my freshmen year here has prepared me today to seek the position of student body vice president with my also very qualified running mate Annie Somerville, and I look forward to working with all of EMU’s campus.

Gesture of Solidarity is a digital repository of Q&As + profiles depicting public life, and culture in Ypsilanti, MI.