By: Thomas Jones
Though Awah Tilong’s hobbies may lie in the realms of hair, fashion, makeup and movies her job, as she’d see it, is implementing the change that Regis needs. When met with the daunting question of “Why did you decide to run for Student Body President?” Tilong didn’t need any time to collect herself or formulate an answer, she immediately responded, “Regis lacks the fundamental basics of what college is supposed to look like. College is known as formative, fundamental years where you gain the structure necessary for adulthood. Regis lacks the opportunity for a real college experience. Everything is so serious all the time, we need to address important issues and also enjoy one another at the same time.”
With this being Tilong’s platform for her campaign and her overarching goal if elected as RUSGA President, she continued on to speak on specific actions she would also take as President of RUSGA. One of the main aspects of Regis which Tilong seeks to change is the quality and kind of events which we are having on campus. Tilong states, “We have so many events on how we’re different! Like damn, how many events on how we’re different do you need? I know that we’re different!” In reference to how Tilong would shift these events she responded, “I want more events that are fun and that students will actually want to come to and want to attend that still strike at these important issues in a more effective, inclusive and just overall more enjoyable way.”
Tilong sees one of the main ways of doing this being to, “Have more events where they [Regis] invite the outside community, other colleges do a lot of that and Regis doesn’t. I want to incorporate the broader community in more of our events which therefore encourages Regis to make better quality and larger events.” While Tilong certainly has many good ideas for Regis, she also has the credentials to back up her touted experience in effecting the kind of change she wishes to.
While interviewing Tilong in Walker’s Pub I quickly realized that her run for RUSGA President has been a long time in the making, spanning as far back as her first semester of freshman year here at Regis when she was thinking of leaving, but instead decided to stay to change those things which she disagreed with. This is something Tilong has consistently done while here at Regis, refusing to accept how things are and instead changing them for the better.
This attitude is reflected in her work as an RA, as she states, “I love being an RA, I feel that at Regis there is a lot of stigma’s around RA’s and as one I can work to reduce that stigma and change those ideas about RA’s,” as well as her reaction to policies she finds unfair such as the former rule within the University that stated that one can’t be involved in both Resident Life and RUSGA. This was a rule which Tilong was instrumental in helping get overturned due to the leadership qualities she sees cultivated as an RA that are also easily cross-applied to working in RUSGA.
Tilong’s accomplishments don’t stop at the Resident Life and RUSGA offices though, as she is also involved in several other clubs and offices here on campus. One of Tilong’s largest leadership positions here on campus is that of BSA President. One of the accomplishments she’s most proud of as the leader of BSA for the past two years is, “Getting students together that are different and diverse, the majority of BSA is actually not black and I’m really proud of that.” Some of the more specific events and actions Tilong has taken as President of BSA include, but are not limited to: getting a space in Clarke Hall that BSA can call their own and use to meet in every week, helping create and host on campus events such as the Colin Kaepernick conversation, the BLM rally, the Black Out at the Regis basketball game as well as the conversations with faculty and students that followed the basketball game which all took place this past year.
When asked where Tilong gets her talents for being able to bring people together and host events she references her past work in both the Diversity and Violence Prevention offices which she states, “[These offices] showed me what needs to change. They showed me what resources are helpful in creating change and not just good looking. It also helped me to gain the confidence necessary to make change and to stand up for what I believe in.”