Meet your Representatives: Viviam Chiu
Photo By: Viviam Chiu
Alex Bell, Managing Editor
Viviam Chiu, newly elected freshman senator, has just finished her second week in the SGA Senate. Chiu, a native of Miami, Florida, came to Behrend despite concerns that she would be rejected or discriminated against for being a hispanic, but quickly found that the community that she has now found herself so deeply entrenched in was not as rash as she believed.
“I found on the contrary that this is such an inclusive environment and the people here are really open to diversity and I loved that, like that made me feel welcome, which made me stay--because I was not going to stay,” Chiu said. This was a large portion of her decision to continue her studies at Behrend as well as seeking leadership roles on campus and specifically in the SGA. Her personal cultural background has made the diversity of Behrend a top priority.
“It is impossible for me not to be biased. I think as a human we all have our biases. So I will obviously, to some extent, represent diversity and multiculturalism, especially because I am like a blend of Chinese and Cuban,” Chiu said. This is a break from other incoming senators, who declined to say whether they would be using their influence in the SGA to support multicultural organizations. However, Chiu also said that she likes to think of herself as a “voice of the people” and said that she would not play favorites during her time in the Senate.
As a “voice of the people,” Chiu has already been busy supporting ideas she hears from students around campus. A Hispanic Heritage celebration, brainchild of Chiu and her fellow hispanic students, is one of her goals for the year. Frequently talking to fellow students for ideas about what they would like to see on campus is the most effective way to put the SGA to work for students, according to President John Jarecki. However, she has hopes that as she spends longer in the SGA, she will have more ideas to benefit the students she represents.
“This year for me is just about getting my feet wet in the SGA and understanding what's going on, because I’m interested in continuing my membership in the Student Government Association,” Chiu said. “Right now, no, next year ask me and I’ll probably have a billion [ideas].”
Chiu has spent the last three weeks with the SGA and any new senator would say that it is a culture shock. The SGA has historically held itself to a higher standard in its endeavor to represent the student body.
“I was really intimidated, actually, the first time I ever went to SGA, because I did not think that people were going to take themselves so seriously,” said Chiu. “Every other club meeting that I had gone to up until that point was very casual and laid back, but [SGA] was so serious.” However, Chiu did not say that she was upset with the strict rules that the organization follows.
“I think the SGA is honestly a really cool place to be in. I think that we’re a group of students that are not like minded, but we are dedicated and driven in the same way, and I think that it’s evident even in the words that we use when we speak in the SGA environment… So I think it’s really neat, I think it’s an environment that’s going to foster my personal growth.”
Chiu said that she appreciates the community that Behrend offers and attributes her action on campus to the community.
“I can honestly say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised… I love the small town vibe, I love how small the campus is, and I love how approachable leadership and successful positions are here,” Chiu said. “Behrend, before I came here, was a hard place to picture myself in, but after being here I can tell you Behrend has amazing qualities: inclusivity, openness, it fosters academic achievement, it’s just such a lovely environment that why not Behrend.”