SGA Q&A: Alli Selman highlights homelessness, sexual assault as key issues

Alli Selman is running for vice president of external affairs. SGA elections will be March 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on MyBama.

CW: To begin with, can you give me a quick rundown of your life story?

AS: My life story – Wow. I am the only child of 2 very loving parents. I grew up in an

exceptional family where I come from. I grew up in one of the poorest counties in the state of

Alabama, Covington County; it's in the Wiregrass. I grew up on a cattle farm there. And, you

know, both of my parents were Democrats, and with them being Democrats, they really taught

me to love everyone around me and to care about other people and, most importantly, to help

those who cannot help themselves, and that is something I have carried with me through my

entire life. You know, I always knew I wanted to come to school here at the University of

Alabama, and I knew I wanted to make a difference here, beyond everything else.

CW: So, why do you want to run for this office?

AS: External affairs is something that is really close to my heart because I am from the state

of Alabama. You know, External is a position that is king of – I hate to say it goes overlooked,

but it really does – because there's not a lot of people – we are such a large, you know,

percentage of out-of-state students, you know, they don't think about state government or even

how our own national government affects us or how the local government affects us here, but that's

something that being from the state of Alabama, you know, I've grown up witnessing these

issues for years and years and years, and it's just – it's really big passion of mine to kind of attack

these issues, and, as the University of Alabama, we have a very large voice, a larger voice than

we realize. And I really believe that we can make a lot of progress.

CW: What makes you the best choice for this office?

AS: The best choice for this office – Wow. I'm not used to thinking of myself as like, you

know, the best choice. But something that does make me very qualified for this, in my opinion

what makes me the most qualified for this is that I truly have a heart for people. In other words,

it's not, I'm not on a personal agenda. I don't have just a whole list of things that I want to rattle

off that I want to do because I want to do them, and everything that I do want to accomplish

while in office is very much for the people around me, and I feel like any time you take an office,

whether it be at the University of Alabama or at the, you know, state or national government, you

truly have to be in it for the people, because that's when the most work is going to get done and

that's when you are going to be the most genuine leader.

CW: Sure. What's your biggest goal for this position?

AS: Ultimately, overall, my biggest goal is to just really be there for people. You know, I

want to be accessible to them. I want to – if they bring a need to me, I want to be able to

advocate for that need, but probably one of the things I really want to work towards the most is

the Tuscaloosa area has a large percentage of homeless students. This is something that's been

brought to my attention by multiple clubs, multiple organizations, and it is something I feel very

strongly about because I do care so much about helping people. And something I would love to

do is work with the local government to see if we can get some grant money or some funding set

aside to break ground on a homeless shelter that is specifically for college students, because they

are currently having to share homeless shelters throughout the Tuscaloosa area and they are

overcrowded, there's no guarantee they're going to get a bed. It's so bad in Tuscaloosa that

they've current split the battered women's house into half battered women, half homeless shelter.

And then another thing that's really big of mine is sexual assault and sexual assault prevention,

and a lot of you may what, "Oh, what does that have to do with external affairs, you know, with

state and local government?" It actually has a lot to do with it because currently the state of

Alabama's laws on rape and sexual assault do not align with the federal laws. And I would really

like to push, you know, as the University, you know, work with Auburn and join the other large

schools to push for a reform of those state laws.

CW: Sure. So, what is the first thing you would do if elected?

AS: After I call my mom – after I call my mom – I call mom about everything – the first thing

I would do is start to work specifically with the city officials and start to work on contacting, you

know, state, you know, state government people, you know, and work on contacting legislators.

I would contact, you know, as many people as possible to start networking, making those

connections. Of course I would contact the vice president for student affairs at Auburn, and I

would definitely want to work with my cabinet still and with the fellow members of the Exec,

because that's what's really important – beyond my agenda it is important to start working with

them, getting to know them, and kind of know what their goals are, because, you know, the

position in Exec overlaps so greatly that we have to be working together and have to had each

other's support.

CW: Sure. So, why should indifferent students care about this election?

AS: I came here freshman year, and I applied for First Year Council; I got on. I ran for

senate; I ran, you know, as independent. I didn't – I was doing it all by myself – it was me and

my campaign manager who, bless her heart, didn't know what she was doing either; we were just

both completely lost; we just knew we wanted to help people. This year the people who are like

myself who have just wanted to help people, actually have grounds to stand on with Elliot

winning last year, you know, this is a pivotal year for us, you know, if an independent president

wins 2 years in a row, you know, we have 3 running for president this year. You know, finally

elections are starting to look like what they're supposed to be. You have 3 people running for 2

of the positions. You have the rest are opposed with the exception of mine, but, you know, that's

what a political election is supposed to look like. It is supposed to be anyone and everyone who

wants to run can run, and, you know, that's really what this whole movement has been about on

campus – this movement of independence and bracing diversity and inclusion. It has been about

giving people opportunity to make choices for themselves and not have those choices inhibited

by social standards, and things of that nature. So that's really what is so important about this

election is we finally have the chance to put people in office and to see that progress continue.

CW: How do you see the campus changing and/or staying the same by the end of your

possible term?

AS: Hopefully, like I said, my personal agenda aside, you know, my personal wanting to help

with the homeless shelter and wanting to help with the sexual assault and things of that nature,

aside from that, you know, I really – I hope that women see me and they feel like they can do

anything because of me. I know we have – currently we are in the spot where we could have a

female in every executive office, which is an incredible thing that – I don't know if that's ever

happened before, you know. One thing that I would really like is for people to look at me and

realize that, you know, anything can happen, that even though I am a woman, I don't have to play

this little role over here. I don't have to take what's given to me. You know, I want people to

realize that they can stand up, and I hope that by having an independent running for every slot

this year, people see that they can do whatever they want, that they don't have to just kind of

stand off to the side and go along with things.

CW: Can you give a fun fact about yourself for the students?

AS: I had a pet cow when I was little. Her name was Vacky – that's a fun fact. Well, I used

to ride the cow. I used to actually physically ride the cow. Like, I guess maybe that's just a part

of growing up on a cattle farm. Those wiregrass roots, though, they run deep. I don't know, I

guess that's a fun fact.

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