SGA presidential candidate Scales wants to improve campus for everyoneBy Shahriyar Emami | 03/05/2018 10:27am
SGA presidential candidate Amber Scales has been involved on campus for the history of her time at The University of Alabama. Examples of her experience range from her position as vice-chair of the Blackburn Institute to being a part of the Capstone Men and Women and being a member of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honor society and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. On top of that, she is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, in the SGA. Born in Johns Creek, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, Scales said Alabama reminds her a lot of home.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I felt comfortable coming to school here,” Scales said.
Coming from a hometown with a diverse community, Scales interacted with many people of different backgrounds.
“We have a lot of minority populations, immigrant populations, so I was used to going to school with people who don’t look like me,” Scales said.
Her school had students from regions like Asia, Africa and the Middle East. According to Scales, it was this kind of diversity that her school celebrated.
Currently a junior majoring in public relations and theatre, Scales has been working in SGA since her freshman year. At that point she was working as an assistant director for the Black Student Leadership Council. Scales remained with the council for her sophomore year.
“In my junior year I decided I wanted to do more broad work outside of just the black community at UA," Scales said. "So I applied for Director of Multicultural Affairs which I’ve now changed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion."
Scales said she noticed the people in SGA don’t always reflect the students on the campus. Dealing with that is part of her goal in running for office.
With the school population of over 38,000 students, from out of state or from different majors and varying diversity statuses, Scales said it’s important the student government actually represents them and their own personal experiences.
Among her campus roles, Scales said her work as SGA’s Director of DEI has prepared for the task of the SGA presidency.
She has worked with veterans, students with varying ability statuses and cultural or ethnic minorities. Other students she has worked with are international students who are trying to feel at home on campus and LGBTQ+ students.
“Anybody who is part of marginalized student community and needs an advocate, those are people I worked with and got to know,” Scales said. “I think those are the voices that aren't represented, and me being able to work with them so closely for the last three years has helped me understand campus in a deeper way.”
Scales said she is driven by the desire to make an impact. She said she is the candidate who is receptive to the voices of the student body, and is thinking not just of this generation of students but also of future generations.
“Leaving a legacy knowing that someone who comes to The University of Alabama years after me, who I might not even know or might not ever meet, they might stumble across my work or an initiative I’ve created and it might help them in their school career,” Scales said. “I think that’s an incredible thing to be able to do.”
Scales said she doesn't isolate herself from communities on campus because she “has a foot in every door.”
“I have colleagues and friends in different areas and would be able to make change,” Scales said. “I have great bridges into the administration, into faculty and staff in different departments. I have a double major and a minor so I know a lot of people on this campus and would be able to unite UA and create real change.”
Scales has already made an impact on the campus without having the title of SGA president, Ryan Truitt, a junior majoring in management and information systems, said.
Truitt has been involved with the Blackburn Institute and as president of the Alabama Information Management Society or AIMS. AIMS is dedicated to fostering relationships between MIS majors and companies looking to hire them.
Truitt is the communications director for the Scales campaign. The two met through the Blackburn Institute, where both Truitt and Scales served as officers this past year. Truitt was the communications director while Scales served as the vice-chair. It is how they became “really great friends.”
“What sets her apart from the others is that I know whether or not she’s elected SGA president, she’s going to continue to put the time in to promote diversity, equity and inclusion for UA,” Truitt said.
Scales’ campaign manager, Norris Davis “hopped at the opportunity” to join the Scales campaign. There is no better candidate for the position, he said.
Davis, a Georgia native, met Scales for the first time during their freshman year.
“I’ve seen how passionate she is, she is always the one to speak out when she sees injustice," Davis said. “She always works to put boots to the ground in regards to fighting for the things that she thinks are worthy for the betterment of this campus.”
According to Truitt, "Tip the Scales," the slogan for Scales’ campaign, is one that Scales came up with herself. Scales’ goal is to change the conversation and focus on mental health, sexual assault and ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion for all students at the University.
“For me it just means that with all the members of the community I want to represent, that your identity will carry weight, that your story will carry weight, that what happens to you on campus will carry weight with me,” Scales said. “That will have a real impact on what I do as the president.”
Scales said she hopes to get other students more involved on campus. One of the ideas from her campaign is to “use the Engagement Ambassadors and SGA as peer mentors” to get more involved and have “the best college experience” they can have at the University.
Scales is groundbreaking, Norris said.
“When we say 'Tip the Scales,' we mean it,” Norris said. “We mean there’s going to be real change within SGA.”
Whether she is storytelling on stage as an actor or in a role in student government and public policy, Scales said she wants to tell the stories of those who do not have their own voice. She said she wants to invite people to the table and make sure communities are spoken up for.
“To me, The University of Alabama is my home,” Scales said. “I’ve been here for three years now, I have one more. It’s really been a place where I’ve learned, a place where I’ve gotten to grow, to challenge myself, to make new friends and to become a better person. I want that same environment to be given to every student.”