Get to know your student leaders: MU President Rafid Hasan Chowdhury

MU President Rafid Chowdhury

Julie Cooper, News Contributor

Walking through the MU lounge, Rafid Hasan Chowdhury, a senior studying physics and math, shared details of the room’s history and construction, pointing out engravings in the old wood and joking about how much time he spends studying for classes in a seat near the windows. Chowdhury spends much of his time in the MU as he serves as the Memorial Union President, a position as part of a very large, complex, student-serving system.

“I’d like to think that I have the ability to do big picture thinking,” Chowdhury said. “So stepping back and seeing the whole system as a system and not just focusing on its small parts.”

His expertise lies behind the scenes where helps the organization operate.

“Most people aren’t even aware that the MU is an organization, not just a building,” said Chowdhury.

As the MU President, Chowdhury serves as chair of the MU advisory board, which runs student programs like Orange Media Network, Student Leadership and Involvement, and Facilities and Services. He also serves on the MU leadership team.

Some of his responsibilities include working on committees formed within the MU organization. He will also be serving as a member of the Student and Incidental Fees Committee this year, an elected board of students which oversees the budgeting for the entirety of student incidental and health fees.

As part of the advisory board, he decides the MU budget and programming for upcoming years, planning for the MU’s future impact.

Past MU Presidents, along with the MU advisory board, have worked on projects as grand as the creation of the new Student Experience Center building.

One project Chowdhury inherited from last year’s MU advisory board is to lower the incline of the ramp in the MU rotunda in order to fulfill FDA accessibility requirements. Chowdhury is working to determine budgets and to finalize the timeline for the construction process.

According to Chowdhury, it is crucial to determine the construction’s impact on foot traffic, MU businesses, and campus tours, since the MU is an iconic building space at OSU.

As the MU President, it is important to stay in tune with the student body, according to Chowdhury.

“A large goal is to work with the professional staff and challenge them on a daily basis to work even more to have an impact on students, because sometimes it’s easy to lose focus on what’s important and who are the people we’re serving,” Chowdhury said.

His goals include serving the needs of the thousand student workers within the MU organization’s various businesses and departments. He hopes to bring together the MU staff for a collective event by the end of the year, and to recognize the work they do daily to impact the lives of other students.

His legacy also lies in being the first international student to serve as MU President.

Facing occasional stigma, misunderstanding, and microaggressions as an international student from Bangladesh, Chowdhury said that he had to work harder than most in order to prove that he had the necessary skills for the position. According to Chowdhury, he has had to develop a thick skin at times.

He said getting to where he is now was not an easy journey. Now that the barrier has been broken for international students, Chowdhury hopes the future will show more international and minority students taking part in leadership roles at OSU.

Having served in a surplus of other leadership positions, including academic coaching with the Academic Success Center, academic mentoring with the Educational Opportunities Program, a year as a physics teaching assistant and two summers as a camp counselor for KidSpirit. it has helped prepared him for his position, according to Chowdhury.

He has followed his passion for speech and debate with the OSU Forensics team in years past, which he recalled as some of the best moments of his college experience.

Chowdhury was also an events specialist with the Student Events and Activities Center, and chaired the Student Organization Resource for Community Engagement, a group that acts as a funding mechanism for recognized student organizations who submit funding requests.

The positions he had in the past helped him to gain his footing in larger leadership positions, including the MU presidency, according to Chowdhury.

“All those positions and all those skills that I acquired kind of helped me pave the path for this position, because this position requires a lot of understanding of humans and human emotions,” Chowdhury said.

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