By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Malik Cantu Goes For Round Two

Current ASCWU President Talks Re-Election Plans
Malik Cantu.
(Photo courtesy of Lola Gallagher)
Malik Cantu. (Photo courtesy of Lola Gallagher)

For a year now, Malik Cantu has served as the ASCWU President here on the CWU campus. Now that elections are coming back around, Cantu chose to run for their position once again, but for what reasons? The Observer had a chance to sit down with the current president and discuss their choice to run again as well as what their continued plans are for serving CWU and the community. 

When asked about what he considered to be successes of their first term as president, Cantu was particularly proud of the legislative conversations they had with the board. “We’re at a really important time,” Cantu said. “With the renovation of black Hall, the discussion about getting a new Multicultural Center [and] about Central becoming a Hispanic Serving Institute. And all those conversations made a lot of headway this year with this board.” These conversations and the assurance that they’ll continue to make progress is one of the big reasons Cantu decided to run for the position of ASCWU president for a second time. 

They expressed that they feel one of the shortcomings of their position is that as soon as conversations progress to the point of action, ASCWU officers graduate and the process loses steam after that. “Next year, I want to make sure that all of the conversations, all of the things that happened this year are going to be carried over,” Cantu said. “That there’s not going to be any new surprises or new questions or learning curves that anyone has to get over.” Cantu is dedicated to seeing these conversations through and making sure action is taken in regards to the new multicultural center and the renovation of Black hall, but particularly in setting up CWU as a Hispanic serving institution. 

While this is their second time running for the presidential position, Cantu is no stranger to leadership roles. Having been involved with ASCWU since his first year at CWU, Cantu has served on the equity and services council as well as the student senate. Initially, president wasn’t even the position they were running for last year. “I started out running for student life last year, but then through campaigning and realizing different things about what I wanted to do, I felt like my focuses and interests were a little bit more aligned with the presidency,” Cantu said.

Despite originally feeling nervous in the role, Cantu said that now they know they’ve got the experience and skills necessary to serve to his fullest. “I feel like there isn’t a huge learning curve that I’m gonna have to overcome, like I did this most recent fall,” Cantu said. “I think that’s kind of the biggest difference is I feel 10 times more confident than I did last year.” 

In 10 years’ time, Cantu hopes to be using their theater experience as a professional actor, but their intentions go beyond your typical Hollywood performer. “My focus is to figure out a way to use acting and performance for activism and social change and social justice,” Cantu said. They expressed that while most people think acting is a niche skill where you simply memorize lines, Cantu strives to find a way to use their ability to perform to create societal change. 

One thing that Cantu felt was important to express to CWU students and staff is the importance of getting involved. They detail that when they first got to college, it was an intimidating experience and they missed their family a lot. To Cantu, getting involved with student government was what set them up for success as a student. “It enhances your experience so much, it gives you a reason beyond just getting a piece of paper and walking across the stage,” Cantu said. “On campus,  it gives you a sense of community and even a sense of family.” They also stated that this sense of community goes beyond student government and extends to organizations all across campus, where Cantu feels you can meet people, share ideas and build the community into your own family away from home. 

Cantu also had some ideas about what traits make for a strong leader, citing collaboration as they think the most important skill is, “I think the best kind of leader, especially in this role, is someone who is willing to be wrong and willing to listen to other people’s opinions and kind of share that power that comes with the position rather than use it over other people,” Cantu said. They went on to detail how they feel it’s important to give other people a seat at the table and have their voices heard, as according to Cantu, it’s the best way to make sure decisions are made for the best of everyone on central campus.

This collaborative aspect is something that Cantu also feels intersects with their role as a theater major, which is an art form that requires collaboration. “You’re working with design people, you’re working with directors, you’re working with business people, you have to be completely open and vulnerable with so many different people,” Cantu said. “[You have to] be willing to, to not hold things so precious and so dearly and be able to shape and mold yourself and be able to create something collectively.” 

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