Jayde Dieu was elected Seton Hall University’s Student Government Association’s President for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year.
Dieu, a sophomore English and Criminal Justice double major with a minor in Political Science, said she wants to use her time as SGA president to focus on mental health, gender equity, improving the integrity of the student leadership, diversity, and educator accountability.
Dieu grew up in a Haitian household in a small town south of Atlanta that Dieu said served as a prime example of the political dichotomy in this nation. Dieu painted a picture of a cozy small southern town with lemonade stands and horse-drawn buggies in Walmart parking lots.
“I am also from a place where you can see rows of houses adorned in confederate flags and swastikas as you walk down your driveway to the mailbox,” Dieu said. “As a young girl, I accepted this polarity as an aspect of life I would have to endure.”
Dieu talked about her experience as a woman of color, and said she often found herself as the only person of color in the room. Dieu told stories of classes, extracurriculars, and summer internships where she said she felt like an outsider.
“I was a palatable exception,” Dieu said. “This feeling of exclusion in a world so diverse has reinforced my experience and it has become a phenomenon that I wish to combat.”
While Dieu has not had any experience in Seton Hall’s SGA, she was the President of her high school’s Black Student Union, and worked to target issues like poverty and racial inequality and exclusion.
Since becoming a part of the Seton Hall community, Dieu has become the Public Relations and Alumni Chair of the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association. Dieu said Dr. King has been a major inspiration for her and has influenced the way she views herself and the world.
“Thinkers like MLK warn people against underestimating the power of their own voice, whether the world is ready to hear it or not,” Dieu said. “I want to use my voice and the voices of others to marry the two worlds that I once floated between.”
She said she has also been greatly influenced by young social justice advocates like Thandiwe Abdullah, Sonita Alizadeh, and Malala Yousafzai.
“My outlook on politics has brightened because of these young people,” Dieu said. “They inspire me to remain grounded in what is right and be immovable in the face of any threat or opposition.”
Dieu said she had decided to run for office when she attended an SGA weekly office hours meeting. She said her and her friends were discussing their frustrations with administration.
“We found that many were unwilling to listen to student concerns and make it their mission to resolve them,” Dieu said. “At that moment, we decided that we would use our passion and experience to try and change that.”
Dieu said her and her running mates used their time campaigning as a way to reach as many students on campus as they could and encouraging students to become active in the campus democracy.
“We truly committed to reaching as many people as possible with our campaign,” Dieu said. “We want to make sure that we were able to serve even the most removed student.”
Dieu and her running mates also used TikTok to promote their campaign and their objectives.
Dieu said she wants to use her time as president to focus on the health and safety of students on campus.
“The truth is we’re not doing enough,” Dieu said. “Until the administrators are doing everything in their capacity to protect and invest in their students, my work is not done.”
Dieu said the way to achieve this is by working with minority counseling organizations to diversify the Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. She also said she wants to change to No Contact Order policies to protect students by preventing those with sexual assault allegations from holding on-campus jobs.
Dieu said she hopes to use this job as an exercise in advocacy, as she hopes to go to law school and work with immigrants or sex crime victims.
“This role is about serving the student population, and I want to learn as much as possible from this experience to take into my work post-SHU,” Dieu said. “I want to leave this world better than I found it, and I believe this is measured by your dedication to helping others.”
After she found out she had won the election, Dieu said her first call was to her grandparents.
“The young woman that I have become owes everything to them,” Dieu said. “They sacrificed so much to give me the best life possible, and it means more than they’ll know that I could make them proud of me.”
Dieu acknowledged that she does not know all of the ins and outs of the student government, but she said she is going to make it her job to learn. She said what she does know is more important, however.
“What I do know is that students are unhappy, and this cannot be the culture of our community moving forward,” Dieu said. “I am dedicated to helping improve student life for as many students as time will gift to me. Whatever I don’t know, I will make [it] my business to learn, and I am lucky to be surrounded by individuals who believe in our vision for a better Seton Hall.”