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Rashmi Samant becomes 1st Indian woman to head Oxford Student Union

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Rashmi Samant has become the first Indian woman to head Oxford University’s students’ union.An alumna of Manipal Institute of Technology, MAHE is the first Indian woman to occupy the position of Oxford Student Union President after she received more than the combined votes of the other three candidates for the post.

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According to the official data present on the web portal of Oxford Student Union, the election saw 4,881 students cast 36,405 votes. Samant received 1966 of the 3708 casts for the position of President, more than all the other candidates combined.

Rashmi has listed four main priorities: decolonisation and inclusivity, Covid interventions for all, access to quality mental health resources and decarbonising the university. As per her manifesto, Rashmi intends to lobby the university and Conference of Colleges to remove all statues proven to be imperialist, including that of Christopher Codrington, a Barbados-born colonial governor who attended Christ Church College in 1685. She has also sought residency requirements to be waived till WHO declares the end of the pandemic.

“My major goal is just that I want to make sure that every student, no matter their background and their identity, feels like they belong here,” said Rashmi Samant during her interview before becoming the President-elect. “Reform Oxford is my tagline”, she added.

Daughter of Vathsala and Dinesh Samant, Rashmi did her schooling in Manipal and Udupi. Dinesh is a businessman at Parkala near Udupi while Vathsala is a homemaker. Rashmi completed graduation in mechanical engineering at MIT (2016-2020) and was technical secretary of the student council. She was largely behind the launch of Manipal Hackathon, an event to incubate modern digital solutions for societal challenges.

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Rashmi’s father said her course ends this year but she is expected to serve a year in the union post which she will take up in June-July. “She is expected to return to India next year,” he said.

“She was known for her leadership skills and spirited nature at the institute. She was the Technical Secretary of the Student Council at MIT, Manipal and helped initiate a number of constructive activities at the institute. Manipal Hackathon, an event to incubate modern digital solutions to the societal challenges were conceived and introduced at MIT primarily because of her efforts,” said a statement issued by Manipal Institute of Technology, MAHE about Samant who studied Mechanical Engineering (2016-2020 batch).

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