Saudi Student Association thrives under new leadership

University of Oregon's Saudi Student Association President Abdulrahman Aljaafar works to give Saudi students new opportunities to interact on campus. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

University of Oregon's Saudi Student Association President Abdulrahman Aljaafar works to give Saudi students new opportunities to interact on campus. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Posted by Yuliana Barrales on Monday, Mar. 31 at 8:40 pm.

With nearly 800 faces and smiles and providing an environment where it’s free to be who you want to be, the Saudi Student Association works its best to serve the community. Last year, SSA wasn’t very active. But under a new president and leadership, SSA has managed to accomplish community gatherings from planning and coordinating two holy events to small events like Coffee Hour.

“The best way to describe this year would be ‘unusual and extraordinary,’” event coordinator  Mansour Albadran said. “The SSA’s new administration made huge improvements than the previous one. Our relationship and reputation with the University of Oregon, the ASUO and campus community has improved a lot. Empowering Saudi female students and Saudi students from different cultural backgrounds on campus and bringing them all together.”

The SSA is one of many student associations across the U.S. connected with the U.S. and Saudi embassies. Its purpose is to provide resources and a nurturing environment for Saudi students. SSA is a place where students can get help with academics and ease their living in Eugene.

“We want to change a lot of the misconceptions surrounding the Saudi culture,” SSA President Abdulrhman Aljaafari said. “We think about how we can get people involved in one particular place and we found that the most effective way is through workshops. We did a lot of workshops in business and I learned the power of it.”

After wining the SSA’s election last spring, Aljaafari has worked to give the group direction. Under Aljaafari’s new administration, a lot has changed in SSA and Saudi students are glad to have a president who is dedicated and responsible.

“Saying this as both a close friend of his and a member of the SSA, I think Abdulrhman has done a very good job as president in the association,” Albadran said. “He fought to make change for the association and promote culture of the kingdom on-campus and to draw a new picture for the association. He is a great example of student leadership.”

Fall term, SSA hosted celebrations for Eid Alfiter and Eid Aladha, the Saudi National days. Both events are holy and celebrated in Saudi Arabia according to the calendar the group uses. Six hundred people attended SSA’s first event, which included a dance and gallery show. The second saw 500 people attend and this time the group’s members took a different approach to the event: they threw a comedy show.

“My favorite thing about SSA is mostly the events,” media coordinator Saleh Alkhuzayyim said. “There’s a lot of culture in it and the people in SSA try their best to show this culture to the students and community.”