Aretha Basu

Making advocacy accessible

As director of student advocacy for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell, Aretha Basu has taken her leadership position seriously, doing her best to represent the needs of her fellow students and future cohorts who will come to campus after her.

“It has given me knowledge of how this institution runs, highlighting ways that the institution is accessible and is not accessible — and that it where I see my work come into play,” Basu says. “I strive to make advocacy within the institution accessible to all students, those who have leadership roles and those who do not.“

Basu is particularly proud of helping to organize students to form the Student Diversity Council and then together focus on the goal of creating a diversity center on campus. It is work that will bear fruit this year as the University assigns both staff and space to this important new resource, which will serve as a hub for student equity and inclusion efforts.

“I know that my work has contributed to pushing the needle closer to achieving an equitable campus,” Basu says.

Her activism also extends beyond the University, including oppression-related issues as wide ranging as Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline, Seattle police priorities and the election of Donald Trump.

Basu says she never planned to become an activist during college, but then a study abroad trip she took to Ghana after her first year changed everything. She was exposed to the lingering effects of the historical slave trading and the current hard realities of child trafficking.

“It popped the bubble I was in as an average college student,” she says. “I was always interested in social justice, but it was never a passion, never the lens through which I looked at everything.”

Graduating in June with a degree in society, ethics and human behavior, Basu plans to take a year off. But then she’ll be back in action, studying for the LSAT and applying to law school.

“I hope to continue organizing in the city and working on campaigns driven by the community.”