Fahad Alden is well into his third year as an elected member of the Bedford Free Public Library Board of Trustees.
Last week, he was sworn in as a member of a bigger board.
Alden is the new Lowell campus student representative on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.
“I can’t come in there guns a-blazing, but it’s important to bring up students’ needs and concerns,” he said. “I am planning to be honest and bring up important things.”
The University of Massachusetts system is governed by a 22-member Board of Trustees, 17 of whom are appointed by the governor. The other five are students elected by the respective student bodies on the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses, as well as the medical school in Worcester.
Alden, a 2021 Bedford High School graduate, has been active as a student leader during his two years at UMass Lowell. As a member of the Student Government Association, he served as vice chair of campus life and successfully advocated for more Halal food.
He also serves as a trained “well-being leader” for the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “That’s how I really got to know people, connect with people,” Alden said. “I meet with students and discuss how to get involved, how to make friends, how to work on physical well-being and stress-coping mechanisms.” His podcasts are called “Lessons We Can Take from Today.”
Alden, who carries a major in digital media and a legal studies minor, was honored in January with a UMass Lowell Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award.
“I wasn’t planning to run” for student trustee, Alden said, but friends persuaded him and he secured the 70 nomination signatures in April. The race ended up uncontested; it’s a one-year term from July to July.
He said he looks forward to bringing a different perspective to the UMass Board, as he said he tries to do on the Library Board. He plans to visit clubs on campus to hear members’ thoughts and conduct outreach via email and social media.
Alden, who lives at home and works at the Recreation Department’s Kids’ Club, said his research shows he is the first Arab-American to serve as a UMass student trustee.
He said he has formally asked for consideration as a member of the board’s Audit and Risk and Academic and Student Affairs Committees. These meetings are virtual, he said, while the meetings of the full board are hybrid.
One of the five student representatives is a voting member of the board; Alden said which one will be determined in September.
According to its website, “the Board of Trustees functions as a legislative body dealing mainly with general policies governing the university,” and “is not an administrative or management board.”
Asked about his post-graduation plans, Alden said “I really believe there’s an element of fun about not knowing what’s going to happen next. So, I’m going with the flow, listening to my intuition, and not planning it all out.”