Malina Webb is anything but a politician. Her typical greeting is not a handshake — it’s a brilliant smile. When posed with a difficult question, she will hesitate only to compliment you on its depth. And when placed at a crossroads, she will not choose the path less traveled but will make her own.
As the chair of the Student Senators Council, Webb admits she knows of friends who see NYU as a bureaucratic entity. But the CAS senior, who once considered transferring, is quick to defend the university.
“I’ve really just been motivated by this thought, whether it be problems with NYU or even just my friends [that] if I want to change [something], I have to understand it first,” she said. “And then move forward with my understanding.”
It is this methodology of understanding, possibly derived from her major in Sociology accompanied by double minors in Business Studies and Public Policy and Management, that has guided Webb to her position as the top student government official.
Upon taking the lead of SSC this year, Webb has championed all university issues. She has defended NYU President John Sexton’s NYU 2031 plan and has fought for the funding of residence hall toilet paper, an issue that hits close to home, as she is a residence assistant in Weinstein residence hall. For every project she works on, Webb brings her unique approach to decision-making.
“I try to be fair and even-minded, by first weighing the pros and cons of my opinion against … opposing opinion,” Webb said. “I try to compare that to the general student perspective.”
At the end of this summer, Webb spearheaded an SSC scholarship that will be awarded in the spring to an incoming freshman who has demonstrated financial need and extensive extra-curricular activities. She said she hopes to add to the fund, which currently has $10,000, through the university’s annual formal Violet Ball.
Under Webb’s leadership, the university saw a $200,000 increase in budget for Wasserman Center for Career Development’s unfunded internship program.
But she also faced obstacles during her term as the chair of SSC. Superstorm Sandy postponed the council’s most anticipated event of the semester: Sexton’s Town Hall meeting. Even though it was a scramble to reschedule, Webb considered the event a success.
“I feel like both the voice for the student body and the translator to administration,” Webb said. “I take feelings from students and sentiments and translate them into policy changes or constructive complaints for administrators that can change services and such at NYU.”
It is this call to duty that Webb said makes her successful as the chair of SSC. But her impact on NYU has been much greater with her simple goal to enlighten others.
“As a person, beyond my involvement, I want to leave people with an option,” Webb said. “To get them to continue to give back, and help them realize they have a larger impact than they think they do.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 13 print edition. Gentry Brown is university editor. Email her at [email protected]