After successfully winning 56.5% of the votes (68 votes), Dinmukhammed Mailibay was confirmed as the 2019 President of KAIST International Student Association (KISA) on June 5. Mailibay’s campaign focused on his experience as the Head of KISA’s Events division and his plans to change the bureaucratic structure of KISA. Mailibay’s victory comes after a hard-fought election, with the largest number of candidates in recent history, and a newly revitalized candidate debate and speeches event.
Mailibay is a freshman student and was admitted into KAIST as part of the Fall 2018 batch. During his first semester, Mailibay joined KISA’s events division and quickly rose up the ranks to be the head of the division by the end of the semester. In an interview with The KAIST Herald, Mailibay cited his previous volunteering experiences in his native country of Kazakhstan as being a key factor in his eagerness and passion for KISA. Mailibay was the head of social affairs and the head of the student council in Nazarbayev Intellectual High School. Mailibay explained, “My time in high school really helped me understand the responsibilities of a leader, and I hope to utilize this experience in my position as 2019 KISA president.”
Mailibay’s campaign played on his former experiences, with his candidate’s speech showing his confidence in becoming the successor to 2018 President Shubhranil Sengupta. During his speech, Mailibay made sure to mention how familiar he was with KISA members, and how they know and could trust him. This results of this move were reflected in the outcome of the election. Mailibay won 57.7% of the KISA Cabinet Members first preference votes and this rose to 72% after preferences were distributed. When asked how he felt about this support, Mailibay responded, “I am hugely grateful for the KISA Cabinet. I could not have done it without them. I think they say how often I engage with everyone at KISA meetings and, as their president, I am excited to meet their expectations.”
Mailibay’s campaign also made sure to touch on the issue of international student engagement with KISA, an issue that became one of the most important and popular areas of discussion during the candidates’ debate. During the question and answer session of the debate, where audience members could pose questions to the presidential hopefuls, many audience members were curious about how candidates would improve the awareness of KISA within the international community.
Mailibay’s response was to improve the promotion and accessibility of the KISA website, while increasing the publicity of events on campus. This response distinguished Mailibay from the other candidates because it played to his image of institutional favorite. Unlike Naura Qotrunnada, who proposed the creation of a “culture night event”, or Ashhad Kamal Taseer, who suggested running a survey of international students, Mailiaby spoke solely about improving the efficiency of current KISA protocol in his response.
The focus on reworking KISA’s bureaucratic structure to make it more efficient and effective was mirrored in Mailibay’s responses during an interview with The KAIST Herald when he was asked about his policy priorities. Mailibay identified three areas he’d address within his first few days in office: the creation of a definitive KISA Welfare division, the redistribution of roles amongst divisions, and the creation of set criteria for the Web division. Mailibay explained, “I believe that KISA’s Welfare work is very different from that of the other KISA divisions. Keeping it as it is, as a child-project of the division heads, does not let it reach its full potential. This is the same with [the Web division]. The KISA website has the potential to be a common platform for international students but we need a formal outline of how we intend to reach this goal.”