Meet Vivek Majumdar: SMOB candidate, mental health advocate

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Photo by Bill Godnick

SMOB candidate Vivek Majumdar prepares to record his candidacy announcement.

Sophomore and Student Member of the Board (SMOB) candidate Vivek Majumdar does not shy away from tough issues, making mental health, ADA compliance and updates to the curriculum the center of his platform.

Raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Majumdar moved to Montgomery County for middle school where he attended Robert Frost. About his time in the South, Majumdar recalls how he was often the only Indian person and how he had to work with people with different ideas and backgrounds from him.

Majumdar said he first learned about the SMOB position in middle school. After meeting 2019-2020 SMOB Nate Tinbite during his campaign, Majumdar was inspired to get more involved in local politics, later joining Montgomery County Regional Student Government (MCRSGA) his sophomore year. “I realized SMOB was a way for me to make an impact,” Majumdar said.

Majumdar said he wants to join the Board to keep the promises that previous SMOBs didn’t keep. On the Board, he will be able to fight for the students’ voice, which he believes has not been fairly represented by previous SMOBs. “I’m running because I truly believe I have some unique ideas and a unique platform that no other SMOB has had before,” Majumdar said.

Majumdar’s platform has three main ideas. First, he said he believes that mental health should be the top priority for the county. “When the mental health of a student is in a good place, that pushes them to be better students,” Majumdar said.

Specifically, Majumdar said mental health issues should be a valid, lawful excuse to miss school, like physical injuries. “The last thing on a student’s mind if they’re having a [mental health crisis] should be ‘How am I going to tell my attendance office I wasn’t in school’,” he said.

Second, Majumdar wants every school in the county to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the law signed in 2008 outlawing discrimiantion against individuals with disabilities and ensuring all public buildings are accessible. Currently, not a single MCPS school is completely ADA compliant. “That denies the disabled student in MCPS their basic right to a free public education,” Majumdar said.

I plan on prioritizing those items across the board and getting funding for those items to be fixed immediately.”

— Vivek Majumdar

Majumdar said Wootton has 181 items in need of immediate attention to make it accessible to students with disabilities. “I plan on prioritizing those items across the board and getting funding for those items to be fixed immediately,” Majumdar said.

Last, Majumdar has taken the time to review the curriculum to identify areas in need of updates. He said the current curriculum is outdated in many areas, including topics of mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, relationships and consent. “My campaign team and I have come up with a couple initiatives we believe will help close that gap and make students feel more represented and safe in the classroom,” Majumdar said.

Majumdar also plans to include more racially diverse teachers into the workforce, so students feel more comfortable and represented in their school community. “Teachers should represent, at least to a certain extent, the population that they teach,” Majumdar said.

In terms of experience, Majumdar is Director of Student Communications for local mental health nonprofit, Adolescent Self Injury Foundation, where he has been able to see firsthand where students are struggling. He is also a member of MCR’s mental health task force and student government.

To learn more about Majumdar’s platform, as well as meet the other SMOB candidates, attend The WHS Activists’ SMOB Forum on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. More information can be found on their Instagram page, @whsactivists.