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One semester in, Parikh looks back

By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 28, 2013

It was only a few hours earlier that his flight touched down in Michigan, but Central Student Government President Manish Parikh made sure he was at assembly’s first meeting of the semester on Jan. 15.

After a frenzied CSG presidential election in March that left candidates and their supporters completely immersed in student government, Parikh — who won a plurality of the student vote after barely escaping disqualification from the election — faces a similarly hectic schedule every day.

A typical weekday for Parikh can entail responding to 50 to 60 e-mails, attending as many as five meetings and doing other student government related work that some days totals eight to nine hours — all of which results in about five hours of sleep, he said.

Former CSG President DeAndree Watson, who now works in the office of Charles Pugh, president of the Detroit City Council, said such is the life of a student body president.

“Whenever I wasn’t in class or sleeping, I was doing student government work,” Watson said, adding that “academic sacrifices” were made. He said that being a student and student body president is like “two full-time jobs.”

From platform to presidency

During his term, Parikh has been faced with possible graduate student secession graduate student secession from CSG and a November student government election plagued with several missed deadlines and a faulty ballot. Still, Parikh and his administration have fulfilled or made progress on a majority of their campaign promises.

Parikh broke the mold for CSG when he and LSA junior Omar Hashwi ran and won as independents for the presidency and vice presidency. One of their main promises was to reach out and turn their former opponents’ platforms into CSG policy.

Public Policy senior Kevin Mersol-Barg, who was the presidential nominee of OurMichigan and is founder of the Coalition for Tuition Equality, said Parikh has been supportive of CTE — which advocates in-state tuition rates for Michigan’s undocumented residents. Specifically, Mersol-Barg noted that Parikh has spoken at meetings of the University’s Board of Regents to support tuition equality.

“I didn’t really know what to expect — certainly when he campaigned he said that he would embrace the many campaign goals of his competitors,” Mersol-Barg said. “I think for the most part he’s made a good faith effort to reach out with me at least and see how we can work together.”

No longer a competitor, Mersol-Barg said he’s pleased to see Parikh visibly in favor CTE’s goals.

LSA senior Aditya Sathi, the presidential candidate from MForward, said Parikh has been involved in two issues that he ran on — medical amnesty and the Student Association of Michigan.

Medical amnesty — a policy of not issuing citations to minors seeking medical attention for alcohol-related conditions in many cases — was signed into law over the summer, so there was little Parikh could do for the issue, Sathi noted. He said, however, that he was pleased to see Parikh support a resolution in the fall to include the medical amnesty policy in the University’s statement of rights.