The University of Michigan Central Student Government and the Bicentennial Committee launched a year-long series last Wednesday seeking to recognize 200 of the University’s most involved students as part of the upcoming bicentennial anniversary.

The “200 for 200” series is part of a larger celebration planned by the Bicentennial Committee to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the University in 2017. It seeks to involve students, faculty and staff through initiatives such as a design competition, research opportunities, grants and event planning.

For the larger celebration, both LSA semesters in 2017 will be themed to celebrate the history of the University and to look toward its future. Events will feature prominent alumni such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Darren Criss and James Earl Jones as part of a year-long series of symposia and a spring festival.

‘200 for 200’ aims to serve as a reflection of the University’s diverse student body, as well as its status as a national research university. Students are able to nominate their peers on an online form throughout the year.

Engineering senior Eric Yu said he nominated two of his peers he believes are leaders in the community because they have made an impact on campus and bring together others through their actions.

“I tried thinking of people who I thought were leaders on campus and were doing impactful things for the community,” he said. “For example, the initiatives they were taking to bring together individuals and how their voices were able to inspire other people.”

Yu said he thought the initiative is important because it helps appreciate the high-achieving students on campus.

“I think it’s always important to recognize the amazing achievements that students have made on campus,” he said. “I really love the idea behind ‘200 for 200’ because it gives a greater appreciation for the campus community. Additionally, it ends up being very humbling because you get to see what people are capable of.”

LSA junior Aaron Cahen is the chair of the CSG’s Bicentennial Planning Commission, which is responsible for directing CSG’s efforts and contributions toward the University’s Bicentennial celebration. He said the series aims to recognize students that normally would not be noticed because they don’t hold a leadership position.

“By choosing 200 leaders, we hope to show off students who may not fit the traditional notion of ‘leader’ because they don’t have an official title,” he said. “This could mean someone who is engaged with a multitude of campus communities, or someone who has been a mentor to their peers throughout the years.”

Cahen said CSG and the Bicentennial Committee are trying to market the initiative to reach as many students as possible through a mix of social media outreach, cooperation with the administration and promotional print and video advertising.

Cahen said recognizing students from different communities around campus is an effective way to generate interest and excitement for the upcoming bicentennial activities.

“At its core, the CSG Bicentennial Commission seeks to engage the student body with the University’s bicentennial celebrations,” he said. “By honoring students from across a broad portion of campus, we hope to get students interested in and aware of the bicentennial events while recognizing student achievement.”

Yu said given the current campus climate, the series could have a positive impact if it is inclusive of a diverse range of students. A series of protests occurred in early October in response to anti-Black and anti-Islam posters posted around campus.

However, he also said “200 for 200” also has the potential to be unsuccessful if students feel left out if they are not selected.

“I think it has potential to be positive on campus climate if the ‘200 for 200’ hits all the different corners of campus,” Yu said. “But at the same time, I can also see how people might feel excluded or left out if they aren’t selected as one of the 200 individuals.”

LSA senior Kristen Mikhail, a member of the Michigan Bicentennial Advisory Committee that advises President Schlissel in the planning of bicentennial activities, said she thought the addition of the ‘200 for 200’ initiative will benefit the Bicentennial Committee’s goal of representing the University’s unique and diverse student body.

“By combining Michigan’s accomplishments through different events, we are able to portray our diverse student body in addition to getting everyone together to celebrate,” she said. 

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