The University of Michigan’s LSA Student Government held its end-of-year gala at the Michigan League Wednesday evening, sending off its graduating members, inaugurating next year’s leaders following last week’s election and reflecting on the work that’s been done over the past year.
The night kicked off with appetizers and a social hour before Kelly Maxwell, LSA assistant dean for undergraduate education, delivered the opening remarks. Maxwell congratulated the assembly on its accomplishments during the 2021–22 school year, including the Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention Task Force and urged returning members to maintain a focus on social change.
“You’re really focused on fairness and justice, and it gives students greater choice and equity in their academic and campus life and in the life of our precious Earth as well,” Maxwell said. “One important way that you do that is through collective action. … I really want to challenge you, those of you who are remaining behind and not graduating, to focus on social change.”
LSA senior Jordan Juliao, chair of the Subcommittee on Technology, Advising, and Academic Services, then presented the annual Resource Recognition Award to the Comprehensive Studies Program. Juliao emphasized the program’s support for transfer students such as herself and read aloud some student feedback on the program.
“As a transfer student, this particular organization is near and dear to my heart, as a large number of transfers find their home here,” Juliao said. “One student says, ‘(CSP) provides personal, accessible and extended advising to students who need additional support at such a large university. … If this program was not here, I would not have found my home at the University of Michigan.”
A series of student representatives from each of the 11 subcommittees then shared a noteworthy accomplishment of their respective groups’ work over the last year. One speaker touted the calculator rental program, which provides free TI-84 calculators to all enrolled U-M students, and the creation of the Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention Task Force, initiated this year to increase student involevement in University sexual misconduct policy after hundreds of sexual abuse allegations against the late University athletic doctor Robert Anderson surfaced.
LSA seniors Tyler Watt and Zackariah Farah, the outgoing president and vice president of LSA SG, delivered their final remarks as the executive team.
Farah reflected on his time as a member of LSA SG, encouraging members to exercise the values of Ramadan — the current Islamic month — such as discipline, determination and empathy, in their work going forward.
“Another tradition in Ramadan is to express a sense of solidarity with those who are struggling,” Farah said. “And in the past year, we have stood with those who struggle. We were there for Jon Vaughn and the other survivors of sexual assault. We were there for student workers, some of whom make only $10 an hour. We were there for our lecturers. We stood with our Ukrainian students and our Palestinian students.”
Watt spoke next, offering some final words of advice to the assembly.
“Show sympathy for those who lead, but do not hesitate to hold them to account for their words and promises,” Watt said. “Do your part to lift up those voices that are marginalized or not in the room … I look forward to the great things that the members of this government will achieve.”
Watt and Farah then swore in LSA freshmen Bilal Irfan and Maria Wajahat and led the incoming leaders in their oaths of office. Irfan and Wajahat are the first executive ticket in LSA Student Government to be of marginalized religious backgrounds, being that both are Muslim. Their election is also one of the very few instances in the government’s history where both members of the winning executive ticket are people of Color.
After being inaugurated, Irfan gave his first speech as president and expressed his excitement for the year to come.
“We are excited to pursue legislation and projects that are dedicated to uplifting the voices of those communities and individuals who have felt sidelined, alienated or not heard,” Irfan said. “I’m excited to continue working on those projects and partnering with varying organizations on campus to innovate and reinvigorate our efforts.”
Daily Staff Reporter Irena Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: This article has been updated to include that LSA freshmen Bilal Irfan and Maria Wajahat are the first executive ticket to be of marginalized religious backgrounds and one of few tickets where both President and VP are people of Color.