By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 22, 2012
Three University students were elected to executive board positions of the Student Association of Michigan — a statewide student advocacy group representing the student governments of the 15 public universities in the state of Michigan — on Sunday.
At the conference hosted by the University of Michigan-Flint, LSA juniors Sean Walser, Aditya Sathi and Nessma Bashi won uncontested elections for Vice President, Treasurer and Public Relations Director, respectively.
Though the Central Student Government was initially involved with SAM during its founding in 2007, it did not have active relations with SAM until last year when Walser and Sathi, among other CSG members, began attending the monthly conferences. CSG's involvement led to the University holding a SAM conference in December 2011.
Walser said the election of the three students reflects the Central Student Government’s commitment to SAM, despite its past history with the group.
“Obviously we are established at SAM once again for the long haul,” he said.
Walser said he was disappointed with the lack of University involvement with SAM in the past.
“I’m glad that we’ve taken it this far,” Walser said. “To go from not even sending delegates to any conferences to hosting a conference in December, to having three members on the executive board in April — I think that’s incredible progress.”
Sathi, who recently lost the election for CSG president, said he was pleased to be serving students in any capacity.
“I may not necessarily have the opportunity to serve the students the way I wanted to, but ultimately … being the treasurer of the Student Association of Michigan will give me an opportunity to continue working on the efforts that I wanted to work on,” he said.
Walser said that because he, Sathi and Bashi are all juniors, it's important to find younger University students who want to get involved with SAM.
“We’re going to be very committed to finding the right people to ensure that we remain involved for many, many years to come,” he said.
At the conference, Lake Superior State junior Jay Gage was elected to his second term as president of SAM. He said he was pleased with the University’s dedication to SAM.
“I think U-M definitely set the precedent this weekend,” Gage said. “They’re going to be leaders, they’re going to be the people setting the example.”
Gage said SAM was at its full potential when he first took office last year, but added that since then the organization has greatly increased its influence throughout the state.
He added that he thought SAM’s most notable work was with its opposition to House Bill 4980— a bill that would have cut funding to higher education that never passed. Gage also noted SAM’s support of the medical amnesty bill, which prevents people under the age of 21 from receiving a Minor in Possession of alcohol citation if they call for medical attention.
“We really put our name on the board with (opposing House Bill 4980) as well as supporting medical amnesty,” Gage said.
Parikh wrote in an e-mail interview that he attended the conference to support Walser, Sathi and Bashi in their elections. He also praised Gage for his accomplishments through SAM.
“This is the first time that I met (Gage) but his organization, vision and execution seems to be remarkable,” Parikh wrote.
Walser, who worked to bring the December SAM conference to the University, said he contemplated increasing his involvement in SAM before running for vice president.
He added that he is looking forward to being a part of SAM along with Sathi and Bashi.
“(I’m) very excited to be working with Aditya, Nessma and the other board members that were elected today,” Walser said. “I’m excited to do big things.”