Marking shift in organization, LSA SG led by two people of color

Monday, October 12, 2020 - 3:56pm

LSA seniors Selena Bazzi and Josiah Walker are the first Arab American president and Black vice president of the LSA Student Government.

LSA seniors Selena Bazzi and Josiah Walker are the first Arab American president and Black vice president of the LSA Student Government. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Selena Bazzi and Josiah Walker

 

LSA seniors Selena Bazzi and Josiah Walker are the first Arab American president and Black vice president of the LSA Student Government, respectively. This is the one of a few instances in the government's history both members of the winning executive ticket are both people of color.

Bazzi said in her three years as a part of the Central Student Government she noticed a lack of representation of minority students and issues. She said as an Arab American student, she felt the need to contribute to shifting the culture of student government towards more inclusivity and diversity.

“I was almost always the only Muslim and Arab voice in the room,” Bazzi said. “I always got a sense that student government itself truly lacks diversity. I knew that being a minority voice came with a sense of responsibility for being a loud voice.”

Bazzi said her and Walker’s platform revolved around ensuring that the needs of different student groups on campus are met. She highlighted that she and Walker reach out to student groups on campus to learn more about them and introduce them to the resources provided by student government.

Bazzi also said the driving question of her and Walker’s platform has always been what they can do, as student government leaders, to uplift the efforts of various student organizations and communities.

“A lot of (student government) candidates would assume that they know the needs of a variety of different student groups without ever reaching out to those groups,” Bazzi. “So the needs of those groups were never accurately met. It was not always an effective effort.”

Walker emphasized the importance of creating a student government environment where marginalized students are comfortable voicing their needs. He said it is necessary for representatives to know the needs of student groups on campus so that they can enact effective policies that aid these groups.

“Overall, the (student) government is currently lacking a variety of diverse voices that I personally would like to see,” Walker said. “This lack of diverse voices shows up in the way the government has advocated for policies in the past.” 

Walker also hopes that having two executive officials who are people of color will enable students of color to be more comfortable in voicing their concerns. He said he and Bazzi intend to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into everything the student government does.

“We want this place to be permissible to bring up ideas that will make their college experience more enjoyable,” Walker said. 

Before Bazzi and Walker, the LSA SG president in the 2013-14 school year was Sagar Lathia and the vice president was Kendall Johnson, who are both people of color.

Zackariah Farah, LSA junior and representative of LSA SG, believes that having Bazzi and Walker as executive officials will promote international students’ participation in the student government’s activities. 

“When I first joined LSA SG I realized that there was a specific demographic present in the assembly, namely, white,” Farah said. “I think that this year, with Selena and Josiah as executives, I know that there will be a lot more diverse voices in the assembly. That really excites me.” 

Bazzi and Walker are currently working to ensure more equity, accessibility and inclusion in student government. Bazzi said they are working towards crafting student government around DEI, creating an anti-racism agenda for the year and working closely with the Dean’s office to execute LSA’s DEI efforts.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Bazzi-Walker ticket was the first ever winning executive ticket completely comprised of people of color. 

Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at itznavya@umich.edu.

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