At a meeting to swear in Abhishek Mahanti and Michael Rorro as the new leaders of the Michigan Student Assembly, the body’s new beginning was juxtaposed with a difference of opinion about the current state of MSA by two people who know it well.

Teary-eyed, outgoing President Sabrina Shingwani said her four years in MSA were extremely beneficial because the experience exposed her to events and causes and helped her form friendships with a diverse group of people.

Shingwani stressed the importance of representatives making the most of their time on the assembly. She said representatives should realize MSA’s power to create change on campus and make it their responsibility to bring about that change.

“Look through the old minutes and you will be overwhelmed by everything that MSA has accomplished until now,” she said. “It’s up to you to carry on that legacy of hard work.”

Outgoing Vice President Arvind Sohoni said MSA helped him form lasting friendships, but that he doesn’t feel that MSA effectively serves the needs of the students to its fullest extent.

“I leave knowing that we’re still a little bit short of reaching our potential,” he said. “We’re in a body far too concerned with our internal struggles, whether it be the latest code change or our retreats, neither of which has a direct effect on our student constituents.”

“In my mind, MSA should have two fundamental goals: first, to serve the student body in the most effective, efficient way possible, second, to develop experienced student leaders,” Sohoni continued. “At this point, I’m not sure we’re doing either as effectively as we would like.”

Last night’s meeting at the Union was the traditional “out-and-in” meeting – when newly elected representatives officially take their seats. At the end of the meeting, outgoing seniors and current executives reflected on their time in MSA.

During the meeting, the outgoing assembly held its last complete meeting. Then, a Central Student Judiciary justice swore in Mahanti, an Engineering junior, and Rorro, an LSA junior.

Shingwani then literally and figuratively handed over the gavel to the new president. The new assembly then held an entire meeting of its own.

Mahanti began the “in” meeting by telling the assembly that MSA would not be run as it has traditionally been in the past, but would instead cater directly to students’ needs.

“The upcoming year will not be business as usual for MSA,” Mahanti said. “(Rorro) and I have a very clear vision for what we want to do.”

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