By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
For the first time in three years, multiple parties will be running for the top two positions in Student Government — president and vice president.
Mazen Hammoud and Montana McCray of Students Serving Students, Nasri Sobh and Kevin Landwehr of Voices for Victors, and Michigan Action Party’s Fiana (Syeda) Arbab and Malak Nasser will compete against each other this week in the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Student Government elections. Hammoud, Sobh and Arbab are running for president, while McCray, Landwehr and Nasser are running for vice president.
Student Government elections will be begin April 6 at 9 a.m. and end April 7 at 11:59 p.m. Students will receive a link to vote via their U-M email. Voting will not be available from 12-3 a.m. on April 7.
The Michigan Journal sat down with each party’s presidential and vice presidential candidate to preview the election.
Students Serving Students
For Hammoud and McCray, the focus of their party — Students Serving Students — is in the name.
“We wanted our party name to represent what we’re actually going to do, and that is serving the students,” McCray said. “We get their tuition dollars; we’re going to make sure they get what they pay for.”
Hammoud is a third-year student and is majoring in digital forensics. He has been in Student Government for three years, participating as a senator, treasurer, and vice chair of the rules and ethics committee. He is also involved with the Student Association of Michigan.
McCray is in his second year at UM-Dearborn and is a supply chain major and information technology management minor.
Both are members of Rho-Tau chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon. McCray has served on TKE’s recruitment and philanthropy chairs. He is also involved in the Supply Chain Association. McCray has no prior involvement with Student Government, and his outsider’s view is why Hammoud wanted him to run.
According to Hammoud, the two decided to run because he believes Student Government’s focus has shifted. He feels the organization “spends more time advertising itself than advertising needs for students.”
“Why would we do coffee hours every month or twice a month… when we could put that money towards capital improvements?” Hammoud asked. “Buying stuff for students… advertising athletics, getting people to go to games… there’s a lot of ways to spend money on this campus, and I think spending a lot of it on food, or a solid portion on food, isn’t that necessary.”
Goals for Hammoud and McCray’s campaign include student involvement on academic boards, capital improvements that benefit students and increased student involvement through an activity calendar. They also want to focus on College of Business and College of Engineering students.
Only two students are running with Students Serving Students: Mae Kendrick and Klajdi Myslimaj, who are both running as senators.
If elected, Hammoud and McCray’s executive board would be decided by an application process.
“We want to make sure that all the students have an opportunity to get those jobs,” Hammoud said.
Hammoud anticipates an executive board to be in place by Student Government’s first summer meeting.
“I don’t plan on having it empty because they’re necessary to function… We can’t do everything. I don’t plan on it,” he said.
Voices For Victors
Sobh and Landwehr weren’t ready to close the door on several Student Government projects years in the making. It’s a reason why they’re running for president and vice president.
“We like the direction it’s headed and we’ve always had goals and projects we’ve been working on the last couple years that we’re kind of not ready to give up on yet,” Sobh said. “We’ve both had several leadership roles within Student Government, but I feel this would allow us to do more with it and to continue all the good work that’s been put in place already.”
Sobh and Landwehr, third-year students at UM-Dearborn, each boast three years of Student Government experience.
Sobh has served as its chair of appropriations and chair of public relations. He is majoring in marketing and minoring in political science, and is the president of Lebanese Student Association.
Landwehr, an Honors Program member, has served as vice chair of the rules and ethics committee and director of clubs and organizations for Student Government. An accounting and finance major, he is also the president of Student Organization Advisory Council (SOAC).
The duo has several goals for their party, including capital improvement that branches out to the College of Business and College of Engineering, green initiatives to encourage students to recycle and a Mental Health Awareness Week.
They are also working with vice chancellor for Business Affairs Jeff Evans for shuttle services from Dearborn to Ann Arbor on U-M football game days, and expanding the current services to weekends for international students and those living in the Union at Dearborn.
Sobh and Landwehr would like to increase inclusion efforts, too. They hope to help inclusion efforts grow beyond Student Government’s Inclusion Week, and would like to get other student organizations involved in those efforts.
“We feel like our campus is already very inclusive, but you can never stop at a certain point,” Sobh said.
As College of Business students themselves, Sobh and Landwehr would like to bridge the gap between the Fairlane Center to UM-Dearborn’s main campus. To do so, Landwehr said Student Government could meet with the deans of each college at UM-Dearborn and have them send out two email updates each semester for Student Government on what they’ve done for the specific college.
Sobh and Landwehr have several students running with them for executive board positions. Gonza Lulika is running for treasurer, Ali Rida for director of clubs and organizations, Taylor Sorgatz for director of Greek affairs, Fatima Abdallah for director of inclusion and Nour Kadouh for secretary. Matt Read is running to retain his director of athletics seat.
Should Sobh and Landwehr win, they will take the nominees to the senate for approval.
“We’ve chosen people to fill those roles that kind of have been grooming or getting ready to take on those positions the same way we’ve been getting ready for this big step for us,” Sobh said. “I think it’s really important because each of our e-board members has the experience and have the background in their given position.”
Landwehr believes he and Sobh are qualified to be vice president and president because they have experience to continue traditional events and new ideas to benefit students.
“We have the experience to continue hosting and facilitating past Student Government events that are kind of the traditional ones, such as Inclusion Week, as well as bringing local and state representatives to campus and hosting our open forums for students. Also with that, we have enough new ideas and have been a part of enough different areas on campus… to bring new ideas. And we think that blend will be beneficial for students,” Landwehr said.
Michigan Action Party
Arbab and Nasser have been together at several junctures of their college careers. The third-year students were in the same orientation group, had orientation for the Honors Program together, took the first and second classes of college together and joined Student Government together.
Now, they’re running for president and vice president together.
“Within our second or third meeting of Student Government, I still remember staying after a meeting one time,” Arbab said. “We were just messing around with our friends. We were like, ‘Oh yeah, well, one day, I’m going to be president and (Malak’s) going to be my VP.’… We didn’t actually mean it.”
Arbab, a psychology and women’s and gender studies double major and sociology minor, is heavily involved in student life. By the end of her sophomore year, she said she was involved in 11 different organizations and was on the executive board of eight.
Currently, she’s the president of Social Justice League, director of communications for She’s the First, director of outreach for Muslim Student’s Association, secretary for Students for Justice in Palestine and a member of Women in Learning and Leadership.
Arbab serves as chair of Student Government’s sexual assault and public safety committee.
Nasser, a biology major and mathematics minor, is the director of internal affairs for Students for Islamic Awareness. She is a chairwoman on Student Government’s student and academic affairs committee.
Both Arbab and Nasser have been involved in Student Government for two-and-a-half years.
They are running for president and vice president to fix faults on campus that have yet to be addressed.
“If we don’t do it ourselves, then we felt like probably nobody would get to them,” Nasser said.
They also want to represent the students and be a facilitator for them.
Nasser said when she would run for Student Government in the past, her friends would ask, “What does student government even do for me?” and it was troubling to hear that question.
“For them to ask me these questions, it indicated that they don’t really feel that Student Government is addressing their concerns and making their voices heard,” Nasser said.
Arbab and Nasser will fill their executive board via appointment. Like Voices for Victors, they have several students running with Michigan Action Party for executive positions.
Afeefeh Seblini is running for secretary, Ali Rizk for director of athletics, Hasan Makki for director of Greek affairs, Zunaira Tufail for treasurer, Dana Mohammad for director of clubs and organizations and Teia McGahey for director of inclusion.
“These are leaders we have seen and known for years,” Arbab said. We know the kind of work they do. And we actively sought out diversity… it’s not just in-house, our friends.”
Arbab and Nasser have four main visions if elected: make campus more transparent in communication between students, faculty, staff and administration, increase student engagement, make campus greener and fight for student workers’ rights.
There are several ways they hope to achieve these visions: a uniform 25 cent raise per semester and surveys for student workers, recycling bins separated by items and an event calendar that is linked through students’ U-M email.
As far as transparency, one example Nasser gave involved tuition increases, something she said is an issue for students.
“All they do is justify this tuition increase in one sentence: due to state funding reduction,” Nasser said. “We want them to be able to be open with us and tell us, ‘This is how much we’re getting in state funding, this is how much we’re getting in student tuition, this is how much we’re getting from alumni donations and these are our expenses, and there’s no way for this campus to remain functional and to operate unless we raise student tuition.’ And unless they can prove that, we shouldn’t be complacent and accept that as students, accept that one email from administration.”