YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Sen. Balaal Hollings announced on Feb. 21 that he’d be running for student body president of Eastern Michigan University.
A major focus of Hollings’ campaign is creating an African American resource center. The main goal of the new resource center would focus on educating students on the history of the African-American community. It would also promote peace on campus and provide a true “safe space” against racism.
Hollings would also like to see an African-American living-learning community in every single dormitory.
“That’s something small that housing could do to not just say we’re welcome here, but to show it, back it up by action and show it,” Hollings said.
Another major focal point of Hollings’ campaign is creating a universal calendar for student organizations. Student organizations would have to register with Student Life before hosting an event and if the calendar is not followed, the organization might face a fine.
When asked about the logistics of the calendar and fine, Hollings said he is still talking to students and organizations.
The reason for the calendar is so students can be informed on what events are happening within various organizations on campus. Hollings said students have expressed concern with events overlapping and a universal calendar would make attending events easier. Hollings also said the calendar would be optional.
Hollings also wants to make changes to parking on campus.
“There are two options, either stop enforcing at 8 p.m....or bring back free parking on the weekends.” He also said there need to be more 15-minute free parking zones on campus.
Hollings said that one of the things that make him stand out from the other candidates is his history of talking to students and student organizations on campus.
“At Meet the Candidates, (the other candidates) said ‘what we plan to do is talk to (student organizations), and I’m going to start going to these organizations’...but that’s something I’ve been doing as just a student before I even got the role as Senator,” Hollings said.
Hollings also touted his experience with Student Government, saying, “I’m the only candidate that’s been a student body president before.” Hollings was Student Body Vice President and Student Body President for two semesters each at Jackson Community College.
When asked about his proudest moment as a Student Senator, Hollings said that his resolution encouraging an audit of handicapped door access on campus stands out.
The resolution, which recommended an investigation into improving all handicapped doors on campus, was authored by Hollings and passed the Senate unanimously at its March 5 meeting.
Hollings said that he has been following up with the resolution, talking to Jacqueline Wilson in the Disability Resource Center. He said he’ll talk to whoever he must to ensure access to handicapped doors on campus improves. He also expressed concern with the two doors at the Eastern Eateries that now require swipe access to enter.
“Student Government just met with housing, talking about the Eateries and how they added the two extra doors.”
Hollings also commented on the controversial topic of housing privatization on campus:
“I have seen it work in the past...maybe instead of the privatization of housing, we privatize one building...I believe in a public university...people don’t like the idea of privatization, and I don’t either, but I’ve been talking with other students, and the common answer I get is ‘we don’t care if the university has private housing or public housing, if it’s cheaper for me, then it doesn’t truly matter. I’ll have to stand with the students.”
In a closing statement, Hollings said: “This is something I’m passionate about, whether I’m elected or not, I’ll continue being a change maker. I never needed a title to do the things I did...whether I’m elected or not I’ll continue to serve…”
“I’m not afraid to tell the administration to put up, or, for lack of a better word, shut up. Do not be a ‘wordavist,’ be an activist.”