Domenic Dame and Duaa Aljirafi were sworn is as new senators at Tuesday’s senate meeting after running against Mustafa Aggour and Zakariya Abuzir for the two available chairs.
Each applicant was given three minutes to tell the Senate about themselves, their agenda and why the Senate should vote for them. Then Senators were allowed to ask the applicants questions during a five-minute period.
The first applicant to speak was Dame. He’s a senior at EMU and is studying philosophy and economics. Dame said his agenda involves around the price inflation of goods on campus. Dame also considers himself to be straight-forward and a cynical thinker.
“If you observe in student stores like Eagle’s Market, the prices of some goods have inflated dramatically,” Dame said. “[Prices are] way out of proportion with the consumer price index and other economic indicators of value to the point where I think there is exploitation of students occurring."
It’d be one thing if this happened in a town like Ann Arbor where there’s a fairly high concentration of wealth and people can generally afford to pay the higher prices, but we are talking about Ypsilanti, Michigan at Eastern Michigan University where a lot of our student base comes from low-income backgrounds and don’t have a lot of financial means to be able to afford these goods.”
Dame believes privatization is what's causing price increases and he’s trying to find data to back up those claims.
"I know that the focus of this Student Government is trying to help students through the use of Swoop’s Kitchen, for example, and other on-campus resources that help low-income students so I feel that this is an avenue we should all consider exploring.”
Dame said he is also hoping to use his education to help create data to make up Student Government ideas.
“My second minor agenda is for informed policy decision, so using Student Government funding, researching relevant issues so we can come up with data on those things and use that to better fuel our policy making,” Dame said. “A lot of stuff that happens here is well-debated and well-argued but ultimately doesn’t have the underlying mathematics to back it up, so I’m hoping to use my limited assets to make that happen.”
Sen. Balaal Hollings questioned Dame on why he waited until his senior year to get involved with Student Government.
Dame said he felt as though he was too immature for the role previously.
“Part of my belief is that public servants have to at least make an effort to be selfless, so I have been contingently involved in Student Government in the past but I never actually thrown my hat in, so-to-speak,” Dame explained. “I felt as though in those past years that if were to have gotten involved with Student Government, it would not have a selfless project, it would have been totally egoistic. But, now that I have a goal that I can pursue, it’s something that I can now explore.”
Sen. Kirk Suchowesky asked what committee Dame would ideally like to be on.
Dame referred back to his application to elaborate on his choice of committee.
“The committee I mentioned in my application was PAC [Political Action Committee], and I feel as though with the agenda that I mentioned that [committee] would help me pursue my projects, but it will also help me to learn more about our campus in order to better represent those thousand students that you mentioned,” Dame said.
The next applicant was Duaa Aljirafi. She is a freshman on campus and is majoring in public administration and minoring in international affairs. Aljirafi wants to help make students’ experiences better here on campus.
“Previously, I was at Washtenaw Middle College, and while I was there, I was able to take a few college courses, and during my time there, I founded the Human Rights Movement Club, where the aim was to educate the student population about the humanitarian crisis that is occurring,” Aljirafi said. “Our goal was also to end U.S. complicity in the war and our contribution in the humanitarian crisis. I also was a writer for Defiant Magazine, which is a social justice magazine, and I had a few of my articles published there.
The reason why I am seeking appointment for Senate is because I genuinely want to make services easier for students at EMU and I love helping people, and I think that through Student Government, it would be the perfect platform for me to be able to help and serve the needs of the student body.
I know that representing 1,000 students is a big responsibility, and I know that as a Senator I will have responsibility and will be accountable and have discipline and ownership of things. I am ready to uphold that commitment and represent 1,000 students and really just make their experience better at EMU.”
Parliamentarian Jack Swartzinski asked what Aljirafi would like to see from Student Government in order to achieve her goals.
Aljifari said the constructive criticism from members will help her edit and polish ideas and possible resolutions.
“Collaboration,” Aljirafi said. “I think that would be a really important thing to listen to the different perspectives and their critiques and feedback and being able to take whatever the feedback is and formulate ideas and services that will benefit people.”
Sen. Nick Galluzzo asked what would be the one goal Aljifari would like to accomplish during her time on Student Government.
A main goal for Aljirafi is to create a mentor program for freshmen on campus so they have a resource to consult in all year.
“I think I would really want to have a complimentary program to freshman orientation,” Aljirafi said. “One of my goals or ideas was to have freshmen being paired with upperclassmen who can serve as a friend and as a mentor during the first year at university. I know that it can be hard, especially coming into this new atmosphere and not really being familiar with is.
As a freshman, I kind of struggled the first few weeks, didn’t really know who to turn to and talk to. So, I think that having a mentor as well as a friend who will then introduce the freshmen to the services that are available to them and help navigate their first year of university [will be beneficial].”
Mustafa Aggour was the next applicant. Aggour is a junior at EMU, and this is his second semester here. Aggour is Director of Business and Finance Mohammad Aggour’s younger brother. Aggour is a psychology major and a biology minor. Aggour’s main agenda is to have Muslim and Jewish holidays off for all students.
“Everyone has Christmas off, but the Muslims and Jews in this school don’t have their holidays off, and we’re either forced to come to school or we’re punished if we don’t come,” Aggour said. “So, I just want like one day for the Muslims and Jews’ holidays off – that’s my first [goal].”
Aggour went on to discuss his concerns about food options, infrastructure, rights of free speech and the growing cost of parking at EMU.
“I talked to a lot of people in the Student Center, and they all said they would like better food in the Student Center because not a lot of people have the time or maybe even the transportation to go outside of school in between classes to go get food or anything like that,” Aggour said. “I also got a few complaints from some of the people on the EMU Dance Team; they practice in the Warner building, which, I’m pretty sure you all know, is not in good condition. The last meeting they had they had to stop early because they smelled gas and stuff like that. So, that’s another thing I want to fix up.
I heard a lot about freedom of speech going around lately, especially this week and last week. I believe everyone has the right to voice their own opinion, and if you can’t voice that respectfully, then you should just walk away, not disturb anyone else’s peace or put anyone down for what they believe.
Another thing that I want to do is [fix] parking, especially at the Science Complex. Every single semester the price goes up for EMU parking, and it’s really not acceptable. We’re college students. We’re not big ballers out here. We can’t afford to pay for parking and for school and books and all of that. So, we at least have to make it affordable and have more spots.”
Sen. Nick Galluzzo asked for clarification about whether or not Aggour wanted to see a solution in which all students have these holidays off.
Aggour said he does think everyone should have these holidays off so students don’t fall behind.
“I believe that everyone should have that day off because if only just those students get the day off, then they’re gonna fall behind,” Aggour said. “It’s just like missing classes. Maybe they won’t lose the points, but they’re gonna lose out on all the information and they’re gonna fall behind in class.”
The last applicant, Zakariya Abuzir, was sick and could not attend the Senate meeting.
After discussion and voting among the Senate, Dame and Ajirafi were sworn in as the two new senators.