Name: Zackariah Farah
Year: 2nd year
Major: Biochemistry / German
Platform Speech (Who are you, why are you running, and why should a person vote for you?):
Howdy. My name is Zackariah, and I’m a Biochem/German dual major in my 2nd year. I love learning languages and I’m very interested and engaged in politics and political campaigns. I am a dual-citizen of Morocco and the United States and I grew up learning French and Moroccan Darija.
I’m running for elected rep. because I want to support a greener student culture and I want to include more international students in student government discussions.
This past year I studied at a German university where I experienced what is like to be an international student. I can empathize with the experiences of international students here on campus and I understand the difficulties of social integration that many international students face at UofM. I also learned how many European universities take issues like climate change more seriously.
I support fossil fuel divestment. I am deeply concerned about the crisis of climate change and the insufficient responses from countries and organizations around the world, including from the University of Michigan. There is currently an effort to divest UofM’s stock holdings in fossil fuel corporations. I heavily support this effort and have been in touch with students from CSG who are pushing for this. Our university should in no way support corporations which are actively destroying our environment and consequently our future and the future of the next generations.
Furthermore, we as a university can and must greatly reduce our physical waste output. We can work to reduce consumable coffee cups and plastic water bottles in our cafes and cooperate with the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) to open dialogues with different groups around campus about waste reduction including research labs and various student orgs.
If you believe that UofM should be more eco-friendly, more inclusive to international students, and more active in explaining the role and powers of student government to new students, I hope I can earn your vote.
Questions and Answers:
1. Should our student government publish voting/attendance records of its members?
Yes. Constituents should have the right to see the attendance of their representatives. It is really very basic information and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be published.
2. How would you bring new diverse ideas and representation of the student body into student government?
I’ve noticed that international students feel little connection to their student government and often find it hard to connect with other American born students. I myself have been an international student at Universität Freiburg in Germany and I understand what it’s like to be an outsider. I would like to host an informal forum with international students in order to hear and understand their concerns about student life and how we can get more American students to foster friendships with international students.
3. What are some takeaways you have in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, and our student government’s response to it?
I’m glad that classes have been made pass fail and I’m happy to see that the university is quite supportive of the student body during this time. I was one of the students studying abroad when all the study abroad programs were cancelled and I am currently unsure if I will get all the credits I paid for in program fees. I hope that the student government continues to advocate for all our students including students in these special cases like my own. There are many students who are just barely able to afford college tuition and so the student government needs to ensure that all students receive the credits they paid for or a reimbursement for any programs/classes that will not be occurring as a result of the pandemic.
4. What are your thoughts student government’s role in the upcoming 2020 election, particularly in regards to how the Presidential Debate will occur on campus and navigating the feelings of political tension within the student body?
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity. I believe that the student government should push for a section of questions which will be submitted by students. We as young people deserve to have our voice heard and I hope that student government will have a say in the debate planning.
I believe that we as a community most definitely should not work to remove politics from the student dialogue, rather we should promote events such as speed dating politics conversations in the drag, which already occurred last year and was quite successful.