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Learn How this Four-Year Senior has Left a Long-standing Impact on LSA Student Government and the University as a Whole
Chayton Fivecoat is a beloved four-year senior in LSA Student Government. Throughout his tenure, he has served as an Elected Representative; Health Subcommittee Chair; and Subcommittee on Technology, Advising, and Academic Resources Subcommittee Vice-Chair. This year, Chayton joined the 2020-2021 Executive Board as the Secretary. The Secretary is a crucial role in our government. Every meeting, Chayton takes opening and closing roll call, saying each member of government’s name and recording their attendance. An important factor to the success of this practice is pronouncing each member’s name correctly, which Chayton does without fail. He always makes an effort to pause and confirm the pronunciation of each name and does not shy away from criticism if he makes a mistake. Furthermore, he makes an effort to connect with each LSA Student Government member individually. The Secretary has long served as a key member of the “LSA Student Government Welcome Wagon,” as the Secretary is the person who new members check in with at the end of a meeting to inquire about joining the organization. Chayton, under his role this year, also serves as the government’s record keeper. Without him, we would not be able to achieve our goals for the year!
I had the opportunity to sit down with Chayton, in a socially distanced manner, and ask him to reflect on his time in LSA Student Government:
Chayton, you’ve held many positions throughout your four years in government. Which one has been your favorite?
My favorite position that I have held is Vice-Chair of STAAR. I had an amazing Chair and we got to work on the projects that we were most passionate about every week. It was truly a great experience.
(Chayton and I spoke about the various student government committees, subcommittees and task forces he has been involved in. He mentioned how he likes to stay informed on all aspects of student government, especially the more specialized work that is done in our committees. He has attended almost every committee at least once.)
What’s your favorite committee that you have had the opportunity to be a part of?
The Budget Allocations Committee, no question. Allocating funds to student organizations is the most direct, immediate way that we can create a tangible change on campus. I love attending the events that the organizations hold and seeing how our work made a difference on campus.
What’s your favorite resolution or LSA Student Government initiative that you have sponsored?
Calling for the LSA administration to allow students to take the fourth semester foreign language requirement Pass/Fail. I believe that this is an equity and accessibility issue that LSA can adjust to with relatively little disruption. If the entire college can go P/F for a year and a half, [Fivecoat is referencing the University’s decision to grade students Pass/No Record Covid during the pandemic] this change can be made for our constituents.
Through our resolutions, we often shed light on issues that need immediate attention from the University. Nevertheless, there are many ways we, as student leaders, can impact the student experience. How do you believe you, and as a result LSA Student Government, have made an impact on campus?
I believe that I have connected LSA Student Government with campus stakeholders, creating long-lasting relationships for our organization. Networking with administrators is half the battle when working on projects. I hope that I left some contacts and relationships in excellent condition, so future student leaders can feel comfortable reaching out to them when they need them. In my four years in LSA Student Government, I think that we made an impact by pushing for academic changes and exposed some issues of DEI and accessibility that the University can continue to improve upon. I believe that we constantly explored issues on campus and that I and my fellow graduating seniors left it better than we found it. Furthermore, there are some outstanding underclassmen leaders coming through LSA Student Government, and I hope that we left them the tools to do everything that they set out to do.
Speaking of our younger members in our organization, do you have any advice for them?
Don’t be afraid to ask. Faculty, Staff, and Administration are all here to help. The worst they can say is no. Also, a no does not always mean that a project is over. Explore other avenues to create the best possible future for the students. The problem may not get solved in the way that we would like to see, but that does not mean that we cannot make small changes to improve life on campus.
Now, I understand that you are very involved in our community beyond LSA Student Government. How has your work in LSA Student Government related to or compared with other parts of your experience at Michigan?
All of my work on campus has been in student advocacy. Residence Hall Association, Resident Staff, and the Campus Climate Advisory Committee all have some form of student advocacy. I believe that if every student was dedicated to advocating for their classmates, the University would be a much better place. It takes all of us looking out for each other to ensure that we can have a more inclusive, welcoming campus environment. Constantly, I tried to make this dream a reality, and I believe that my work has helped us achieve a more empathetic and caring campus environment.
Thinking again of student government, what skills have you learned from this organization?
I’ve learned to mediate conflict from LSA Student Government. Members often do not agree on how to solve many of the complex issues that we face on campus. I’ve learned that it is more important to maintain the working relationship than it is to be right. Working across differences has helped me attack challenges from a variety of different angles, and it has allowed me to become a more well-rounded individual.
Overall, what do you feel you have gotten out of LSA Student Government?
I have gained lifelong friendships, multiple faculty working relationships, and countless skills and experiences to take with me throughout my career and beyond. LSA Student Government has given me a place where I can feel heard and where I can make a place for others to be heard as well.
Why have you chosen to stay in LSA Student Government throughout your time at college?
The people and the advocacy work we are able to do. I have met some of my best friends in college and we are able to work together to leave a positive impact on the University. Advocating for the needs of students is a passion of mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a voting member of LSA Student Government for this long. I would not have traded my time here for the world.
After our conversation about Chayton’s impact on LSA Student Government, we started to talk about the LSA Student Government Legacy Fund. This fund was founded at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, but unfortunately, it was unable to fully form due to the government’s hiatus during the beginning of the pandemic. This semester, the government created the LSA Annual Scholarship Task Force, which has started to fundraise for the Fund. Giving Blue Day is on March 10th, and the Task Force hopes to raise $2,500 from current students and LSA Student Government alumni. Chayton affirmed that he will be donating to the Fund because the sentiment of the Fund aligns with his personal beliefs and is in line with what he has always advocated for in LSA Student Government: accessibility. The Fund will eventually house a need-based scholarship for a member of LSA Student Government. The intention is to help alleviate secondary costs associated with joining a student organization.
If you have any questions about the LSA Student Government Legacy Fund or would like to be put in touch with Chayton, please email email@example.com.