Kislay Parashar will be the University of Maryland’s next SGA president, the governing body announced Thursday evening.
Parashar ran with the Activate Maryland party along with 26 other student legislators. There was no other party on the ballot this year, and the party’s executive board and legislators all won their elections. Josie Shaffer will be the Student Government Association’s next vice president.
Elections were held from April 20 to April 22 and the voting was conducted virtually. Parashar received 85 percent of the vote, with the rest of the voters abstaining. The newly elected president will be inaugurated May 4 and begin serving as president at the SGA’s general body meeting on May 5.
Parashar received 1,113 votes in the election. Last year, when there were two students running for president, 4,146 students cast votes for a presidential candidate, not including abstentions.
In addition, in a referendum question, 59 percent of voters said Francis Scott Key, who is the namesake for a building on campus, violated the university’s values. Key was a slave-owner and a founding member of the anti-abolitionist American Colonization Society. The SGA created the referendum to decide whether to make a petition to remove Key’s name from the campus building.
In the second referendum question, 65 percent of voters voted to support the continued existence of a university MaryPIRG chapter by using resources from the Student Activities Fee to fund staff members.
Parashar currently serves as the speaker of the legislature, and he was previously the international student representative and speaker pro tempore of the legislature.
In an interview after the results were released, Parashar said he is excited to serve as president.
“My first task would be to uplift international student voices in the UMD community with simple things of inclusivity,” Parashar said.
Activate Maryland’s platform focused on creating an inclusive and diverse environment for students as they return to campus in the fall.
In a virtual town hall the night before elections began, Parashar explained how next fall, it will be as if there are two freshman classes because both incoming and current freshmen won’t have experienced normal on-campus life at this university.
The SGA wants to help ease the transition for students.
“[We want] to make sure that there is a student government next year which listens to the students, works for the students, and makes sure that the students on this campus feel welcome and comfortable and safe,” he said before the results were released.
Elected Courtyards representative Steven Berit joined the SGA in the fall because of his high school student government experience and the opportunity to be part of bigger initiatives, he said before the results came out.
Many students, including Berit, lived at home this past year due to the pandemic. His goal as a residential representative is to help ease the transition for students who are living on campus for the first time, he said before the results came out.
Berit wants to focus on making students feel safe living on campus — both in the Courtyards community and the entire campus, he said.
Activate Maryland also plans to work with the administration and students to create “cultural spaces” for students to foster diverse communities, Parashar said before the results.
The SGA’s goal is to have places for underrepresented communities to gather because “while the administration is trying very hard to make sure that racism is limited on this campus … it still persists,” Parashar added.
Atara Kahn, this past year’s Speaker Pro Tempore, has worked with Parashar and seen how dedicated he is to SGA.
“He’s the glue that holds this organization together, it’s incredible,” Kahn said.
This story has been updated.