Aaliyah Raji and Marsha Koda from the IGNITE campaign were sworn in as IU student body president and vice president during the inauguration of the 76th IUSG executive branch Friday. Raji and Koda are the first Black women to hold either of these positions in IU Student Government.
“As proud as I am to be the first, let me remind you that I will certainly not be the last,” Raji said to the audience Friday. “Leadership is inspired by others, and I hope that as we celebrate this history-making moment, it inspires those who look like me to aspire for the same goals or to reach even higher.”
After about an hour of networking among the group of roughly 200 current and former members of IUSG and IU students, faculty and alumni, a myriad of speeches were given, and the oath of office was administered.
Outgoing executive branch members shared words of advice for the next administration and highlighted the accomplishments of the past administration led by former Student Body President and Vice President Kyle Seibert and Bell Pastore, such as leading conversations about sustainability to advocating for women’s health and safety on campus,
Raji and Koda described their experiences of often finding themselves being the only or one of the very few Black students in class. Koda detailed her journey of learning to embrace herself and her culture, and she credits IU for helping her find people who welcomed her.
“She met individuals who showed her that fitting in wasn't necessarily changing yourself for other people but finding others whose puzzle piece already fit perfectly with her own,” Koda said about herself.
Raji echoed Koda’s sentiments, emphasizing the power of positive diverse representation and celebrating that IUSG will be led by Black women for the first time in its 75-year history — a fact that was met with multiple standing ovations throughout the evening. Raji outlined some of the IGNITE campaign’s goals for the upcoming year, which include continuing the IUSG emergency contraceptive fund, creating an interfaith prayer space for students and developing a student bus driver program that increases bus route availability and frequency.
IUSG advisors presented awards to multiple students for their work in IUSG: former Chief Justice of the IUSG Supreme Court Brennan Murphy, Parliamentarian David Conarty, Executive Chief of Staff Maddie Zirkle and congressional representative Mary Kiarie. Kiarie, who is also the president of the IU African Students’ Association, received the Parker Powell Award — a scholarship established in support of student activism.
The award is named after William Powell, the first student body president at IU, and Keith Parker, who during his time as student body president from 1970 to 1971, created the Student Legal Services program and demanded the creation of ethnic studies programs.
“Student activism is at the heart of why all of us are here in this room,” Parker said while presenting the award. “Lots of people opened doors for me, and the only way I can pay that debt that I owe them is to keep those doors open for others, particularly those that are concerned about social activism, concerned about making the campus better for all of the students — people who can make a difference.”