The OU Student Government Association inaugurated its new president and vice president Monday morning in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Pre-law public relations junior Zack Lissau and pre-law marketing junior Denzel Akuffo obtained 66.42 percent of the vote in the 2021 election over classical studies junior Angelora Castellano and economics and political science sophomore Samantha Hepburn. SGA Superior Court Chief Justice James Hutchison swore in Lissau and Akuffo, whose terms begin immediately.
“I pray for a prosperous and purposeful experience in the year ahead,” Lissau said. “I look forward to everything that (Denzel and I are) going to accomplish.”
Outgoing SGA Vice President Alex Gray said she is grateful for the opportunities her time in office gave her to develop leadership skills and represent students — specifically from the Black community. She said she was excited to pass the baton to Akuffo, as she said she knew he would “continue this tradition.”
“I just want to say to Denzel, get excited,” Gray said. “There’s no way to really prepare for everything that’s going to happen, but just know that you have some support. It is difficult, but it’s a great learning experience, and it really is such an honor.”
Growing up, Akuffo said he was always the leader of the group and understood the expectations and responsibility that came with the title. He said he couldn’t think of anything better than SGA to serve the university’s students.
Lissau and Akuffo’s CARE platform is a working platform that Akuffo said will continue to grow and adapt with students and administration. He recited a Muhammad Ali quote, saying the word "impossible" is not in his or Lissau’s vocabulary.
“OU students don’t understand what the word impossible means, because it's not in our DNA,” Akuffo said. “We are a school full of go-getters, and what Zack and I plan on doing is emphasizing that uncommon drive.”
Outgoing SGA President Tavana Farzaneh said the past year was both the hardest and most rewarding year of her life and she was thankful she could spend it with her best friends, Gray and Cricket Kaya, the Farzaneh-Gray chief of staff. The advice she gave to Lissau was to take things on the cheek and adapt.
“Whenever y’all are stepping into this, just know that it’s going to be really hard sometimes,” Farzaneh said. “I don't know if you’re a crier — (Alex and I are) criers — but then there’s (also) many times where we were just squealing because you're so proud of the work that we were doing. So, you guys will have a mixture of those emotions, but just let them come be able to address change when you see it.”
Lissau said he aims to ensure that OU, as the state’s flagship research university, prioritizes and embraces all of its students’ identities, experiences and possibilities. He said the word “possible” has different meanings to everyone and he aims to uphold their varying definitions.
“For some, ‘possible’ was the chance to be the first member of their family to attend college, or it was possible for them to have a trip to pursue a degree path that they were passionate about,” Lissau said. “(Possible) signifies hope for a brighter future, because it can be so easy to get caught up in all the negatives but, at the end of the day, students at the University of Oklahoma and students across the country show us each and every day how things are possible.”