Graber, Bhatia sworn in as next Student Government president, vice president


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

Previous Student Government president, Julian Neely, swears in newly elected president, Austin Graber. Graber and Vishesh Bhatia were inaugurated at the ISU Alumni Center on April 11. Graber and Bhatia won the race for Student Government president and vice president with their campaign “Elevate. Educate. Connect.” 

Madelyn Ostendorf

Iowa State student and community leaders assembled to celebrate the inauguration of the new Student Government president and vice president.

Former president and vice president Julian Neely and Juan Bibiloni joined new president and vice president Austin Graber and Vishesh Bhatia to transfer the responsibilities and powers on to new leadership. 

The inauguration was held over dinner Thursday at the Alumni Center.

As attendees finished eating, Bibiloni began talking about his experience in Student Government and how difficult the last Senate meeting was.

“It’s been a long two years of Student Government and though I might not have shown it in the last Senate meeting, it was a heavy moment for me,” Bibiloni said.

Bibiloni thanked Neely for serving with him.

“I just want to thank, I think on behalf of the student body and me personally, thank my brother Julian Neely,” Bibiloni said.

Bibiloni reflected on his time as vice president and said he had learned that serving as the vice president meant being an ally to all students of all backgrounds, and hoped that he had done all that he could. He asked that future student leaders look up to each other and their constituents and work with one another.

Bhatia was sworn in and told a story about his first trip to America, and how a two-week trip inspired him to come back for college. He had gotten stuck in Washington D.C. due to Hurricane Sandy, and once he had gotten home, he was excited to return.

“[After the trip] I flew back home, and told my parents that I wanted to pursue my undergraduate in the United States of America,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia said he was so grateful and proud that he had chosen to come to Iowa State, and thankful for the mentors and friends that he had made while at and for his parents and grandmother.

“I could not have done this without y’all,” Bhatia said.

He thanked the student body for trusting him and Graber to represent them, and promised to try his best to not let them down.

Neely reflected on the year, noting that while they also went through a lot, they achieved a lot as a team. He was proud of his and Bibiloni’s commitment to the student body and remembered fielding calls and emails at all hours.

“We couldn’t have done anything if it wasn’t for our team, and our team wasn’t just Cabinet and it wasn’t just Senate,” Neely said. “It was all of us, as a collective.”

Neely said he never imagined that he would be in this position, and thanked Martino Harmon and former president Cody West for helping him find Student Government.

Neely finished his speech by asking Bibiloni to stand up and thanked him for all that he has done for Student Government and his “crucial role” in the team.

“Thank you for taking this ride with me, and thank you for letting me take this ride with you,” Neely said to Bibiloni.

Graber finished the event off as he was sworn in as president.

Graber started his speech by thanking many people who influenced him and inspired him to push farther. He thanked his family, campaign team and mentors for helping him be ready for presidency.

Graber said that one day, as he was walking to class, he noticed President Wendy Wintersteen’s license plate said “To Serve” on it and that those words resonated with him.

“Tonight is obviously the inauguration, but tonight is about so much more than that, it’s about Iowa State University and all the people here that truly want to make it a Cyclone family,” Graber said.

Elevating, educating and connecting Cyclones is the intent of Graber’s campaign and, despite a tough year ahead, they will work to do what is best for students despite “personal egos or drama.”

“To do this we have to recognize our differences; the different challenges each one of us face, the different conflicts, we have to resolve them,” Graber said.

As Neely finished his comments and the event came to a close, Neely recognized and thanked the outgoing senators in the room for their service, and welcomed the incoming senators to Student Government.