This week, we awarded our inaugural Ali Saeed Memorial Award to an international student who has accomplished a lot. It’s a busy time of year with the strike and all, but I just wanted to write down some thoughts about Ali. Ali served with me on the ASSU executive last year from 2013-2014. He was an international student from Pakistan but that description does not do him justice. From the moment he walked into the students’ union office, he instantly lit up the environment with that radiant smile of his. I legitimately cannot remember a time when Ali was angry. He put his time and effort into various projects of ours, including the syllabi project we compiled last year but his real passion was with working with international students.
Being an international student himself, Ali knew the challenges they face. A population that contributes so much in cash to the university yet does not get its fair share in return. I’m pleased that we were able to take steps this year to begin to address this with our survey – something Ali I’m sure would’ve appreciated. He had a passion for photography and I recall just weeks before he passed, arranging a time with him for a photoshoot for the new executive.
Ali sadly passed away nine days into my presidency. This year especially, but also during the past few years, I’ve noticed on campus that people especially online can be particularly harsh. Often times dragging people through the mud for the sake of politics, or how its popularly phrased “to do what’s right”. This is what makes Ali even more special, he never resorted to that. He never had anything bad to say about people, never sought to put people down. He just smiled. Nobody had anything bad to say about Ali.
Today, I congratulate the winner of this year’s award and future winners, for you exemplify everything Ali stood for. Service and compassion to one’s fellow students.