NISG presidential candidates: Butt and Hussain


Courtesy Photo

Candidates Muhammad Shamir Butt and Bilal Hussain join the NISG presidential and vice-presidential race.


An earlier version of this story indicated that Muhammad Shamir Butt served as the philanthropy chair of Kappa Sigma at UNI. According to Taberie Van Boening, Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) Coordinator at UNI, FSL records indicate that Butt has been removed from Kappa Sigma membership and has not been affiliated with the chapter for over a year.

As candidates for president and vice president of Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG),

Muhammad Shamir Butt and Bilal Hussain say they bring “an approach which is different but real” to the race.

“We want to start a movement… which brings together all of UNI,” the pair wrote in an email to the Northern Iowan. “Both of us have a resolve, which is to bring the left and the right together in its true sense.”

Butt is a senior majoring in political science, while Hussain is a sophomore studying finance and computer science. The two believe that they have the skills necessary to tackle what they see as UNI’s greatest challenge: a sense of “divisions and groupings.”

“(Division) prevents us from learning from each other and keeps us confined to our own cocoon of familiarity,” they wrote. “The entire point of college is exposure, to open your mind, and see. To learn and to be progressive. We want to remove the obstacles that hinder this process.”

To do so, Butt and Hussain propose a platform which emphasizes connection among diverse groups of students. One of the key points of their platform is the formation of a committee to “bring us together as a community of students who look eye to eye and be the seeds that grow up to challenge the norms of this world.”

They also plan to promote on-campus events attracting students from many different majors and interests.

“We will strive hard to bridge gaps and end divides,” Butt and Hussain wrote. “We realize that this problem is like an equation. If we are to equalize it, both sides have to be considered, and let there be no second thoughts, we will consider both.”

Another important aspect of the pair’s platform is mental health, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To address this issue, they hope to make mental health counseling more accessible on campus by making it available within student housing facilities.

Finally, they hope to deliver expanded hours from UNI’s dining options.

“We are also planning to consider the possibility of providing a space on a campus which is open 24/7 to satisfy your 3 a.m. cravings,” they wrote. “If not that, we would try our level best to extend the hours of Biscotti’s.”

Both Butt and Hussain bring campus involvement and leadership experience to the NISG presidential and vice-presidential race. Butt has been on the Model UN debate team and interned with the Panther Initiative for Environmental Equity and Resilience (PIEER). He is currently serving as president of the nonprofit group Helping Hands on campus.

Hussain, for his part, has been a member of the American Marketing Association and Entrepreneurship Club on campus. Like Butt, he is also involved with PIEER, where he is currently working on projects related to environmental sustainability, equity and social justice.

Since their platform places so much emphasis on connection among diverse campus groups, Butt and Hussain are confident that their own diverse experiences will give them the tools to succeed as president and vice president.

“We would like students to know that your student body representatives might be different than you, but they realize what you go through and will always be accessible whenever you need them,” the duo concluded their email. “Their thinking is not confined, and they will not let you down.”