BY DANIEL STRAUSS
Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 10, 2009
Last night LSA Student Government President Leslie Zaikis announced that in the next round of student government elections, members wouldn’t run with any party affiliation.
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"We've decided as a government that we are going to run on a non-partisan election," Zaikis announced. "That means we will not be running with the two parties in this election."
Zaikis's announcement came after the recent formation of the Michigan Vision Party and word that the Michigan Action Party, the most powerful Michigan Student Assembly party, was going to dissolve. She said that the announcement also came after a number of discussions between the heads of LSA-SG.
"We have talked with both parties to ensure that they will respect our wishes to run a non-partisan campaign," Zaikis explained at the meeting. "We don't want to get caught up in the party politics."
Previously, candidates for student government ran either as independents or as part of a party like the Michigan Action Party. In past years, candidates who were affiliated with a particular party received campaign assistance during the election.
Though LSA-SG candidates will no longer have a party to help them, Zaikis said she still expects LSA-SG members to support each other during the campaigns. The new campaign system is meant to increase the focus on campaign issues and put less emphasis on party labels, Zaikis said.
Megan Madison, LSA-SG's academic relations officer, said shedding party labels won't make first-time candidates think twice about running.
"I think that the commitment is there to make sure that people who are running for the first time, or the last time, or the 78th time are all going to be fully supported by student government as a whole," Madison said.
The rest of the campaign process for LSA-SG will not change and presidents and vice presidents will still run on the same ticket.
LSA-SG has also notified the student government parties that it will not seek campaign assistance during this election.
"We hope that they would respect that this is the system that we are hoping to utilize this semester and that it's beneficial both for their government and our election for us not to have student government candidates to run with parties," Zaikis said.
Steven Benson, LSA-SG's counsel, thinks this change will only improve the election process.
"In the long run, I think it's the best option," Benson said. "Currently people associate political parties with student government and when parties fail they think that student government fails. Now we can run independently and all of our issues can be brought to the table, there's no more people voting all for one party."
LSA-SG elections are scheduled to be held on March 18 and 19.