Eighty minutes was all it took for the five presidential candidates to express their views on issues that the Central Student Government would face in the follow academic year. It was also the amount of time it took for multiple dichotomies to arise on Twitter.
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While Business junior Scott Christopher appeared as an independent candidate, all others represented a party or an organization. These included LSA junior Chris Osborn, forUM’s candidate and current CSG treasurer; LSA freshman Nick Swider, momentUM's candidate, a CSG intern and the sole freshman to run for the presidency in CSG history; Business junior Michael Proppe, youMICH candidate and CSG speaker; and LSA sophomore Chene Karega, DAAP vice presidential candidate and running mate for Rackham student Ashley Garrick.
During the previous CSG assembly meeting, a controversial resolution to support the University’s divestment from fossil fuels failed to pass. Representatives for the Divest and Invest movement, which supported the resolution, were present at the debate and questioned the candidates on their views.
While Proppe believed that divestment would not solve any sustainability issues on campus, other candidates affirmed its importance and hoped to look into renewing the resolution in the next year.
Diversity was another prevalent theme throughout the debate, and the issue reached a head when a student in the audience addressed the issue. When asked if they support affirmative action, the answer from each candidate was a resounding “yes.”
All five candidates said minority student representation was a problem at the University and believed that affirmative action was part of the solution. Proppe admitted to having conflicted views on the issue not long before. Daniel Morales, a forUM candidate and leader of Coalition for Tuition Equality, helped convince Proppe to change his views.
“I admit in the past I did not support affirmative action in college admissions,” Proppe said. “But I think it is extremely important to have that diversity of experience, to learn from people with different backgrounds than you.”
The other candidates echoed Proppe’s sentiments, agreeing that the implementation of such policies would promote a more diverse student body.
Reflecting DAAP’s role in the University as an advocate for minority issues, Karega spoke out for the issue.
“We are all Americans and we believe that everyone deserves to go to school, everyone needs education,” Karega said. “We want to double minority enrollment at this University.”
Christopher addressed problems with mental health as it concerns campus safety, referring specifically to the Virginia Tech massacre. He said his presidency would address problems with Counseling and Psychological Services, working with staff to better meet the needs of the University community.
Under the leadership of CSG President Manish Parikh and Vice President Omar Hashwi, CSG involvement with entrepreneurship has grown over the past year. All candidates, except for that running under DAAP, voiced support for furthering entrepreneurship.
youMICH’s platform currently involves creating a residential learning community that would provide students with a 5-year curriculum during which they would earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business while simultaneously creating small businesses.
On the other hand, Osborn said forUM would work on developing curricula already in the works, such as the Flipped Semester, rather than creating anything entirely new. The Flipped Semester is a proposed nine-credit entrepreneurship learning experience that would replace a traditional semester at the University.
Christopher’s involvement with Parikh’s endeavors as the chair of the ECommission and president of MPowered has placed him in the middle of many entrepreneurial initiatives this year.