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The LSA Student Government hosted a candidates forum for the upcoming Fall 2020 elections Friday evening via Zoom, giving candidates an opportunity to share their platforms. The elections will take place Nov. 18-19 and students will be able to vote at vote.umich.edu. While there are 26 LSA SG candidates vying for 15 spots, only 19 students presented at Friday’s forum. 

Candidates were asked to describe their platforms, explain why they are running and answer a question about the formation of a five-year plan for diversity, equity and inclusion in LSA.

They discussed issues such as mental health, which has been a prominent concern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Candidates also addressed topics related to the University’s response to the pandemic over the course of the past semester. 

LSA freshman Caitlyn Wessel said she wants to focus on increasing the availability of mental health resources for out-of-state students who may not have the same connections as in-state students. Wessel also said she wants to focus on equality and inclusion. 

“Because it is a really large community, I think there is a chance for people to feel isolated, and I want people to feel as though everyone is accepted here,” Wessel said. 

LSA junior Sarah Salino, who is the vice chair of the Student Life Committee, also touched on mental health, saying LSA SG could offer students more resources for emotional well-being. 

“I believe that we as a government can offer our services to do more to keep health and well-being at the forefront of the importance of student life,” Salino said.

Salino talked about the impact this past semester has had on first-year students

“There’s still time to provide first-year students with the mentorship they need and deserve as students at a large, rather intimidating university,” Salino said.

Candidates also discussed inclusion when talking about their platforms, a major issue as students remain scattered across the country and continue to learn remotely. LSA junior Erik Williams, who is currently a member of LSA SG, said as someone who has studied abroad, he empathizes with international students who are currently on campus. Many international students have faced challenges learning in different time zones and being isolated from their classmates and friends.

“I feel that there’s a great disconnect not only between the international students (but also) the domestic student body,” Williams said. “I feel like there can be a lot more intercultural exchange that will not only help the international students feel more at home and included in our university, but also help us to learn, and I think that could be highly beneficial.” 

Daily News Contributor Hiruni Jayawickreme can be reached at hjaya@umich.edu.

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