Candidates continue to advocate for minorities

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LSA sophomore Mical Holt, the presidential candidate for DAAP, said student government should be a more mobile and active force in effecting change on campus. Buy this photo

By Michael Sugerman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 23, 2014

In the upcoming Central Student Government election, one party is looking to completely redefine the role of student representation.

The Defend Affirmative Action Party’s members believe that CSG should be more than just a liaison between students and the administration. LSA sophomore Mical Holt, the presidential candidate for DAAP, said student government should be a more mobile and active force in effecting change on campus.

Holt will run alongside LSA freshman Taylor Jones, DAAP's vice presidential candidate.

“DAAP aims to make Central Student Government an active voice and dynamic organizing center against racism, sexism, and for equal, quality public education for all in order to make the University a more inclusive one,” Holt said.

To achieve this, their party platform aims to improve numerous mechanisms of equality. These include restoring affirmative action at the University; doubling Black, Latino and Native American student enrollment; and eliminating the SAT and ACT from the admissions process.

Holt said all of these initiatives will help to create a “more holistic approach” that counteracts “biased and discriminatory” elements of college admissions.

Holt added that an increase in on-site admissions would be a monumental first step in the greater approach. He said another means of increasing the presence of underrepresented groups would be one instituted by the University of Texas, where the top 10 percent of students from each high school in the state are accepted.

LSA sophomore William Marshall III, who is running to be a DAAP representative in the CSG Assembly, said it is also important for the University to consider race in the context of socioeconomic status in the admissions process.

“It’s very likely that for minority students especially, possibly when looking at race, some admissions officers may or may not be more inclined either way to make a decision,” he said. “But when taking race into consideration, it could be possible to say, ‘Oh, these students are African-American and they are from a poor area, so maybe their school system was not as good as their white counterpart schools.”

Detroit resident Joseph Semana is a member of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — the parent organization of DAAP — and is helping those on the DAAP slate campaign.

Semana said the local BAMN chapter received CSG funding earlier this year so that students could attend the first oral arguments of the Supreme Court case debating the constitutionality of Michigan’s affirmative action ban on Oct. 15. He said a decision on the case is expected within the next few months.

“When Mical is elected or DAAP people are elected to Central Student Government, whatever the resources that we can use from there to help galvanize people around this case could have a critical impact on how the decision comes out,” Semana said.

Marshall added that the presence of DAAP representatives — and, potentially, a DAAP executive — on the CSG Student Assembly could — if the Supreme Court overturns Michigan’s affirmative action legislation — help the University adopt the policies of a new affirmative action bill.

Just as important in this hypothetical situation, Marshall said, would be guiding the University to enact the new policies “in a way that effectively increases minority enrollment and also increases the treatment and well-being of minority students.”

“It’s just one thing to get more minority students enrolled,” he said. “But it’s another thing to actually try to retain them, help take care of them and make sure they feel comfortable on a campus which has, in the past, showed quite a lot of tension toward students of minority backgrounds.”

Holt also addressed the recent #BBUM and #UMDivest movements on campus as examples in which the University has failed to fully recognize or fix the problems of its diverse constituency of students — a problem which he, as CSG president, would seek to solve.

He said DAAP strives to give a voice back to students who feel marginalized or disenfranchised.

“This idea of ‘business as usual’ through the University has been intimidating or outright ignoring the issues of many people on campus,” Holt said. “Our platform is defying the business as usual.”

Semana said Monday night’s presidential debate will serve as an open invitation not just to vote for a political party, but to join a tangible movement for change. This is something that was also discussed at a DAAP-hosted tribunal last Thursday, Marshall added.

“I want the student body to become cognizant of the fact that there is a hostile environment on campus, and to address this issue we must first become aware of this issue,” Holt said. “We’re serious about it. I’d like to just ask the students to join us in our fight to win, because we can do it.”