As voting for Central Student Government begins this week, The Michigan Daily Editorial Board is excited to announce its endorsement of MomentUM. Though every CSG party showed passion, innovation and a commitment to students in their platforms, MomentUM’s Presidential Candidate A.J. Ashman, an Engineering junior, and Vice Presidential Candidate Charlie Bingham, an LSA junior, proposed the most comprehensive action plan for improving campus and addressing pressing issues of student life and have the necessary experience to carry it out.
All five Central Student Government parties had ambitious and thoughtful platforms which they eloquently highlighted during the debate last week. However, MomentUM’s platform shows a distinct and comprehensive commitment to change through policy. Divided into the subgroups of health, academic affairs, student life and government relations, the party’s platform has proposed effective changes in some of the most-pressing issues including sexual assault prevention, mental health, educational affordability, food insecurity, student organization funding and campus sustainability. MomentUM’s specific policy points include both improving already existing policies to developing completely new ones.
Their extensive platform, while potentially daunting, seems more feasible in context of the work Ashman and Bingham have done in CSG before their campaign. Ashman has already taken many steps to improve textbook affordability and housing prices through his positions as vice president chief of staff and senior policy adviser. Bingham, through his role as LSA representative, worked on a resolution supporting the efforts of La Casa, a student organization advocating for Latinx students on campus. Most importantly, however, both Ashman and Bingham demonstrate an infectious passion for Central Student Government and for the University; a passion we hope will translate into concrete action.
However, while we commend their platform, we are also wary of how certain proposals will actually work to deconstruct problems on campus. Specifically, the party hopes to expand funding for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and work with Community Matters to develop more engaging sexual assault prevention programming. While this is a concrete policy proposal, we are concerned simply expanding funding for SAPAC won’t solve the complex and urgent issue of sexual assault. While additional funding and education have been used in the past to combat the problem of sexual assault on campus, we hope to see the party take these initiatives further by committing to tackle the roots of the campus sexual assault epidemic.
When it comes to student affordability, MomentUM has honed in on specific costs students face, such as textbooks and housing. They’ve created an Emergency Education Fund to aid students in purchasing supplies during financial hardships and proposed initiatives such as expanding the Comprehensive Studies Program’s laptop loan program. Additionally, to ease students’ accessibility to applying to graduate school, MomentUM hopes to help fund study aides and test fees for professional school entrance exams. Such initiatives demonstrate a keen understanding of the issues that make the commmon Michigan experience unaffordable for many students. MomentUM also plans to expand the number of Leadership Engagement Scholarship recipients and continues to push for compensation for CSG members. While we have disagreed with Ashman on whether compensation should apply solely to CSG, we are confident MomentUM is coming from the right place as they seek to tackle the barriers to affordability.
We also appreciate MomentUM’s focus on demographics that are often overlooked in CSG elections, such as graduate students and North Campus students. MomentUM’s initiatives improve the experiences of graduate students on campus by expanding child care services for student parents and pushed the University to commit to opening a branch of University Health Services on North Campus.
In their platform, MomentUM has also shown a dedication to supporting minority students and increasing diversity on campus. Their goals to implement a race and ethnicity requirement in all schools and colleges, including the College of Engineering, as well as growing the Comprehensive Studies Program to other schools are formidable steps in fostering diversity on campus. Further, their plan to increase funding for minority-serving student organizations is a concrete way to further amplify the voices of minority students on campus.
As the cost of housing in Ann Arbor increases, MomentUM also proposes to restart the Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union. The Tenants’ Union is key to negotiating and stabilizing housing costs for students. Regarding the backlash to the Campus Affordability Guide, we commend Ashman for recognizing the mistakes of the Affordability Guide and believe he will utilize the lessons and feedback to make better, more thoughtful initiatives for low-income students on campus.
While we urge the student body to vote for presidential and vice-presidential candidates Ashman and Bingham this week, we also implore the party itself to follow through on the commitments they have made during this campaign cycle. Though CSG is a body whose main goal is to represent and support University students, their recent efforts have fallen short. We see this election as an opportunity for MomentUM, if elected, to make formidable change and carry out the policy proposals on which they ran. This endorsement then is not only in support of a vote for MomentUM’s executive candidates but a call to hold the winning party to their promises — to see that CSG delivers meaningful change next year. With the power of the executive positions of CSG, Ashman and Bingham have the ability to take impactful action on campus, and as an Editorial Board, we hope they carry out their commitment to service and justice if elected.
Lastly, we implore you, students, regardless of what party you support, to vote in the election this week. Make your voices heard and support the student leaders you believe can make a difference on campus.