** Editor’s Note: This endorsement has since been retracted via a majority vote from The Editorial Board. Read its statement here.
** Editor’s Note: Due to a conflict of interest, one of the Editorial Page Editors did not participate in The Editorial Board’s interviews with the candidates, the subsequent deliberation and voting on candidates or in the writing and editing of this editorial. Editorials represent the views of The Editorial Board, hosted within The Michigan Daily’s Opinion section.
The Michigan Daily Editorial Board voted to endorse Sujin Kim and Sam Burnstein of the ORGANIZE Party for 2021-2022 Central Student Government president and vice president. The incoming administration will face a host of problems upon taking office, ranging from short-term problems such as those stemming from a return to in-person classes to long-term issues like the persistence of sexual violence on campus. All three campaigns offer solutions to these and other issues affecting students, but ORGANIZE is the party most prepared to enact the change necessary to effectively address them.
ORGANIZE wants to restructure CSG to be both an administrative body on matters they can directly control and an advocacy platform for issues not directly under their purview. This change would more effectively utilize CSG’s powers than would the traditional student government approach that attempts to directly change even the policies CSG has no power over. The candidates acknowledged that they may not achieve everything on their ambitious campaign; some things are simply out of their control. But in splitting their platform between specific policies they pledge to actually pass and causes they plan to simply advocate for, they would take office with a clear understanding of which causes they ought to focus on, rather than wasting time, energy and money attempting to pass initiatives that would likely lead to little material change.
Their specific policy goals are appealing, too. Publishing transparent, plain-language “guides” to CSG rules would help students understand the inner workings of the organization, reinforcing ORGANIZE’s hopes to transform CSG into a body that represents the will of the student body. Their advocacy propositions for remedying the University of Michigan’s approach to sexual violence includes both proactive and reactive measures. Better employee screenings could make it harder for sexual predators to get hired at the University, while more education on survivors’ rights and an expedited reporting process through the Office of Institutional Equity could mitigate the harm the reporting process already enacts on survivors. There is more to do, but in acknowledging that many survivors don’t trust the University to handle their case properly, ORGANIZE is starting in the right place. Finally, their “student activism fund,” which would help activists groups and clubs pay for the costs of organizing, would empower individuals and small groups to more easily make their voices heard.
In trying to work with other organizations, they would be using and supporting existing institutions to better enact change. They hope to work with the Ann Arbor City Council to address the city’s housing shortage, an issue that affects students and year-round residents alike. Their desire to help fund the Graduate Employees’ Organization, along with creating a commission for CSG-GEO relations, would help ensure the body truly represents all university students — a goal all the more important after the GEO strike last fall.
We know ORGANIZE is not going to pass every policy they hope to because CSG has limited power and time to achieve their goals, whereas the University administration has plenty of both. But this campaign seeks to work within that confine, efficiently passing the policies they can and advocating for those they can’t, including by working with groups who are better positioned to take action. We hope they succeed in achieving as many of their goals as possible.
The other parties are CHANGE, with Abner Santiago for president and Nicole Lin for vice president, and IMPACT, with Nithya Arun for president and Carla Voigt for vice president. Voting opens at vote.umich.edu on March 24 and closes March 25.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.
For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.