By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 8, 2012
As the Central Student Government presidential election nears, it now appears that six candidates will vie for the executive position as several students announced candidacies yesterday.
Business School junior Manish Parikh publicly announced his candidacy for president yesterday alongside running mate Omar Hashwi, an LSA sophomore. Additionally, the Defend Affirmative Action Party announced they will soon be choosing a candidate for president, and Dentistry student Andrew Horne shared plans to run as part of the newly formed Students for Puppies party with running mate Daniel Ruff, a fellow Dentistry student.
Parikh and Hashwi made the announcement at a CSG candidates meeting last night in advance of the upcoming election, and said they will be running as independents unaffiliated with any party.
Now with Hashwi’s candidacy for vice president, four of the five students who vied for MForward’s nomination in January are now running for either CSG president or vice president. LSA junior Aditya Sathi won MForward’s nomination at the party’s convention, but since then Business School junior Shreya Singh and Public Policy junior Kevin Mersol-Barg each formed a new party and announced their candidacies for president.
Aside from only attending a handful of CSG assembly meetings, Parikh has no ties to student government as he embarks on his candidacy for president. However, Hashwi was the lead vote recipient in the LSA assembly representative elections last March, and has worked on projects in CSG such as implementing Saturday night dining in the residence halls and increasing wireless Internet speeds on campus.
Parikh said his position as an outsider makes him uniquely qualified for office.
“I feel strongly that a lot of people who pursue student government are resume builders,” Parikh said. “I’m not saying (that’s what) past leaders in specific have done, but that’s kind of the culture.”
Parikh added that CSG has also lost its importance and direction on campus.
“There has been serious apathy that the students at large have developed towards the student government,” he said. “They don’t think the student government is medium for affecting change, they think that student government is not a serious institution, and they’ve failed to capture the imagination of the common student on campus.”
Parikh identified two current problems with CSG. The student government makes unfulfilled promises and fails to serve as a direct representation of its constituents, he said.
“(CSG says) that we think that this will make campus a better place. It may be a fantastic idea, but that is not role of any government,” he said. “The role of government is to do what the people who have elected you to office want you to do.”
Hashwi said he met Parikh last year at the library after Parikh overheard him talking about student government. Parikh said he and Hashwi agreed to work together in the future out of their mutual interest to help students while distancing themselves from party politics.
“We do not intend to be political people in our future,” Hashwi said “We want to help people; we want to improve their lives. We sincerely do.”
Parikh said they had not finalized their candidacy plans until Tuesday and have not released a public platform yet.
While candidates may often criticize their opponents’ platforms, Parikh lauded the ideas of his opponents.
“We want to focus on the strengths of our opponents,” Parikh said. “All of (them) have certain strengths. They do bring positives to the table — their leaders have done good things in the past, and we feel that we will recognize these strengths.”
Before his decision to run for office, Parikh said he belonged to the University’s Model United Nations organization and founded his own business, Sumo Deal, a non-for-profit that offered discounts at Ann Arbor businesses.
Parikh also stressed his casual and open approach to governing if elected.
“You’re not going to see us in suits and ties,” Parikh said.
Defend Affirmative Action to choose candidate
Election director Peter Borock, a law student, said the Defend Affirmative Action Party will also run a candidate for president and vice president, though they have yet to formally declare their ticket.
Many members of DAAP could not attend the meeting because they were in Cincinnati yesterday to protest outside the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as it re-opened the case determining whether the use of affirmative action in college admissions at public universities in Michigan is legal. DAAP candidates and others who missed yesterday's meeting will be meeting with Borock on Sunday.
When DAAP enters into the race, the total number of CSG presidential candidates will be raised to six.
Newly-formed party announces plans for candidacy
In addition to Parikh’s announcement yesterday, Dentistry student Andrew Horne, a representative of the CSG assembly, also made his presidential campaign public. He and running mate Daniel Ruff, also a Dentistry student, will be running as part of the newly formed political party, Students for Puppies.
Horne said he is still collaborating with his campaign team to form Students for Puppies’ platform.
“Our party is Students for Puppies, and I don’t know what we stand for,” Horne said. “We’re working on our position — we’re talking with our campaign manager and getting things sorted out.”
He added: “(Puppies are) a great animal. The University right now uses them as therapy dogs outside some exams. We might go that route and campaign for more puppies on campus, we might not. We’re still undecided.
Horne said he believes he and Ruff will win the upcoming election, emphasizing that his campaign is not a joke.
“Absolutely, it’s a serious campaign,” he said. “I would not be running for president of CSG if this was not a serious campaign.”
The decision to run was due in part to his long tenure spent in student government.
“It's a long time coming. I’ve been in CSG for three years now, and I’ve seen three different presidents and vice presidents,” Horne said. “I think it’s time to see some change.”