In MiC's Opinion: Vote MomentUM

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 9:13pm

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Sadhana Ramaseshadri/Daily

The views expressed are representative of the views of the Michigan in Color editors. This is not the official endorsement of The Michigan Daily. 

University of Michigan Central Student Government elections for the 2018-2019 academic year begin this Wednesday, March 21, and wrap up Thursday, March 22. Given our current campus climate — an environment where marginalized groups constantly find our existence questioned and attacked — the editors of Michigan in Color feel confident that MomentUM, the party headed by A.J. Ashman and Charlie Bingham, is most fit to lead our campus over the next year.

A large part of MomentUM’s appeal is their explicit acknowledgment of the disparities affecting students of color on campus. Implicit in this acknowledgment is the understanding that many of these inequalities are intersectional and perpetuated by the University of Michigan. This understanding is reflected in the party’s platform, which offers solutions to combat these imbalances. One such solution proposed by MomentUM aims to increase funding to campus organizations that serve students of color. However, despite their emphasis on serving more marginalized groups, MomentUM’s platform manages to thoughtfully address a variety of other pressing issues such as health, student life, academic affairs and government relations.

At last week’s CSG debate hosted by The Michigan Daily, Ashman and Bingham confidently explained their action plan while also calling out existing discriminatory attitudes on campus. Elsewhere in their platform, MomentUM shows a similar commitment to tackling issues through a holistic and multifaceted approach. For example, the party recognizes that educational programs are equally as important in addressing sexual misconduct within Greek life as enforcing strict consequences designed to increase accountability. Both of these approaches are necessary, and their solutions show they have a command of the issues and the possible solutions.

A.J. Ashman speaking at the CSG debate

A.J. Ashman speaking at the CSG debate Buy this photo
Katelyn Mulcahy/Daily

Another important tenet of MomentUM’s platform is their plan to bolster the University’s ethnic studies programs. These programs are the academic departments and non-degree granting units dedicated to the studies of people of color (i.e. Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Latina/o Studies Major, etc.). As some of the few academic sources for students to learn about the histories and problems faced by communities of color, it’s crucial that the ethnic studies programs are appropriately funded. Additionally, Ashman and Bingham plan to work to include Native American studies in the ethnic studies program. Similarly, MomentUM aims to expand the Race and Ethnicity requirement so that every college and school requires it — currently, the School of Engineering and the Ross School of Business don’t require its students to pass an R&E course. Specifically, they hope to achieve this by offering courses in these colleges that relate to students’ areas of study and larger societal issues. The two also highlighted CSG’s problem with retaining students of color, and the tokenization that occurs as a result, which MomentUM aims to change.

Our decision to endorse MomentUM is intentional. In the same vein, our decision not to endorse the remaining parties — MVision, True Blue, eMpower and aMplify — is equally deliberate. In our opinion, MVision’s platform is filled with ill-defined and vague solutions. Particularly, their ability to police and survey Greek life has left us concerned. In the wake of several fraternities being suspended from social activity on campus, and the growing awareness of harassment that takes place within these organizations, MVision’s insufficient policies on sexual assault feel especially dangerous. Given the challenges facing the Interfraternity Council, MVision’s failure to strongly reprimand Greek life’s responses to sexual assault on campus is doubly concerning. Now is not the time to be lenient or dismissive of violence on campus.

All of the remaining parties — True Blue, eMpower and aMplify — also had issues with their campaigns that steered us towards MomentUM. While True Blue has the strongest platform of the remaining parties, we need a clear and focused vision to address student turmoil and fear from our current divided campus. Similarly, we were satisfied with many of the tenets of eMpower’s platform. However, the candidates’ aim to install cameras in residence halls — even though the move is in response to the racist attacks against Black students — is highly concerning. While this is well-intentioned, we believe the over-surveillance of students in their living spaces will lead to an invasion of privacy and, inevitably, the over-policing of Black students and other students of color. Finally, while Michigan in Color believes that although aMplify wants to change the campus for the better, their platform is not as comprehensive as MomentUM’s.

In comparison to the rest of the CSG parties, Michigan in Color puts our faith in MomentUM because their vision for a more equitable and just campus is clear. We believe that the platform is in the best interests of marginalized communities by empowerment in policy. Ashman and Bingham’s commitment to CSG and the University students at large is true, and our endorsement for them is rooted in the fact that their involvement transcends the bureaucracy of CSG and will amplify the actual needs of all marginalized students.

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Visit vote.umich.edu to cast your vote this Wednesday or Thursday.