newMICH executive ticket wins Central Student Government election
This article has been updated with interviews.
LSA juniors David Schafer and Micah Griggs will be the 2016 Central Student Government president and vice president, according to unofficial election results released early Saturday morning.
The results will not be made official until pending litigation is resolved. As of Friday night, four lawsuits were still pending, including several filed minutes before unofficial results were released.
The newMICH ticket of Schafer and Griggs defeated Public Policy junior Thomas Hislop, and LSA junior Cameron Dotson from the Your Michigan party by a margin of 59 votes, 3,811 votes to 3,752. LSA senior Keysha Wall and LSA sophomore Chalse Okorom, the Defend Affirmative Action Party presidential candidate and vice presidential candidates, garnered 390 votes for third place.
Overall turnout was at roughly 20 percent of the student body, a 2 percent decrease from last year’s record turnout. This is the second-closest vote margin over the past decade in CSG history, following last year’s five vote victory for Make Michigan.
newMICH ran on a platform of expanding student opportunities through mentorship programs, amplifying student voice in CSG, improving connection by instituting scholarships for low income students, and ensuring student well-being and safety by expanding Counseling and Psychological Services and Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center services to North Campus. Additionally, they hope to place a student on the Board of Regents during their tenure in office, though it’s unclear whether the addition of a student is legal under Michigan’s constitution.
In remarks after the votes were released, Schafer said the first initiative the party aims to achieve would be Intergroup Relations training for all CSG representatives and Assembly members. He also noted the margin of victory for the party, calling it a powerful statement of the importance of both newMICH and Your Michigan.
“We are just humbled, humbled that thousands of students have put their trust in us, and they believed in us, and I think that it can not go unnoticed that there are so many students who voted for the first time in a Central Student Government election during their tenure here at the University because they hoped and believed in what we had to say and what we stood for,” Schafer said. “We are excited to work with every single individual, of all parties.”
Overall, he said working closely with the University administration will be important going forward to achieve his administration’s goals. One piece of the party’s platform in particular — creating a student presence on the Board of Regents — prompted questions about feasibility and legality in the lead-up to the elections.
“I think it’s a matter of sitting down with the University administration and having these conversations about our ambitious ideas.” Schafer said. “I think it’s going to be about engaging students, and engaging the administration, and to work on achieving these goals, or at least paving the way for us to achieve these goals.”
Griggs also noted that it was important to work not only with the University administration, but also with the newly elected CSG representatives to push their upcoming agenda.
According to the unofficial results, Your Michigan representatives will outnumber newMICH representatives 22 to 31 on the new assembly. However, Schafer said he does not foresee any difficulty with that balance.
“I think it's just a matter of sitting down with Your Michigan, and everyone who supported Your Michigan and getting to know them and their communities better, and working with them and their communities,” Schafer said. “Understanding that we come from the same community, cut from the same cloth, and that as Michigan students we are all here for the same reasons, to better this campus and same community.”
LSA sophomore Anushka Sarkar, chief programming officer in CSG and newMICH campaign manager, said moving forward the administration plans to combine the efforts of both parties as they contain similar goals.
“I think that it’s also important to ensure that the issues that students supported that students who supported Your Michigan wanted to make progress on are not forgotten over the course of David and Micah’s administration,” Sarkar said. “There is a lot of overlap on mental health, sexual assault prevention, common issues like that, areas where students want progress.”
Hislop and Dotson’s Your Michigan campaign focused on a five step plan to ensure cross college equity, and to engage CAPS, SAPAC, and the Panhellenic Council to improve student safety, unite the Maize Rage student section at basketball games and to reform the University Council, a meeting of each University student government.
After the results were released, LSA junior Sierra Stone, chair of the Your Michigan party, said the experience of running was worthwhile both to the party and the campus at large.
“We’ve had an incredible time. This has been the best experience of our lives,” Stone said. “We created a family—a genuine family, and we were really able to begin our process in creating a really positive impact on this campus.”
The results of the election could still be altered, if candidates or parties receive demerits from pending litigation. The University Election Commission will also double check write-in votes before certifying the final results.
In the 2013 CSG election, the second-place party was ultimately awarded the executive positions after the presidential and vice presidential candidates for the first-place party were found guilty of influencing students and disqualified.
“The results are unofficial because up until the minute before the results come out, the candidates can still file complaints alleging that there were election code violations and the rule finds them all the way to the end of the directions,” said third-year Law student Ben Reese, CSG Elections Director.
Reese said the four pending complaints have yet to be decided because they have not yet been processed. If it is found that individual candidates violated the election code as is alleged in the complaints, they can be accessed demerits, which would result in a 3 percent decrease in their vote total per demerit per candidate. Demerits do not affect a party unless it receives 10 demerits, which then disqualifies all the candidates within a party.
There are three types of election code violations: minor, where a violation is worth one to two demerits; major, 2 to 3; or egregious, 4 or more demerits.
At this time, none of the political parties or individual members of executive tickets have been assessed demerits.
Reese, who has been on the commission for three years, said in the past competitors could file complaints after the results came out, but that process has been changed so people would not have the opportunity to file complaints based on who won.
“If they won, they could be high-minded and not file anything but if they lost they could try to win by filing complaints,” Reese said. “Parties would save up their complaints until the end, but now they have to file them before the results come out.”
LSA senior Cooper Charlton, current CSG president, said he had confidence going into the election that regardless of the outcome, CSG would be in good hands.
“Going into the elections I was confident in either party’s ability to put students first next year so I’m just excited that we once again have from what I understand high turnout,” Charlton said. “It’s just really inspiring to see they’re engaged on the issues that matter.”
Charlton added that he hoped members of the newMICH party would welcome those from Your Michigan, stressing the importance of collaboration in CSG.
“This is one way to get involved on campus and there are so many others and as long as we’re all working together to protect student voice, safety, and well being, it’s a win for everyone at the end of the day,” Charlton said. “Student voice means students working together.”
Daily News Editor Jackie Charniga contributed to this article.