Kaplan, Nandigama of Mobilize win CSG executive seats

Thursday, March 26, 2020 - 7:58pm

Public Policy junior Amanda Kaplan and LSA junior Sav Nandigama will serve as Central Student Government president and vice president, per early reports.

Public Policy junior Amanda Kaplan and LSA junior Sav Nandigama will serve as Central Student Government president and vice president, per early reports. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Mobilize

Public Policy junior Amanda Kaplan and LSA junior Sav Nandigama will serve as president and vice president of the University of Michigan Central Student Government’s 10th Assembly, preliminary results from the March 25-26 election show.

Kaplan and Nandigama ran with the party Mobilize, which endorsed candidates in the LSA, Public Health and Music, Theatre & Dance representative elections. Their platform focused on sustainability, affordability and accessibility, student wellness and preparing for the 2020 U.S. presidential debate being held on campus in October.

In their party profile, Kaplan and Nandigama said they wanted to make CSG more inclusive of other student groups to better understand the needs of students. The pair reiterated this goal and thanked voters in a statement to The Daily released early Friday morning following notification of their victory.

“We’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received over the past few weeks from our friends, family and campus community,” Kaplan and Nandigama wrote. “This has definitely been an unprecedented time on campus. However, we are both so excited to represent the student body in the upcoming school year and start working right away to advocate with and for students. We want to thank all of the candidates who so passionately advocated for the issues important to them and we look forward to working with students from across campus to make our collective Michigan experience even better.”

Among Kaplan and Nandigama’s large-scale goals are to ensure student wellness and safety, specifically in October when thousands will flock to Ann Arbor for the general presidential debate at the Crisler Center. Their platform also aligns with student activists’ goals when it comes to issues such as the One University campaign and climate action.

Their ideas in the area of accessibility and affordability include aiding students in their housing search through the creation of guides and pushing for more transparency from the Office of Financial Aid on deadlines and the cost of attendance.

Kaplan and Nandigama received 1457 votes, 578 more than second-place finishers Rackham student Austin Glass and LSA sophomore Megha Jain, who ran with Change at Michigan. One of Change’s main goals was to use CSG’s resources to better advocate on behalf of students to the University in areas such as carbon neutrality, sexual assault policies and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Change branded itself as a group of both CSG outsiders and insiders committed to reorienting the way the organization functions to better serve students. In a statement to The Daily early Friday morning, Glass and Jain congratulated Kaplan and Nandigama and said they looked forward to working with them.

“We wish Amanda and Sav the best of luck, and congratulations to all the candidates who won,” Glass and Jain wrote. “It is a long tradition of CSG that the importance of parties falls away after elections; we’re excited for the chance to have the best of our platform meld with Amanda and Sav’s, in furtherance of the good work of CSG on campus. Our parties may have differed on strategies and approach, but our candidates share common values. We look forward to the work they will do, and we look forward to supporting the work of CSG however we can in the coming year.”

LSA junior Mary McKillop, CSG’s election director, provided The Daily with the unofficial election results at 12:26 a.m. Friday morning. The certified results are expected to be released later on Friday.

Students selected representatives for their respective colleges: 14 for LSA, six for Engineering, seven for Rackham, four for Business and one for each of the remaining 13 colleges. By The Daily’s count, there will be representatives endorsed by each party — Mobilize, Change and Represent Michigan, which ran without an executive ticket — in the Assembly.

An amendment to adopt instant runoff voting in the CSG presidential election passed with approximately 82.5 percent of the vote.

This is the first election under a new amendment banning party affiliations from being next to candidates’ names on the ballot and candidates spending campaign money on candidates in other races. A handful of representative candidates in this election were endorsed by more than one party — they were endorsed by the executive ticket of either Mobilize or Change while also being part of Represent’s slate.

Engineering sophomore Carla Voigt, the campaign manager for Represent Michigan who won re-election to her Assembly seat, wrote in a statement to The Daily early Friday morning that the party is excited to work with those who were elected and to ensure all students feel seen and heard on campus.

“Represent Michigan is thrilled with the results of today’s campaign,” Voigt wrote. “Being the first party to run without a presidential ticket, we are so proud of our ability to develop a slate of representatives and concrete platform in such a short time. The results of this campaign prove that the students of the University of Michigan were able to see the benefit of our clear and defined policies and, even despite the current crisis, our students were able to prove why we are able to call ourselves the leaders and the best.”

Though the dates of the election were not changed, the University’s decision to move classes to remote learning prompted CSG to cancel its executive ticket debate. Much of the campaigning — which typically includes members of parties vying for voters’ attention on the Diag and posters lining campus walls — was done through social media.

Approximately 5 percent of students voted in the University-wide election, a decline from 11.9 percent in 2019 and 23.9 percent in 2018.

Kaplan will succeed Public Policy junior Ben Gerstein after serving as chief of staff in his administration this year. Previously, Kaplan was the party chair of Engage Michigan, the victorious party in last year’s election, and was an LSA representative in the Assembly.

In an interview with The Daily after first announcing her candidacy, Kaplan said she hopes CSG can connect with students who are not currently involved in the organization.

“This entire campaign is about reaching across all of campus and finding different students that we can work with, and reforming the way that CSG works in order to make sure that it’s something that’s inclusive of all students, rather than just those who have the means to be in this organization,” Kaplan said.

Nandigama, who served as chief of staff in the administration of Gerstein’s predecessor, Daniel Greene, echoed Kaplan’s sentiment during the interview, saying one of their goals is to bring in as many student voices as possible.

“We really just want people to feel like we’re not going to sit on some pedestal being president and vice president, but we really want to work with students,” Nandigama said. “We’re really hoping to uplift different student voices because it’s not just us at the table.”

Daily Staff Reporters Navya Gupta and Julia Rubin contributed reporting.

Daily News Editor Alex Harring can be reached at harring@umich.edu.