LSA Student Government candidates gather at town hall to discuss campaign ideas, platform positions

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 11:31pm

The LSA Student Government candidates for Appointed Representative convened on Thursday in the University of Michigan League to campaign for the upcoming election. Twelve of 15 candidates running introduced their platforms and answered questions by Central Student Government members, LSA SG members and University students. 

The candidates expressed they were running to accurately represent their constituents and their interests.

“As a representative, it’s not so much about what I want, but what constituents want,” LSA freshman Jordan Schuler said.

Many of the candidates expressed they wanted to increase the visibility of LSA SG, and the opportunities and events the group has to offer.

LSA sophomore Lauren Levitt suggested collaborating with the Panhellenic community on campus by hosting joint philanthropic events. These sentiments were echoed by LSA sophomore Nick Martire, who advocated for not only partnering with other student organizations to increase involvement but also creating a larger constituent base.

“We do a lot of great things that benefit LSA students in ways they don’t even know,” Martire said.

Candidates specifically addressed advertising student resources that are infrequently used like the Services for Students with Disabilities, which LSA sophomore Brooke Lennox and Schuler promoted.

LSA freshman Duoming Bian expressed his goal to further promote the Major/Minor Expo to help students when choosing courses for the upcoming semester and criticized the vagueness of the LSA Course Guide. Bian proposed creating a workshop to help freshmen connect with students enrolled in classes they are considering.

“There could be a more resourceful course guide with more details of the course, like how much workload it has,” Bian said.

Candidates expressed concerns regarding the course guide as well as the language requirement for LSA students. Martire’s platform included working with LSA to make the final semester of the language requirement pass/fail, so that a student’s GPA is not brought down by a required elective. Levitt also echoed similar concerns about the difficulty of the language courses.

“I’ve seen through research and tutoring in this department that there is a huge discrepancy within one class between skill level, and in language that is a huge problem for learning progress,” Levitt said.

Other candidates highlighted the importance of mental health resources like Counseling and Psychological Services, to help students handle a difficult course load and transition to college. LSA freshman Mary McKillop talked about her desire for students, especially freshmen on North Campus, to have the availability to schedule CAPS appointments online, rather than having to trek to Central Campus to do so.

LSA freshman Taylor Mikkelson noted she plans on hosting events like comedy nights to decrease stress, and LSA sophomore Gabbie Ammond advocated for hosting events at convenient times and locations for students.

“A big problem with mental health is a lot of people aren’t ready to face that they need to do something about it,” Ammond said.

These concerns about access to mental health resources are not new to campus discussion. LSA junior Tasneem Gaballah emphasized her goal of pushing for CSG’s aim to reach the ratio of one counselor per one thousand students.

Shifting gears, Schuler, LSA sophomore Josephine Gilmore, Levitt and Gaballah advocated for promoting diversity on campus through their platforms by taking steps to make international students feel more welcome and encouraging dialogue among students with different views.

To promote lasting change beyond a single conversion, Gilmore suggested “a series of connected topics throughout the semester.”

The candidates also presented their ideas to resolve issues of the residence halls and of the Michigan Union closing soon for construction. Chahal and Gilmore advocated for more vegetarian options, and Martire advocated for at least one dining hall to remain open later, for students who can’t afford to eat out, and to provide a place to study for when the Union closes for construction. Ammond and Lennox plan to create alternative resources to compensate for the construction, like reserving open classrooms in Mason Hall and advertising these spaces.

Elections for LSA SG appointed representatives will begin at 12 a.m. on Nov. 20, and will close at 12:59 p.m. on Nov. 21. Election results will be finalized the following week.

LSA freshman Bridget Corwin, who was in attendance, urged peers to be informed about the platforms of each candidate and to vote.

“It’s important to be aware of the people that are running to represent you and your interests,” Corwin said.