Mobilize launches campaign for CSG seats

Monday, February 17, 2020 - 11:51pm

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Courtesy of Blake Coleman

Mobilize, a Central Student Government party “dedicated to running a campaign that prioritizes and empowers the voices of all students,” announced its intention on Monday night to have a slate of students seek CSG seats in the March election. Mobilize is the first party to publicly share its formation.

In an interview with The Daily, Public Policy junior Amanda Kaplan, Mobilize’s presidential candidate, said she and her vice presidential candidate, LSA junior Sav Nandigama, will operate as a team if elected. Kaplan said their campaign is about listening to student voices and this theme starts at the top of the ticket.

“It’s not one person at the top of a ticket saying I want to run for president, now let me find a team of people behind me,” Kaplan said. “Sav and I literally sat in a room together, decided together that we wanted to run and then said, ‘Okay, let’s flip a coin and see who’s going to be president and vice president,’ because, to us, it's truly a partnership, and it’s really emblematic of the way that we’re running our campaign, where it’s not just about one person or an executive ticket. It’s about a team of people working together, respecting one another and elevating each other’s voices.”

Mobilize is holding a mass meeting on Wednesday night in the Ford School of Public Policy building.

Kaplan has previously served as CSG’s vice-chair of the finance committee and as a member of the Student Organization Funding Committee. 

She was also chair of the Engage Party, headed by Ben Gerstein, current president of CSG and Public Policy junior, in last spring’s election and currently serves as chief of staff in his administration. Before this, Kaplan held a seat in the Assembly as an LSA representative. 

Nandigama previously served as CSG chief of staff in Daniel Greene’s administration. Nandigama told The Daily that she and Kaplan created Mobilize with the goal of ensuring CSG is listening to student voices as much 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.”

In addition to her work in CSG, Nandigama noted her roles within the South Asian Awareness Network, the University’s Office of Undergraduate Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and Blueprints for Pangea, an organization committed to mitigating medical resource inefficiencies. 

The party does not currently have a platform. On Mobilize’s website, it said it is meeting with student groups to “effectively grasp student needs and craft meaningful policy.” Mobilize is expecting to release a platform next week, though it noted it will be constantly changing as the party hears from more people.

Public Policy junior Miriam Chung, outreach director of Mobilize, said the party wants to have conversations with student groups before creating policies to bring in multiple voices and better integrate CSG in the campus community. Chung said she joined Mobilize because this mission resonated with her.

“If we’re running as a body or as an entity that’s really supposed to represent student voices, then we should ask them what they want, and then implement it into our policy platforms and what we’re really advocating for,” Chung said. “In turn, that really integrates a lot of different kinds of people and voices into our story.”

The website has forms for individual students to share ideas or for organizations to arrange meetings with party members.

Kaplan said the platform will focus on sustainability; accessibility and affordability; wellness; democratic processes and civic engagement; and diversity, equity and inclusion, among other issues. Nandigama said their goal is to create policies through hearing from as many students as possible.

“Overarchingly, we basically want to elevate as many student voices as we possibly can,” Nandigama said. “And the way we’re doing that right now is by laying the foundation and talking to different student organizations.”

Kaplan echoed Nandigama’s sentiment. She said they are running to mold CSG into a body that brings student voices from across campus into account, regardless of if those students hold membership in CSG.

“The reason Sav and I are running is because we really trust each other and we’re doing this as a partnership,” Kaplan said. “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. And I think that’s what distinguishes us.”

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