Losing parties express hopes for future CSG engagement post-election
Regarding what issue she wanted to see prioritized in the University of Michigan's Central Student Government elections, Public Policy senior Gloriela Iguina-Colón expressed one of many shared sentiments on campus: a need for diversity of representation and a rise in student leaders who prioritize engaging with individuals in the University and Ann Arbor community.
Iguina-Colón worked as a deputy campaign manager for the MomentUM party, and highlighted her work with Engineering junior A.J. Ashman and LSA junior Charlie Bingham as an integral part of her experience in the campaign movement.
“CSG has lacked representation of different identities and thus has excluded marginalized voices. MomentUM is about genuinely bringing everyone into the conversation,” she said. “This starts by acknowledging that these problems exist. That people and their identities are not invisible. But rather their identities and experiences are primordial.”
CSG elections, which took place last week Wednesday and Thursday, resulted in a landslide victory for MVision’s executive candidates, Public Policy junior Daniel Greene and LSA sophomore Izzy Baer, amassing 3,439 votes. The second-place candidates, MomentUM’s A.J. Ashman and Charlie Bingham, won 1,927 votes.
Some, like outgoing representative Matt Thomas, an LSA senior, commended the representation of communities in the assembly.
Outogoing CSG President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, expressed her disappointment with the significant amount of voters who wrote in Reggie the Campus Corgi. 1,403 students wrote in Reggie, 63 votes shy of the True Blue candidates, Business junior Arathi Sabada and LSA sophomore Marianne Drysdale. She criticized popular news outlets, such as the Detroit Free Press and BuzzFeed, for adding coverage to Reggie’s “campaign” and delegitimizing the work of student candidates.
All other things about the CSG election aside for a second, it’s a stark reminder of the bullshit that still exists on our campus when a literal dog won more votes than qualified, legitimate candidates. Let’s consider this: (1/?)
— Anushka Sarkar (@AnvshkaSarkar) March 24, 2018
In order to combat the lack of informed voting among students, Sarkar outlined the importance of the Big Ten Voting Challenge as a way in which students can learn the importance of civic engagement and understand how voting processes take place.
“Fostering a commitment to voting and civic engagement at a young age is incredibly important,” Sarkar wrote in an email interview. “It's not because people don't understand CSG that people voted for a dog. It's not because CSG doesn't do anything that people are disengaged with their representative body and resort to memes and throwaway votes. It's because of a larger problem of insufficient education around civic engagement. It's because proving to people that their representative body truly does work in their best interests is an age-old battle with which governments have been struggling.”
Sarkar pushed the importance of INNOVATE, CSG’s public service pitch competition, and the Diag events as avenues through which CSG can interact with students on campus and show the type of work happening within CSG, as well as legitimizing CSG positions to students unfamiliar with their efforts.
Though Sarkar supported the True Blue campaign during this election, she voiced her admiration for all those who ran as candidates and her hopes for the future.
“I have faith in Daniel Greene and Izzy Baer to lead this organization and student body with integrity, with emphasis on empowering marginalized students, and maintaining the momentum of this year,” Sarkar wrote. “I have faith in the elected Assembly Representatives to give voice to their communities and schools. And I have faith that the values Arathi and Marianne represented in leadership of True Blue will be embodied in this next year of CSG,” Sarkar wrote.
LSA sophomore Brianna Wells said her aspiration to create a more equitable campus was mirrored in the True Blue campaign, which focused on establishing an emergency meal fund, a leadership engagement scholarship and increasing CSG transparency on campus. Her enthusiasm for the values in the campaign led her to run for a position as LSA representative.
“The campaign’s value of humility and passion for the cause drew me in,” Wells said. “In one of their interviews, I think it was Marianne that said she and Arathi came together to work on a cause, not to form a ticket for CSG elections. I think that mentality is so important for leaders to have.”
Wells continued by emphasizing the importance of concrete goals and policy for future CSG campaigns on campus.
“I would hope that the candidates have those same values and aren’t just pursuing the title of student body president and vice president,” Wells said. “That’s not what CSG should be about.”
LSA freshman Cydney Gardner-Brown expressed her excitement working on the MomentUM campaign in her first year, both for the learning experience and the strong platforms of inclusivity that she witnessed both in her personal campaign and the others. Additionally, she felt that her personal identity was respected in the MomentUM campaign.
“As a student of color obviously, there are times when you feel tokenized when running for any position of power,” Gardner-Brown said. “However, this time I was never placed in a situation like that because my entire slate was a diverse group of people from a vast array of backgrounds and identities. There was never a need to have ‘token’ POC (people of color) because we started with versatile and robust representation. I cannot truly speak to the feelings of the people of color who were involved in other campaigns, however, I know that because some of the people running for office did not personally represent the identities of certain students, there was a need to find the kind of representation lacked through the core and street teams.”
Iguina-Colón, who worked alongside Gardner-Brown, still has high hopes for the future of CSG, despite their presidential candidate’s loss.
“I urge MVision to adopt this philosophy of transparency and honesty,” she said. “This campus needs a truly representative campus: one in which their professors, counselors, classmates and student leaders look like them, actively listen to their concerns and engage in actionable change.”