Op-Ed: A letter from True Blue

Monday, March 12, 2018 - 7:42pm

We didn’t come together to form a party; we came together to solve a problem.

The True Blue party was born in a booth of the Espresso Royale on South University over two cups of coffee. We were meeting to determine how we could combine our interests to increase awareness of the Leadership Engagement Scholarship to various groups across campus. We were brought together to discuss effective engagement with students, using the insight gained through our own individual experiences within and outside of Central Student Government.

The idea of running on a CSG executive ticket came to fruition after many constructive conversations about a shared vision for a more equitable University of Michigan. We realized that before we could have a conversation about leading students, we needed to have a conversation about students. Given that many of the issues that students face on campus are intertwined, from food insecurity to mental health to campus climate, it was crucial that we considered how to serve students in a variety of ways. It became clear that we had a shared drive and passion about these issues, as well as a long-term focus on addressing them.

We know it can be difficult for students to find their place on campus, an issue that we have witnessed, experienced and worked on during our time at Michigan. Our work done in and outside of CSG, from the implementation of the Leadership Engagement Scholarship, which provides awards to student leaders that face financial barriers, to the expansion of outreach and transparency through CSG’s communication committee, has focused extensively on connecting with students. We have aimed to bridge the gap between CSG and student groups to better the lives of students on this campus.

It is our ultimate goal to extend and integrate this ideology into True Blue; we seek to remove barriers that first-years on campus face by implementing a “By Students for Students” mentorship program, where students can connect with older, more involved students on campus. Through this connection, students can explore different organizations on campus to shape their individual Michigan experience.

Our commitment to the student body extends beyond mentorship programs; we know that many students face challenges with food accessibility on campus. During Arathi’s time on CSG’s Executive Team as Chief Operations Officer, she founded the Emergency Meal Fund, which provides dining hall swipes to students facing food insecurity; attention to and support of these programs are essential to furthering tangible, short-term solutions. However, our belief is that sustainable and long-term change stems from advancing existing programs on campus. This is why we plan to open a bi-weekly pop-up grocery store, with the eventual goal to bring a University-run grocery store to campus so that all students have access to healthy and affordable food.

While the True Blue party comes from all corners of the University, we all hold the same three values: a community-minded perspective, focused on uplifting each of our 46,002 constituents; student-focused action, driven by the importance of students’ time at Michigan in shaping the leaders that they will become; and an impact-hungry mindset, guaranteeing that our drive to create change on campus is fueled by the impact we create rather than the thrill of campaign season.

With our entire platform on True Blue’s website, the goals listed are implementable and we are confident that they can be accomplished during our year in office. There will be empty promises made during the campaign season but the narrative of our party speaks to this guarantee: Our priority will always be students first, title second. When we lose sight of our student focus, CSG is little more than a room on the third floor of the Michigan Union. When that room is filled with the right people, it is an incubator and accelerator for change.

Arathi Sabada is a junior in the Ross School of Business and Marianne Drysdale is an LSA sophomore.