Op-Ed: United, we eMerge

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 4:11pm

The three of us have come together because we see that the University of Michigan needs student voices to speak up at this critical moment before Central Student Government elections. Our experiences at the University of Michigan are unique and individual, yet we are able to join together to recognize that we need students representing us who understand the complexities of CSG, who have the experience and working knowledge to capitalize on the power of this organization and who will unify this splintering campus.  

From Public Policy senior Thomas Hislop, founder of the Michigan Spirit Association and former CSG Representative:

Of all the things that make our University the greatest in the world, our unifying school spirit is undoubtedly the bond that displays its eminence and the catalyst that drives us forward.

LSA junior Anushka Sarkar and Public Policy junior Nadine Jawad, the respective eMerge presidential and vice presidential candidates, have embraced our school’s spirit by spending their collegiate careers tirelessly working to benefit the student body. The essence of our spirit can be found throughout all corners of the University. The Wolverine Support Network (which Anushka is involved in) is one such example: Students love their institution so much that they dedicate time to assuaging the mental health issues of their peers. Similarly, Books for Benefit (a club Nadine co-founded) harnessed our University spirit by establishing a student-led effort to provide low-cost textbooks to disadvantaged youth. And these are only two of many causes Wolverines commit themselves to that spread our spirit to communities frequently neglected.

But our work is never complete. This spirit that continually propels us to new heights must be safeguarded by individuals who personify it and therefore instill it in the hearts of all who encounter our institution. That is why I am voting for Anushka and Nadine in this year’s CSG elections. They embody the unrivaled spirit that has built our school to be the leading innovator and change-maker it is today. They are the best and only option.

From LSA junior Shavon Edwards, Black Student Union Executive Board member:

When I found out Anushka and Nadine were running with eMerge, I was relieved. Having LSA seniors David Schafer and Micah Griggs lead CSG this past year greatly improved the way this campus treats its most underrepresented communities. If we want to continue the mission to make this campus more inclusive and diverse, we need to elect Anushka and Nadine.

Recently, a video was released by an opposing party, with the presidential candidate stating that he was “the white George Washington Carver.” I found this to be extremely problematic, given the already heightened racial tensions on this campus and in our nation. Furthermore, at the CSG debate last Thursday, Movement presidential candidate, Evan Rosen, LSA junior, stated  “anybody who was offended by our rap really shouldn’t be … it was just for fun.” In one swift move, this student disrespected my peers and I by normalizing racially insensitive jokes. This student’s actions could wind back the clock on the work that is being done to stop bigotry in our communities.

But we can stop this from happening. We can stop these individuals from normalizing jokes at the cost of our identities. Now more than ever, this campus, our communities and our students must come together to elect Anushka, Nadine and the rest of eMerge so we can keep moving this campus forward. We need leaders who have worked with our communities and care about our students. Leading this student body is about engaging with all students and working with them to build a stronger and more united campus, and I believe that eMerge is the party that has the experience, knowledge base and mindset necessary to do this.

From Engineering senior Cheryl Zhang, founder of Uncover: A/PIA and current CSG Representative:

As a senior reflecting on my involvement in CSG and the Asian/Pacific Islander American community, it is tough to leave this campus knowing that, despite how much progress has been made, there is still more to be done. In my mind, there is not one party I have more confidence in than eMerge, not just to work every day to benefit communities I am a part of, but to benefit all communities at the University. 

As someone who has held leadership positions in numerous organizations on campus but only joined CSG as a senior, I faced a huge learning curve when it came to understanding CSG’s institutional complexities. I find it hard to trust that students with no CSG experience are qualified to hold its two highest positions. Now more than ever, our campus needs leaders who have the credentials to prove they can enact meaningful change. We need Anushka Sarkar, Nadine Jawad and the representatives of the eMerge party to bring their know-how to CSG.

When it comes to experience, Anushka has relentlessly attacked numerous challenging issues faced by students at the University. Common student complaints in the past have included that too few counselors are available at Counseling and Psychological Services and that student organizations seemingly cannot retain their members. Anushka took on the former topic as the previous CSG chief programming officer, where her diligence proved successful when CAPS hired new counselors to shorten wait times for students needing support. She also established the Wolverine Consulting Group, a collaborative body advising student organizations on matters concerning their long-term growth and well-being.

Nadine knows how to support students in their endeavors both inside the classroom and out, always tirelessly advocating on behalf of a wide variety of issues that benefit many across campus and beyond. For example, Nadine has proven her ability to tackle complex subjects off campus, like as housing affordability, while also assisting marginalized students by amplifying their voices as CSG senior policy advisor.

Anushka and Nadine’s work on campus speaks for itself. A vote for them is a vote for candidates with capability, the evidence to substantiate their claims and the understanding to address and craft impactful initiatives.

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The three of us have asked the question, who do we trust to represent the student body? We have all definitively decided that Anushka, Nadine and the eMerge Party are those leaders. On March 22 and 23, we will be voting for eMerge because we recognize that now more than ever, this campus needs individuals with the experience, the spirit and the shared values that make the University of Michigan a campus for the Leaders and the Best.

Thomas Hislop is a Public Policy senior, Shavon Edwards is an LSA junior and Cheryl Zhang is an Engineering senior.