Op-Ed: Why I'm voting for eMerge

Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 6:04pm

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"None of us were prepared for this." These are the words I spoke while on the phone with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal after the surprise victory of our now-president. As the founder of a new student organization that directly works with and advocates for refugees — Michigan Refugee Assistance Program — I knew my organization and the students involved were going to be devastated because refugee resettlement would soon cease. I thought about the refugees who went to school here; my family in the Middle East; what would become of my student organization, which was only a couple months old; and the minority students on campus who now had vindication that, no, they were not wanted in this country.

Two weeks later, I sat again at an award ceremony and listened to University of Michigan administrators talk about the University. They commended our campus for being one that upholds values of inclusivity and tolerance, and stated that, for many, the University is a refuge, and they would fight to keep it that way. That is when I knew how critical this Central Student Government election was.

I knew we needed individuals who not only stated that they could make change on campus, but also have the track record to prove it. I knew we needed individuals to who took seriously the position they found themselves in and used it for the betterment of all students on campus. And last, I knew that we needed individuals who have established themselves time and time again as student leaders. That is why I am voting for Anushka Sarkar and Nadine Jawad, and the rest of the eMerge party, who are by far the best choice in this year’s CSG elections.

Anushka, a woman I admire for her tenacity and gracefulness while simultaneously being one of the most professional individuals I know, is able to tackle problems with a comprehensive framework and eye for detail. Nadine, one of the most involved students on campus, embodies the meaning of ally and advocate as she continually uses her positions on campus to work to lift up others. They are the only individuals qualified for CSG president and vice president — I know this because I have seen what they are capable of accomplishing. Furthermore, as a student who has seen the tangible impacts of CSG and its initiatives, I do not believe it is a logical choice to demarcate two of the most powerful positions on campus to those who have no experience to handle the difficult problems that Anushka and Nadine have already handled.

Six months ago, I founded MRAP and began to build it from the ground up. During the beginning stages of this process, I knew I needed experience from someone who had started their own non-governmental organization and immediately turned to Nadine for help and guidance. With amazing organizational ability and an individual who takes initiative when she sees gaps, Nadine, even as co-founder of her own NGO, Books for a Benefit, took the time to help build the infrastructure of my organization. As the current senior policy adviser for CSG, she has worked to address problems such as affordable housing in Ann Arbor while also attempting to use her platform to increase the voices of marginalized students on campus. The Michigan Daily rightly recognized her as a Student of the Year for her ceaseless advocacy, and rightly so — always ready to spend the little time she has helping others, Nadine’s love for service and constant activism is emblematic of what a CSG vice president should be.  

When it comes to experience, not only has Anushka scratched the surface of complex problems faced by students at the University — she has actually addressed them copiously. As the previous chief programming officer for CSG, she was faced with two recurring problems at the University: lack of counselors at Counseling and Psychological Services and lack of retention in student organizations. Anushka immediately took initiative and created innovative solutions to these concerns. Knowing the critical importance of having mental health resources in a timely fashion, Anushka succeeded in increasing the number of counselors at CAPS for every student on campus and has continued to work on this issue with unprecedented haste, as she understands the magnitude of this issue. She also created Wolverine Consulting Group to combat issues of member retention in student organizations. Her consulting group has been integral in assisting my new student organization, as well as so many others, in improving them and ensuring their sustainability for years to come.  

Anushka and Nadine do not need endorsements of any kind — their work on campus speaks for itself. They are busy working with and for students, as they always have been for their past three years on campus and will continue to serve the student body ceaselessly if they are elected as our new CSG president and vice president.

And while some may say they can get the job done, Anushka and Nadine already have, and their work started long before any of them set their sights on a CSG ticket. They are the only candidates with the experience, knowledge and tenacity to take on two incredibly important roles that will shape the future trajectory of our University — two roles we cannot risk giving to individuals inexperienced and unprepared.

A vote for Anushka, Nadine and the rest of the eMerge party is a vote not only for candidates with capability, a vote for candidates with the evidence to back up their claims or a vote for candidates that truly understand what it takes to address complex problems because they have previously done so — it is a vote for a better future, a better University, a university that we love and for which we should only entrust to the best. The best for this election is none other than Anushka Sarkar and Nadine Jawad, two individuals I am proud to stand with and honored to vote for in this upcoming election.

Nicole Khamis is an LSA senior.