This week, Central Student Government held its midterm elections for the University of Michigan Police Department oversight board and representatives of the Engineering, Rackham, Architecture, Law, Natural Resources and Public Health schools. After delays due to technical errors, CSG released the results with winners for the UMPD oversight board, Engineering representative and Rackham representative.
LSA sophomore Kevin Sweitzer, who is also a Michigan Daily columnist, was elected to the UMPD oversight board with 39 votes. Engineering senior Chris Fowler was elected as the school’s representative with 27 votes out of the 58 total votes. There are approximately 9,000 students enrolled in the School of Engineering who were eligible to cast ballots.
In an email interview, Sweitzer wrote because there were no other candidates, he decided to be a write-in candidate on the voting ballot.
“I chose to run a write-in campaign because when the polls first opened, nobody was running for the seat,” he wrote.
Sweitzer will be working with the other student representative, LSA junior Olivia Furano on the UMPD oversight board. She ran for the position during the 2016 winter election cycle. Sweitzer will also be working alongside two faculty members and two staff members.
He wrote that he ran for the position of UMPD oversight board because he wanted to ensure police treat everyone with respect, adding that the University is required to have a committee act on complaints and disciplinary measures against officers for them to have a police department.
“Recently, many high profile incidents of police violence have fallen primarily on communities of color and many complaints have gone unanswered … I want to ensure that they (University police) are engaging our community with respect,” Sweitzer said.
Additionally, Rackham student Saurabh Mahajan was elected as one of four Rackham representatives with 239 votes out of the 268 total votes. There are 8,000 students enrolled in the Rackham Graduate School.
According to his platform, Mahajan is dedicated to the University’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan and wants to aid in its advancement as a representative on CSG.
“Thirty-seven percent of Rackham students are international and I felt they are not very well represented in CSG,” Mahajan wrote in an email interview. “So, to add a voice of international graduates’ in CSG assembly I decided to run for the post of Rackham representative.”
While on the body, Mahajan wrote, he wants to form a stronger connection between the graduate student community and CSG, since many of them are not aware of CSG’s initiatives.
“As a Rackham representative, my main motive will be to work on creating awareness among the students about CSG’s initiatives like New York Times Readership program and so on,” Mahajan said. “Also, I will try to make CSG’s policies and events oriented more toward grad students as well so they can find some connection and attachment with the CSG.”
The New York Times Readership program provides students with free access to The New York Times archives for 24 hours. The program will provide the University with 500 digital passes over a 72-hour access period, which will benefit students both personally and academically.
Based on the released results, the election for Architecture representative concluded with a 1-1 tie. Among the other three Rackham seats, the third and fourth positions resulted in a 4-4 tie. LSA senior Joseph Hansel, CSG student general counsel, said election protocol calls for the Student Assembly to decide the winner in the case of a tie.
For Law, Natural Resources and Environment, and Public Health elections, there were no official candidates and nobody who received any votes. Hansel said after the election, those representative seats will still be open.
In an email interview, Law student Sarah Brenner, CSG elections director, addressed the difference in voter turnout and number of candidate applications during this election cycle by comparing it to winter semester election numbers.
“Fall turnout is always much smaller than it is for the winter election,” she wrote. “I was a little surprised by how few official candidates we had apply for a position on the ballot — we only had six. The rest were all write-ins.”
Though winter voter turnout is usually higher, even last fall’s turnout was higher than it was this fall. During the 2015 fall election cycle, one of the candidates received 568 votes, while the highest number of votes this year was just 239.