On Thursday night, The Michigan Daily hosted a debate with five current parties running for Central Student Government. aMplify, eMpower, True Blue, MomentUM and MVision were all present during the debate, which touched on various aspects of University of Michigan life for students, faculty and staff. Candidates went head to head over issues like ‘invisible identities,’ affordability and compensation for CSG assembly members. 

The first section of the debate focused on issues regarding identity and representation. Several candidates said many students on campus possess identities on campus they feel are invisible or unnoticed by CSG, and moderators asked questions about CSG’s new internal demographic report and representation of minorities such as Latinx and Native American students.

Public Policy junior Daniel Greene, the presidential candidate for MVision, discussed the party’s goal of highlighting invisible identities on campus, namely the LGBTQ community, survivors of sexual assault, students struggling with mental health and low-income students.

“We want to expand CSG to allow better rep of those invisible identities,” Greene said. “It’s fair to say those communities on campus are hurting… how can we bridge those communities back together?”

Engineering junior A.J. Ashman, MomentUM’s presidential candidate, discussed the importance of encouraging minority students to take on leadership roles in order to diversify policymakers and create meaningful discourse. He said the roles of minority students should not simply fill a quota for these organizations, especially in CSG, where minority representation is lacking.

The next round of questions touched on concerns over affordability on campus, with students submitting questions asking candidates’ positions on CSG’s recent release of the Campus Affordability Guide, which sparked controversy, and the ongoing issue of food insecurity on campus. Resources deemed necessary for academic success, such as textbooks and housing, are becoming increasingly unavailable to those of lower socioeconomic status, which was addressed by various candidates.

LSA sophomore Frank Guzman, eMpower vice presidential candidate, specifically cited instances in which professors overestimate the number of books needed for a certain course, or adding personally authored coursework which proves to be unnecessary in the class, which results in a heavy spending from students.  

True Blue referenced platform initiatives related to food insecurity throughout the debate, including a plan to establish a University-run grocery store to provide students with greater access to affordable, healthy foods close to campus. LSA sophomore Marianne Drysdale, True Blue vice presidential candidate, noted the importance of closing the achievement gap between students of all backgrounds on campus.

LSA junior Sujay Shetty, aMplify presidential candidate, emphasized the vitalness of continued student feedback regarding the high cost of living and the drafting of potential affordability guides for the future, in addition to fees and tuition of the university.

The third section of questioning focused on division within the campus climate, citing recent racist acts on campus as well as flyers that espoused white supremacy. Facilitators asked each party how they have advocated for communities most affected by these incidents.

Public Health senior Lloyd Lyons, eMpower presidential candidate, talked about his work as a residential adviser in the dorms and his role in supporting underrepresented communities during times of crisis.

Lyons also responded to questions regarding a point in his platform –– bolstering the race and ethnicity requirement in all schools at the University –– in order to eliminate microaggressions in popular discourse on the campus climate.

“Students need to actually learn cultural competence with race and ethnicity requirement,” Lyons said.

Other parties were asked specific questions about their platforms, which students could submit either prior to or during the debate. A range of issues came into question, including MVision’s plan to support those who are oppressed due to lack of visibility in their identities.

The debate concluded with final remarks from the candidates, and an opportunity for each party to present their number one initiative on their administrative platform.

A.J. Ashman said for himself and his vice president, LSA junior Charlie Bingham, their platform principally advocates for creating a positive experience for students of all backgrounds and identities at the university. Ashman and Bingham emphasized affordability on campus as an issue that they plan to prioritize in future policy.

Student voting for CSG will be held from Wednesday, March 21 to Thursday, March 22.

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