IMPACT, the second University of Michigan Central Student Government campaign to publicly declare its plan to run in 2021, announced its campaign and platform Monday.
The executive ticket consists of Public Health junior Nithya Arun for CSG president and Engineering junior Carla Voigt for CSG vice president. Rackham student Siddharth Chaudhari serves as their campaign manager.
IMPACT’s campaign released a platform with nine policy areas covering topics ranging from anti-racism, to health and wellness, to accommodations for international students. The platform also includes implementing a permanent Pass/No Credit grading option for the University and creating a space in the executive board to focus on the needs of students with disabilities. Since classes shifted online midway through the Winter 2020 semester, students have had the option to change their grades to P/NRC.
IMPACT also hopes to establish a fund for students to provide help paying for rent, medical expenses and other necessities; achieve student representation in the Board of Regents; and continue providing online student resources such as a central website for study spaces post-pandemic. Their platform also focuses on strengthening resources for mental health, creating a University-wide survey to track sexual misconduct on and off-campus, and reforming the University’s plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Arun has served on CSG since her freshman year. She began as a freshman ex-officio and worked as a policy adviser under the last two CSG presidents. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Arun said she is running to ensure that CSG can address all the needs of the student body.
“Part of the reason why I’m running is because of the testimonials we got about how difficult it is being a student, especially being a student in the time of COVID,” Arun said. “There are people on this campus right now who don’t know where they’re going to sleep at night (and) who don’t know where the next meal is coming from. That makes me sick to my stomach, and I don’t want to just stand there as a bystander. I want to actively take a role and ensure that no student is ever in that position.”
Arun also said their campaign intentionally includes policies aimed at addressing the needs of marginalized students on campus, including LGTBQ+ students and students with disabilities. She said part of their campaign involves collaborating with different groups on campus to inform and shape their campaign policies.
“We’re really taking into consideration students who come from marginalized backgrounds and the intersectionality of students when designing this platform,” Arun said. “We’re not the experts on everything and so we’ve taken the time to consult different stakeholders around campus to inform us of the best policies.”
Voigt has also been involved with CSG since her freshman year. She joined as an Engineering freshman representative and was recently elected as Speaker of the Assembly in Fall 2020 after the previous speaker’s removal in October 2020. Voigt said her experiences as an Engineering student make her prepared to address the needs of the schools that serve students on North Campus.
“(As) an Engineer on North Campus, a lot of our issues are kind of ignored a lot since we’re on North Campus,” Voigt said. “I feel like (North Campus schools) are forgotten a lot about (and) this would be a really good place for their voice to be heard better.”
Voigt said her background in Engineering, combined with Arun’s knowledge of public policy and public health, will allow them to tackle issues with a data-driven, problem-solving perspective.
“We both are here with problem-solving minds and we just want to really attack the issues that students face on campus in new and different ways,” Voigt said. “Instead of doing after the fact (solutions and) paying people a bunch of money that they need, we want to be addressing those problems from the root and saying, ‘Why are students needing a lot of money to help them pay for rent, to help them pay for different things that are making school more difficult for them?’”
Chaudhari is an international student who joined CSG in order to add a graduate student voice to the organization. Chaudhari said he chose to team up with IMPACT because his beliefs aligned with their mission for the University.
“Two women who understand that you need an army to achieve a number of these very complex goals is exactly the sort of leadership, quite honestly, we need,” Chaudhari said. “I have no doubt that both of them are both intelligent and humble enough to advocate for that sort of approach to governance.”
Chaudhari also focused on the intersectionality of their cabinet, noting how having various different perspectives will increase awareness of issues that CSG has not addressed in the past.
“Our cabinet is made up of people of color, people who are Pell Grant eligible, people belonging to various other sorts of marginalized communities, people who know the pains involved with securing a postgraduate education in this country,” Chaudhari said. “So I think that that makes us uniquely compassionate to the needs of students on our campus.”
Daily News Editor Jasmin Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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