As students gear up for the University of Michigan's Central Student Government elections on March 27 and 28, The Daily sat down with LSA presidential and vice-presidential candidates to talk platforms, vision and plans. In this installment, we profile the Reid-Puscas ticket.
LSA junior Jon Reid, LSA presidential candidate, and LSA junior Wyatt Puscas, LSA vice-presidential candidate, said they both have had a lot of experience in LSA government, which gave them the passion to run in the election.
“I’ve actually held three different jobs (in LSA student government),” Reid said. “It’s been a really awesome opportunity to engage the LSA students and I see a lot of opportunity for student government to address different concerns that oftentimes don’t get voiced, especially from underrepresented communities.”
Puscas said his leadership style includes group collaboration and goal-setting. Reid echoed this, noting his tendency to take the lead in group projects and support other group members.
“I’m very hands-on and goal oriented, I like to be involved with all the different projects,” Reid said. “What I like to do oftentimes is kind of go around to each individual and see what their product is and how I can offer any support or guidance … and (I like to) set goals for our committee, but also individualized goals, which I do myself, and I try to set an example for my committee members and I would like to set that example for the government.”
Their platform has five main points: government accountability and transparency, increased fairness in academic policy, expanded outreach and inclusivity of the government, increased environmental sustainability awareness and better access to University health resources. More information on their platform can be found on their Facebook page.
Reid said the most important part of the platform is increasing the diversity of opinion in the government. He said he and his running mate have thought of creating an outreach coordinator position to address the issue. Puscas added that during the campaign, they have met with groups around campus to better understand different communities’ problems on campus.
“I think we are very much not giving a voice to underrepresented communities,” Reid said. “Wyatt and I have started to take initiative and how we think about how do we bring in different perspectives into the government and we thought it’s not good enough to just send out emails and say, ‘You know what, that’s it.’ We have to actively make an effort to go and reach out to different organizations and different groups on campus.”
Puscas agreed with Reid, noting how important outreach is as a student government, as the administration may not be as aware of student issues. In addition, Puscas said he wants to focus on projects students care about.
“The more voice we can give to students and the more issues we raise to administrators is how stuff starts to get done,” Puscas said. “A lot of times, administration at the school just isn’t aware that the problems exist so the first step is us listening to students and bringing those concerns, kind of serving as the bridge between the student body and the administration, and that’s how we can start seeing real change on campus.”
Reid also mentioned he hopes to make the food at dining halls more environmentally friendly and expand the Planet Blue Ambassador Program.
Both candidates want to improve access to health resources like the U-M Counseling and Psychological Services. Reid said even though Central Student Government made students aware of resources after the false active shooter incident, some students weren’t able to utilize them.
“Not only is that an accessibility issue, it’s also an issue of availability,” Reid said. “Especially for our students who go through a lot of different issues and a stressful campus like this or academics are rigorous, we need to be making CAPS available to every student and they should not be turned away, they should not be told to go to more expensive psychologists outside of the campus. I think that should be offered right here. I think it’s time to hold the University accountable to making that accessible for every student.”
Both candidates also mentioned they would like to enact a resolution urging LSA to allow students to take their last semester language requirement pass/fail. Right now, students must take the equivalent of four semesters of a language to satisfy LSA’s language requirement. The first three courses can be taken pass/fail, but the fourth semester of the language must be taken for a grade.
Puscas said some students have different backgrounds that may make it harder to learn a new language.
“We think a lot of different students have a lot of different backgrounds, so evening the board, especially with skills requirements for LSA students that some struggle with language classes, some excel at them and others may struggle with the quantitative reasoning requirement,” Puscas said. “Just making sure all avenues are available for all types of students is really what we think LSA student government can advocate strongly for.”
Reid added they will focus on reaching out to as many voices on campus as possible.
“I would say we’re candidates who care about every single student on campus and we want them to have their voice heard,” Reid said. “We will be making an active effort to reach out to as many people as we can.”