On March 24 and 25, University of Michigan LSA students will be able to vote for the college’s student government president and vice president. The Michigan Daily spoke with both tickets — LSA juniors Tyler Watt and Zackariah Farah, and LSA junior and LSA sophomore Alli Goodsell and Claudia McLean, respectively — to learn more about their past work, platforms and plans for the upcoming school year.
Tyler Watt and Zackariah Farah
LSA junior Tyler Watt, running for president of LSA Student Government, has been a member of LSA SG for two years and currently serves as the counsel of the executive board. According to Watt, his position “is a mixture of the government’s lawyer, its parliamentarian as well as its historian.” He has also served on the Student Conflict Resolution Advisory Board, which focuses on policies pertaining to major student issues such as hazing disputes.
LSA junior Zackariah Farah, the vice presidential candidate, has served on LSA SG for one year. Farah currently serves as an elected representative and is chair of the Taking Responsibility for the Earth and Environment subcommittee, the main sustainability committee on LSA SG.
Included in Watt and Farah’s platform are calls for a permanent student member on the Board of Regents, the creation of an Endowment Advisory Council to ensure ethical divestment from fossil fuels, a goal of U-M carbon neutrality by 2030 and to cancel classes on election days, among other things.
According to Watt and Farah, their campaign is rooted in ambitious yet attainable goals that require inter-organization collaboration.
“I think that’s something really important to keep in mind: we’re a student government, we’re not the House of Representatives, we’re not the Supreme Court, we don’t really have the foresight to make a lot of these things happen on our own,” Watt said. “But the way that Zackariah and I have laid out our plans, our ideas, is that there are things that can be accomplished within our one-year term if we work alongside other folks on campus.”
Watt and Farah said they also chose to focus their campaign on issues they think students find important and that the University has been working on in the past — especially for their goals regarding fossil fuel divestment and campus sustainability policies.
“We did focus groups with people … who are involved in different student organizations, and a lot of what’s in the platform are actually things that other people have fought for previously, and we want to continue those fights,” Farah said. “Some of the things, like fossil fuel divestment, that’s a very important part of our platform.”
Their platform also includes instituting an Endowment Advisory Council to ensure equitable and just fossil fuel divestments as well as a commitment to the fight for carbon neutrality by 2030. Beyond sustainability, Watt and Farah stated goals of establishing a Student Regent position on the University Board of Regents, advocating for a 4th semester foreign language pass/fail policy, and supporting affordable housing through collaborations with the Inter-Cooperative Council.
Watt and Farah said since accessibility to student government is a key part of their campaign, they hope to involve students outside of LSA SG in policy and decision making as often as possible.
“We’re pretty quick to admit when we don’t know something and we don’t have a connection to make things happen, so we’re happy to work with other organizations, other student governments, with administrators when appropriate, to make these things happen,” Watt said. “We’re willing to be accessible.”
Alli Goodsell and Claudia McLean
LSA junior Alli Goodsell, running for LSA SG president, has been a member of LSA SG since her freshman year and has served as the chair for the Committee Advocating for Transfer Students, the chair of the Health Subcommittee and as an elected representative.
LSA sophomore Claudia McLean, who is running for vice president, joined LSA SG the fall of her freshman year and currently serves as both an elected representative and the vice-chair of the Communications Committee.
Their platform includes a commitment to increasing the number of gender neutral bathrooms on campus and to creating a more robust and equitable orientation program for transfer students. As far as academics, Goodsell and McLean intend to advocate for no classes on election day as well as create a mandatory first year sustainability course and “more accurately assign the R&E tag only to courses that are truly focused on it.” They will also try to ensure students who need or request technology resources from Information and Technology Services have access to it.
Goodsell said one of the main concerns of their campaign is improving the internal environment of LSA SG to create a more encouraging atmosphere for members and ensure that all voices are taken into account.
“I’ve seen a lot of people leave under all different leaderships because they don’t feel like they have a voice,” Goodsell said. “And especially when you’re not in leadership, either in one of the committees or you’re not on Exec Board. I think it can be really difficult to … feel like you’re a part of something.”
Goodsell and McLean said they want to make student resources accessible. One of their plans includes ensuring a virtual option for students unable to attend in-person classes once they resume due to concerns about COVID-19 and residual mental health problems caused by the pandemic. They also hope to offer free menstrual products in all University bathrooms, McLean said.
“Even though we touch on all of these different parts of student life that we’re passionate about, I think that the main thing that comes to mind when I think about our platform is making the school, the University, the government and everything for constituents as accessible as possible,” McLean said.
McLean said her and Goodsell’s all-female ticket makes them uniquely qualified to run.
“Having two qualified women who understand how the government works, understand how we interact with our constituents and directly have worked on these projects that keep the government moving forward, I think that’s what makes us a little bit different from (others), and the most qualified to be vice president and president,” McLean said.
Daily Staff Reporter Emily Blumberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this article said McLean and Goodsell are the first all-female ticket in over a decade. The 2016-2017 LSA SG president and vice president were Julia Gips and Aditi Rao, both of whom identified as women.
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