As students gear up for the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government elections on March 21 and 22, The Daily sat down with executive candidates to talk platforms, vision, and plans. In this installment, we profile the MVision party, headlined by presidential candidate Daniel Greene and vice presidential candidate Izzy Baer.
Public Policy junior Daniel Greene has been involved in student government since his first year on campus, when he participated in LSA Student Government. He made the switch to Central Student Government last year, working with the eMerge campaign — the current ticket in office led by president Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, and vice president Nadine Jawad, a Ford senior.
“I’ve always loved hearing what students are concerned about on this campus and trying to solve their issues, because at a school this large, most people don’t realize there are plenty of other people who face the same adversities or issues during their Michigan experience, but student government has always served as an aggregate to solving those issues,” Greene said. “So to me it’s about mainstreaming things.”
Greene decided he would run for president this year after hearing from students who he said felt disenfranchised on campus, including those with more invisible identities as survivors of sexual assault or non-cisgender or heterosexual students.
“I’ve been a little weary of everything that’s going on,” he said. “I’ve always ran with the more progressive party, and so what Izzy and I came together and did was this idea of ‘let’s run a campaign and a platform that’s based directly on direct experiences.’ So between Izzy, I and our core team, everything that you’ll see in our platform speaks to an intimate and direct experience which someone on our team has had. The other thing is that we use that direct experience to inform what we feel our students who are still disenfranchised with student government, being a lot of people of invisible identities such as the LGBTQ community, survivors, people who deal with mental health on a regular basis, and it was kind of this overarching desire that Izzy and I completely agree on which is the marginalized voice empowerment that has been done this past year has been phenomenal and a step in the right direction … But what is it to do all that work if the people who need to hear that message most on this campus are not listening? How can we find issues which impact all communities and all identities, and use sexual assault prevention or mental health to get communities from opposite corners of campus, who currently aren’t speaking, and use that as a bridge to solve the current divide?”
LSA sophomore Izzy Baer, MVision’s vice presidential candidate, also ran with eMerge last year and has spent the last year serving as an LSA representative. Within CSG, Baer is involved in promoting women’s empowerment on campus, working with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and organizing a Women in Government event to take place in March.
Baer said one of the reasons she decided to run for vice president was because of Greene, her running mate. She also hopes to continue her work with women’s empowerment in the role.
“I wanted to be working with Daniel because of how amazing he is,” she said. “So that was one side of things, and then the other is what Daniel touched upon in drawing from my own personal experiences, seeing what CSG can do from that side, and actually seeing what can be done about it. In terms of women’s empowerment, I grew up in a home where my mom always worked and I have two other sisters and that was a huge principle that we grew up on. Then coming to campus and seeing that it’s not always as easy as that, and there are other obstacles especially concerning fields that have been historically underrepresented in terms of female faculty on campus.”
In terms of their party’s platform, Greene emphasized their work to bring together people from all parts of campus to create a comprehensive plan for what they’d like to accomplish if elected.
“Before we launched our team there was a lot of criticizing and stereotyping over what people thought we would launch, and when we did launch a lot of heads were turned because we committed to what our bigger picture goal is — which is to bring people together who aren’t currently speaking from different communities and so our team touches almost every corner of campus and I would say our team also has perhaps, I would say, the most out of any other team right now, people who are brand new to CSG— which sometimes can be a little chaotic, but also keeps that voice towards what the actual average student is — because I think it’s about 14 to 18 percent of students which actually vote in CSG elections, which is unacceptable to me.”
MVision’s platform points include more meetings on North Campus and bringing back monthly town hall meetings.
“We want to re-establish having meetings on North Campus,” Greene said. “A large chunk of our student body lives and interacts and has their academics always on North and in my mind it’s a little disrespectful to assume everything has to be on Central Campus. We want to bring back monthly town hall meetings, where we can have any student show up and voice their concerns on any topic, but we also want to have structured town hall meetings where we have sexual assault prevention, mental health, LGBTQ issues, even Greek life. Anything that’s going on and is a hot topic issue, to allow the people come together without the 30-minute timeline of community concerns on Tuesday and actually have two or three hours of just us listening, and I think right now, given everything that’s going on not only in the national dialogue but on our campus — especially with Richard Spencer trying to come — I think that the best qualities for leaders goes through a cycle, and moving into next year, one of the most important things we can, or whoever wins, can do is be a listener.”
Baer also brought up MVision’s work to create an inclusive environment right away by reaching out to students for suggestions on their platform.
“I think the other big way that we’ve been trying to build an inclusive party is through our platform itself,” she said. “At first people were like you, ‘launched a website without a platform, you launched a party without a platform’, but first we really wanted to get people with our values and that was the first thing that came out instead of the platform points. We really wanted to make it so any student could submit what they want.”
Greene said he also hopes to focus increasing representation throughout campus for minority identities.
“In terms of what I’m most passionate about outside of the direct experience, is the underrepresentation in terms of CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors, the Spectrum Center, administrators, professors and lecturers of course — I mean that not only by physical identities which are obvious, but also invisible identities,” he said. “When we were taking our pulse on campus and talking to student leaders and reflecting on our own experiences, something that came up a lot was, ‘I go to CAPS but I want someone who looks like me or who loves the way I love or has the same religion’ because it’s sometimes hard to make that connection and get that honest response and so in our ‘Be Seen’ part of our platform, we want you — being the average student at Michigan — to walk into any of these campus resources, walk into the administration and ensure everyone is being represented, that there is someone who shares those identities. We also want to emphasize intersectionality because we think that’s something that’s too overlooked and shouldn’t be.”
Baer agreed, including the party’s policy point on making SAPAC more accessible to students and their emphasis on incorporating the voices of younger students.
“One of the policy points is a SAPAC empowerment fund and making sure we as CSG are supporting those organizations instead of co-opting their projects as I mentioned before,” Baer said. “CSG resources is something that is extremely personal to me, and I think until it is personal, I didn’t realize the stigma of saying “victim” versus “survivor” and making sure words matter, which is kind of a cliche term, but you don’t realize it until it’s you that calling someone a victim … So making sure we’re using words like SAPAC empowerment is really what the policy point is supposed to be. In terms of women’s issues, making sure there aren’t any obstacles for women in those fields, doing events which create mentorship because it’s not as simple as just putting on an event, it’s the continuity of it … We do talk about continuity in terms of our platform a lot because some of the things we are really pragmatic, but we don’t know what obstacles we’re going to face, in a few months or a year from now, and making sure we’re having continuity in the team we’re building, bringing in younger voices as well as having that experience and making sure it’s balanced and that after a year, not all these policy points are forgotten.
When asked to describe his leadership style in one word, Greene decided there were actually two terms that summed him up: Listener and visionary.
Baer said those terms also resonated with her.
“I think in certain settings I do have that, ‘I don’t always have to be the first one to raise my hand” because I know that I can answer that in a few minutes,” she said. “So in terms of CSG and leadership in general, making sure we’re providing the resources and medium for other people who maybe wouldn’t have spoken up to speak up in the future, because just because you’re not the one talking doesn’t mean you’re not a leader.”