The University of Michigan will host its Central Student Government elections on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 to elect students from each school to fill representative positions. CSG is responsible for representing all schools here at the University of Michigan, along with allocating funds for various student organizations and advocacy efforts.
LSA senior Tyler Watt, one of this year’s elections directors, told The Michigan Daily that there were a record-breaking 32 candidates this year.
“That’s at least one ‘student life way’ of seeing (why more people are engaging with the government this year) — that students feel like they don’t have a say,” Watt said. “And I think this is encouraging students to pursue ways (to) have a say on campus and truly being representative in CSG.”
Watt said he thinks it is important for students to vote in student government elections, given that CSG contributes to the funding and advocacy of various student organizations on campus.
“CSG … impacts every corner of the campus,” Watt said. “Having people in government who are understanding of the issues that are facing student organizations right now is especially relevant. That’s one particular aspect of CSG.”
Some students who are running for positions within CSG spoke to The Michigan Daily about their campaigns and goals for the upcoming year.
Social Work student Matthew Dargay, running for the Social Work seat, said he thinks that student government should induce collaboration between social work students and other groups to ensure that their values are being acknowledged.
“Our values are social justice, equity and integrity, (and) we need more people who have those values in the political system,” Dargay said.
Law student Ismail Gunacar, running for the seat on the University of Michigan Police Department Oversight Committee, said he hopes that CSG will help address campus safety and accountability for Ann Arbor police officers.
“I’d say that every student here at U-M has the right to feel safe, and especially the people that they can trust to keep them safe,” Gunacar said. “They should want to trust those people. And I would like to work hard to make sure that you know that we can build that trust and that they feel safe.”
Engineering freshman Matthew Chan, running for the Engineering seat, said he thinks it is important for CSG representatives to honor everyone’s voice on campus, not just particular groups.
“I remain committed to making sure that the priorities of our constituents (and) the other students who are not in CSG and make sure that their voices are heard – that whatever we do to address these very important issues are in accordance with their values and their preferred method of bringing about these changes,” Chan said.
Nursing sophomore Estrella Escutia, running for the Nursing seat, said she is running for CSG because it would allow her to have a direct role in the University’s policy-making process.
“I knew that being able to be a part of (CSG as) a representative, you would be able to have a say in the different projects that (the) student government works on,” Escutia said.
Music, Theatre & Dance junior Juan Gonzalez Valdivieso, running for the SMTD seat, said that, if elected, he wants to focus on improving Counseling and Psychological Services. Students faced long wait times at CAPS prior to the pandemic, and many expressed concern that resources were stretched thin during the remote semesters. Last year CAPS added more counselers to their staff in response to the high demand for their services and student’s struggles with mental health and isolation during the remote semesters.
“CAPS is just not as good as it could be, whether it’s about the wait times or about the quality of the service provided,” Gonzalez Valdivieso said. “If the issue here is funding, and that’s why they seem to be understaffed and have such long wait times and oftentimes have shortened appointment length, I think pushing funds towards CAPS so that they can expand (and) grow their embedded program where they have professionals embedded within each of the degree-granting schools across campus.”
Rackham student Emily Marcil, running for one of the five available Rackham seats, said she is passionate about furthering sustainability, something which is prominent in her campaign.
“I’ve gotten in contact with a couple of sustainable organizations on campus, which I have yet to hear back from, but I hope to continue a conversation with them and see what has already been done and where people are trying to go with pushing for a more sustainable campus,” Marcil said.
Voting for CSG elections will be available at vote.umich.edu.
Daily Staff Reporter Nirali Patel can be reached at email@example.com.