With the current administration nearing its end, the first campaign for the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government launched Monday night. The group celebrated its new beginning in the Ross School of Business with its 15 member team.
The party, eMerge, is headed by LSA junior Anushka Sarkar, the former Chief Programming Officer, who is running for President, and Public Policy junior Nadine Jawad, the current CSG Senior Policy Advisor, who is running for Vice President. Currently, the party is unopposed.
Last year, Sarkar worked with the Mental Health Leaders Network, where she helped push to increase the number of counselors in Counseling and Psychological Services. The party’s goals are based in pushing for sustainable changes that can impact a greater movement.
“We really pushed the University to increase the number of counselors that CAPS had to get to a better ratio of counselors to students, and originally we were at one to 1300, which is below where we should be,” Sarkar said. “The ideal golden ratio is one to 1000, and because of the advocacy work that happened over the last year, the University is actually hiring more counselors for CAPS now and they will be at one to 1200, which is not the golden ratio, but it’s progress and there’s a lot of work to be done and we’re excited to do that.”
Sarkar said she is also excited to strive for a new policy regarding the maximum number of exams a student can take in one day. Currently, students can take a total of four exams in one day, but can advocate for three. She hopes to get the maximum lowered to three, allowing students to advocate for two, which is a policy she believes will strongly impact the mental health and well-being of students.
Jawad is deeply involved with CSG’s efforts to connect with the city of Ann Arbor, especially in regards to affordable housing and student concerns with the increasing high prices. Recently, CSG made efforts to convince the city to move to nonpartisan elections in order to encourage more University student turnout.
According to LSA junior Cassie Fields, the new party’s communications director, eMerge hopes base its campaign on responding and elevating student voices, especially the voices that have not been involved with CSG before.
“We are really trying to look at students who are overlooked or who may have been left out of a lot of dialogues, so we’re trying to say, ‘we need to look at all walks of life,’ ” she said. “Every single person in this school has interests, how can we best make campus work for them? So we are really trying to target advocating for student voice so that students have their own voice on campus. We want them to have their own opportunities. There’s so many kids who don’t even know how to get involved, or they don’t know how to find a club or don’t know what to do, so we want to be a resource for them to really find their place at Michigan.”
Sarkar said the new party’s title derives from this very mission statement.
“We seek to rise up, or to encourage people to rise up, and emerge from where they are and get involved in issues that they care about,” Sarkar said. “I think the political climate over the last year or so has shown us how important it is to speak out if you believe in something, because if you don’t speak out, your opinion will be silenced.”
eMerge has split its platform into initiatives, short-term goals and advocacy, or long-term goals.
With its initiatives, the new party hopes to attain more practical goals such as additional study spaces, Wi-Fi on the Diag and mentorship programs for nontraditional, multilingual and first-generation students.
Advocacy is set for long-term ideas, such as providing study-abroad scholarships and encouraging University Health Services to accept Medicaid.
The team was excited to get to work, especially in order to prioritize their voters during the CSG election season. Party co-chair Erin Johnson, Business junior, said the party hopes to connect with the student body in the upcoming months.
“Sometimes with campaigns, students feel like a platform is being pushed on them, but we want people to be able to find an initiative and mobilize themselves and be able to work on things that they’re passionate about and then feel comfortable coming to us and talking about things that they want us to help them with,” Johnson said.
Campaign manager Arathi Sabada, a Business sophomore, was planning to reach out to student groups in order to be representative of the student body.
“So we’re definitely going to be reaching out to a lot of groups, getting their ideas, getting their input and incorporating those into our platform just to make sure we’re representing the student body as well as possible,” she said.
Correction: this article has been corrected to clarify eMerge hopes to encourage University Health Services to accept Medicaid. Michigan Medicine, formerly the University Health System, already accepts Medicaid.
Correction: Fields is the eMerge Communications Director, not running for the position.