Represent Michigan joined the race for the University of Michigan Central Student Government (CSG) election taking place next Wednesday and Thursday. The party is putting forth a slate of endorsed candidates — without an executive ticket — to vie for seats in the Assembly.
In an interview with The Daily, Engineering sophomore Carla Voigt, a current CSG representative who serves as Represent’s campaign manager and is running for re-election, said she first looked at each of the other parties running in the election — Mobilize and Change At Michigan — but felt they were not going to make the impact she wanted CSG to make. She said Represent was formed because neither of the other parties showed her they wanted to make a difference.
“We’re going to differentiate ourselves from the other two parties because they are saying that they are going to change things and that it’s going to be different,” Voigt said. “But I really was never shown that it is going to be different. And I want it to be. So we devised our own way.”
Represent’s platform includes affordability and accessibility; sexual assault prevention; diversity, equity and inclusion; mental health awareness; and sustainability. There are also platform points specifically targeted toward bettering the lives of certain groups on campus, such as international students or renters.
However, while all of the parties’ goals are similar, Engineering senior Mario Galindez, deputy campaign manager, said Represent’s platform stands out because of its achievability. Galindez said that instead of using buzzwords or creating five-year plans, as he said he has seen CSG do in the past, Represent’s platform includes tangible methods to efficiently enact the change they want to see.
“For us, it’s about the direct impact to students instead of general advocacy for ‘change,’” Galindez said.
The election will take place online on March 25-26. With Represent’s announcement, the party becomes the third to enter to race for seats on the Assembly.
LSA sophomore Sam Braden, who is running for re-election as an LSA representative, said in previous elections, representatives campaigned for their party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates. However, because Represent is not putting up an executive ticket, Braden said their campaign is focused more closely on developing plans with their representatives that will make a noticeable difference in the lives of students.
An amendment CSG passed in February requires the separation of the executive ticket and the slate of representatives endorsed by a party. Additionally, the amendment also declared there will be no party affiliations next to the names of candidates on the ballot.
Braden said even without this change, the party would not be hindered by running without an executive ticket. Voigt noted they still have the slate propping up what would have been the executive ticket, but they are promoting the party rather than two specific candidates.
To find representatives, Braden said they looked through Maize Pages and newspaper articles to find people who were enacting change across campus and encouraged them to run for representative seats. Braden said he did this so activists on campus can use CSG’s resources to elevate their ideas.
“There are people on campus who don’t get engaged with CSG, who are doing positive work and could use our million dollar budget that we wanted to engage via CSG and give them an opportunity,” Braden said. “Something I like about Represent is that we weren’t like, ‘We’re a party, come apply to us’ … We found people who are making a concrete change on campus and then we wanted to give them a boost.”
Voigt said she is hopeful CSG can move toward acting as a vehicle for improving students’ lives. She said she is optimistic about CSG because of its potential to advocate for students but has been disappointed by the lack of impact the organization has previously had.
“The current culture is just so one of just stagnant non-progress,” Voigt said. ”People are outcasts when they’re trying to do things, when it’s like, we’re supposed to be trying to do things.”
Braden said there have been previous efforts carried out by CSG, such as giving students free donuts, so students “know what CSG is doing.” While he said these efforts are somewhat beneficial, he would like students to know what CSG is doing because they are doing things that improve life for people on campus. Braden said Represent aims to do just that.
“We should be doing things for students that they know about because it affects them,” Braden said. “If we need to tell you what we’re doing, there’s a problem. If we aren’t affecting your lives, we aren’t doing our jobs.”
Daily News Editor Alex Harring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.