If a University of Michigan student looks at their online ballot for Central Student Government today, they’ll see Engineering sophomore Dylan Haugh-Ewald’s name listed as a candidate under the category of Executive Ticket. But Haugh-Ewald said he was not aware of his candidacy status until the ballot was released to University students at 12:00 am on Wednesday.
Haugh-Ewald said he did originally intend on running for CSG president. He decided to attend a meeting regarding CSG elections when he received an email from the University Elections Commission. Haugh-Ewald said he saw the opportunity to run for CSG president as an avenue to pursue goals he had for the University, specifically regarding open-sourcing more course material through public online platforms available to non-university-enrolled students.
“I see Central Student Government involvement as one avenue that could work for the goals that I want to achieve within the University and any influence I want to have,” Haugh-Ewald said.
Haugh-Ewald couldn’t attend the CSG executive ticket debate on March 18 due to a scheduling conflict with an exam.
“I signed up and I attended the meeting and then I couldn’t make the presidential debate because I had an exam at the same time, but that wasn’t an issue from what I understand, it wasn’t a critical part of the campaign,” Haugh-Ewald said.
According to Haugh-Ewald, when the University Election Commission sent out the sample ballot on March 21, he was listed as a candidate for College of Engineering representative, rather than the presidential candidacy he thought he’d signed up for.
Haugh-Ewald immediately emailed the election committee once he noticed the error, but said they never responded.
The Daily reached out to Law student Victoria Allen, CSG’s Election Director, for this article, but she said she was unable to comment on the incident until the conclusion of the election.
The sample ballot included an area for candidates to write their campaign platform. Because at that point he assumed his position on the ballot would not be changed from Engineering representative candidate to presidential candidate, Haugh-Ewald wrote “I won’t let you down” in lieu of a longer platform.
He said he was not notified his position had been changed to presidential candidate by the election committee until he noticed his name on the ballot on March 27.
“My initial impression attending the first meeting was that they (the election committee) were a little disorganized and they weren’t entirely able to answer some of the questions about hard rules and campaigning,” Haugh-Ewald said. “By the time they had changed the election I was in the system, I couldn’t go in and upload any platform, and they didn’t notify me that they had changed which election I am in until I noticed today (Wednesday) that I was indeed a presidential candidate.”
Haugh-Ewald said he again emailed the election committee March 27 to ask if he could add a platform late but was told he was not able to. Haugh-Ewald said this was the first time the committee responded to him since he emailed them six days before.
Although his platform is not included on the ballot, if elected, Haugh-Ewald said his biggest initiative would be open-sourcing more course material to unenrolled students to make education more accessible. He discussed using certificates from learning platforms such as Coursera to help students earn their degrees.
“The vast majority of courses on the platform are respectively developed, but lack any tangible coordination with existing university coursework,” Haugh-Ewald said. “Potential actions to this end include the conversion of already digitized U-M classes into an open-source compatible syllabus, and eventually the offering of limited exams to un-enrolled students. It is critical that we as a university recognize the equivalency of certain open-source materials so as to open doors for students that would normally be unable to sacrifice the time and money to obtain a traditional degree.”
Haugh-Ewald is joined on the executive ticket ballot by LSA sophomore Ben Gerstein and LSA junior Isabelle Blanchard of the Engage Michigan party, running for president and vice president respectively, and Engineering freshman Shub Argha who is running independently for president. When reached by The Daily, the candidates said they are not allowed to comment on Haugh-Ewald’s situation until the polls close tonight at 11:59 p.m.
LSA junior Jacob Inosencio said he noticed Haugh-Ewald’s name on the election ballot but did not recognize his name. He said he has heard other students who believe his campaign is a joke because of the singular sentence included as his platform on the ballot.
“I think people should definitely have the opportunity to have their platforms put on there,” Inosencio said. “You want to be informed about who you’re going to vote for.”