I was apprehensive about coming to Michigan.

I had never seen a football game before, didn’t believe Wolverines were real and had a disdain for the color “maize.” After two weeks at Michigan I re-opened the Common Application with the intention of transferring by second semester. I didn’t feel like one of the “leaders and best” — I just felt lost.

But then things changed.

That transformation happened at my first football game. The overwhelming sense of pride that I felt that day was the catalyst for the passion I have for this school, its people and its supporters. In the most cliché fashion, I felt at home.

Needless to say, I stayed at the University, and it was undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made. However, through my experiences here, it is undeniable that this place doesn’t always feel like home for all Wolverines. Depending on what you look like, act like, identify or don’t identify as, Michigan can feel more like a personal vendetta than a place of support and community.

Despite what the promotional videos tell us, it can’t be denied that at the University, it isn’t always easy to be a Wolverine. Sometimes, being a Wolverine requires one’s best to merely make it through the day. From taking out $40,000 in loans every year to feeling silenced in our classrooms, there are times when being a Wolverine can be tough. Historically, bringing a voice to these challenges on campus is silenced more times than not, due to our insistence that the problems we face are unique and manageable. These challenges feel like individual experiences. In reality, the problems we face as individuals can be addressed, and are endowed with a voice in our Central Student Government.

However, many students believe the individuals chosen to speak on their behalf have fallen silent.

I can assure you, I have not been silent. That is why I am running for student body president.

For the past three years, I have met with students, administrators and campus leaders to implement student-driven initiatives, and change the course of the conversation and the action in CSG. From my experience as a student activist, I know that institutionalizing change is an uphill battle.

But we can’t wait anymore, and we shouldn’t have to.

I am running for student body president because student government has been unwilling to take on the challenges that the students on the front line face every day for too long. Since my freshman year, I have been privileged enough to work with an incredible network of student activists across identities and issues. I have seen our work praised by students, yet largely ignored by the University’s administration. I am bringing my skills and passion for our community to this position. But, at the end of the day, progress requires all of us working together towards the betterment of our campus community, committing to collective action for campus-wide change. With the entire campus community at the base of a student government fighting for the rights and needs of all students, we can’t lose. I ask you this:

Fortune favors the bold. Will you join us?

Apply to run at https://www.facebook.com/voteforUM

Carly Manes is a junior in the Ford School of Public Policy.

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