After a failed Central Student Government presidential bid last year, it appears youMich is back. And this time they brought gimmicks! The latest of which is a YouTube video featuring some fictional character named Da’Quan Carter, who is clearly a not-so-veiled attempt at showing us just how “with it” — read: black — youMich really is.
Rest assured that the sarcasm dripping from every word I’ve written so far isn’t out of disrespect for any one person affiliated with youMich. In fact, I happen to like some of their ideas quite a bit. No, my biggest problem with youMich is that I don’t see myself reflected anywhere in their platform, which is problematic for a political party that claims to care so much about the students. Unfortunately, the Da’Quan video only made things worse by asking the question: Which students are left out of the “you” in youMich?
According to their official party website, youMich is a student organization that is all about “YOU … whether it’s about your academics, your student organization, or your campus environment.” I would love to take youMich seriously — no, really I would — but nowhere on their site do they mention issues that affect students from underrepresented communities on campus. There’s no mention of tuition equality. No mention of increasing minority retention and recruitment. No mention of fighting tuition hikes. Hell, they don’t even use the words “diversity” or “social justice” anywhere on their website — a standard practice for most CSG political parties even if they secretly don’t give a damn about creating a more inclusive campus. I suppose I could take some solace in the fact that youMich is running a somewhat diverse slate of candidates this time around but that means nothing if the head of the ticket is too busy focusing on solutions to a rather narrow set of “everyday problems and issues that University of Michigan students face.”
I’m a University student who just last week was called a faggot by students in my residence hall, who sees more black and brown boys on University crime alerts than in my political science courses, who can only afford to be here because of an ever-increasing amount of unsubsidized loans, who is annoyed by the fact that CSG gave its largest budget allocation to the Entrepreneurship Commission when there are first-generation college students struggling just to be here. Do these problems not count because they affect students who don’t fall under the “you” in youMich? Maybe they do, but you sure as hell wouldn’t know it by watching the Da’Quan Carter video. The only thing I learned about youMich after watching the clip was that even CSG presidential candidates are capable of cultural appropriation when it suits their political ambitions.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on youMich, but then again, at least momentUM has pledged to “increase cultural dialogue between student organizations.” Even the independent candidates have a whole section of their website dedicated to building “a global and diverse U-M.” Apparently, youMich is one of the only CSG political parties not to get the memo: Diversity is “in” this season. Look no further than the last presidential election, in which President Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney, in large part due to changing racial and gender demographics. Republicans got whipped badly — to the point where they’ve finally begun to realize that you can’t win general elections by alienating women, LGBTQ folks, people of color and poor people. Hopefully, youMich learns a similar lesson.
Being the political man that I am, I’m going to vote for forUM. Although they’re far from perfect, forUM is the only party in this race with a demonstrated track record of supporting students from underrepresented communities. But, more importantly, they’re unafraid to see the student body in more colors than maize and blue.
Noël Gordon is an LSA senior.