Dear Students:

This Saturday, on October 11th, our football team will play Penn State at home under the lights. Families from the greater Ann Arbor area will come to campus to support our school, alumni from across the country will venture here, to their home, to show their continued support, and we, the students, will recognize and celebrate the unparalleled community we have here at Michigan. Football games are a time-honored tradition, a tradition that stretches back over a century, one that thousands of people have enjoyed long before us, and one that thousands of Michigan fans will continue to follow long after we’ve left.

Earlier this week, on the MGoBlog message board, several Michigan students made posts about a protest that would take place this Saturday. The original poster believes that students should “unite” against Dave Brandon, and that they should strive to “dispatch” him while doing everything in their power to make him feel “embarrassed” on the sideline. The protest organizers hope to achieve these goals by encouraging students to wait outside the section gates before and during kickoff, essentially aiming to construct the image of an empty Big House, a massive no-show, and worst of all, a community that refuses to support the people who’ve made so many weekend games so worthwhile.

This strategy is problematic for several reasons. First, we should not, under any circumstance, make it our mission to disrespect, isolate, and otherwise harm our players. They play for Michigan. We, as students, are Michigan. To disregard the work of the athletes who play for us would be detrimental not only for the players themselves, but for the image of the University as a whole. We do not succumb to struggle. We don’t give up in the face of adversity. Instead, we rise above and support the athletes that sacrifice so much to represent the University of Michigan.

Second, it is crucial that we not only support our players off the field, but also on the field. In this time of division, confusion, and uncertainty, Michigan must stand behind its team – not behind the section gates. We should seize every opportunity to align ourselves with the team, with its goals, its hopes, and successes because that is what makes the sport thrive: fans and players completely in-tune, ready to negotiate challenges together. If we want to create a better program environment, it starts by supporting the team this Saturday.

Third, we are the victors and best. We are leaders, doers, achievers, innovators, inventors, organizers, and pioneers. We create effective change from the bleakest of challenges, we utilize activism and enthusiasm to implement new policies, and we strike out in new directions when the chance presents itself. But we don’t do these things – we don’t leap to conclusions or take on new projects – until we’ve completed the first step: trust. Trusting the team, its leaders, and those who help it develop – that is how we open doors to a brighter future.

Members of CSG have created a survey to learn more about how you would want the current athletic situation to improve. We want your feedback about your own Michigan football experiences, which policies you prefer, and your thoughts on ticket prices. This will help us understand how best to voice your concerns and create new policies in line with your interests. Please take the time to respond and speak out in a respectful and constructive manner. Students will be able to find the survey in their email inbox later this week.

Once again, now is the time to support our team and our players. I encourage you not to participate in the protest on Saturday, as it does not reflect the true nature of Michigan. Community, unity, fellowship – we strive for these ideals as students. We find them not outside the gates, not outside the section stands, but inside the stadium, right alongside the players. “The love of the game must be genuine,” Fielding Yost said about football, “it is not devotion to a fad that makes men play football; it is because they enjoy their football.” We, as Michigan’s greatest football fans, must enjoy the struggle as well. We must #StandByBlue

Go Blue!

This article was originally published on CSG’s website.

Bobby Dishell is Public Policy senior and the CSG President.

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