A highly contested Central Student Government election in late March saw allegations of campaign violations followed by law suits, as parties sought to secure the presidential and vice presidential seats. But to move forward from the election politics, the 52 newly elected legislative representatives must harness their power in numbers to fulfill their campaign promises and implement positive change.
In a March interview preceding the elections, LSA junior Michael Dalton, a representative during the 2012-13 term who ran with youMICH, said he believed that the second CSG assembly failed in their outreach to new student organizations. He added that elected representatives could have participated more actively.
“Every representative didn’t write up a resolution, every representative didn’t even have something to say in announcements arising, every representative didn’t even convey a message to the assembly that says this is what someone from my respective college says their experience at the University has been like,” Dalton explained.
Furthermore, Dalton said the lack of communication between elected representatives and the student body was evident through the few students who spoke during the community concerns portion of CSG assembly meetings.
“Students didn’t really feel that comfortable, I think, coming to us about their student-related problems,” Dalton said.
He noted that student input would have proved to be useful when university administrators, such as University Regent Mark Bernstein (D-Ann Arbor), addressed assembly meetings.
Dalton said the power of the assembly and its ability to use public pressure to influence administrators was underestimated. Representatives get especially prompt responses when e-mailing administrators and could hence channel the voice of student government to create bigger impact.
In the 2013 CSG election cycle, youMICH and forUM proved to be the two dominant parties in terms of number of representatives and garnered popular votes.
Public Policy junior Sam Dickstein, forUM Communications & Marketing Director, said forUM implemented a stringent interview process in choosing its representatives for the 2013-14 assembly to ensure those selected would be the most committed to student government.
“We really looked for people who had CSG experience, showed a serious passion for CSG and also were committed to coming to all the meetings (including summer assembly),” Dickstein said. “If a representative is not showing up and not holding up their end of the bargain, we will not take that lightly.”
In reference to the faltering attendance records of representatives in the winter assembly, Dickstein said he thought that forUM representatives would not be a reason for unachieved quorum.
“We really expect to have all the candidates show up often,” he said. “We’re so far very happy how the representatives have been with their participation and we expect that to continue.”
Dickstein said individual forUM candidates, while committed to their party’s greater executive platforms, would work to accomplish their individual campaign promises through their resolutions and the backing of their party platform.
“What’s really important to the party, we think, is to make sure that we follow through on campaign promises,” he said. “Whether that is in line with the platforms that everyone ran on, we hope to make sure that those are seen through.”
Out of over 50 elected representatives in the CSG assembly, 32 are members of forUM. Resolutions introduced and approved by all forUM representatives are likely to have a clear majority in the house and would therefore be passed regardless of opposition from representatives from other parties.
“We have a very strong majority (of representatives) and we’ll have that continue throughout the summer as well,” Dickstein said. “And so we see forUM being a very strong force in CSG but we understand that we’re going to have to work across party lines.”
Business senior Michael Proppe, CSG President, said he didn’t think party politics would impede productivity. The multiple parties merely served as a marketing tool during elections and would not cause a dissent within the house.
“I am confident that we will (work together),” Proppe said. “Once you get elected your loyalty is not so much to the party anymore as it is to what you ran on and what is the best for the student body.”