A new student political party is looking to fill some big shoes by winning this week’s Michigan Student Assembly and student government elections on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mira Levitan
Students 4 Michigan candidates Alicia Benevides, Arielle Linsky and Timothy Wiggins, all LSA sophomores, campaign for upcoming elections. (Peter Schottenfels/Daily)

Students can vote in the elections by logging onto vote.www.umich.edu Wednesday and Thursday.

Students 4 Michigan will look to replace the now-defunct Students First party with a broad agenda that includes placing a student lobbyist in state Legislature in Lansing, getting representation on the Ann Arbor City Council and increasing the number of academic minors at the University.

“The founders of Students 4 Michigan include many current MSA and LSA-SG representatives as well as students who are new to the government, yet have a vested interest in bettering the Michigan community,” said Students 4 Michigan Campaign Manager Monica Woll, an LSA sophmore.

Woll said that Students 4 Michigan has been stereotyped as a re-creation of Students First. While the most visible members of Students 4 Michigan are former Student First members, a few were from the old U party and most are brand new to student government, Woll said.

“The party promotes candidates who are accessible, approachable, and accountable and who are ready and willing to improve the communication between the student body and its government.”

Those candidates face opposition from the Defend Affirmative Action Party, which formed in 1997. In addition to protecting the University’s race-conscious admissions policies, DAAP aims to increase enrollment of minorities after black undergraduate enrollment this year dropped to its lowest level in six years.

MSA Students 4 Michigan candidate Alicia Benavides’s platform is similar to DAAP’s, as she too wants to increase minority enrollment.

“I think that members of MSA should attend student of color organization meetings and events to talk to students and become informed of their needs. I think that this practice should also be extended to more mainstream organizations as well,” said Benavides, an LSA sophomore.

Benavides says she may implement such changes by forming an advisory council through MSA’s Minority Affairs Commission.

“MSA would work with some of the academic units that cater to students of color, such as (Center for Afroamerican and African Studies) or (Latin American and Caribbean Studies), to put on events or programming,” Benavides said.

To Benavides, it is not enough to just reach out — she says the University needs to draw attention to resources available for minority students.

“I will raise student of color admissions by making resources that are beneficial to students of color more publicized. There are many great resources such as the (William Monroe) Trotter House, Office of Academic Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs that exist but are not well known. These places could aid greatly in not only the recruitment of students of color, but also in the retention of them,” she said.

Another candidate for MSA, LSA junior Mike Rudy, said he seeks to represent members of the Greek system and protect them from what he calls “unfair criticisms” from the University, saying that recent hazing allegations against some fraternities and sororities are “baseless.”

“I do not condone hazing to any extent, and the University should continue to pursue the matter without leveling untrue claims and in the process unfairly smearing the name of the Greek system and its members,” Rudy said.

Rudy added that he also believes Greeks have a positive effect on the University, saying that they provide academic and social opportunities to fraternity and sorority members and raise money for charity.

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