FORUM and Make Michigan really aren’t that different.

While each touts itself as a “movement” rather than a party, their platforms have considerable overlap. Both focus on increasing diversity at the University, making the campus safer and reforming athletics policies — namely seating and ticketing at events — that students have deemed unfavorable.

While they may agree about the issues that need attention, each Central Student Government party differs in its suggested methods of implementing change.

Public Policy junior Carly Manes, FORUM’s presidential candidate and a current LSA representative on the CSG Assembly, said diversity is the most important of FORUM’s four platform points.

“That expands to not only racial diversity, but diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of interaction with the University and how different students experience Michigan,” she said. “It’s important to allow for space for all the experiences and improve upon all of those experiences.”

LSA junior Pavitra Abraham, FORUM’s vice presidential candidate who is also a current LSA representative on the CSG Assembly, said accounting for the breadth of individual experiences will also be contingent upon increasing students’ access to the services CSG has to offer.

“We really want to advocate to empower all of those communities on campus and also make sure that all of those communities are represented at the CSG table,” Abraham said.

To bring a larger range of diverse voices to the University, FORUM plans to advocate for financial aid for undocumented students, drive increased recruiting and on-site admission in underrepresented communities and reform the Race and Ethnicity distribution requirement.

Of these objectives, Manes has already begun her work on the R&E requirement. She has met with University administrators since October to draft a proposal for a new, more encompassing “identity” requirement, which she and a coalition of students presented to the LSA Curriculum Committee Tuesday night for initial comments and suggestions.

Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, the Make Michigan presidential candidate and current CSG vice president, said diversity relates to another often overlooked issue on campus: mental health. This belief jointly reflects two of Make Michigan’s five platform pillars: health and diversity.

“Mental health is a huge issue here on campus and it kind of hits on all of our points,” Dishell said. “Mental health is something that affects all students, and when you are able to be mentally healthy, it also is going to help the racial climate on campus and make people feel safer in general.”

Dishell and LSA sophomore Meagan Shokar, the Make Michigan vice presidential candidate and current speaker of the assembly, plan to implement a University-wide peer support program.

The new program would have students register for peer support groups based on mutual availability. Each group would be directed by two seniors and two junior trainees, all of whom would take mandatory Intergroup Relations and University Counseling and Psychological Services training before taking on leadership roles.

“It’s going to help people get a deeper understanding of each other,” Dishell said. “It’s about getting a mutual respect of each other and becoming vulnerable with one another. When you let your guard down, you really can get to know people.”

In addition to a more tight-knit campus climate, Dishell and Shokar also plan to increase diversity by working with the Alumni Association’s LEAD Scholars program, which provides merit scholarships to underrepresented students at the University.

Dishell said he hopes to take these efforts one step further — by increasing on-site recruitment and admissions. While he acknowledged that this goal was exactly the same as FORUM’s aspirations, he said Make Michigan has the upper hand because of its connection to the Alumni Association.

“They don’t have those metrics,” he said. “The biggest difference between us and them lies in the party name. We have an action plan. Everything we have on there has what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it. We’re going to Make Michigan, and we really show that in all of our points. Whereas they are ‘FORUM,’ they want to have a forum on it, but they don’t have that action plan in place.”

Shokar added that the experience she and Dishell have gained in CSG executive positions over the last year adds to their ability to execute — their connection and experience with administrators signify a level of knowledge of University bureaucracy that FORUM lacks.

“Bobby and I have so much experience in CSG,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of time to work in these roles and to really understand how to make CSG most efficient. And both of those things are incredibly important when you only have one term in office.”

While she acknowledges room for improvement, Shokar said she sees her and Dishell’s candidacy as a continuation of work and relationship development with University administrators.

Abraham said this type of experience as CSG executives, while valuable, does not make either Dishell or Shokar more qualified to lead, citing a lack of CSG productivity this year as a cause for new management.

Speaking specifically about diversity, she said she was offended by the fact that diversity has only recently become a “buzzword” or a cool thing to be interested in, when its absence has been an important University issue for years.

Citing work that she and Manes have done since their freshman year to increase diversity on campus, among other issues, Abraham said connections aren’t exclusive to CSG executives.

“It’s one thing to tout these administrative ties, but at the same time, to act like you’re the only one that has them is faulty,” she said. “Both Carly and I have been working with this University and with deans of varying schools and with administrators and other campus years since we were freshmen. They’re not the only ones to have those skills.”

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