As part of her Michigan Student Assembly presidential campaign promises, MSA Rackham Rep. Kate Stenvig plans to lead University students in rallies that support increasing the diversity of the student body.
Stenvig, who is from Royal Oak, Mich., is running as the presidential candidate for the Defend Affirmative Action Party. LSA freshman Sofia Bolanos is running with Stenvig as DAAP’s vice presidential candidate.
This is the fourth time Stenvig — who has been a member of MSA since 2004 — has campaigned for MSA president. Stenvig’s campaign initiatives include gaining support for an increase in minority enrollment at the University, making MSA more diverse and giving students more opportunities to voice their opinions.
Stenvig said her top priority is increasing minority enrollment at the University.
“We have been in a combined crisis of the loss of affirmative action and the drastic drop in black, Latino and Native American student enrollment,” Stenvig said.
Stenvig added that if elected, she would encourage “a mass student movement” similar to those erupting on campuses like the University of California at Los Angeles aimed at being proactive and stimulating an environment that promotes diversity.
According to Stenvig, the increase in students seeking help from Counseling and Psychological Services at the University is a testament to the pressure and stress students are feeling from the campus environment.
“The drop in minority enrollment means that there is an increase in racism and sexual assault and general expressions of sexism,” she said.
According to a petition drafted by DAAP and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary — known as BAMN — to reverse the drop in minority student enrollment at the University, from 2005 to 2009 the number of black students in the freshmen classes fell from 443 to 290. In the same time period, the number of Latino students decreased from 312 to 224 and Native American students fell from 57 to 21.
The petition also states that the University’s Law School minority enrollment dropped 31 percent from 2005 to 2009.
A leading member of BAMN, Stenvig said MSA should lobby to restore affirmative action.
“There are more students who really want to fight to defend their right to be here and defend the accessibility of the University,” she said, adding that MSA can “play a historic role in defending education.”
Stenvig said MSA representatives must play a “central role” in defending public education and the rights of women and minority students.
“We need a leadership on our student government that is being really bold and fighting to mobilize the sentiment of the majority of the campus in defense of integration and defense of affordable education for every student in Michigan,” Stenvig said.
Stenvig added that, if elected, she plans to have a more open discourse to encourage greater student involvement within MSA to counter the “bureaucratic” and “elite” environment surrounding MSA.
To increase discourse, Stenvig said she wants to extend the time allotted to community speakers during MSA’s weekly meetings. Currently, speakers are given three minutes and must show their MCards to speak.
Stenvig said she sees a promising future for MSA, but that right now, the student government is only adding to the University’s problems.
“MSA has got to be part of the solution in solving the issue of campus climate,” she said. “And right now, they are the problem.”