Student engagement in the Michigan Student Assembly has been lacking in recent years. There seems to be a debilitating disconnection between MSA representatives and their student constituents. But MSA presidential and vice presidential candidates DeAndree Watson and Brendan Campbell, both LSA juniors from the MForward Party, are hoping to combat this disinterest among students and have plans to do so. Watson’s extensive experience serving on MSA, personal goals to improve the University’s student government, selection of Campbell as vice president and MForward’s strong party platform all bring a fresh perspective to the table — making the MForward ticket the strongest in this year’s MSA election.
One of the most encouraging qualities about Watson is his willingness to acknowledge that student perceptions of MSA are less than favorable. He told The Michigan Daily that “a lot of students see MSA as a bank (and) don’t really see the advocacy of it.” Many of his goals aim to reverse the trend of student apathy. Specifically, Watson plans to make MSA meetings and its budget more transparent to University students. His plan to publish the approved budget and weekly presidential addresses on the MSA website will certainly help to make MSA more accessible to students.
Having institutional knowledge of the way MSA functions is crucial to success as president, and Watson currently serves as the speaker in the three-branch MSA system. He is aware of the pitfalls and advantages of this newly formulated system and will be the best candidate to ensure MSA operates efficiently.
Watson’s plans to improve the campus community is in line with student concerns, and he has realistic plans for addressing these issues. Some of his objectives include working to implement the open housing plan that students originally formulated, combating bias incidents on campus and working with the University’s Board of Regents and state legislators to fight tuition hikes.
Defend Affirmative Action Party candidates Briana Hatcher, an LSA freshman running for MSA president, and Lena Cintron, an LSA sophomore running for MSA vice president, have positive ideas like interacting with constituents through mixers and social events and creating a more unified campus. But their lack of experience with student government is concerning. Additionally, their platform is too focused on advocating for particular issues, instead of improving MSA and making sure it operates efficiently for the entire student body.
It’s difficult to blame students for their discontent with MSA. Many of their concerns are valid and result from the lack of transparency in the way MSA functions and uses student funds. But if students don’t take the few minutes to vote for MSA officials, they forfeit their right to complain about the actions of these individuals.
While uncontested, LSA Student Government elections are just as important for students. Junior Anne Laverty, running for president, and junior Jeff Larkin, running for vice president, feel that student access to their student government is vital. They have palpable plans to increase student involvement in LSA-SG by adding a forum feature to the LSA-SG website, holding college town hall meetings and collaborating with organizations on campus.
For this year’s election, The Michigan Daily’s editorial board endorses MForward’s DEANDREE WATSON and BRENDAN CAMPBELL for MSA president and vice president. We also endorse ANNE LAVERTY and JEFF LARKIN for LSA-SG president and vice president.