It seems like it was only yesterday when Michigan Student Assembly candidates bombarded students’ inboxes with spam e-mails campaigning for their MSA parties – but that was last March, and it’s election season again. As the student government fall elections get underway today, it is important for MSA to continue its efforts to reform its elections and move to repair the tarnished image it still holds on campus.
Student government parties have a tendency to disband – or, in many cases, simply change names – every couple of years in an attempt to distinguish themselves from the image their predecessors had acquired. While in theory the parties that emerge year after year are “new” and original, the leaders of the parties are invariably formers members of the defunct parties. The dominant party three years ago was the Students First party, which became Students 4 Michigan. The allegedly new Michigan Action Party contains a suspicious number of S4M veterans.
A shameful denial of service attack on an opposing party’s website by students with S4M ties is probably a major reason why S4M members wanted to create a new party. That scandal wasn’t the only one last March: Tim Hull, then running with the Student Conservative Party, sent tens of thousands of spam e-mails to professors and alumni. Although the contentious election had one of the highest voter turnouts in recent history, the scandals surrounding the election hurt MSA’s credibility.
In order for MSA to move past its dubious history – which has included irresponsible fiscal decisions and assembly members with surprisingly low attendance records, in addition to the problems with its elections – the new parties that have emerged this election season must at least try to work at accomplishing what they have proposed to do. While many students may not know it, MSA handles hundreds of thousands of dollars in student fee money. But only when its power translates to visibility and influence on campus will it be able to work toward progress at the University and gain respect from the student body.
Today and tomorrow, students can go to vote.www.umich.edu to vote for MSA representatives. While the fall elections, lacking a glamorous presidential race, may not seem important, the representatives that are elected this weekend could have a real influence on the student government. We encourage you to get to the online polls and elect whichever representatives you believe will bring about the changes MSA needs.