Central Student Government elections will be held March 25 and March 26, with candidates from The Team, Make Michigan and the Defend Affirmative Action Party all vying for positions on CSG. As the representative body for students at the University, CSG must take on the pressing issues facing the University, its administration and its students, as well as incorporate voices from all students on campus. Sexual assault, mental health and diversity are crucial issues on campus. All of them must be considered and dealt with by CSG under its next administration.
Inclusivity and the mobilization of student groups must also be a focus of CSG. While the parties present platforms that seem to tackle these points, only one party and its candidates have the experience and inclusivity needed in order to practically take on these issues. With reservations, The Michigan Daily’s editorial board endorses The Team.
Heading The Team’s ticket are LSA junior Will Royster and LSA sophomore Matt Fidel, running for president and vice president, respectively. Royster has no previous experience on CSG, but currently serves as academic concerns chair for the Black Student Union. Fidel is an LSA representative for CSG and previously sat on the Social Responsibility Committee for the now-disbanded Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. In an interview with the editorial board, it was evident Royster and Fidel are passionate leaders, dedicated to bettering the campus community. They stressed the importance of increasing diversity on campus and the need for cross-collaboration on campus to tackle the most important issues students face. This is reflected in The Team’s platform.
Additionally, plans to increase on-site recruitment programs for underrepresented communities and to move the Trotter Multicultural Center to a more accessible location would be welcome in beginning to address diversity issues. Initiatives to make CSG more transparent and a larger presence on campus, such as creating a coffee cart in Mason Hall staffed by CSG representatives, a text-message hotline to voice concerns and an opt-in interactive newsletter are respectable initiatives that should be carried out.
But what separates The Team from the other parties is a developed, tangible plan to expand mental health services on campus. Royster and Fidel intend to work with the administration to bring Counseling and Psychological Services to both North Campus and residence halls. While the Wolverine Support Network has launched with a successful start, it simply cannot replace professional counseling. Making mental health services more accessible could lead to more students who need counseling getting care. If this were the only thing The Team accomplished in the next year, it would certainly be a successful term.
That said, the editorial board has reservations about The Team’s platform, stated goals and ability to command the executive branch of CSG. Their platform, while calling for the prevention of sexual assault on campus, does so via the expansion of education for faculty and staff. This expanded education does not cover the most important segment of campus: the students. The Team relies on the student groups and organizations that already exist on campus to continue the education process of students with regard to sexual assault and sexual assault prevention. In addition, The Team’s support of the “Companion” application targets only a small aspect of the sexual assault issue — attacks at night by strangers — as a significant portion of sexual assault take place in the home of the survivor or the perpetrator. During their interview with the editorial board, Royster and Fidel provided lackluster plans for crucial issues on campus. When asked about issues surrounding Greek life at the University, Royster stated that the implementation of programs to focus on the standards of brotherhood and scholarship are necessary for dealing with the perceived issues with Greek life. This plan lacked in detail and, thus, practicality. Another lacking area of The Team was their stance on diversity. While The Team posits practical and informed courses of action when dealing with issues of diversity, these plans largely avoid the issue of diversity outside of race, namely with regards to the LGBTQ community. The Team appears to have focused on a diversity of candidates as opposed to a diversity of ideas, leading the editorial board to have issues with the plans put forth under their platform.
Finally, the actions of the recently disbanded Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity on their ski trip and Fidel’s subsequent handling of the issues raises questions about his ability to lead during trying times. In an interview last month about the ski trip, despite knowing it would be possible to decline comment, The Team’s campaign manager, LSA junior Jacob Abudaram, refused to continue the interview with Fidel and the Daily until the reporter promised not to ask Fidel’s personal involvement in the incident. This event is concerning and not respectable conduct for potential campus leaders.
LSA junior Cooper Charlton and LSA sophomore Steven Halperin lead Make Michigan in this election. Charlton is currently president of the University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Halperin is a current LSA representative. Under the current leadership of Public Policy Senior Bobby Dishell, Make Michigan has put several notable programs into action, such as need-based ticket prices for financially disadvantaged students, maintaining the Night Owl late-night bus service and beginning the Wolverine Support Network. However, this year’s platform offers either small-scale or ineffective policies that fail to recognize larger issues that face the campus. While Charlton’s record working with University administration and receptiveness to critical feedback gives us faith in his leadership abilities, problems with the platform begin with the ideas for increasing diversity and combating sexual assault. Make Michigan intends to implement SEED faculty training, a for-profit program which educates faculty members on inclusion. However, the Program on Intergroup Relations already exists. While IGR is currently designed for students, it promotes a similar agenda to SEED. Therefore, it would be wiser to use resources the University has to develop a program for faculty, as redundancy is not needed. Furthermore, while increasing on-campus lighting to promote a safer atmosphere for students walking at night is a worthwhile effort, as it may make students feel safer, it does not effectively combat the culture that surrounds sexual assault — something that urgently needs to be addressed.
Lastly, Make Michigan touts a new Student Honor Code that will transcend the existing individual school codes; however, the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities is already in place — a fact addressed in a previous editorial. Simply put, the Make Michigan platform does not add up to the potent leadership and initiative that is essential to successful CSG governance.
Leading the Defend Affirmative Action Party — which is tightly linked to minority rights advocacy group BAMN — are LSA junior Keysha Wall and LSA sophomore Katie Kennedy running for CSG president and CSG vice president. The party is passionate about systemic issues, such as racism and bigotry, and wants to increase diversity and transparency on campus. While these are urgent concerns of the University, the party is too focused on a single issue, and therefore lacks the breadth of experience and knowledge required of CSG leadership. This is on top of the fact that both candidates lack experience working with University administration — a must-have for a student representative.
The Central Student Government should incorporate all student voices to effectively represent the entire student body on campus. All parties’ platforms voice student concerns but do not properly establish programs that will effectively combat these issues. The Michigan Daily’s editorial board is endorsing The Team because their platform most thoroughly addresses issues of diversity on campus by working with student groups such as the Black Student Union; issues of mental health by expanding CAPS to more locations; and issues of sexual assault by providing faculty training. Despite our endorsement, we urge The Team to expand its initiatives to combat sexual assault culture on campus, including education programs for student organizations. The Team must work to repair the negative perception surrounding Fidel as a result of Sigma Alpha Mu’s dissolution and the fraternity’s handling of the issues stemming from their ski trip. The Team presents ideas and claims to be inclusionary of all ideas and groups. This must persist should they win office.
Vote The Team candidates Will Royster and Matt Fidel for CSG president and vice president.