The polls are open and students can now
vote for the Michigan Student Assembly’s presidential and
vice-presidential candidates. The elected candidates will be
responsible for leading MSA toward finding solutions to the
problems that students face on campus and also assure that
students’ voices are represented in the University’s
policy decisions.

Mira Levitan

With dedicated and competent leadership, MSA has the ability to
achieve significant gains on student issues. Recently however, a
failure to accomplish projects of importance to the student body
has characterized the outgoing officers’ tenure. A change is
clearly necessary at the highest levels of the assembly in order to
re-chart the lackadaisical course the last two presidents have
charted.

 

Voters will have four choices from which
to select candidates to lead the student body for the next year,
including the candidates running under the incumbent Students First
banner, the newly formed Other Political Party, the Defend
Affirmative Action Party and independent candidates Tim Moore and
Anita Leung. A careful examination of all the candidates and their
platforms reveals that Students First candidates Jason Mironov and
Jenny Nathan are the best choice to lead MSA over the upcoming
year. Despite the history of their party, their combination of
experience, knowledge and enthusiasm — albeit sometimes
overly rehearsed and scripted enthusiasm — make them the most
capable of steering MSA onto a new course.

Moore and Leung, who are running as independents, are seeking to
reform MSA. The last remnants of the now defunct University Party,
they offer a thoughtful platform narrowly focused on campus issues.
Student unification through a residence hall Olympics program, a
student tailgate before football games and an expansion of the
nascent CareerTools program are some of the innovative ideas they
propose. Unfortunately, they wish to limit MSA’s involvement
in some of the more pressing issues on campus, such as affirmative
action, because they seem them as divisive. They fail to realize
MSA officials have a responsibility to address pressing issues that
concern the University and its students.

Conversely, Kate Stenvig and Cyril Cordor, the DAAP candidates,
take a strong stance on those very issues, especially affirmative
action and the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. Their platform,
however, is overly concerned with these issues and ignores many of
the concerns students and student groups face on campus.
DAAP’s association with BAMN will also polarize the assembly
and the campus as a whole, and Stenvig and Cordor show no interest
in representing students who do not strongly support affirmative
action policies.

Claiming to be somewhat anti-establishment, OPP candidates Chuck
Heidel and Matt Lapinsky have created a platform consisting of
three things: defeating Students First, creating an online student
book exchange and improving tenants’ rights. However, they
lack experience with MSA, and they do not have even the most basic
understanding of campus and community issues. Heidel’s
failure to attend the presidential debate so that he could play in
a volleyball game bodes ill for his unlikely tenure as MSA
president. The OPP is in no way the alternative to Students First
that much of the student body craves.

 

Mironov and Nathan are clearly the most
qualified prospects for the positions they seek because they bring
with them many years of experience both in and out of the MSA
chambers. Mironov is the current student general counsel of MSA,
while Nathan has been involved in community outreach and is the
current president of the College Democrats.

Their platform consists of a wide array of issues, including
increasing student clout with the administration and with the Ann
Arbor City Council, in order to put an end to both groups’
habits of overlooking student concerns.

Mironov and Nathan oppose the University’s funding cuts
and changes to organizations vital to student life, including the
Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the others that
the new movement Our Voices Count formed to defend. Mironov and
Nathan also recognize that in order to put a damper on tuition
increases, MSA executive officers must do a better job representing
students, especially undergraduates.

Mironov and Nathan have the most lucid ideas on housing issues
as well. Nathan has been intimately involved with the movement to
legalize accessory dwelling units, or small auxillery efficiencies
added onto houses, in Ann Arbor, and both Mironov and Nathan have
worked with City Council members to encourage them to introduce
legislation that would push back the schedule for signing housing
leases. They also have pledged to correct one of MSA’s
gravest errors in recent years: the dissolution of the Ann Arbor
Tenants Union. They plan to spend a significant portion of
MSA’s budget on a new AATU that would be based in the MSA
offices, thereby ameliorating concerns over the AATU’s
accountability.

 

Traditionally, there has been a low voter
turnout for MSA elections. This needs to change in today’s
elections. Considering the number of changes the University has
been implementing regarding student affairs and the
University’s tight budget situation, it is necessary for the
student body to show that it is interested in campus affairs.

Mironov and Nathan are the most promising MSA candidates. Voters
should elect Mironov and Nathan because they have the ability to
create a productive student government and represent students on
campus through strong leadership and dedication. The Michigan Daily
enthusiastically and without hesitation endorses Students First
executive candidates JASON MIRONOV and JENNY NATHAN in
today’s election.

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