Despite consistent defeat in student government elections in recent years, the Defend Affirmative Action Party is running a presidential ticket and a slate of 17 representative candidates in the March 27 and 28 Central Student Government elections.
Social Work student Ashley Garrick, DAAP’s presidential candidate, is the only graduate student running for president or vice president this year. Increasing minority enrollment is a major platform point for the party, and Garrick said the issue is personal for her.
“Sometimes I’m the only black person in the class, or the only minority in the class,” Garrick said. “I have a hard time understanding how we’re so quick to promote social justice and diversity and being culturally aware” without diverse classrooms.
DAAP’s platform also includes a host of other social issues, including supporting the passage of legislation that would give some undocumented residents a path to citizenship, charging in-state tuition rates for undocumented Michigan residents and supporting full rights for LGBT students.
These platform points contrast with those of other campaigns as none of the four other candidates emphasize that CSG should be an advocate for social change. DAAP’s platform, however, lacks many of the unifying issues of other campaigns, such as promoting entrepreneurship or addressing how student organizations are funded.
LSA sophomore Chene Karega, DAAP’s candidate for vice president, said while winning the election is important, it’s also important to promote affirmative action and social issues.
“We do believe we can win the presidency,” she said. “But it’s also about the message, because if we’re not here talking about these things it won’t be talked about.”
At the candidate’s debate on Thursday night, every presidential candidate said they supported affirmative action, and Karega said DAAP will continue to fight for its campaign goals within CSG whether or not they win.
“If we don’t win, we do plan on working with our parties to make sure our agenda is heard, but more importantly we always try to make our voice heard at (assembly) meetings,” she said.
Members of DAAP were present at an assembly meeting as recent as Tuesday when they addressed representatives about a march for immigrants’ rights in Washington, D.C. on April 10.
While other parties such as forUM might be advocating for diversity, Karega said there isn’t enough emphasis on affirmative action.
DAAP’s campaign manager Issamar Almarez, who is not a University student, said DAAP’s campaigners have been going through the dorms to talk with students, who have been supportive of the issues DAAP has been advocating. Almarez added that she believes many students agree that issues such as declining minority enrollment are important, but that they don’t know how to advocate for them.