If there’s one word forUM wants its members and constituents to know, it’s “empowerment.”
At Tuesday night’s forUM mass meeting, Public Policy junior Carly Manes, forUM’s Central Student Government presidential candidate, and LSA junior Pavitra Abraham, forUM’s vice presidential candidate, introduced their party platform to recruit CSG representative candidates for the upcoming election.
Last year, according to forUM records, the party ran 42 total representative candidates from various schools within the University, securing 32 seats. This year, the party hopes to support a similar number of candidates. Manes said there has already been a large number of applicants, though she was unable to confirm an exact number.
Manes said forUM is looking for a diverse group of representatives who are focused on student activism and not “petty politics.”
“We’re expecting and we’re looking for individuals who are passionate about empowering our campus community through tangible action and through the empowerment of one another and our communities,” she said.
Manes and Abraham presented forUM’s platform to the nearly 30 people in attendance Tuesday, a collection of mostly underclassmen and some juniors. forUM’s top three initiatives are diversity, accessibility and transparency, all initiatives the two candidates have worked on in the past.
Manes already has significant experience in promoting on-campus diversity, having worked with the Michigan Community Scholars Program on a privilege and oppression workshop for freshmen.
forUM is working to reform the current race and ethnicity requirement for LSA, expand the requirement to other schools and increase the number of Intergroup Relations classes within that umbrella.
Manes has reached out to the Black Student Union as well, saying many of the demands the BSU presented on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year aligned well with many of her goals for campus diversity.
Engineering junior Robert Greenfield, BSU treasurer, said Manes and the BSU have already started work on reorganizing the curriculum for the race and ethnicity requirement without disrupting students’ schedules too significantly. While Greenfield said the BSU has not, and will not, endorse any party for the CSG election, he said Make Michigan has not reached out to the BSU. Of the two parties, the BSU is so far only working with Manes and forUM.
“We will definitely make our community more aware of voting because, at least from my experience, the Black community doesn’t really take part in CSG voting as much as it should,” Greenfield said. “It’s getting the big points out there to make sure people make informed decisions.”
Low voter turnout is common across the campus as a whole, which puts pressure on candidates to make the right impression on the small voter pool. forUM will have to overcome the already public presence of Make Michigan’s CSG presidential candidate Bobby Dishell, Public Policy junior and current CSG vice president.
However, both Manes and Abraham said they have already made an impression on campus through their own work before this year, and are optimistic forUM will have a successful campaign.
Abraham said she has focused her attention on forUM’s accessibility efforts, including a plan to implement bus routes to grocery stores from Central Campus and establish a process of voter registration for students through the dorms.
“My ideal is that it happens annually, that people just get in the habit of registering to vote just because that’s a process, it’s something that’s important,” she said. “People need to know what’s going on there and give that the importance it deserves.”
LSA senior Hayley Sakwa, forUM’s vice presidential candidate last year, said she’s excited for Manes and Abraham, saying they are continuing the message and platform forUM laid out last year.
“I hope that people will get excited in this campaign in the same way that they were excited about it last year,” Sakwa said. “Luckily the student body is transient, so hopefully people will forget about some of the political stuff that happened, and still really have a faith in the power of Central Student Government.”