The challenges facing student governments have been highlighted in recent weeks. This situation affords us an opportunity to reflect on the work that we have been doing on behalf of the student body, how we have been doing it and how we can better reach out and do more for the campus. To get straight down to the heart of the matter, we are students who are fired up about campus issues — just like each one of you — and we really do care about what you have to say. Not only do we care, but we have a responsibility to listen.

As governments representing the students at this University, we understand that we have more traction when we have full student support behind us. We also acknowledge that students can’t be behind us if they don’t know what we’re doing. In all honesty, it is a struggle to keep you in the loop. It’s a catch-22: when we are doing our job well, we’re not newsworthy. Then, when we do something controversial, we make the front page. As one of our constituents pointed out, we have the same marketing problem as NASA — you only hear about them or care about them when there is an explosion.

Some of you have expressed that this is a broken system that can’t be fixed. On the contrary, we passionately believe in the potential of student governments to affect positive change and to constantly improve ourselves. This change is always more effective if it is a collaborative process. We are flawed as governments without informed constituents to keep a check on our priorities, to hold us accountable to our campaign promises and to demand that we are working on a relevant agenda for students. Although we stand behind the work we have done this year and in the past, we acknowledge that as hard as our individual members may work, we still need constant feedback and a healthy dialogue so that we can make progress together.

Let’s take the time to hear each other out. The Town Hall Meeting this evening is an opportunity for us to do just that. Tonight, you have an opportunity to stand up and tell us what exactly you want us to be working on. Whether your concerns are about classes, the residence halls or school spirit, the student government representatives that have been and will continue working to address these issues will be there to listen. Tonight, we also have an opportunity to let you know about the progress that is being made on some important issues. This progress might not be newsworthy, but it is relevant to student concerns. This meeting is a small step, but hopefully a step in the right direction.

At the end of the day, we want the same thing. We want students to have a seat at the table with administrators. We want more effective and relevant governments. We want to create the best possible University of Michigan experience for each and every student.

Come voice your concerns and give us the chance to address them. See you in 1300 Chem at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Sabrina Shingwani, Leslie Zaikis and Danny Hsiao
The letter-writers are presidents of the Michigan Student Assembly, LSA Student Government and the Engineering Council, respectively.

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