Two parties will square off in next week’s LSA Student Government elections.
Joe Golden of the Michigan Progressive Party is up for LSA-SG’s presidency with running mate Dan Ray.
They’ll face Students 4 Michigan’s pair – Joanna Slott for president and Justin Benson for vice president – next Tueseday and Wednesday.
While there’s no telling who is in the lead, Slott and Benson have been endorsed by the College Democrats, the largest student group on campus.
Both pairs of candidates include academic matters as key parts of their platforms.
Slott said if she is elected, she’ll make it a top priority to create more academic minors for LSA students.
“One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education is the ability to obtain a diversified educational experience,” she said. “We feel that minors are an important piece to this equation.”
Benson and Slott serve on the committee in LSA-SG that deals with academic minors, and they both worked to establish the international studies minor. Benson added that S4M candidates would like to create a Peace and Nonviolence minor.
The MPP candidates, though appreciative of the work done to create the international studies minor, criticized it as a bait and switch, saying that LSA-SG’s original plan was to create an international relations minor.
Ray said the International Studies minor is similar to minors that the University already has that study cultures.
Benson responded by saying that the semantic change was because faculty working on the minor thought replacing the word “relations” with “studies” would be more academically sound. He said the minor does not substantially deviate from original expectations.
Golden, the MPP presidential candidate, identified textbooks as a key issue of his campaign. If elected, he said he will encourage professors to release their textbook lists at least one month before classes start so students can buy the books at cheaper prices online or at off-campus stores.
Golden currently works with textbook issues as a member of the Michigan Student Assembly’s Academic Affairs Commission.
Both parties also have different visions on how to improve LSA-SG.
The MPP candidates said LSA-SG meetings lack professionalism, and that professionalism entails “much more than a ‘business casual’ dress code.”
Golden and Ray want to foster competition by preventing S4M from remaining as an unopposed party and setting up their own legislative agenda.
Both pairs said they want to work on improving the image of LSA-SG with students.
“The number one issue facing LSA Student Government is increasing our visibility on campus,” Slott and Benson said in a joint statement.
They added that they plan to continue the “This Sucks” campaign, which collects student complaints, and add more liaisons between LSA-SG and student groups.
Slott said collaborating with the Michigan Student Assembly on public relations could be one way to increase LSA-SG’s visibility.
In addition to a bigger presence on campus, Golden and Ray want to improve LSA-SG’s accountability and transparency.
If elected, the pair said they would make sure to regularly and completely update the LSA-SG website, which they said has previously lagged at posting documents like meeting minutes.
The S4M candidates said they believe they are the best candidates because of their experience. Between them they have served as every possible type of voting member on LSA-SG.
“This experience, our past success on multiple initiatives, our extensive platform and our existing relationships with administrators and faculty make us the most qualified candidates,” they said.
The MPP candidates said they know they can do better than previous administrations.
“We’ve been preparing to govern for months – not preemptively electioneering, but actually researching issues and drawing up plans,” they said in a joint statement.