In the upcoming Central Student Government elections, Make Michigan candidates are hoping to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell and LSA sophomore Meagan Shokar, Make Michigan’s candidates for CSG president and vice president both already hold leadership roles in student government. Dishell is the current vice president of CSG, while Shokar serves as the speaker of the CSG assembly.
“Our experience this year is unlike any other candidates experience, both in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish on campus, as well as our experience in student government and working with administrators,” Dishell said.
Dishell began his career in student government when he joined the Greek Relations Commission at the end of his freshman year. As a sophomore, he served as an LSA representative in the CSG assembly. Last winter, he was successful in his 2013 bid for vice president alongside Business senior Michael Proppe, current CSG president.
Shokar was elected as an LSA representative for CSG at the end of her freshman year, and was elected vice speaker at the beginning of this year. In December, she transitioned to her current role as speaker of the CSG assembly.
Dishell and Shokar come from different backgrounds, a strength of their partnership that both candidates emphasized.
“We have two very different social identities, and that’s something really amazing that no other platform has,” Dishell said.
“Together, our party is diverse in itself, and we represent more of campus,” Shokar added.
Both candidates also noted how their differences have helped them in their decision-making over this past year in CSG.
“We encourage each other to think differently and challenge each other,” Shokar said.
“We always consult each other before making decisions, and that’s something that’s been really great,” Dishell added.
He added that their experiences as CSG leaders place Make Michigan at an advantage moving forward with future initiatives. They have already established relationships with various administrators and departments, a process Dishell said usually takes a few months.
“We really want to build on the relationships we’ve made,” he said. “We want to move on from that to accomplish even more next year, already having those relationships in place.”
One of those relationships that Dishell and Shokar want to build on is CSG cooperation with the Athletic Department regarding student-ticketing policies for both football and basketball. They said they want to work on developing an improved reserved seating system for football — a result of negative student responses to the new general admission seating policy. They also discussed a proposal to have a student ticket exchange phone application for basketball tickets.
Shokar ran last year as a candidate with FORUM, an opposing party in this year’s election, but has since shifted to Make Michigan. She said that her decision was based on Make Michigan’s platform, not politics.
“It’s not really so much a switch. It’s more that I joined Make Michigan because it has the platform of ideals that I believe that Michigan really values,” Shokar said. “It’s about what I want to work on, and how I want to go about making the changes I want to see on campus.”
The platform Shokar spoke about includes Make Michigan’s “five pillars”: student-focused, healthy, safe, diverse and innovative.
One of the initiatives that align with their “healthy” pillar that Dishell and Shokar addressed was a program that focuses on the mental health of students.
“Mental health is something that’s really overlooked here,” Dishell said. “It’s time we come together as a community through a peer support network.”
Make Michigan proposes peer groups of 12 to 20 students that will meet on a weekly basis. Senior leaders who are Counseling and Psychological Services and the Program on Intergroup Relations trained for counseling would run the groups. Dishell said he hopes if instituted, the program will set a standard for other colleges across the nation.
“Not everyone has an amazing day every day, and there are definitely times we all can think of when we would have liked to have a network of our peers that we could go to where we didn’t feel awkward because there was a staff member in the room, or we weren’t embarrassed about what was going on,” he said.
Regarding Make Michigan’s “diversity” pillar, Dishell said he hopes to increase cooperation between CSG and the LEAD (Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, Diversity) Scholars Program run by the Alumni Center, a program that grants merit-based scholarships to diverse students who exhibit the qualities listed in its name. He said he hopes to work with the program to increase minority admissions recruitment.
Moving forward in the campaign, Shokar said that keeping voters informed of their experience and accomplishments over the past year in CSG is key.
“Having a conversation is important, but taking action on it and really making the difference on that item is really what we’re about,” Dishell added.