Boisterous cheers erupted from members of the MForward during their watch party last night upon members hearing that all eight of their candidates had been elected representatives in Michigan Student Assembly.
Of the 22 open seats in this week’s elections, eight were filled by MForward, four by independents and 10 by write-in candidates, according to Rackham and Law student Timothy Bekkers, MSA election director.
LSA junior Sean Walser, MForward chair, said the election of all the party’s candidates is representative of the student body’s desire to see more initiatives that reflect students’ needs and desires. He noted MForward’s past successful initiatives, including the implementation of Saturday night dining in the residence halls and the Open Housing Initiative, which pushes for gender-neutral housing at the University.
“We see this as a great accomplishment …” Wasler said. “Students are supporting us consistently in each election.”
Ten of the 22 seats were for Rackham Graduate School, three for the College of Engineering and one seat each for LSA, School of Information, School of Art & Design, Dentistry School, School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and the School of Social Work. LSA sophomore Lucy Zhao, a member of MForward, was elected to the one open seat on the University’s Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee. Six students as well as write-in candidates ran for the position.
Three schools — the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Medical School and School of Social Work — failed to elect any representatives in the March election. Rackham Graduate School only elected write-in candidates and all 10 of Rackham’s representatives either resigned or were removed for absences. Until two weeks ago, not a single representative had attended an MSA meeting.
While two members of Rackham student government have attended the last two MSA meetings, they were not on the ballot. Rackham, which had vacancies in all 10 of its representative seats, only had one candidate on the ballot last night — Patrick O’Mahen, who is not affiliated with MForward but is a member of the Graduate Employees’ Organization.
O’Mahen, a former Michigan Daily columnist, wrote in an e-mail interview that he is aware of the obstacles MSA faces in influencing campus change, but believes it is still relevant for students.
“MSA only can have a limited impact for any students — we don’t have any direct control over the vast majority of financial or policy decisions that shape the broad direction of (the University),” O’Mahen wrote. “However, it can play a valuable role in improving life on campus through mobilizing and working with existing student groups to lobby administrations and the Board of Regents.”
The College of Pharmacy, whose one MSA representative had resigned, elected Pharmacy senior Eric Zhao. Zhao said he plans to use MSA’s vast resources to strengthen programs within the College of Pharmacy.
“I want to be the link between MSA and my student government,” Zhao said. “MSA has a lot of resources, including funding, advertising and connections.”
Zhao added that though elections were important in securing representation from the Pharmacy school within MSA, the future is just as important to continuing to establish a presence for the college in the student government.
“One of my initiatives is to make sure that we have continuity from now on, to have a Pharmacy rep. in MSA every year,” Zhao said.
Aditya Sathi, director of recruiting for MForward, said MForward spent an extensive amount of time prior to the election looking for suitable representatives from each school.
“There had to be at least one person out there who was going to be passionate about representing their school and making a change,” Sathi said.
The issues for last night’s election were varied depending on the school. For Rackham, O’Mahen said the rights of Graduate Students employed by the University were the most important issue for him. Andrew Modell, a freshman in the College of Engineering and a newly elected representative, said instituting a system for students to opt out of mass e-mail lists was one of his primary goals.
10 representatives elected to LSA Student Government
Ten representatives were elected to LSA Student Government yesterday, and despite a drop in voter turnout from last fall, LSA-SG officials said they were pleased with the results.
Five candidates were elected to LSA-SG for the first time, and five others were re-elected to serve another term. All the representatives elected tonight will serve through November 2012.
LSA freshmen Tyler Hoffman, Kendall Johnson, Chris Graham, Elena Brennan and Cindy Yu were each elected to their first terms.
LSA sophomore Gaby Kornblau, LSA junior Brian Koziara, LSA sophomore Gabby Trupp, LSA junior Katharine Stockrahm and LSA junior Anna Wittow were all re-elected.
Ten percent of the LSA student body, or 1,652 students, voted in the election — a 2-percent drop from last year’s fall election. Jeff Larkin, LSA-SG vice president and election coordinator, said fewer students voted because the MSA didn’t hold a full election, which encourages students to vote in their individual school student governments as well.
Three proposals were also on the LSA ballot. One proposal asked students whether they’d like to get e-mail notifications when their grades are posted on Wolverine Access at the end of the semester — a feature currently not available. Larkin said the grade notification proposal passed by a “large margin.”
Another proposal asked LSA students where they’d like to see water bottle refill stations added across campus. A majority of students voted that they’d like to see stations in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and recreational facilities.
Larkin said it was “no surprise” that students chose those locations to add water bottle refilling stations. There is already a station in the Intramural Sports Building, so LSA-SG will work to put the filling stations in the Central Campus Recreation Building and the North Campus Recreation Building, Larkin said.
The third ballot proposal asked students if they would be in support of LSA students having the option of having a minor in the School of Art & Design. Larkin said a majority of students voted in support of adding the minor.
LSA-SG President Anne Laverty said she was “thrilled” with the results of the election.
“Our voter turnout was pretty close to what it was last fall, which is great considering this is the first time MSA hasn’t had their full elections and LSA has,” Laverty said. “So we’re really happy with that and obviously there’s always room to improve.”
— Daily News Editor Joseph Lichterman contributed to this report.