The Michigan Vision Party, one of the main contenders heading into next month’s Michigan Student Assembly elections, hosted its first mass meeting last night in Mason Hall.
MSA’s most prominent party in recent election cycles, the Michigan Action Party, has effectively dissolved, leading to the creation of two separate groups. Both groups, the reMICHIGAN campaign and MVP, are headed by former MAP members.
Public Policy senior Jeremy Borowitz, MVP’s external communications chair, began the evening by introducing the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, Engineering junior Abhishek Mahanti and LSA junior Mike Rorro, respectively.
Mahanti and Rorro then took the floor, explaining the intricacies of MSA and the potential they see for its success. In particular, they stressed their desire to make MSA more accessible to students.
“We’re very willing to listen, to talk about your experiences within MSA, to make a cohesive vision that we can all agree on,” Rorro said.
They also listed immediate ways they would try to improve student government. They said they would like to create a neighborhood watch and hold MSA office hours in more accessible places like the Diag and on North Campus.
A question-and-answer session then followed, with Mahanti and Rorro asking the group of about 45 students for critiques and suggestions for MSA.
Students asked the running mates what they thought a party system brings to the election and how they plan to hold representatives accountable after the election is over, complaining of MAP representatives not following through with campaign promises.
Several MVP members said the new party wouldn’t be just a “vehicle to get elected.”
“MAP wasn’t so much a party as it was a political machine to get elected,” Mahanti said.
Audience members suggested establishing a better connection between the student body and student government and improving efficiency in the Office of International Programs.
Throughout the meeting, Mahanti and Rorro said they wanted MSA to be transparent, accountable and efficient.
“Those are obviously abstract things, but I really think we have the know-how to (implement) them once our feet are held to the fire,” Mahanti said. “And opening up a dialogue with students is something we really want to emphasize.”
LSA junior Adam DeSantis, who was present at the meeting, said he thinks the party split will create a competitive atmosphere conducive to finding the most qualified candidate.
“I’m really happy to see there’s been a party split,” he said. “The fact that you have two parties competing for the two spots really means we’re going to get the best candidates as opposed to someone who was there who knew the right people within a group of 20 people.”
LSA senior Tyrone Schiff, who is a former LSA Student Government representative, said he thinks MVP has an exciting style for government.
“I think they have an innovative approach,” he said. “They’re trying to do bold things that haven’t been tried in the past, and I think it’s time that somebody came around and did this.”
The party structure was also introduced. It includes LSA junior Brady Smith as message chair; LSA sophomore Sam Goodman and LSA junior Alex Warbasse as external marketing and media chairs; LSA sophomore Andrew Chinsky as internal communication coordinator and LSA junior Sona Kotecha and LSA freshman Larry Warbasse as finance chairs.
— Annie Thomas contributed to this story.