The leaves are falling, the marching band is practicing and the sidewalks are chalked; it’s election season again.
The Michigan Student Assembly and the LSA Student Government elections began today at midnight and will continue until midnight on Thursday. Students can cast their votes online at vote.www.umich.edu.
Students 4 Michigan, currently the dominant party in student government, and the Defend Affirmative Action Party are the only two parties slating candidates in this fall’s elections. There are also several independent candidates running.
Unlike DAAP’s single-issue advocacy, S4M isn’t fielding candidates with a consistent ideology, said Justin Paul, LSA junior and S4M campaign manager.
“Whatever the issue, our candidates try to represent their own personal views and ideals,” Paul said.
But while party candidates can represent their personal views, Paul said S4M is continuously “working to improve life on campus for all students.” Recent party accomplishments include the sponsorship of last week’s Ludacris concert and a new student group outreach campaign aimed at strengthening the relationship between MSA and other student groups. Issues that S4M is continuing to advocate include the improvement of North Campus transportation efficiency and the ability to use Entree Plus in Angell Hall.
S4M is running a full slate for LSA-SG elections and has candidates running for all but one of the open MSA slots.
DAAP has not slated any candidates for LSA-SG but has chosen to focus exclusively on MSA elections. DAAP’s civil rights-based platform is focused on defending affirmative action and combating racism and sexism.
Rackham student and DAAP member Katie Stenvig said the party is also campaigning to “stop the racist fraud” of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which has been accused of obtaining signatures for a ballot measure that would ban affirmative action in the state under false pretences.
Stenvig cited the passage of an MSA resolution supporting the state Board of Canvassers’ right to investigate whether MCRI’s signatures are legitimate and MSA’s actions in support of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization and the Graduate Employees Organization as two of her party’s most notable achievements.
Collin McGlashen, a Rackham student and director of MSA elections, isn’t projecting a “historically high turnout for this election” but said it is hard to make projections because of irregularities in past elections. This lack of consistency was seen in this year’s spring elections, when the number of voters dropped from 2,153 in last year’s fall elections to only 1,367.
McGlashen acknowledged that this fall’s elections seem less visible, with little competition between the two main parties and less publicity than has been seen in previous years.
McGlashen said the assembly is publicizing elections as much as it has in the past by sending out mass e-mails to students and giving notice in local publications.
But he added that “advertising is usually done by candidates themselves. There is only so much (MSA) can do.”