In an election held Friday night, MForward selected LSA junior Aditya Sathi as its candidate for president of the Central Student Government for the next academic year.
Sathi, who is currently vice speaker of the CSG assembly, ran against four other candidates and will run in the campus-wide elections next month on a platform of opposing tuition increases, bringing medical amnesty to campus and developing student advocacy throughout the state.
“I’m not doing this for the title … This is really my opportunity to give back what the University of Michigan has given me,” Sathi said.
Engineering senior Zeid El-Kilani, vice chair of MForward, stressed that the platform is not final and the nomination was important in opening a dialogue on key issues facing students.
“We had five different candidates up there who all had really good ideas and (students) will see some of the great ideas that we heard (Friday night),” El-Kilani said. “When (the platform) comes out, I think it will be a strong, intelligent and aggressive platform.”
Chief political strategist Hari Vutukuru said Sathi can appeal to a wide breadth of students.
“I’m extremely satisfied and proud that our members today chose someone that represents the ideals and values of our party,” Vutukuru said.
The nomination voting, which eliminates candidates that receive the lowest number of votes until one receives a majority, lasted only one round as Sathi claimed a majority in the first round.
CSG Treasurer Shreya Singh, LSA Assembly Representative Kevin Mersol-Barg, LSA Assembly Representative Omar Hashwi and College of Engineering Assembly Representative Crissie Zuchora also ran for MForward’s nomination.
While only one nominee was able to emerge as the candidate for MForward, Walser said the party remained united.
“(The other nominees were) probably disappointed,” Walser said. “But I think everyone recognizes Aditya is a great leader.”
Currently, none of the four other nominees will run for president with a different party. Singh said despite her personal loss, she is looking forward to Aditya’s run for president.
“Aditya will be a great choice for our presidential nominee,” Singh said. “I think the nomination process was very fair … (MForward) selected a good candidate.”
MForward Party Chairman Sean Walser said Sathi’s strong victory is a sign of the party’s strength.
“The fact that he won a majority with five candidates is indicative of a broad base of support in the party and indicative of the great work Aditya has done,” Walser said.
The last two presidents of CSG, previously known as Michigan Student Assembly, have come from MForward, but this is the first time in MForward’s two-year existence that more than one candidate went after the party’s presidential nominee.
Walser said the MForward candidate for vice president will be announced later this week, adding that the vice president may potentially be an individual outside of student government. Brendan Campbell, the CSG vice president, was the chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats before he became vice president, El-Kilani noted.
Walser and the other members of Sathi’s election team are currently unaware of any other candidates running for president, but they expect to face a candidate from the Defend Affirmative Action Party and possibly a reprise of the ever-popular fictional candidate.
Last year, the Every Three Weekly developed the fictional candidate Karlos Marks, who ran as a write-in candidate. While Marks did not receive as many votes as current CSG President DeAndree Watson, he did win several elections on campus.
Walser said the Marks campaign showed a disconnect with students that MForward hope to overcome this year.
“There are still students that we need to connect with and demonstrate why they should select an actual candidate for president,” Walser said. “(We need to) demonstrate that CSG is actually doing a lot of great work.”
Though the election is almost two full months away, Robert Bowen, Sathi’s campaign manager, said MForward will launch an extensive campaign. According to Bowen, students can expect that he and Sathi will be walking through the residence halls, speaking to student leaders and campaigning on the Diag as a part of the campaign.
Sathi said he began his college experience at Wayne State University where he was also a member of student government. Upon running for the student senate at WSU, Sathi said he decided his plan to study medicine was no longer his dream.
“I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to service,” Sathi said. “I had this moment where I realized I can’t be pre-med.”
Sathi said he was a part of a program at WSU through which he received full tuition and was ensured acceptance into WSU’s medical school before ultimately deciding the medical field was not in his plans.
“It was hard to say no to that program,” he said.
Ultimately, Sathi said he believed a degree from the University of Michigan would be the best way to fulfill his goals. He is majoring in political science, with a minor in community action from the School of Social Work.
By the time Sathi decided to transfer, he was the student body vice president at WSU, a role he says is similar to his current post as vice speaker in the CSG assembly. With plans to transfer, Sathi decided to step down because it would be “unfair” for him to continue serving while knowing that he would not fulfill his term.
Sathi instead returned to being a student senator for the remainder of his time at WSU. During his time at WSU, Sathi said he worked on programs that established a 24-hour library and improved lighting in neighborhoods around campus.
Arriving at the University of Michigan for the winter 2011 term, Sathi quickly became involved with student government on campus, but said it was not particularly easy to secure a position.
Sathi applied to fill an opening in the Student Assembly through LSA, but he was not selected. Instead of representing LSA in the Michigan Student Assembly, Sathi said he unknowingly became an associate representative in LSA Student Government.
“Little did I know that if you attend three meetings, you become an associate representative and you have your own placard,” he said.
Members of LSA Student Government encouraged him to attend MSA meetings, Sathi said. By March, Sathi ran with MForward for the same seat for which he had unsuccessfully applied before. Being new on campus made the election difficult, but Sathi said he met this challenge head-on.
“I was very interested and passionate about being involved,” he said.
Sathi was elected a representative before serving as vice speaker of the CSG assembly. During his time on student government at the University, Sathi has worked on several projects including ongoing attempts to bring medical amnesty to the campus and the promotion of more involvement with the Student Association of Michigan — a collaboration of student governments from universities within the state that advocates for student issues.
Sathi has also served as the recruitment director of MForward and vice chair of the CSG External Relations Commission.
As chair of the ERC, Walser is responsible for publicizing the election to students and also plans to be strongly involved in Sathi’s campaign, adding that he will not let these two positions overlap.
“I love working with the ERC stuff, but when I sit down for MForward stuff I work on MForward,” he said. “I don’t want my work in ERC to be driven by my work in MForward or vice versa.”