Correction appended: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the chair of the Campus Improvement Commission. The current chair is LSA freshman Omar Hashwi.
In an attempt to remedy student problems ranging from erratic wireless Internet connections to poor lighting around campus, the Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student Government have launched campaigns in the last several years to ensure student requests to improve campus life are adequately addressed by the University administration. Student government representatives say their “What to Fix” and “This Sucks” campaigns have been successful in getting students’ concerns heard.
MSA’s Campus Improvement Commission launched its What to Fix campaign about eight years ago, which created an avenue for students to make University officials aware of existing issues in facilities on campus. Campaign initiatives include Saturday night dining in residence halls and extending the hours the Hatcher Graduate Library to be open on Friday evenings.
LSA sophomore Sean Walser, MSA vice speaker and chair of the Campus Improvement Commission, said though the campaign has changed forms throughout the years — moving from written submissions to digital submissions — it has been consistent in making students the focus in advocating for changes at the University.
“The What to Fix campaign allows us to reach out to students, and it’s one way that we get feedback from our constituents regarding what’s going on with campus issues,” Walser said.
Walser, who began work with What to Fix in September 2010, said MSA has been successful advertising the campaign this academic year. MSA representatives have been speaking with students in Mason Hall about campus issues every week this semester and using tactics like distributing wristbands and pens to spread the message.
Last week, MSA members were particularly impressed with student input, having received 120 ideas for campus improvements after promoting the campaign in Mason Hall for three hours, Walser said.
This year, in addition to advocating for Saturday night dining in residence halls, What to Fix has been working to improve wireless Internet connections in Angell Hall auditoriums and to address various issues in the Central Campus Recreation Building and Shapiro Undergraduate Library.
According to Walser, 10 individuals officially work on the What to Fix campaign. However, other members of the assembly participate in What to Fix projects if they are relevant to their respective commissions.
Business senior Alex Serwer, MSA chief of staff and former chair of the Campus Improvement Commission, said MSA and LSA-SG are interested in collaboration efforts for campus-wide improvements based on suggestions the two governments have received.
“We really hope that students utilize this campaign in a way that lets (MSA) know which things are the most important to them so that we can devote our time accordingly,” Serwer said.
In a similar attempt to improve students’ experiences on campus, LSA-SG began the This Sucks campaign as a project of its Student Life Committee about five or six years ago. The student government started the initiative after receiving many complaints about various things on campus, according to LSA junior Brandon Byrd, Student Life Committee chair.
This Sucks allows students to send their complaints directly to LSA-SG executives and committee chairs via e-mail, and the complaints are routed to the appropriate committee within LSA-SG best suited to respond to the issue, Byrd wrote in an e-mail interview.
Byrd wrote that This Sucks is what first attracted him to LSA-SG and that the campaign has grown since he first began working on it during the winter semester of his freshman year. In recent years, LSA-SG began advertising This Sucks through involvement in Diag Days on campus, as well as through e-mails sent to students within the school.
“Last semester, we put on a This Sucks Diag Day where we had a banner that students could write their complaints on, and the response was phenomenal,” Byrd wrote. “A lot of the ideas that were on the banner are now projects that LSA-SG is working on right now.”
Since Byrd first began his work with This Sucks, some of the most notable improvements LSA-SG has made on campus include better lighting in the basements of the Michigan Union and the Michigan League and healthier options for students in dining hall cafés like Ciao Down Pizzeria in West Quad and Victors in Mosher-Jordan residence hall.
“I think what separates This Sucks from other similar e-mail systems is that we keep the students updated with our progress on their issue,” Byrd wrote. “This year This Sucks is looking to expand even more and to take on even more projects.”
In light of several crime alerts on campus in recent months, This Sucks is currently working on a campus lighting initiative, with a specific focus on the area surrounding the bridge near the CCRB. LSA-SG plans to eventually expand the project into a campus-wide initiative, according to Byrd.
Though both campaigns have similar goals, LSA-SG and MSA haven’t joined their respective movements. But according to Byrd, the student governments plan to meet to determine ways they might be able to work together in the future.
LSA senior Kashif Ahmed said he has heard about the student governments’ programs through Facebook but, like several other students, said he doesn’t know much about them. He said he thinks LSA-SG should focus on bathroom maintenance in campus buildings and increasing University bus service at night on weekends. He said the latter is especially important given the recent influx of robberies in the Oxbridge neighborhood.
LSA senior Jerry Ilar said he has yet to give his input through the MSA or LSA-SG campaigns and doesn’t foresee using them in the future since he doesn’t think they have led to changes on campus.
“I haven’t personally used (either of the resources), but I also haven’t really seen any impacts,” Ilar said.
— Daily Staff Reporter Brienne Prusak contributed to this report.