After claiming the majority of open seats on the Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student Government last term, the Students First Party is looking to retain its control over student government in this week’s elections.
“Students First picks people from different communities so they can be together and express the viewpoints of all students on campus,” Students First MSA presidential candidate Angela Galardi said. “I think that’s why there’s been so much success.”
Currently, Students First holds the majority of committee chair positions on MSA and has more student representatives than any other party in student government – a type of clout that will most likely carry over into the next term, Galardi said.
“All these things we’ve been campaigning on – we’re actually doing them now,” Galardi said. “I think the students are realizing that, so they’re voting for Students First.”
Representatives said that in the most recent term, Students First leaders have sponsored a variety of resolutions to improve student life at the University. Such ongoing projects have sought to improve student group outreach, move back Spring Break a week later during the winter term and obtain $5 million from the University Board of Regents to revamp Recreational Sports facilities.
“Students First has done amazing things in the assembly this last year,” Galardi said. “Everyone always knows of student government, but I think now more than ever people know what it’s doing for them.”
In addition to focusing on campus life improvements, Students First leaders have also sponsored resolutions supporting University admissions policies and encouraging the federal government to seek diplomatic relations with Iraq.
Although candidates of the University Party contend these resolutions misrepresented student views, Students First candidates said the action accomplished by the resolutions was unbiased – particularly in the legislation defending race-conscious admissions.
“That resolution that was passed was open for anyone to participate,” MSA vice-presidential candidate Monique Perry said, referring to a clause of the resolution supporting nonpartisan educational activities about affirmative action. “If you look at the accomplishments and the things we’ve done, we’ve done so much more than these two resolutions.”
Reaffirming Perry’s statements, LSA-SG presidential candidate David Matz – a former Blue Party member – said he ultimately decided to campaign for Students First because its supporters represented all moods of student activism.
“I saw that Students First had so many people from all over the place that work together well – that constructively represented their groups,” Matz said. “Students First has managed to bring them all together for many different issues.”
According to the party’s website, current Students First representatives hold memberships to nine academic societies, eight cultural groups, seven community service groups and three environmental organizations. Representatives also belong to 15 fraternities and sororities.
Although Students First members tout a complex party agenda, some candidates said their docket is not dissimilar from other parties’ platforms.
Despite several unique ideas, including the addition of bus routes to Central Campus and increased counseling services to off-campus tenants, some platform items such as relaxing student access to residence halls and expanding campus wireless Internet are shared by Students First and the University Party.
But Students First candidates said the flexibility of their platform separates Students First from other parties.
“The things we have in common (with other parties) are things we agree on, like pushing Spring Break forward and financial aid reform,” MSA representative candidate Rachel Fisher said. “But each (Students First) candidate can develop their own specific platform for things they’re working on, or good at working on.”