Some students complain that their current Michigan Student Assembly too often passes resolutions meddling in domestic and foreign affairs. But a new political party appearing on next week’s student government election ballot says on its website that it is “dedicated to bringing government back to tangible, student-related issues” – not national and international politics.
Led by presidential candidate John Clifton and his vice-presidential running mate, Paul Scott, the University Party advocates campus improvements and remaining nonpartisan on political issues like affirmative action and war with Iraq, Internal Party Chairman Michael MacVay said.
“We’re a party who believes we know the scope that’s limited to a student government of any sort,” he said, adding that assembly resolutions – such as one passed in support of University admissions policies last month – have no impact. “I believe (the resolutions are) alienating significant portions of the student population, instead of trying to educate in a more perfect union.”
MacVay added that, if elected, the party will procure funds and space for student forums on any topic, but representatives will abstain from endorsing a specific cause.
“That’s not to say we don’t have passion in our party,” he said. “We just don’t think (resolutions are) the form for it.”
Echoing MacVay’s statements, Clifton said the party will focus its energies on enhancing the University environment by popularizing wireless Internet access, providing free foreign language tutoring and allowing all students to access residence halls at any time.
“What we want to do is to represent each and every of the 38,000 students on this campus, and one way to do this is to focus on issues that affect us everyday,” he said. “Those are the conversations we want to have, not the ones where we send resolutions to Saddam Hussein,” he added, referring to an MSA resolution urging the federal government to pursue diplomatic relations with Iraq.
While U Party candidates pride themselves on an unconventional campaign strategy and party unity, they say the U Party is anything but an “election machine.”
“It is not all about winning, it’s about what’s best for student government,” LSA Student Government presidential candidate Ravi Perry said. “We believe that forging a relationship between student government and student groups is the same relationship we would like to encourage between each other.”
“We want to make sure that we’re still meeting and making sure people are doing their job right,” Clifton said. “That’s a big problem if someone gets elected and doesn’t do anything.”
Eschewing more traditional campaign methods like chalking candidates’ names on sidewalks and handing out flyers, U Party candidates said they personally seek out voters.
As students walked through the Diag yesterday, U party members playing guitars serenaded them with a key platform item – putting a Taco Bell on campus.
“We think that campaigning person-to-person is the best way to educate a voter,” Clifton said, adding that U Party candidates do not post flyers in dorms without student consent. “We’re going to do away with these because we’re putting that publicity on the line to most accurately represent the students.”
In addition to personally engaging constituents, the U Party has also draped four banners across campus and posted campaign videos on their website www.theuparty.com.
Although the U Party is the first body to emerge after the dissolution of the Blue Party, which garnered only two seats on MSA in the last elections, party members said they offer an original agenda.
“There’s former Blues that jumped to Students First (Party) and there’s Blues who have jumped to become one of us,” MacVay said. “But I don’t believe that we fill Blue shoes. We’re just filling a spot on government that needed to be filled.”