In less than two weeks, the Michigan Student Assembly will be holding its fall elections to fill college vacancies. On Nov. 16 and 17 students will have a choice of who they want to represent them on their assembly. They will decide who will be their voice in arbitration with the University. Since its creation a year and a half ago, MForward has been proud and grateful for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of all students.

So just what is MForward? MForward is more than just a political party — it is a mindset, a way of thinking and an approach to addressing student problems, both big and small, more effectively and creatively than any student party before it. At its core, it is a diverse set of leaders and representatives, bound together by a common goal of both aggressive and progressive policy, a strong ideal of transparency and inclusiveness and a foundation of advocacy for student interests.

MForward has worked hard to continually better the relationship between individual students and the University. Our numerous accomplishments have spoken for that. We have implemented the recently ratified MSA constitution — solidifying three distinct branches and bringing greater efficiency to the structure of MSA. In a collaborative effort with other student organizations, we have worked toward making open housing a reality and creating University policies that are more accommodating and fair to transgender and gender non-conforming students. We have also taken our advocacy abroad and fought for student interests in Lansing and Washington D.C. in collaboration with the Student Association of Michigan and other organizations.

But MForward doesn’t confine itself either. We work to address every spectrum and range of student issues. Under MForward’s leadership, student organizations have not only been able to sponsor assembly resolutions, but will also see a rolling funding process that encourages creativity and creating convenience for student groups. Dining halls became open Saturday nights, giving more options to cash-strapped students, and Lupe Fiasco was brought to campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Finally, MForward members developed a new MSA website and online petition software at no cost to students.

For this election, we have selected another fantastic slate of candidates who we feel will adequately represent the needs and desires of students across campus and uphold our values of ideas, action and community. We believe these candidates will be a wonderful addition to our current representatives and executives as we continue to enact the actions and reforms promised in March. We’ve also worked diligently to identify candidates who represent students whose voice often goes unheard in student government. For example, for the first time, we will be running a School of Information candidate since the school has not been adequately represented on the assembly in the past.

As you see our candidates campaigning around campus in the coming weeks, I encourage you to stop them and ask them why they are running for a position on the assembly. Start a conversation with them regarding what student government can do for you. Too often, students choose not to actively engage in the activities of their student government, and that is bad for everyone involved. MSA and MForward grow stronger together with the constant feedback of students across campus.

While more issues lie ahead, most importantly, MForward sees solutions to these as well. We want to work with campus leaders and organizations to hear your concerns and your ideas. We want to make sure that the innovative ideas from our students and our candidates are acted upon and realized and that the Michigan Student Assembly isn’t a useless or ineffective institution. With your help and your vote this month, MForward will continue to make the University of Michigan a stronger, better community.

Sean Walser is the MForward chair.

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