Our student government ought to be a vibrant intersection of student voices and an advocate for change on campus. The Central Student Government should use its access and influence to improve the lives of students. By uniting student leaders from across campus and pushing to make our university more accessible, CSG can ensure that the leaders and best from all over the world have an equal opportunity to attend, not just those who can most easily afford it. Unfortunately, too many currently in student government substitute speech for action and resolutions for change.
Our campus deserves better, which is why we’re running for president and vice president of Central Student Government.
It’s also why we decided to start the OurMichigan coalition, a diverse group of student leaders who are committed to refocusing the role of student government. We know that CSG can do better because we’ve seen what students can do when they work together to fight for change. Public Policy junior Kevin Mersol-Barg co-founded the Coalition for Tuition Equality, which advocates for greater college accessibility for all Michigan high school graduates. He brought together hundreds of students, faculty and administrators to demonstrate broad support for this new policy. LSA junior Amy Navvab is leading the Open Housing Initiative. Under her direction, the initiative worked successfully with the University to expand housing options for transgender and gender non-conforming students, ensuring more students a safe and welcoming living experience on campus.
These experiences have motivated us to run for president and vice president of CSG. Having worked in grassroots campaigns during our time at the University, we see the potential of CSG and, more importantly, we see the ways in which CSG falls short. One area where CSG has failed to act is in promoting a more affordable college experience. As student body president and vice-president, we will work with students and fight to ensure that the University is more accessible.
First, we will stand strongly against further tuition hikes. Unlike the past several CSG administrations, however, we will go beyond rhetoric by building a coalition of concerned students and student organizations to amplify our message. We know how to unite student leaders across campus to create change, and we know how to make administrators listen.
But combating rising tuition, while important, is not enough; we must work to ensure that college life is more affordable as well. Students struggle to afford the necessities of attending college. Textbook costs are climbing, food prices are eating away at disposable income and housing options remain out of reach for many. Students ought to have a role in making our city an affordable place to live, and we need a student government that will bring students together to amplify our voices.
In order to achieve these goals, CSG needs to change how it operates, a change we know is worth making. But we can’t do that alone. Our work outside of student government tells us that students are only successful when we bring together a wide and diverse array of voices. The perspectives, ideas and talents of students and student organizations enable us to identify creative solutions to immense challenges.
That’s where you come in. We’re looking for passionate leaders who will work hard to make CSG a stronger voice for students. If you’re interested in getting involved or running with us, please e-mail OurMichigan@umich.edu.
We know this work will be difficult. CSG has paid lip service toward meaningful change in the lives of students for too long. Our experience outside of CSG tells us this doesn’t have to be the case. Students and student government have tremendous potential if we can bring people from all over campus together to advocate for one another. While difficult, we know this is a change worth making.