This week’s Central Student Government elections will give students the opportunity to elect the next leader of the University Council, a body made up of student delegates from each individual school at the University.
The council constitutes half of CSG’s legislative branch, complemented by the main assembly. Over the past year UC has met with key administrators, such as University President Mary Sue Coleman, to discuss University issues.
Because the UC is currently only in its second year of operation, it has yet to exercise its full power. For example, although the UC appointed the election director for this year, they have yet to collaborate with student leaders from the various schools on-campus to pass any meaningful resolutions.
Like the U.S. Senate, The vice president of CSG heads the UC. With the potential to effectively shape the responsibilities of the UC, the vice presidential candidates said they are eager and excited to take on the challenge. LSA sophomore Bobby Dishell, youMICH’s vice presidential candidate and current assembly representative, put the council’s reputation rather simply.
“It’s very similar, as I’ve been told, to dealing with a two-year-old,” Dishell said, adding that the UC needs to be more transparent so students and leaders from across campus can better collaborate.
Despite the challenges the UC has faced in the past two years, the candidates seem optimistic that there are ways to better utilize the body.
LSA freshman Ethan Michaeli, the independent vice presidential candidate, says he believes he understands the UC’s problem and hopes to make some changes if elected.
“Right now it’s more of a council that advises the vice president,” Michaeli said. “I’d like to change that role to make them more active.”
LSA junior Jill Clancy, MomentUM’s vice presidential candidate, and LSA junior Hayley Sakwa, forUM’s vice presidential candidate, agreed that the role of the UC needs to evolve in order to be effective.
Specifically, Clancy stated the need for the addition of a diversity council, which would be comprised of student leaders representing minority groups to work with the UC.
All of the vice presidential candidates except for LSA sophomore Chene Karega — the Defend Affirmative Action Party vice presidential candidate who did not respond to a request for comment — also addressed the lack of attendance for the UC. They said with numerous meetings sporting low attendance throughout the past year, whoever takes the reins must address this problem immediately.
The candidates agreed that more administrators need to be present at UC meetings. Though some, such as Coleman, have attended, more are needed to encourage UC members to attend, Clancy said.
“Students feel apprehensive to even go because someone from the administration won’t be there,” she said.
Sakwa echoed these sentiments, adding that the UC is struggling to develop a true vision for what the body should be.
“Having our leaders more equipped to deal with conflict and to manage change would be really helpful for the University as a whole,” Sakwa said.
Another issue the candidates addressed was how to better facilitate not only undergraduate students, but graduate students as well. Though CSG, specifically the UC, at times struggles to connect with graduate students, the candidates all agreed that they would do more to change this.
Considering of the vice presidential candidates are all undergraduates, they all agreed personal relationships would need to be formed in order to reach out and understand the needs of graduate students.
Michaeli especially voiced this sentiment because he said as a freshman he would have numerous years to develop relationships and affect change within CSG.
For now, however, Sakwa thinks the solution might be simple.
“I would bring cookies,” Sakwa said.