It’s done! The dreaded University of Michigan Central Student Government election season is over and we have a winner: eMerge! Congratulations; I know you all worked very hard and wanted this more than anything you’ve wanted thus far in your campus careers. Your campaign was astounding and historical, and I do not want to discredit your win in any way whatsoever, but this campus owes an apology to LSA junior Evan Rosen, who ran for president with the Movement Party. Here’s why.

During campaigns, it is more than fair to attack a candidate’s qualifications, platform or ideas. However, those supporting eMerge didn’t do that. For the last two weeks, I’ve seen Rosen’s name defiled. I’ve heard students in my classes, who I don’t know, refer to Rosen as “racist,” “sexist” and other horrendous names I don’t feel comfortable publishing. Not the viral rap video — Rosen himself.

And what was worse? When these comments — and other, similar comments — were raised online, I saw eMerge team members like them. With their big blue profile pictures, I saw virtual endorsements of these kinds of personal attacks. It was the ugliest campus politics I had ever seen. To see people compare Rosen to President Donald Trump was also disheartening and wrong. Rosen’s political beliefs, as demonstrated through the first CSG debate, are very in line with those of eMerge and the Defend Affirmative Action Party. But no, that didn’t fit the narrative that worked for his opponents. So he, by default, had to be evil and Trumpian.

What did Rosen do when faced with these attacks? Any rational person would fight back or defend themselves. However, being the poised person he is, Rosen responded to his team by saying in a GroupMe message to the Movement team: 

“Hey guys: real quick I want to make it clear in here that anyone who was offended by our video absolutely has the right to be,” he wrote. “While we may not share their reaction, we have no right to tell them what to feel, ever, period. We haven’t taken the video down yet because I think it’s doing more good for this community than it is bad. That doesn’t mean these people’s feelings aren’t legitimate. Please keep that in mind, not just as a member of this party, but as a fellow human being. We must always try to understand before we project our beliefs and experiences onto others. And it doesn’t matter how many people it is. Nobody is wrong or right. Everybody is FEELING different things. Remember that. Thank you.”

If it wasn’t clear then, it must be clear now that Rosen is a class act. While you may not like the contents of his video, he eventually showed that he understood where students were coming from and didn’t try to discredit their feelings.

Generally, there was little talk of platforms or ideas, of which Movement had a lot. But to the public eye, there was only that video. A video with the intention of getting more students aware of an election. A video that did just that. To discuss or debate the contents of that video at this point is redundant and irrelevant, but let me make one thing clear: Whether you were offended by it, laughed at it or didn’t understand it, Rosen empathized with you and didn’t try to change your mind. Rosen held his head high the whole time, through attacks, unfair media treatment and even a little bit of possible debate sabotage.

But instead, his opponents decided to paint a false narrative of racism and not respecting the stories and struggles of communities of color. After the video was taken down, the backlash didn’t stop. Apologies didn’t matter and taking the video down didn’t matter, people wanted Rosen to be their “privileged” villain. He could do no right in their eyes.

Michigan, I want you to take a look in the mirror. Is this how we’re going to treat any candidate who comes into CSG and wants to do things differently? Are we going to persecute them in front of the court of public opinion until they are nothing but a pulverized social media disaster? Are we going to keep calling them “dangerous for UM,” as written on a Facebook post by eMerge Party candidate Brittney Williams, a Social Work student, even though they never got the chance to talk about how they planned to bring more diversity to campus? Could Rosen have chosen his words better to be a bit more sensitive? Absolutely. Was criticism of him taken way too far? I believe so.

Rosen deserved to have his ideas talked about. Rosen deserved to debate. Rosen deserved better. Rosen’s name has been tarnished by this campus — and for what? For a CSG election? Rosen tried to right a wrong, but everyone refused to listen since he must be demonized to fit the story. 

Congratulations eMerge: Like I said, I think you all worked very hard for this, and I look forward to you, hopefully, keeping your campaign promises, but please acknowledge that Evan Rosen and the Movement Party represent a wider cross section of the student body that is fed up with the same old CSG that we just re-elected. We, as the University of Michigan, should be approaching the issues raised in this election with a more constructive dialogue — something all parties could have done better. That is not how the Leaders and the Best act. Let’s interact with more respect, because this campaign season showed there is a serious lack of that.

I have many friends in CSG who have asked me, “How do I get more people to respect CSG?” Well, here’s your answer: Respect those who run against you. Respect those who campaign differently than you. Respect people when they try to right their wrongs. Today I am ashamed to be a Wolverine. Not because Movement lost, but because of how they lost. So on behalf of this campus and everyone who won’t say it: I am sorry, Evan Rosen.

Daniel Roth is an LSA sophomore and was a general team member of the Movement party.

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