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March 21, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-21

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4A - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C l e 4R17C4tgan at

OurMichigan is your Michigan

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Vote OurMichigan
Mersol-Barg and Navvab stand for social justice
nlike previous years, this year's Central Student Government
elections are hotly contested with many deserving candidates
pushing admirable platforms. There are six pairs of presiden-
tial and vice presidential candidates on the ballot this year - each rep-
resenting a myriad of political parties, or no party at all. Whether it's
engaging students through social media, emphasizing social justice,
improving CSG's funding process or focusing on student issues such
as medical amnesty and off-campus housing rights, the candidates all
have compelling visions and each offer something unique to students.
Ultimately, the commitment to social justice of the OurMichigan party
stands out the most.

Michigan's fight song has a verse that includes the
phrase "leaders and the best," and right after we sing it
we shout "Go Blue." Everything about the University of
Michigan teaches us the importance of leadership and
doing our best. We are encouraged to volunteer and give
back to our community. That's why I'm running for presi-
dent of the Central Student Government as part of the
OurMichigan ticket, which envisions CSG as an inclu-
sive and active advocate for students. When you see
the posters and flyers around campus you may wonder,
"does it make a difference who leads student govern-
ment?" Yes, there is a difference between the various
candidates and parties, and let me voice some of our-
Michigan's goals and strategies.
Too often people use the word leadership in affilia-
tion with ideas of power, dominance, or control. In auni-
versity based on a legacy of collective change, activism
and innovation, we in OurMichigan strongly believe in
encouraging leadership as a form of empowerment and
community building. Our platform reflects this commit-
ment through its goals of increasing accessibility, sup-
porting coalitions and providing sustainable avenues for
student engagement.
We must address the high cost of being a student in
Ann Arbor. The financial challenges facedby current and
prospective students threaten our educational opportu-
nities and can diminish the diversity of our student body.
Lack of money can deny students enrollment or heavily
constrain their options for campus activities. How can
students volunteer or be active members in the campus
community when we struggle to pay for tuition, rent and
food with extremely limited funds? Under my adminis-
tration, CSG will answer this question in part by setting
up a University funded food bank. This will help support
students in need. Right now, the University doesn't have
a resource that supports its students with basic living
needs. OurMichigan believes that CSG can do more to
help students with financial hardship.
OurMichigan would like to create a strong advo-
cacy coalition against tuition hikes and in support of
increases in financial aid. We will continue our work
for tuition equality while simultaneously creating
safe spaces in residence halls and campus gathering
locations. This can improve accessibility and security
for our diverse community. We believe CSG can help
implement policies for the recruitment and retention
of all underrepresented communities. With tuition

equality, more financial aid and less drastic tuition
increases, the University can improve its student body
diversity and acceptance rate of lower income students.
Members of my party seek to facilitate leadership
through the process of building coalitions around vital
progressive movements on campus. All student orga-
nizations on campus dedicate their work to effecting
powerful change. Sometimes the visions they commit
resources to overlap with the visions of others. Rather
than work against one another or spend time and money
redundantly, let's find ways to better work together.
OurMichigan understands that CSG can serve as a
platform for collaboration in order to encourage and
strengthen the passionate endeavors of individual stu-
dents or groups. We can create forums for inter-orga-
nizational discussions as well as connect students to
faculty, administrators and the public through town
hall meetings. Collaboration is the most efficacious
strategy for students to create change on campus with
implications that will echo throughout local, state and
national communities.
Corresponding to our emphasis on bringingstudents
together from all walks of life, OurMichigan hopes to
transform CSG into a direct extension of all forms of
student voice and interests. Understanding more of the
challenges and goals from different campus communi-
ties will allow us to use our resources to bridge the gap
between them.
In general, we want to connect CSG to as many
students as possible. Apart from the listening tours,
we will also create a simple, web-based application
so students can more easily get funding for campus
events and projects. Our inclusive approach will be
easily accessible and user-friendly. Through this,
we will improve communication between campus
administrators, CSG and all those whom we represent
in order to facilitate a more open and representative
If you support our vision for leadership, please visit
vote.umich.edu to vote for me, vice-presidential candi-
date Amy Navvab and representative candidates from
OurMichigan. Each vote moves CSG closer to a more
inclusive and considerate resource for all student lead-
ers to add their voice.
Kevin Mersol-Barg is running for Central Student
Government president with the OurMichigan party.

Unlike previous years, this year's Central
Student Government elections are hotly con-
tested with many deserving candidates push-
ing admirable platforms. There are six pairs of
presidential and vice presidential candidates
on the ballot this year - each representing a
myriad of political parties, or no party at all.
Whether it's engaging students through social
media, emphasizing social justice, improving
CSG's funding process or focusing on student
issues such as medical amnesty and off-cam-
pus housing rights, the candidates all have
compelling visions and each offer something
unique to students. Ultimately, the OurMichi-
gan party commitment to social justice of the
OurMichigan stands out the most.
The University has largely been defined
by the activism of its students in the past.
From the initiative to form the Peace Corps
to the large number of University students
in organizations such as Teach for America,
social justice and activism are an integral
part ofthe' University's culture and iden-
tity. OurMichigan emphasizes social justice,
awareness and activism in its platform. It is
this commitment to social justice that make
Mersol-Barg and Navaab well-suited to be
the face of the student body. OurMichigan's
platform focuses on reaching out to under-
represented student groups to give them a
voice in student government.
OurMichigan highlights issues such as
tuition equality, minority retention and mak-
ing college more accessible and affordable to
all students. OurMichigan envisions a coali-
tion based government, where students at the
grassroots level are able to organize and push
relevant policies for students. The party pro-
poses solid initiatives such as creating a food
bank to aid financially strapped college stu-
dents and implementing a student leadership
trainingtoenhance the University's reputation
as the "leaders and the best."
Though OurMichigan has a promising vision
for social justice, its platform appeals to a con-
centrated group. If elected, the party should
also work to incorporate other student inter-
ests into studentcgovernment. Mersol-Barg and
Navvab should draw on the platforms of their
counterparts as well - ideas such as making
CSG more pertinent to all studentsbyengaging
them through social media. OurMichigan will
have to work to ensure all students are involved

so CSG becomes relevant in routine campus
Each of the other candidates have unique
strengths and impressive plans for campus
improvement - ideas thatcshouldn't go without
mention. MForward presented a comprehen-
sive platform focusing on medical amnesty,
financial transparency and making students
aware of off-campus housing rights. However,
the inner-party politicsthat defined the party's
nominating process are a cause for hesitation.
YouMICH highlighted the importance
of making it easier for student groups to get
funding and proposed streamlining the finan-
cial aid process. CSG presidential candidate
Shreya Singh's work with revampingthe fund-
ing application is a testament to her ability to
make this happen. Overall, YouMICH pres-
ents realistic and pragmatic goals, goals that
could easily be achieved and are needed for the
University. But, the focus of their platform is
extremely specific and doesn't include a broad
visionto expand CSG's role to anything beyond
what it already does.
Independent candidates Manish Parikh and
Omar Hashwi stressed the need to use social
media to reach out to students and make CSG
a viable presence in students' lives. Their use of
memes to advertise their campaign reinforces
their ability to appeal to the student body. They
also proposed adding a polling commission to
CSG that would collect student opinions on
campus affairs. Their focus on representing
students along with their creativity, energy
and vigor is commendable. However, they lack
concrete plans to implement their ideas. The
fact that they don't have a focused vision raises
concerns about how many of their policies will
be achievable in a year.
This year's CSG elections present students
with a tough decision. There are numerous
candidates, all of whom are passionate about
the University and bring innovative platforms
to the table. What separates OurMichigan's
platform from the others is its commitment to
make CSG relevant for students that don't cur-
rently have a significant voice in student gov-
ernment by giving a platform to social justice
issues that define the identity ofthis institution.
For this year's election, The Michigan Dai-
ly's editorial board endorses KEVIN MER-
president and vice president.


Moving MForward

As the president of the University's Engineering
Council, I have been able to view the Central Student
Government with a unique outside perspective. I have
watched as MForward transitioned CSG from an orga-
nization that focuses merely on political posturing to
one that successfully advocates for students at the Uni-
versity, local and state level. In March 2010, MForward
formed promising big changes to campus - and back
then, as is happening today, naysayers said that student
government at the University was powerless. Instead
of focusing on bettering this University for decades
to come, it should provide "tangible" programs and
events for students.
Since its formation two years ago, MForward has
delivered on its promises. Under former student
body President Chris Armstrong, the organization
successfully implemented a gender-neutral option
in University Housing. Under the direction of Presi-
dent DeAndree Watson, state appropriations to the
University increased for the first time in more than a
decade as a result of extensive lobbying efforts in Lan-
sing through the Student Association of Michigan. But
MForward hasn't restricted itself to these large issues
- small programs and changes have also been part of
the MForward platform. For example, forthe first time
in years, students can again enjoy a meal in the resi-
dence halls on Saturday night. In addition, CSG hosted
a tailgate before the Notre Dame night game last fall
that attracted more than 8,000 students and greatly
reduced the number of hospital visits due to alcohol
poisoning as compared to other football Saturdays.
I am confident that Aditya Sathi, Louis Mirante and
the entire MForward slate will continue to deliver
promising changes to students. For example, con-
sider Sathi's work on a medical amnesty policy that
would eliminate the risk of receiving Minor in Pos-
session of Alcohol charges when emergency services
are requested for an alcohol-related incident. This
program encourages students to contact emergency
services when necessary and has been proven to save
lives at other universities. Thanks to the hard work of
Sathi and others in MForward, a bill implementing this
policy has passed in the Michigan House of Represen-
tatives and is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Members will also work to establish greater student

representation on University decision-making com-
mittees, including the University's Board of Regents.
While opponents of change and greater student repre-
sentation say this is impossible and requires an amend-
ment to the state constitution, they are wrong. In fact,
Wayne State University and Michigan State University
both provide student representation on their govern-
ing boards and the same constitutional provisions bind
them. Gaining greater representation for students is
possible, and under MForward it will get done.
MForward members believe that student govern-
ment must accomplish small goals as well. They will
work with other campus organizations to implement
a bike share program on campus to provide public-
access bikes to students. The CSG website has the
ability to bring students and student government
closer together by informing students what represen-
tatives are working on and by publicizing how CSG
funds are utilized. Shreya Singh, current treasurer
of CSG and youMICH presidential candidate, did not
put CSG financial information online despite multiple
requests. Sathi and Mirante will make sure that the
campus community can find out what CSG does with
student money by making the information available
Some parties will have you believe that CSG must
become smaller and less significant. They say they
want student government to be more "pragmatic," but
this is only a code word for unimaginative and unin-
spired. I am proud to be part of an impressive group
of organizations and leaders that oppose this narrow
view and endorse MForward and their vision for a stu-
dent government that can promote big, lasting change,
just as it has already done. MForward has been sup-
ported by an incredibly impressive list of leaders
including Denard Robinson, Jay Gage and Kevin Tatu-
lyan, the president and vice president of the Student
Association of Michigan. If you believe that student
government shouldn't confine itself to a narrow set
of issues, take 60 seconds to log on to vote.umich.edu
today or tomorrow and vote for MForward's impres-
sive slate of student leaders.
Ryan Roberts is the president of the University of Michigan
Engineering Council and a junior in the College of Engineering.


Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner

As University students, we
have apowerful voice
In the March 18 viewpoint entitled, "Prag-
matic Goals for CSG", Michael Budros - vice
chair of CSG's Student Organization Funding
Commission - made the case for why you-
MICH should be elected as the representatives
and leaders of our student body while simul-
taneously offending an important part of that
community. He wrote: "Nor should we expect
our student leaders to be able to overturn
decades of legal and legislative precedents to
offer illegal immigrants in-state tuition."
As formerly undocumented immigrants and
student activists, we were personally offended
by his use of the "I" word, a racially charged
slur used to dehumanize an entire population
in our country, and by his undermining of the
work accomplished bythe Coalition for Tuition
We have both spoken on behalf of the coali-
tion, personally addressing the University's
Board of Regents at its past two meetings. And
the regents were receptive to our message.
Regent Julia Darlow (D-Ann Arbor) addition-

ally asked Provost Philip Hanlon to provide
them with more information regarding our
We recognize that as individual students
we have a powerful voice and that we can ini-
tiate change on this campus. Our university
has a long and vibrant legacy of social change
and activism, and we seek to continue it. We
believe that tuition equality can and will hap-
pen at the University, and we know that the
support offered by the current CSG adminis-
tration has been instrumental to the success
of our movement. Conscious of his agency as
a CSG representative, the coalition's founder
and OurMichigan presidential candidate,
Kevin Mersol-Barg strategically utilized the
resources available to him through such posi-
tion in order to bring this issue to the eyes of
It is obvious to us and students on this cam-
pus that this is the kind of change we need in
Central Student Government. As candidates
with OurMichigan, if elected, we pledge to con-
tinue advocating for meaningful change.
LuzMeza is anLSA junior and DanielMorales
is an LSA freshman. Both are running for CSG
representative with the OurMichigan party.

.#CSGelections #studentgoverment


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