The Evening Look Guide to the Spring 2021 Student Elections

Last year, we published our first-ever guide to Michigan State’s student elections. Since we had a 100% success rate on our endorsements last year, we figured we should apply our powers on a broader scale this time around. With the entire ASMSU General Assembly, two student taxes and more on the ballot this year, we wanted to cover as much as we could. Although the UACOR tax vote and RHA constitutional amendments are a bit beyond the scope of what we were able to cover given our limited turnaround time, we’d like to keep people informed about as much as we can before voting starts on March 29. Without further ado, here are our stances on this year’s biggest ballot items:

Student Taxes

Two recurring student taxes are up for a renewal vote this year; the FM radio tax and the RHA tax. The radio tax is $3 per student, while the RHA tax is $25 from every student living on-campus. The former funds radio and online content from student-run Impact 89FM; the latter funds the Residence Halls Association’s services and events, along with residence hall governments and neighborhood caucuses, which allow for specific advocacy for on-campus students. 

We recommend you vote yes on both taxes. Although certain conservative figures on campus like to grandstand about how these are needless expenses for free handouts, it’s important to note that these taxes combined equal 0.2% of in-state tuition. It’s next to nothing compared to what you get for the tax (quality music and reporting, plus a governing body for on-campus students).

ASMSU General Assembly Endorsements

We reached out to 22 of the 24 listed candidates for ASMSU General Assembly, as well as two write-in candidates from James Madison College, and asked them to provide some key points from their campaign platforms so that we could offer endorsements. We received 14 responses from candidates in eight different colleges. Of those, here are those who we have chosen to endorse in the upcoming elections. 

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (3 seats)

Blake Lajiness 

Lajiness is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability and political science who has been a leading voice for environmental policy in the General Assembly. He is the only CANR representative running for reelection. In the current session of ASMSU, he has worked to advance a bill advocating for MSU to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050. Other policies he is advocating for include getting MSU to declare a climate emergency, implementing a recycling program for off-campus housing, and advocating for increasing the university’s use of sustainable energy.

College of Arts and Letters (2 seats)

Carl Grondin

Grondin is currently the only representative from the College of Arts and Letters. He originally ran in order to better support the mental health of the undergraduate students on campus. To that end, he has advocated for more mental health days during the year and more inclusivity in the RCPD program. In addition, he also has made priorities of Michigan State’s divestment from fossil fuels, making East Lansing a sanctuary city, and a greater emphasis on representing all voices on Michigan State’s campus. 

Case DeKoning

A double-major in English and Theatre, Case is the Co-Head of the Dept. of Theater’s Premier Improv Troupe, After School Special, as well as the Vice President of MSU’s Chapter of the National Council of Teachers of English. Inspired by the desire to help change the 5th year internship program for Secondary Education,  Case aims to bring more opportunities for theater students around campus to perform, crew, and stage manage in. Alongside this, he also wants to prioritize better networking and advertising opportunities to increase publicity for the field.

College of Communication Arts and Sciences (3 seats)

Maxim Jenkins

Jenkins is a journalism major hailing from Metro Detroit. Jenkins was inspired to run as an advocate for students in a variety of ways that we are excited about, particularly considering how COVID-19 has affected us. He wants to reexamine our ‘wellness’ days and bring back spring break as we know it, and lobby the administration to put more investment into celebrating diversity on campus. In addition, Jenkins is concerned with University compliance with RVSM/SARV matters and with amplifying student athletes’ efforts to receive fair compensation for their labor and profit off their likeness. 

College of Engineering (3 seats)

Ishwari Kapale

Ishwari is a freshman from India who is majoring in computer science. She is running on advocating for increased representation for international students in internships and co-ops, pairing students with career mentors to help prepare students for the job market, and making CAPS and the Center for Survivors more accessible to students. 

James Madison College (2 seats)

Shaurya Pandya (write-in)

Pandya is a current sophomore in James Madison. In terms of a platform, Pandya places student mental health at the top of his agenda. This means expanding resources to CAPS, sanctioning all assignments from mental health days, and implementing more protective standards for students who wish for extensions on their assignments. Pandya also applies this to more broad academic standards, such as keeping the Pass/Fail grading option in 2021, as well as testing more comprehensively to strip away at any prerequisites that could potentially be redundant for students in some fields. Aside from this, Pandya also supports re-introducing the MSU swim and dive team, as well as expanding resources for sexual assault awareness.

Lyman Briggs College (2 seats)

Rana Omar

Omar is a sophomore in Lyman Briggs. She is running on a platform of increasing diversity in student leadership, given her experience as part of the Refugee Development Center and the Refugees Outreach Collective. She also wants to prioritize student health by advocating for additional break days for students.

College of Natural Science (3 seats)

Olivia Triltsch

Triltsch is one of two incumbent representatives from the College of Natural Sciences, and is majoring in zoology with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Disease Ecology. Her policy proposals include fixing broken street lights on campus to ensure safety, making more campus restrooms inclusive to all people, and focusing resources into renewable energy projects. She also emphasizes a focus on valuing each student’s voice equally and opening up ASMSU to more public comments, and further being accountable to those they serve. Finally, she advocates for professors to use the same classroom platforms, and that those platforms be free.

Cynthia Sridhar

Sridhar is the second incumbent in the College of Natural Sciences, and she is a sociology major. One of her biggest goals is to get students more involved with their student government, and she plans to do that by having town halls with the Natural Science students and their representatives. She is also concerned with the expensive and numerous applications used by professors in their classes, and would like to bring those costs down for students. Finally, Sridhar will advocate for providing free menstrual products on campus. 

Noel Sheffer

Sheffer is a junior who is a human biology major and a pharmacology and toxicology minor. He is running on a similar agenda to Sridhar and Triltsch. First, he proposes a ‘Women in STEM’ group in order to provide more resources for them, as well as continuing the “pass/fail” option for students into next year. He also will advocate for more renewable energy solutions on campus and will lobby the university to be prepared to vaccinate students when they become available. Finally, he is proposing more support groups due to the unfortunate persistence of hate crimes in the United States. Sheffer also plans to make himself accessible to his constituents through town halls available to Natural Science students. 

College of Social Science (2 seats)

Julian Trevino

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Trevino is a first-generation Mexican American and first-generation college student currently majoring in Political Science Pre Law with minors in French, International Development, and Law Justice & Public Policy. Julian also currently holds a Social Science seat within ASMSU as well as is active in various campus organizations and committees. For policies, he wants to prioritize DEI, transparency within the college, sustainability and affordability. Some of his goals for the next semester include advocating for MSU to declare itself a sanctuary city, incorporating more languages into the school’s websites and subsequent important documents, as well as improving college affordability and aid for lower-middle income families and diversifying the cafeterias’ dining options to better accommodate religious communities. 

Devin Woodruff

Woodruff is currently a sophomore pursuing a degree in Political Science. He currently serves as a Social Science representative on the ASMSU body after being elected during last fall’s special election. His campaign focuses on university accountability for survivors as well as increasing transparency within the college and strengthening the school’s Diversity and Inclusion standards. Devin also mentioned his want to prioritize students’ mental health, advocating for more affordable education alongside efforts to stop another tuition hike, and bolstering the university’s anti-discrimination policies to better reflect the values of our community.

Just Say No:

Jack Harrison, College of Communication Arts and Sciences

This is Jack’s second year in this “anti-endorsement” section. He’s better than his fellow conservative Anthony (see below) by virtue of his prior student government experience, but we still don’t recommend voting for him.

Anthony Barash, College of Social Science

Anthony is the other half of the small conservative slate running for ASMSU this year. Unlike Harrison, who has at least been a rep, Anthony is a contributor for The Morning Watch, and we cannot endorse anyone who affiliates themselves with Sergei Kelley and his crusade against the specter of ASMSU wokeness. We believe that you should reelect Reps. Trevino and Woodruff instead.

Polls open at 7 AM on March 29 and close at 11:59 PM on April 4. Cast your vote HERE.

-The Evening Look Team

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