CSG Elections: eMerge and Movement's Mental Health Policies

Central Student Government elections are now in full swing and the two main parties, Movement and eMerge, have been campaigning day and night. When we first looked into the two parties, it was difficult to find much information regarding their mental health policies so we reached out to both to learn a bit more about what they hope to accomplish and their plans to improve mental health and access to mental health-related resources on campus.

When Movement president Evan Rosen was asked to comment on his party’s mental health policies, he emphasized that “the battle against mental health is not an easy one.” He went on to explain that Movement has “an entire pillar of ideas” related to mental health on their platform. Their website states that Movement seeks to improve mental health resources on campus and answer the question, “Why are so many Wolverines seeking help regarding their mental health?” They have three main points they believe will help “attack the problem at the source.” First, they seek to help students transition from high school to college and generally navigate college life through their “4 Years Campaign Initiative”, which they describe as “a university sponsored mission to teach students how to maximize their 4 years here on campus.” Second, they want to offer financial advising on top of academic advising to help with stress for “those who meet certain qualifications.” However, on their website, they are unclear about what these qualifications would be. Finally, they want to hold an annual campus-wide event called “Mental Health Wake Up” in which current students, former students, and guest speakers would be “geared towards reminding the community that we all have hardships and struggles throughout our time here.”

When eMerge was contacted regarding their mental health plans, communications director Cassandra Fields stated that “often, mental health is used as a buzzword, but this year we wanted to offer tangible policy points that focus on improving mental health.” As many students with testing accommodations are aware, there is only one testing accommodations center on campus. eMerge hopes to add not only another testing location to Central Campus but one on North Campus as well so all Wolverines have access to the proper test-taking environment. Another testing reform that eMerge hopes to put into effect is reducing the maximum number of exams a student can take per day. Cassandra explained, “the current policy states that if a student has 4 exams in one day, they may petition to bring this number down to 3. eMerge seeks to bring this number down to 3, so that students can petition to only take a maximum of 2 exams in a day.” The policy’s goal is to relieve some of the academic pressure that students feel daily and allow students to spend more time on their own well-being. eMerge also acknowledges the importance of giving students a variety of available study spaces around exam times. During midterms and finals, eMerge plans to open up the ballrooms in both the Union and the League to ensure all students have adequate space to study. Additionally, they hope to install wifi on the diag to add an outdoor study spot, allowing students to enjoy Michigan’s beauty when the weather is warmer. On top of all these new plans, eMerge will continue to support CSG’s Mental Health Taskforce to implement other solutions this coming year.

The wording Movement uses throughout its platform on mental health is worrisome. Their language not only shows a lack of knowledge about mental health but also devalues the unfortunate experiences of those with mental illnesses. Yes, we “all have hardships and struggles throughout our time here”, but a large part of the problem is that there are specific individuals with diagnosable mental illnesses that don’t know where to turn. People don’t need a reminder about how hard life, and specifically how hard life at a school like Michigan, can be; people need more resources to combat real issues that they’re going through. Many are also very confused by the financial counseling part of their platform. Who are the people that “meet certain qualifications” and how are such qualifications decided? Furthermore, an annual mental health event is not the worst idea, but this problem cannot be solved by one annual event. We need institutional change that is present day in and day out on campus. Their mental health platform reeks of a group of people that recognize this as an important issue to a chunk of the student body but fail to grasp any true understanding of the problem. eMerge, on the other hand, makes clear their understanding of the complex issue that is mental health through very specific policies and initiatives. For example, testing accommodations are an issue that many students come across but year after year no change is made, be it adding new testing accommodation centers or making the process of receiving accommodations more well-known. By laying out a concrete, detailed plan to improve access to test accommodations, eMerge makes their commitment to individuals needing mental health assistance crystal clear. Additionally, some of their smaller goals, such as wifi on the diag, show a clear understanding of the complexities of mental health, since even the little things such as having access to an outdoor study area can vastly improve someone’s mood. Students can vote at vote.umich.edu and polls close at midnight on March 23rd.

Joseph FraleyComment