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David Schafer and Micah Griggs: newMICH Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

Name: David Schafer

Year: Class of 2017

Major: Peace, Conflict and Human Rights Studies

Hometown: East Brunswick, New Jersey

Fun Fact: I caught a foul ball at a Japanese baseball game when I was 13. It’s my proudest accomplishment. I’m not much of an athlete.


Name: Micah Griggs

Year: Class of 2017

Major: Biopsychology, Cognition, Neuroscience (BCN)

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun Fact: My mom, dad, sister, brother and I all have names that start with M.


Her Campus: How was newMICH formed?

Micah Griggs: David, the people on my team, and I created newMICH because we wanted to transform Central Student Government. David and I are both representatives within the assembly for our school, LSA, and we realized that CSG needed to be inclusive, representative, and productive. Those three things need to happen simultaneously. You cannot have a productive assembly without being representative of all communities on our campus. The people David and I work with realized that, and we have first-hand experience, so that it can be more productive, inclusive, and representative.

David Schafer: I think it was just very organic – coming together based on our ideas, the work that we’ve done and the work that we seek to do on campus.


HC: What kinds of tangible goals do you have for the coming school year, if you were elected? What exactly makes these goals truly tangible?

DS: CSG has a multi-hundred-thousand dollar budget per semester. A lot of what we seek to do can be achieved by utilizing that budget appropriately and adequately. For example, we want to create a leadership scholarship fund so that lower-income students can participate in extra-curricular opportunities. That’s very tangible because it requires money set aside- $400,000 at least, and Central Student Government could easily do that, in addition to the academic scholarship fund to assist students who may struggle to pay for textbooks and coursepacks. Those are just two of the very tangible things that we seek to do, and you can do that, not only with CSG’s budget, but also with CSG’s contacts to administrators, faculty, staff and other students in student organizations.

MG: We also want to establish hydration stations on campus for game days. Having water and snacks available for students is something that we can do with CSG’s budget. Also, having awareness months sponsored by CSG, like Mental Health Awareness Month or Sexual Assault Prevention Month. We can definitely utilize CSG’s budget and making those things very real.


HC: Generally speaking, what makes newMICH’s platform different from competing parties?

MG: Our platform is very specific, it’s very concrete and it’s very actionable. We use the term “tangible,” but a lot of the time we mean “actionable” – these are things that can actually get done. Yes, we want to expand and increase the budgets of CAPS and SAPAC, but we’re specific when we say those things. Within SAPAC, we want to expand training for incoming freshman for consent, bystander intervention, and inclusive language. That’s something very specific that we want to work on doing. We also want to expand the 24/7 crisis hotline to a 24/7 in-person crisis program. This is concrete; these are things we can get done. We know what and we know how [to do this].

DS: Additionally, I think it’s just our priorities. The priorities that we place on inclusivity, productivity, and representation are visible. It’s so important that we have increases in the Maize Rage and in Homecoming, but we’re more interested in focusing on diversity and awareness. These are the problems that people have with the university and with our student government. We seek to transform student government. I think the major difference, in addition to having actionable and tangible goals, is where our priorities lie. I think it’s going to be up to the voters to look at the different platforms and say, “Where should our money go? How should our student government prioritize its upcoming year?”


HC: What sort of qualities are you looking for in a representative candidate for your party?

MG: When looking for a representative, we look for someone who is well-rounded, who has been a student leader on campus or who is passionate about making change. For those incoming freshman who haven’t had the opportunity to be a student leader, but they have their own platform, they have to want to make a change on this campus, they have to want to improve campus climate, they must want to make it representative and they need to want to make CSG productive. We’re just looking for someone who’s overall approachable, friendly, and has a motivation like our own.

DS: I think it all goes back to being dedicated, passionate, and having a vision. I think it’s about coming in and understanding the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing and coming in with some sort of an idea or a platform that you seek to initiate or further during your year in student government. That’s the most important thing to us.


HC: Your site breaks down your proposals into the following categories: Connection, Well-being and Safety, Opportunity, and Student Voice. Which of these categories, if any, resonate with you the most? What actions would you take to combat the issues within this category?

MG: We’re passionate about a lot of those issues on that platform. With me, it would be expanding SAPAC and also increasing minority enrollment. We know affirmative action is illegal at the University. However, we’re taking a different approach to trying to solve those issues on our campus and increasing minority enrollment. On our platform, we have in mind putting a student on the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents does our governing for the university and they do policy making. Having a student on that board, as a non-voting member, can really stress the importance of what students need. They can advocate for student concerns. They’ve done it at Rutgers and Ohio State, so having a student on the board could potentially increase minority enrollment, increase our budget for CAPS and SAPAC, and do a lot of things for the students.

DS: I suppose if I had to pick one thing that personally resonated with me, it would also be Well-being and Safety, but more specifically, mental health awareness advocacy. Just because of my own personal experiences on campus, in addition to the experience of my friends and of the people that I’ve met during my journey on Student Government. One of the things we seek to do is to expand opportunities for faculty training regarding mental health information and knowledge and the appropriate accommodations for students. I’m currently working on a survey with folks from other student organizations to gauge campus climate in this realm, both for students and faculty and get their perspectives on how mental health is addressed in the classroom. In addition to this, we also hope to expand CAPS to North Campus and into some of the residence halls. That’s a hugely important issue to us. On North Campus, there’s only one mental health resource, and it’s the Depression Center. It’s all the way down Plymouth Road. I’ve talked with people at the Depression Center, and I’ve talked with friends and acquaintances on North Campus, and it’s not accessible by foot. It’s extremely difficult and time-consuming to get to the UM Depression Center, there’s not a single resource really available, outside of the embedded counselors at some of the schools for students. I think that’s a hugely important issue, to me at least, and that’s something that we want to address in the upcoming year.


HC: Which of your proposals would be the most difficult to accomplish? How would you plan to combat this?

MG: An increase in minority enrollment and getting a student on the Board of Regents may be the two most difficult ones. While not as tangible, they’re still realistic, and there’s no excuse for us not to fight for it. Student groups on this campus have been fighting for an increase in minority enrollment for years. There are over 43,000 students on this campus, and only 1,800 black students. If we get a student on the Board of Regents, that student can voice and stress how important it is to have onsite assistance at DPS (Detroit Public Schools), how important it is to do outreach and to even stress this to undocumented students- we have the resources here. So, yes, those two things probably would be the most difficult, but it’s no reason for us to be complacent.

DS: I completely agree. I want to stress that I think we seem to have this perception that everything we advocate for needs to be accomplished in the life of our administration. I think some of [what] we seek to do is done with the intention of essentially building the infrastructure for the students in the Class of 2025. Maybe we’ll change something so that the class of 2030 will come here and have a more positive experience than the students who currently exist at the University. So some of our goals may not, and probably will not, be accomplished by the time we graduate in 2017, but that’s not what we seek to do. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we understand that. In addition to that, I think another goal that people have been advocating to change for a couple of years now is [an] increase in funding to both CAPS and SAPAC. That may also be difficult to achieve, but that goes back to the Board of Regents and increasing student voice and presence all throughout the university. For example, Ohio State got a non-voting student on its Board of Regents last year, and that student’s biggest cause was mental health advocacy and awareness. The student pushed and pushed, and ultimately this past year the Ohio State Board of Regents doubled its CAPS budget and added, I believe, 18 new counselors to their center. If Ohio State can do it, then we can do it, obviously. But not only that, it’s the understanding that some of this may not be accomplished this year, but if we can set the groundwork for students who will come after us, that’s so powerful. That’s why we do what we do.


HC: Scenario: you’re elected into these roles with unlimited funds and resources. What would be the first thing you would do?

DS: I would probably open up a satellite CAPS office in Pierpont Commons and then do gradual expansion to the residence halls, so that if students are in the middle of a crisis, they don’t have to wait two or three weeks or have to take the bus down to central campus to go to the Union. If I had all the funding, and if we’re lucky enough to get elected, that’s probably one of the first things, if not the very first thing, I would do.

MG: I would establish the emergency-texting program that we have and the instant messaging [between] students and DPSS. Also, on our platform we have an establishment of community patrol officers, so having that training for students to be community-patrol officers for DPSS.


HC: Do you think it’s better to dream big or to dream realistically? Why?

MG: I think both. I think you have to set goals for yourself, but never limit yourself. That’s what David, our team, and I are doing. We set tangible goals in our platform, but we never limit ourselves. These things can be done.

DS: Someone needs to start the conversation and understand that it may not be accomplished in our lifetime at this university. But, if we can set something in motion for the people who will come five or ten years after us, that is amazing. I think it goes back to the idea that so much of the work we’ll do will impact people we’ll never meet, and that’s the true value, I think, of being involved in a student organization, especially Central Student Government.


HC: What’s your favorite spot on campus?

DS: My favorite spot on campus is easily the Diag. I love the Diag so much, especially when the weather gets nice and you see people there and student organizations start to reappear. I love just chilling on those cinderblocks in the middle of it. That’s my favorite spot, unquestionably.

MG: When the weather is nice, I like Palmer Field. I like to play tennis with friends.


HC: What’s the best course you’ve taken at Michigan?

DS: American Culture 208 with Dr. Bruce Conforth. He’s unbelievable, and his last class lecture changed my entire perception of my time at Michigan. I was lucky enough to get into that class as a freshman. Unbelievable. I don’t want to say what he said just in case Micah wants to take it, and I don’t want to spoil it. But, I still have the card he gives every student at the end of the class in my wallet, and I still carry it around with me two years later.

MG: My freshman year, I took Sociology 389. It’s a project outreach class. I went to a school in Ann Arbor off of Plymouth. I was supposed to go in and help with the art class, but I was really supposed to analyze social identities and how the students interacted with each other, and they were only in 5th grade. That was a learning experience for me, and I had so much fun.


HC: Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced on this campus and how you handled that adversity.

DS: It was a very difficult adjustment for me, coming from high school to college. I only knew one person at the university, and it was just an extremely difficult adjustment because I think I had my standards set too high. That wasn’t for the university, but rather for my adjustment to Michigan. I remember having this conversation with my parents over winter break about whether or not I should transfer, and I ended up filling out three transfer applications. I never sent them, and I actually keep the apps at home with me in New Jersey, so every time I go home it just motivates me to come back to campus and continue the work that I’ve set out for myself. But it was very, very difficult. It was hard because I was doing things I wasn’t passionate about for the sake of doing them, and I was not putting all of my attention and focus into my academics. But, just luckily, I met the right people to motivate me and to inspire me, I joined the right student organizations and I’m lucky enough to still be here today. But, that’s a lucky story, and there are many people who transfer. There are many people who don’t finish Michigan, and I think that especially matters to me. That’s something that I keep in the back of my mind every day when the days are long, and when we have meetings after meetings, that’s what keeps me going.

MG: I think my freshman year, coming in, was the time of Being Black at University of Michigan (BBUM). I have family members that were here, in the past, that were part of Black Student Union and BBUM. It was just a matter of finding my spot at the university and being able to place my identities, not only in my living space, but also in the classroom. The things that David and I are working towards, like IGR workshops, mandatory workshops for CSG, making campus more inclusive and more diverse are really important to me. Like David mentioned, it’s not about us, but rather, it’s about the people coming after us. Those increases with minority enrollment or having mandatory inter-greek relation workshops with CSG are really important.


HC: What are your professional aspirations post-Michigan?

MG: I’m a BCN major, and I’m going to pursue psychiatry.

DS: I think I want to go into law. I’m thinking either human rights law or a strain of law that I just read about, that I never knew existed, called mental health advocacy law.


HC: What can you, as a pair, bring to this role that no one else can?

MG: I think not only are David and I passionate about what we’re trying to do and the initiatives that we have on our platform, but what’s quite interesting about us is that we do what we preach. David is a huge advocate for mental health awareness, and he does the work, and I’m a huge advocate for diversity, inclusivity, and IGR, and I do the work. I think that’s what’s important. Our work and our word go hand-in-hand, and that makes us different from any other pair.

DS: I love that, absolutely. Going off of that, a nuanced understanding of our limitations and where our narratives fit into the greater Michigan story is something we’re so deeply aware of. People who may be involved in this, or people who want to get involved, may not have the same experience or understanding. I think it’s not only that we practice what we preach, but we also understand why we’re doing this and how our narratives and experiences fit into the greater Michigan story.


HC: Do you have anything else you would like our readers to know?

DS: We’re always looking for people in a variety of different roles, whether they’re interested in being a candidate or helping on the street team. There’s no set deadline. Visit our website at newmich.com. We’re extremely excited and very humbled to be in this position, and we want to encourage the confidence of fellow student leaders and students all over campus.


Don’t forget to vote in the CSG elections at vote.umich.edu starting on March 23rd!

Photo courtesy of newMICH.

*The opinions presented here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Her Campus staff. Her Campus U Mich will not be endorsing any party. 

Rebecca Lawson is the Managing Editor (former Editor in Chief) of Her Campus at the University of Michigan. She is a senior in the University of Michigan School of Information's new Bachelor of Science in Information program, and is also pursuing Michigan's Program in Entrepreneurship certificate. After graduation, she will be working as an Associate Consultant for Microsoft in the Seattle area. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @abovethelawson! And be sure to follow our chapter's Twitter and Instagram @hercampusumich!