Eastern Michigan University’s Student Government hosted a “Meet the Candidates” panel Tuesday evening in the Student Center Auditorium with 16 of the 22 senatorial candidates for the 2014-2015 school year. Most of the people in the small, but enthusiastic audience were also affiliated with Student Government at EMU. People from general student population did not attend the event, which was reflective of a larger issue EMU has with student participation.
The lack of student participation – at Student Government events, sporting events and other university-sponsored events – was just one of the issues addressed by the senatorial candidates Tuesday evening.
“I’d like to see more EMU campus involvement on weekends, such as activities or programs to help promote EMU students to stay on campus rather than leaving or going home.” Kiera Fegan, 2014-2015 senatorial candidate said. “I think college is a great experience … I think it’s important to keep everyone involved and make sure that we’re all interacting.”
Luis Fabian, political science major and 2014-2015 senatorial candidate echoed Fegan’s concerns about student participation at EMU and said he is passionate about helping the university come together.
Derek Miceli, also a 2014-2015 senatorial candidate, said student involvement is one of his main concerns.
“EMU is a commuter school when it’s convenient,” Miceli said. “I want to encourage students to participate in events on campus.”
Another issue the candidates discussed was the safety of EMU and the surrounding area.
“My major issue on campus is going to be safety,” Joe Pernicano, 2014-2015 senatorial candidate said. “I want to make sure that we [have] better safety off campus, that we increase police patrols in the Ypsilanti community, as well as on campus. I think that [safety] is an issue that a lot of students have had.”
Pernicano said he wants to foster relationships with people, businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Ypsilanti community, and hopes that a stronger connection between the university and the community will make for a safer and more welcoming environment off campus.
“An issue I would intend to work on this year would also be safety,” Trevor Nwagwu, 2014-2015 senatorial candidate said. “I’ve been here for a couple years, and it seems like off campus is starting to get a little bit more violent and risky, so I do want to work on the safety of EMU students not only on campus but also off campus.”
Finally, the candidates spoke at length about the parking and transportation issues on campus.
While many of the candidates touched on parking and agreed it is a major problem for the EMU student population, Miceli said he is especially dedicated to transportation and parking reform, as he said it is the issue he hears students complain about most often.
“The university is limited as far as spending money [on parking and transportation],” Miceli said.
“I’m looking for a sustainable solution to the problem.”
He suggested ideas like an increase in shuttle busses on campus, bike rentals and re-imagined pedestrian pathways.
“I’d like to see improvements that make it more fluid, because it gets pretty congested right now,” Miceli said of campus.
In addition to touching on the major issues facing EMU’s campus and community, the senatorial candidates also spoke about why they want to be a part of Student Government.
“I could be a voice for the unheard,” Nwagwu said. “I want to give people a chance to have their voice heard, and we can see what can be done.”
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