As the deadline approached for collecting the 300 signatures required for running to be the next EMU Student Body President and Vice President, potential candidates could often be found collecting signatures and making their pitches.
Each candidate duo has their own perceived strengths and weaknesses, depending on who you’re asking and how you ask it. As opinions editor, I decided to take a page from Vox’s book and express the best case for each candidate pairing.
The first pair I met with were Luis Romero and Colton Ray, both currently in sophomore standing and serving as Student Government senators. Luis is a student of political science and economics, while Colton intends to pursue an M.A. in Schools, Society, and Violence, an interdisciplinary degree offered through the Sociology, Criminology and Anthropology and Teacher Education Departments.
Both Romero and Ray are brothers of Phi Sigma Phi and extensively involved on campus. Luis serves on the executive board of three different organizations: Unmasked EMU, Rotaract, and Phi Sigma Phi. He is also in Mock Trial and on the President’s commission for sustainability.
Colton played a massive hand in the reboot of Young Democratic Socialists of America on campus while also working for RISE Michigan, the Residence Housing Association, and in Student Government. Within SG, he has served as an interim chair on the Political Action committee and the chair of the ad hoc Housing and Food Insecurity Committee.
During our interview, Luis and Colton opened up to me about their upbringing, and they shared the struggles of growing up in single-parent households, struggling with finances and medical bills, and going to schools in wealthy areas which highlighted class distinctions between them and their peers. They both readily connect with the idea that Eastern Michigan University is a working class school of opportunity. They emphasize wanting to push through the bureaucracy and hurdles to make the idea a reality.
A great case to make for Romero and Ray’s campaign is its student-centric approach. They released a five-point plan which tackles housing and food insecurity, mental health, affordable transportation, and transparency, themes which have arisen from past student government administrations.
They also have the “receipts” to prove it, though: They have received recognition for their resolution-writing, have proven to be diligent in their extensive campus involvement, are trusted with chairmanships over sensitive student issues, and are serious in what they support via authoring and supporting various resolutions.
They also intend to increase Student Government visibility to students and the greater Ypsilanti community, expressing so without being prompted. The disconnect between the EMU and Ypsilanti communities remains quite pronounced, and it’s important for our leaders to build support not only on campus, but in the Ypsilanti community as well.
The final question I asked each candidate was who they look up to in terms of leadership. Romero chose Beto O’Rourke during his 2018 challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz, emphasizing his energy and sincerity. Ray selected Malcolm X due to his accessible message of an interconnected struggle and fearlessness in advocating for civil and human rights. They each seek to emulate these leaders.
For those looking for involved campus activists who emphasize our University’s working-class roots to lead the student body, Luis Romero and Colton Ray may be a good choice for you.
For more information about their campaign, consult their Facebook page and/or view Transparent Talk #8 on Youtube, an ETV-Eastern Echo production.
Finally, look out for the other candidates in this series, research them intently, and remember to vote in the March 25 election.