Name: Gaurie Gunasekaran
Year: Current Freshman
Platform Speech (Who are you, why are you running, and why should a person vote for you?): My name is Gaurie Gunasekaran and I am a current freshman at UMich. I am running for an LSA elected representative position as I believe that my many experiences as a freshman at the university will bring a unique perspective into our student government which can be used to further represent my peers. Having served in my high school student government, I know how valuable advocacy is in helping improve and better our community. While I have only been an active member of the UMich community for one year now, I have seen many areas of potential change and growth and will work to open up conversations and create a tighter bond between the student government and student body.
With strong roots from India, I am fluent in English, Spanish, and also Tamil, one of the oldest Indian languages. I was the only female trombonist and first chair trombonist for the majority of my band career in high school. I am also pursuing a career in medicine, a field no one in my direct family or relatives sought before. As you can see, I am definitely not afraid to break stereotypes and defy the norms. As a diverse individual, I will work to represent all my peers and be open to the many perspectives here at UMich. This is why I know I can represent our student body in our student government and fight to bring forth everyone’s voices, and why I believe you should vote for me.
Questions and Answers:
1. Should our student government publish voting/attendance records of its members?
I believe that our student government should publish voting and attendance records in
order to create a transparent relationship with the student body at Michigan.
Transparency is the first step in showing commitment to integrity and a desire to truly
work with and for our students. Publishing records also shows that our student
government is open to conversation and welcomes all, thus bringing an extra level of
closeness with the student body at Michigan. By publishing the voting and attendance
records, students and staff have access to data that can be used to back up the decision for
a representative to be elected to hold a certain position, thus eliminating any gray areas or
reasons for debate. If we are all on the same page, it will make for a more unified student
2. How would you bring new diverse ideas and representation of the student body into student government?
As a freshman going into her sophomore year at UMich, I believe that I will bring diverse
ideas and representations of the student body into student government due to my unique
range of perspectives that can allow me to represent a greater range of people. As a
student who speaks multiple languages and identifies with both my Indian heritage and
American upbringing, I can relate with our many students who would like to represent
their many cultures and values in our student government. As a member of the WISE
living community, I will bring the voices of my fellow women in STEM. As a freshman,
I can voice the ideas and struggles of other freshmen, whether it be dealing with imposter
syndrome, homesickness, or finding a place in such a large university. Next year, I can
stand as a bridge between next year’s freshman and our student government while also
representing the ideas and voices of sophomores.
3. What are some takeaways you have in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, and our student government’s response to it?
From the recent news regarding the COVID-19 outbreak as well as seeing firsthand its
effect on students and the general community, I have learned about the importance of
outsourcing news to the public in an unbiased yet effective way. The media, I found,
played a significant role in informing the public about this potential threat of the virus
from when it was first exposed in Wuhan, China, to when it peaked in Italy and then to
the United States. From news sources to social media, the internet became a platform for
sharing statistics, advice, and warnings for people on a global scale. However, while the
importance of media was well-noted, the potential for inaccurate and overplayed
information to garner wide-scale panic was also seen. The need for transparency of data
and information with the public is something I have personally realized. The government
and the people must work together to overcome this crisis, and this requires trust from
both sides. I have also realized the importance of spreading positivity and random acts of
kindness to the community. As individuals, we may seem powerless in front of this huge
pandemic. However, we are united under hope and a sheer will to help each other,
whether it be through instagram positivity challenges, or personally helping supply
medicine and food to those who need it. This shows the power of a whole. Lastly, the
student government’s response to the COVID-19 has been exemplary, seeing the amount
of reform the university has been able to achieve on such a short notice. This includes
sending students home, making changes to food and education services (such as online
classrooms and extended remote learning), and making changes to grade systems that
allow for further adaptation to this pandemic, on such short notice. The ability of the
student government to collaborate and work with the many departments on and off
campus show the importance of collaboration, delegation, and communication that will
continue to serve this university through the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future
events to come.
4. What are your thoughts student government’s role in the upcoming 2020 election, particularly in regards to how the Presidential Debate will occur on campus andnavigating the feelings of political tension within the student body?
I believe that the student government’s role in the upcoming Presidential Debate will be
of utmost importance in managing both the political and social atmospheres on campus.
While students are quite educated on the importance of political diversity and the
importance of expressing free speech, excitement and tensions which arise throughout the
debate may lead to the temporary disacknowledgement of such rights and behaviors
expected within the university campus. The student government should ensure that those
who share different political beliefs should not react violently towards one another by
sending out letters through email or the website that highlight these expectations. At the
same time, the student government should ensure that political expression can occur
freely both in and out of classes on the account that they do not curtail another group’s
rights and expressions. During the time or the Presidential Debate, the student
government should organize extra wellness events and community bonding events, such
as movies on the diag. These events will help ensure that the community stays united and
find a common ground through events that are not political in nature. Through these
actions, the student government’s role in the 2020 presidential election and Presidential
Debate may be one that supports political expressions and freedom of speech while
protecting the safety of the student body and upkeeping the peace and social unity within