Name: Jacob Cohen
Major: PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics)
Platform Speech (Who are you, why are you running, and why should a person vote for you?): My name is Jacob Cohen, and I am a sophomore from Commerce Township, Michigan studying PPE. My pronouns are he/him/his. I am the current Appointments Vice Chair for LSA Student Government and have been serving as an Elected Representative for the last two semesters. I am running on three platform points. First, I seek to improve accessibility in the orientation process for incoming students. Currently, students who must hold jobs during the summer and international students for whom it doesn’t make sense to fly to Ann Arbor for three (soon to be two) days are disadvantaged in terms of what courses are available to them. This is unjust, and I plan to reach out to the New Student Programs and other relevant offices to go about remedying this. Additionally, I would like to see the number of recycling bins around campus, particularly outside, increase and the information posted on them become more detailed. This would serve to improve campus sustainability by providing more opportunities and more information, and I plan to work with the Office of Campus Sustainability to make this happen. Finally, LSA Student Government resources could always be more helpful to students if more students know about them. In my work within student government, I plan to develop strategies with the Communications Committee to promote these resources. I feel passionately about the two issues I mentioned and the plans I have, and hope to have the privilege of advancing them as an Elected Representative.
Questions and Answers:
1. Should our student government publish voting/attendance records of its members?
No, I do not believe that our student government should publish voting and attendance records. Knowing these two things could aid future voters; however, the use of voting records and attendance with names attached is problematic, particularly because any attendance record would not tell the full story of the situation and a voting record could incidentally serve the same purpose. Releasing these sets of information could result in representatives being voted out because they had a family emergency or some other life situation. I do not believe that that is just.
2. How would you bring new diverse ideas and representation of the student body into student government?
As a student who is involved in a variety of orgs on campus, I believe one of my greatest strengths is the amount of ideas I can collect from others and represent through my work in student government. I have been and will continue speak with my peers to hear their views organically and consider those conversations, and the people who I haven’t had the chance to speak to, when doing work in student government.
3. What are some takeaways you have in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, and our student government’s response to it?
I think that the COVID-19 outbreak has illuminated the need for a university protocol regarding pandemics like this one. While any future situation would likely have very different characteristics from this one, having a procedure to follow when crisis occurs would mitigate chaos. As for student government’s response, the transition to online has been smooth. I would like to see moving forward is increased advocacy for LSA students during a time like this, but the nature of the situation makes it very difficult to contact faculty, who are already insanely busy, in order to have those conversations.
4. What are your thoughts on student government’s role in the upcoming 2020 election, particularly in regards to how the Presidential Debate will occur on campus and navigating the feelings of political tension within the student body?
As LSA Student Government serves the LSA student body, I feel like it’s role is generally to work with faculty to ensure that students feel safe and empowered during that tense time. This would include working with groups like CAPS to help them expand their services, distributing resources to students about safe spaces to get help like CAPS. Additionally, continuing the government’s absentee ballot project that was halted by COVID-19 and advocating for no exams on Election Day or the day after would ensure that students have ample opportunities to vote.