(Photo courtesy of UM-Dearborn Student Government)
(Photo courtesy of UM-Dearborn Student Government)

By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor

On Monday October 22, Student Government hosted a town-hall style forum for candidates running for University of Michigan Regent’s Board seats, featuring the two Democratic candidates Mark Bernstein and Dr. Shauna Ryder Diggs, MD.

After a brief introduction by Student Government president Dennis Lienhardt, each candidate introduced themselves and briefly described their key issues for the campaign, including lowering student debt, actively recruiting potential students at all ages, improving campus culture, and serving as a community resource.

“It was great to see so many students at the regent candidate forum,” said Lienhardt. Student Government was proud to welcome Mark Bernstein and Dr. Shauna Ryder Diggs to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. They were able to answer many important questions the students had.”

Both candidates attended the University of Michigan for undergrad and graduate school, and have strong ties to the University system. Ryder Diggs shared that she graduated with over $100,000 dollars of student loan debt, saying “I know what its like to start your life with those kinds of debts to pay.”

Questions from attending students and faculty covered topics such as the relevance of charter schools in public education, diversity and community initiatives championed by the candidates, and the ever rising cost of tuition. Studies have shown that a child born today will pay over $300,000 for four years of undergraduate studies if tuition increase trends continue.

Both candidates advocated for, as Bernstein said, keeping public universities “open, accessible, and affordable.” They plan to do this by obtaining more state funding and restricting money from donors specifically for tuition.

One of the bigger topics brought to the table was the issue of “favoritism” towards Ann Arbor over the Dearborn and Flint U of M campuses. Ryder Diggs replied by sharing that she had heard similar complaints, and thinks that the Regents need to be more accessible to students from all campuses so they can be made aware of discrepancies. Bernstein agreed, adding that the university needs to build a more collaborative and united approach.

Eligible voters can elect the two new U of M Regents on the November 6 Election Day.