Students, faculty, community support Gov. Whitmer at campus campaign event

Over 400 people packed the UC Rotunda for the meet-and-greet

Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a meet and greet event on Sunday, Oct. 9, in the Bovee University Center.

Editor's Note: On Oct. 4, Central Michigan Life published coverage of the Student Government Association's weekly meeting in which Gov. Whitmer's visit and RSVP details were announced. Shortly after, Whitmer’s office contacted CM Life and asked that the article be removed due to security concerns. CM Life was not forced to remove the article, but in consideration of the governor’s safety and to ensure potential voters had the chance to hear her speak, CM Life removed the article immediately.

About 400 people packed the Bovee University Rotunda for a meet-and-greet campaign event for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Oct. 9.  

After a performance from the Christ Central Choir, Taylor Idema, president of Central Michigan University’s Student Government Association (SGA), lead Whitmer to the front of the room and introduced her.

In an address to the room, Whitmer said if re-elected Nov. 8, she would prioritize reproductive freedoms, voter rights and continuing her efforts from her first term.

“We’ve got 31 days until this race,” Whitmer said. “Every one of those days is an opportunity to talk to your fellow Chips and tell them what’s at stake here – to call your family and friends and remind them. You can vote now. Vote early. Get that ballot in.”

Cheers and applause filled the room between Whitmer’s remarks. After the short speech, a line formed around the entire room with attendees waiting to get photos with her.

Andrea Piper, a sophomore studying education, said they were “excited to change Michigan” when they vote for the first time this election. 

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a big turning point for me as a person with a uterus,” Piper said. “It made me want to become more active. 

“(Whitmer)’s been doing more for people who are oppressed than the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Ryan Skalitzky volunteers as a canvasser to spread information about voting. He said he immediately started volunteering after Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, which ended almost 50 years of legal precedent protecting the right to get an abortion.

“It made me angry,” Skalitzky said.   

Joshua Swathwood, a junior, said he wished Whitmer would prioritize rural communities more. He also said she should advertise against “very misleading Proposal 3 ads” so voters are better informed about it. Proposal 3, if passed, would protect reproductive freedoms like abortion in Michigan.

Swathwood said he appreciates how Whitmer has “fought for” the LGBTQ community and reproductive rights.

Anthony Feig, a Geography and Environmental Studies faculty member, was at the event and is running to represent the 92nd district in the Michigan House of Representatives. He said Whitmer has given him “a lot of support.”

Proposal 1, if passed, would change the way term limits are applied to legislators and requires them to disclose financial records, is “a long time coming” Feig said. Michigan is one of the only two states in the U.S. that does not have a financial ethics law like this.

“There’s no reason (Proposal 1) shouldn’t be a thing,” Feig said. “If I wrote a textbook and assigned that to students, I would have to report that. Those kinds of checks are just on a schmuck like me, so a lawmaker absolutely – at a minimum – should have that same kind of transparency. It’s a no-brainer.”

Mayor Amy Perschbacher, also in attendance, said she was glad to see the governor visiting Mount Pleasant.

“She represents the best of Michigan,” Perschbacher said, “that strength and tenacity that any Michigander has.” 

Perschbacher said she hoped to discuss the future of Michigan rail transportation with Whitmer. Mount Pleasant is among the planned stops for the proposed Ann Arbor to Traverse City Rail Project, which would be good for the city, Perschbacher said. 

On Dec. 31, 2022, the terms of CMU Board of Trustees Chair Richard Studley and Vice Chair Robert Wardrop will expire. The governor is responsible for appointing members of CMU’s board. 

Whitmer said she has not yet been involved in the process to appoint replacements for Studley and Wardrop, a decision which will fall on whoever is elected as Michigan's governor. 

“We’ve got a process where we vet all of the potential candidates,” Whitmer said. “We look for what their strategies and views are for the university. I think there are challenges on every campus across the state, so we want to make sure we’ve got good people.”

Whitmer said more information will be available about the new board members closer to the end of the current year.