ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, officials are looking to improve students’ studies after passing a bill at Thursday night’s general assembly meeting to postpone jury duty for full-time students.
The bill passed by ASMSU will advocate for an amendment allowing full-time students in a college or university to have jury duty postponed.
“It would give full-time students a really great opportunity to put this on hold and be able to focus on their classes and not worry about all these other pieces that come into conflict with jury duty,” ASMSU James Madison College representative Jessica Leacher said.
The bill will advocate for another bill that former East Lansing mayor and current state Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, will be introducing in early March.
“I think with the typical schedule students take, it is really hard for students to manage that course load, while at the same time doing jury duty,” Singh said.
To be classified as a full-time student, one must be taking at least 12 credits per semester, Singh said.
There are no current MSU policies for excused absences involving jury duty, with students having to work out an arrangement with faculty for all their classes, University Ombudsperson Robert Caldwell said.
“I would say that most faculty would understand that jury duty is a responsibility of citizens, and if you get called to do jury duty, that you have the same right as any other citizen to attend,” Caldwell said.
Singh brought up the idea of ASMSU pursuing a bill in this subject a few weeks ago when he meet with ASMSU members, with a bill forming shortly after, ASMSU Vice President for Governmental Affairs Dylan Miller said.
“What I wanted to do was see if the student community was supportive of a bill like this,” Singh said. “So I wanted the student government to look at it and see if they would want to support it.”
The idea of jury duty taking away from class work is something ASMSU is trying to change, but MSU law professor Brian Kalt believes jury duty isn’t always bad for students.
“I’ve done some research in the area, (and) people who go through jury duty are glad they did — if they end up on the jury, that is,” Kalt said.
Kalt also said most of the local defendants in East Lansing normally are students, so the removal of students from the juror pool could be problematic.
With the bill passing, ASMSU will work to gain support for the efforts and increase awareness of the bill. ASMSU is planning to work with students across Michigan.
“(The) next step would probably be to talk to other colleges in Michigan and let them know that this legislation is being considered and gather support for when this will be introduced,” Miller said. “Once we have a lot of student support, we will go to Singh (to) get him to pursue this.”