Out of concern that ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, could have lost its autonomy to the university, a group of students are forming an independent student union, MSU Students United, aimed at representing the student body and advocating for their needs and demands.
“(The student union) is a collaborative effort of a group of students,” said Spencer Perrenoud, philosophy senior and one of the organizers of MSU Students United. “There will be no leader, the only leader is the student voice.”
The new student union draws inspiration from the February 2012 student movement in Quebec, where students protested against a tuition hike, Tarr said.
The student union, which has nearly 25 organizers, currently is circulating a petition demanding a halt on tuition increases. The organizers are hoping to be able to pressure the university to fulfill students’ demands through support generated through petitions. The petition has nearly 100 signatures.
The organization also has a Facebook page with just under 70 likes.
The group of students behind the new student union realized in the past few years that students don’t get much of a say when it comes to university decisions, said Noah Saperstein, history education senior and one of the MSU Students United organizers.
According to Saperstein, the organizers don’t have a concrete plan of what other initiatives MSU Students United would discuss in the future.
At the moment, the organizers of MSU Students United are in the process of establishing a connection with ASMSU and the MSU administration, according to Perrenoud. The student union wants to work with ASMSU to get to know what the student body needs, since they envision the union as a “voice of students without any agenda.”
“ASMSU, especially recently, has lost a lot of its bite and with that, any meaningful input,” said Duncan Tarr, another organizer of the student union and a music and history sophomore.
“ASMSU is, and will continue to be, the voice of the undergraduate students of Michigan State University,” said Matt Franks, ASMSU public relations director. “All students are welcome and encouraged to participate in ASMSU, their student government, to make an impact across Michigan State University’s campus.”
Franks added that ASMSU always has worked closely with the university to ensure that students’ needs are met. These are usually communicated by ASMSU representatives of the different colleges and student organizations at the student government’s general assemblies, he said.