If you only vote in one student government election during your four years here, this is it.
The online ballot, which closes Monday, gives voters the option to re-approve the $16.75 per-semester tax that funds ASMSU’s operations, and the $1.25 tax that funds the readership program, totalling $18 per semester. If it passes, business will continue as usual. If not, ASMSU would essentially cease to exist.
The operations renewal comes up for a vote once every three years, meaning this likely will be your only chance to weigh in on this issue. In short, is ASMSU giving you your $144 worth?
Ian Kullgren editor in chief
Rebecca Ryan opinion editor
Matt Sheehan staff representative
Meagan Beck Opinion reporter
We wish the answer was an unwavering yes. Unfortunately, we’re not so sure.
As always, we encourage everyone to vote. Although some colleges do not have candidates on the ballot, voting is an important choice because these representatives will eventually decide on who should be our next president. But voting doesn’t mean absentmindedly approving everything on the ballot.
Probably the most important service ASMSU currently provides to students is free legal representation, which are funded in part by your tax dollars. Some of us might not ever expect to get into trouble. But you never know when you might be faced with an MIP or disagreement with a landlord over a housing contract. This service, and the taxes you pay to support it, is essentially an insurance fee in case you ever need a dependable lawyer.
This service, if no other, is reason enough to vote yes on renewing the tax.
Consider that ASMSU’s tax also provides us free blue books throughout the year from its office in the Student Services Building, and funds the Red Cedar Log, MSU’s yearbook. They also have a supply of iClickers available for rent at the beginning of each semester.
An additional $1.75 tax for the readership program is also up for vote. It provides access to USA Today, Detroit Free Press, New York Times and Financial Times. Obviously we think reading the news is good (big surprise), so we suggest you vote yes on this one.
But in addition to these tangible benefits, ASMSU is meant to represent students and their concerns, based on colleges and student groups. However, some of these colleges currently are lacking representation.
James Madison College has five candidates on the ballot, while the College Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, College of Veterinary Medicine and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities have none. Students can write in names for spots with no candidates. ASMSU is supposed to represent the concerns of the students, but what if no one steps up to represent the college — will those students’ concerns still be appropriately represented? The taxes might be a worthy investment if you feel like your representative is properly advocating for your needs. But take a second and consider how much representation you’re receiving.
ASMSU is aware of the issue, and has said it will reach out to college deans to appoint representatives to unfilled positions. Yet it’s no secret some students are apathetic toward ASMSU. The student government held campus-wide town hall meetings to give students the chance to meet candidates running for this year’s positions and to learn more about the program as a whole. Almost no one attended.
Maybe you’re apathetic toward ASMSU and it’s legal services. Maybe you don’t feel like your voice is being represented. That leaves you three options: get to know your representative, throw them out of office or defund ASMSU altogether.
It’s your call.