ASMSU readies for 54th session, takes holistic approach to summer
During the academic year, the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, is a prevalent group on campus as the undergraduate student government. What students may not know, however, is that some members of ASMSU continue to work during the summer.
"The summer's a really good time for us to kind of, just, re-evaluate some things — looking at our services and our contracts for our programs. We can't really do that during the school year just because there's a lot going on," ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca said.
Here are some of the main things ASMSU is working on this summer.
Moped parking policy
In April, moped parking at bike racks was banned by MSU, expected to start during the Fall 2017 semester, but changes were made to this policy in June.
The changes require the policy to be implemented in two year-long phases. The first phase, each moped owner will be required to purchase a moped permit from MSU. The second phase, which is expected to take place 2018-19, requires moped owners to park their mopeds in designated areas.
Santavicca previously told The State News the policy changes were due to ASMSU's negotiations with administrators.
"There were some folks on my team here — that we met with the (All University Traffic and Transportation Committee), put down some recommendation and really did a hard push for students on that," Santavicca said. "We won. I think a really big piece of that is making sure that we're continuing to hold the university administration accountable when students aren't here."
Involvement in sexual assault and mental health discussions
Santavicca said ASMSU has been involved with discussions with campus administration on the topics of sexual assault and mental health this summer.
"For me, it's been continuing to press administration that, we're still seeing, you know, folks that are frustrated with this and we have to do better," Santavicca said in terms of sexual assault discussions.
Santavicca was present at the Board of Trustees meeting in June and voiced his concerns. Santavicca, along with trustees Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum, criticized trustee Mitch Lyons for naming an ex-MSU football player as the student-athlete who reported an alleged sexual assault to head coach Mark Dantonio.
"We need to continue insuring trust, and when it goes up to the board of trustees, that's an issue," Santavicca said. "I said it at the board meeting that we can't continue to say that we want students to report but then expect that people are going to feel trusted with that."
Santavicca said he and his team have been engaged in the process of refining campus mental health services.
"We're seeing a really big restructuring right now in terms of counseling services," Santavicca said. "We have been certainly involved with that."
It was announced last fall that MSU counseling and health services would undergo a massive restructuring. With student demand for counseling services at an all-time high, increasing staff and resources as well as creating an integrated network of health services could help meet the demand.
Planning for fall semester
In addition to planning fall welcome events, ASMSU has also been planning and brainstorming ways to approach the East Lansing income tax vote and East Lansing housing in the fall.
The East Lansing income tax vote slotted for this fall is expected to affect both students and faculty.
ASMSU plans to engage the campus community through partnerships with groups and students interested in civic engagement.
"I think this issue with East Lansing and the income tax is going to be one that is on the minds of many for the university community in general," Santavicca said. "I think for us, it's we need to show that students are truly integrated with the city, that we need to be part of the city in every decision it makes."
That means partnering with residence halls, RAs, neighborhoods, off-campus students and registered student organizations to give them resources to register and encourage students to vote, Santavicca said.
"For me, I think it's big to really show that we're going to turn out the vote," he said. "Not just register, but also turn out the vote and do everything we can as an organization to say, 'Look, regardless of what's on the ballot, it's important for us to go out and vote.' And so, we can do it in a presidential year, but why can't we do it in our local elections?"
Santavicca also said ASMSU has been brainstorming ways the student government can press developers and East Lansing housing to side with the students.
"I think (housing is) going to be a big one for us this year," Santavicca said. "I think we need to do a better job as student leaders to really ask the question of, 'What are we getting for the value of our dollar?'"
Santavicca said one idea is to help students understand they don't have to sign up for housing right away.
"We have so many student housing options available in the city that we should not have any issue pressing the developers to really demand the best options for students," Santavicca said.
ASMSU is currently in its 54th session. While a majority of the general assembly members are not in East Lansing this summer, the first general assembly meeting of the fall will take place Aug. 28.