Six takeaways from the final ASMSU meeting of 2017
ASMSU passed five bills at its final General Assembly meeting of the semester, including a Greek Life resolution, a resolution against the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline and a resolution against the "Grad Tax," among others.
They also heard presentations from two members of MSU's administration.
1. Greek Life resolution
ASMSU passed a resolution to create a working group to analyze the various issues surrounding Greek Life on college campuses, including dangerous alcohol consumption and sexual assault.
"I think the Greek community understands the severity of the topics we've discussed, and we want to be proactive to help ensure a better future for Greek Life," Panhellenic Council Representative Paige Strube said.
2. Guest speakers
In response to how students could find information about how MSU handles sexual assault cases, Maybank pointed them to MSU's Our Commitment website.
"That is the place where information around Title IX and sexual assault issues will be posted," Maybank said. "Additionally, the key issues with the site, if you go on there right now, there's an update on Larry Nassar, that's on the issues page. Those are the places where you're going to get your most up to date information."
Byrum responded to a question by Representative Max Donovan regarding whether the current MSU administration could repair the university's reputation in the wake of Title IX and sexual assault scandals.
"It's not just going to be the President and the administration," Byrum said. "It's going to be the MSU community. It's going to be not one person who is restoring it. It's going to be lots of people taking action and coming together as an MSU community."
3. Revisions to student handbook
The bills passed covered revising the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to include participation in academic programs prior to attendance at a first class at MSU as under the jurisdiction of MSU in the case of any rule violations, among other issues.
4. ASMSU opposes Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline
One of the bills passed was a resolution against the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline. Enbridge is the same company which caused a catastrophic leak in the Kalamazoo River in 2010, and the same company that garnered media attention because of the Standing Rock pipeline.
"It's important because environmental non-profit FLOW has now found that Enbridge is acting in violation of its 1953 easement with the State of Michigan in eight different ways," Representative Jacqueline Zarzycki said. "It is important because last month, the MDEQ, MDNR, and the Michigan Agency for Energy expressed concerns that Enbridge knew about and concealed information on the pipeline's structural deficiencies for years."
Representative Zack Greenleaf appealed to the assembly's sense of responsibility.
"When we attend Michigan State, Michigan becomes our home," Greenleaf said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Michigander by birth, are from another state, or are from another country ... We have a responsibility to leave the state in a better condition than when we found it."
5. ASMSU opposes "Grad Tax"
The assembly passed a final bill to oppose the "Grad Tax" portion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which would tax university stipends and scholarships for graduate school as income.
"Graduate students do not live the high life or get a huge amount of money," Representative Ryan Aridi said. "The first thing is they never see tuition paid reduction money. The second is that they don't really add to paying off this crazy tuition, and the third is that this will dissuade interest in graduate school ... the main thing with this bill is it's just against that certain section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act."
6. Representative proposes changes to Hughey Fund
Finance Chairperson and Architect of the Sexual Assault Survivor's Fund, formerly known as the Hughey Fund, Max Donovan proposed a bill to amend the original creation bill for the endowment due to errors in the creation process, which ultimately failed in the assembly.
When the fund's creation was passed in the assembly, they were not aware $50,000 in donations would be needed for its formation, or that a board of trustees vote was required.
The failed Dec. 7 bill would have created another account to hold donation funds while the main fund remains frozen prior to the board's vote. It also would have extended the time frame for ASMSU to match the first $20,000 in donations to the end of the spring semester.
In his argument for the bill, Donovan explained it as just another step in the process.
"Since as of now we have neither of these, the mechanism of raising funds has been frozen," Donovan said. "So, the bill quite simply allows us to consider methods of accounts to put the funds we need raised into before we get enough for an endowment, and also extends the period of matching donations."
Representative and former Sexual Assault Survivors' Fund proponent Dylan Westrin disagreed, and addressed his view that Donovan has been unorganized in the process of starting the fund.
"I'm perplexed as to how something so good has become such a blunder," Westrin said. "For someone who has worked so diligently for seven months, this bill has had flaws in its research and its roll-out. He stands before us today haphazardly attempting to amend this bill in the midnight hour of our fall semester, and again, he has asked us to trust him. To put it bluntly, at this point I do not."
The bill will be re-addressed in both the Policy and Finance Committees next semester.