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ASMSU asks city for funds

February 2, 2001

In an effort to gain funding for several student programs this year, ASMSU is asking the city of East Lansing to provide some financial assistance.

The university’s undergraduate student government made the request by applying for Community Development Block Grant funds distributed by the city government each year.

The grants are annually disbursed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to different cities nationwide. The amount of money East Lansing receives is based on its low- to moderate-income population, which is determined in census numbers.

Yet a majority of this population are MSU students, who do not benefit from any public programs established by East Lansing’s HUD funds, said Shane Waller, ASMSU Student Assembly vice chairperson for external affairs.

“At least some of it should be going toward students since it comes from students,” Waller said. “The city doesn’t spend money on programs directed toward students.”

After failing to qualify for a portion of the city’s grant funds in 1999, ASMSU is seeking $8,000 to finance its “Grading the Landlords” guide and $1,500 to hold a seminar providing information to students who are moving off campus.

But the student government will not know the fate of its proposal until later this month.

East Lansing did provide funding for the student government until 1998, when it cut the $88,000 ASMSU received to help support its Legal Services.

East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said the cutback helped put more money into the budget for city court-appointed attorneys, which MSU students are entitled to for representation. ASMSU Legal Services are available only to MSU students.

“We were funding a service that we could not provide to anyone else in the community,” Meadows said.

While East Lansing was aggressive in getting on- and off-campus students to register in the census, it has not been so anxious to get them involved in community programs, Waller said.

“The students are just being used by the city, straight up,” he said.

However, Heather Pope, staff liaison for the Community Development Advisory Committee, disagrees. The initiatives funded by the HUD funds are used to “help the community as a whole.”

The committee investigates and recommends projects to the East Lansing City Council for using the grant money.

She said the council must approve the recommendation before any organization receives funding.

East Lansing, receives about $870,000 a year in grant funding.

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