Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ASMSU Finance Committee shoots down bill to aid sexual assault victims

April 7, 2017
International relations junior Lorenzo Santavicca, center, prepares for an ASMSU meeting on Aug. 30, 2016 at the Student Services Building at 556 E. Circle Drive. Santavicca is the current president of ASMSU.
International relations junior Lorenzo Santavicca, center, prepares for an ASMSU meeting on Aug. 30, 2016 at the Student Services Building at 556 E. Circle Drive. Santavicca is the current president of ASMSU. —
Photo by Derek VanHorn | and Derek VanHorn The State News

ASMSU’s Finance Committee recently voted down a bill that would have established grants for survivors of sexual assault at MSU.

The bill at hand would have established the Hughey Fund, named after MSU alumna and sexual assault survivor Meg Hughey, and it would have been a fund used to give grants to survivors of sexual assault at MSU.

The bill was a long-term project for College of Social Science Representative Max Donovan, who had been working on it since the beginning of this session.

Donovan explained that the bill was so important to him because he feels it's important to make sure sexual assault survivors are taken care of.

“I really felt like we needed a way to officially and institutionally validate the experiences of survivors, without also saying that these people who weren’t ever convicted of a crime, without calling them rapists or condemning them outright because they weren't ever convicted,” Donovan said. 

The bill was brought to the Finance Committee, and should it have passed it would have gone to the General Assembly, which met this past Tuesday.

The bill was voted down in a 6-4-1 result. The six representatives who voted against the bill could not be reached for comment.

Donovan said he initially felt surprised by the result of the bill because of how consistently this session had been passing bills.

“I was outraged and shell-shocked because if I remember right, through the entire academic year counting the Hughey Fund, only two bills had ever failed,” Donovan said.

Donovan also said he feels this was a loss not only for himself, but for campus as a whole.

“I lost a vote here," Donovan said. "I think the student body lost a vote here, I think the Hughey Fund would have been great.”

Regarding the bill not making it through committees, ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca said it seemed to him there were too many committee members who had unresolved issues with the bill.

“I think there were some unanswered questions that the finance members had in regards to the bill, and they weren’t completely outlined well enough in the eyes of those members,” Santavicca said.

Santavicca added he thinks this was an example of ASMSU representatives acting in their personal interest, rather than the interest of their constituents.

“Some of these individuals continue to act in their own self interest, their own personal beliefs in financial matters,” Santavicca said. “I think with something like this, if our representatives on that committee were to talk to members of their college or organization that they represent ... they may have thought a second before they said no to passing it forward.”

Still, Santavicca said he believes ASMSU has made good progress on sexual assault this semester.

He explained that programs, such as the Sexual Assault Task Force and It’s On Us Week, were productive this semester.

“I think the biggest thing has been reconvening the Sexual Assault Task Force,” Santavicca said. “We’ve done a lot in terms of that this year, the advocacy. I think in terms of awareness and programming, we’ve done a lot with It’s On Us Week.”

However, Santavicca admitted that there is room to grow in terms of resources for survivors, which this bill would have helped with.

Donovan said despite this bill not being passed, he still believes ASMSU is committed to the cause of preventing sexual assault and caring for the victims of it.

"I’m not going to say that ASMSU isn’t dedicated, because we have been remarkably thorough with showing our dedication to this issue," Donovan said. "I think most of us have given the student body a lot of reason to be proud.” 

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