Five takeaways from ASMSU's first March meeting
The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, held its third to last general assembly meeting of the year on March 1.
Members spoke with the Title IX office, passed a bill that advocates for more student involvement with the administration and discussed the election for next year’s general assembly.
Here are five takeaways from the meeting.
1. A student position on the Board of Trustees
ASMSU passed a bill that would advocate for a constitutional amendment to Michigan’s constitution, which reserves at least one voting position on the Board of Trustees for a student.
Vice President for Governmental Affairs Tyler VanHuyse, who penned the bill, said this would allow for more communication, transparency and student input.
College of Music representative Isaiah Hawkins said this is a big step and a long-term goal ASMSU will continue to fight for.
"For the reasons we've seen over the past couple of months, I think this is a necessary step," Hawkins said. "It's not just that the student voice wasn't heard by the Board of Trustees, it's that the student voice was heard and then the Board of Trustees went into a completely different direction. We need to get to a point where that's no longer a possibility."
2. Appointing students to university hearing boards
The Student Rights Advocates is a service provided by ASMSU that advises students going through university hearings.
Eli Broad College of Business representative Jack Person said it is important for these hearing boards, a part of the university judicial system, to include undergraduate students.
"Oftentimes, having been through it myself, the people in the university department push you to just let them make a decision without a hearing," Person said. "I think it's really important that we get these services publicized."
Person said the selection process for these students would be careful and rigorous and will go through hearing committees.
3. Title IX office discusses external review and working with Interim President John Engler
From MSU's Title IX office, the Office for Institutional Equity, Title IX Coordinator Jessica Norris and Office Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Investigations Jayne Schuiteman gave ASMSU an update on the external review.
Norris said she is organizing focus groups to meet with the external review team, who are from the firm Husch Blackwell.
In November, the firm released its findings from the first phase of the review. External investigators found that MSU's Title IX policies were compliant with federal legal requirements and areas for improvement included MSU's mandatory reporting procedure and streamlining policies.
Originally, the second phase of the publicly available report, which would include analysis and recommendations, was set to be released at the end of the spring semester. But Interim President John Engler expedited the completion of their work.
Norris said to expect a “preliminary” report by the middle of March.
"The reason I'm going to say 'preliminary' is because as we met with different groups on campus, what we heard is that people wanted more conversations and wanted to be able to give more input and feedback,” Norris said. “So in order to start giving the president some feedback that we can take action and work on, they're going to release a preliminary report publicly."
Recently, Engler announced the “Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup” that is made up of many individuals and organizations, including Norris and Schuiteman.
"That group is not intended to be the only voice at the table,” Norris said. “That group is intended to advise the president, and say, 'You're considering this action or step, we need to get these voices at the table, we need to consult with these groups and get more input.'"
4. Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann discusses East Lansing’s budget issues
Mayer Pro Team Erik Altmann said the city has been “amidst a perfect storm of budget constraints” and said it is facing continued cuts to public safety.
“That will affect how safe you are north of Grand River, essentially," Altmann said. "On game days, after hours.”
After the East Lansing income tax failed to pass in the last election, Altmann said it's “a bit of a time bomb” to figure out how to loosen up $3 million out of a $33 million budget and cuts.
"We have certain challenges associated with having a large land grant university as part of the city because it doesn't pay taxes," Altmann said. "A quarter of the city doesn't pay taxes."
5. ASMSU to announce candidates for the next session
With only two more general assembly meetings left, the 54th session of ASMSU is coming to a close with elections for the next session approaching in April.
A final list of the candidates will be made available on Friday.
“Right now, up until elections week, it’s on the candidates to start campaigning," Chief of Staff Lauren Fish said. "And April 2 to 9 we’ll do our job to get as many students to vote.”