The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, has announced events with the goal of increasing student participation in both the search for the new university president as well as the upcoming election in which two Board of Trustees seats will be filled.
The organization will be holding student forums separated by colleges in which students can provide their input on the presidential search.
Though these may seem similar in appearance to the sessions being held by the search committee itself, ASMSU President Katherine “Cookie” Rifiotis said they are meant to be more student-run and convenient for students rather than faculty.
“A lot of the presidential search input sessions have been between 9-5 to make sure that faculty and staff are on campus so that they can attend,” Rifiotis said. “Unfortunately, if you’re gonna make something geared towards students, it has to be later in the day.”
These sessions will be held in the next couple of weeks, and the goal is to produce a “cover letter” to presidential candidates so they can know what qualities and characteristics the student body wants.
“We recognize that (the best candidate for president is) probably employed at a really nice institution, and we’re gonna have to make this a very attractive opportunity to be able to snatch that really qualified person from wherever they are to come here,” Rifiotis said. “We thought it would be a really nice and candid way to do that by writing a letter to our next president, to be part of the packet for the candidates that are going to apply for this job.”
The forums are meant to provide Rifiotis, the only undergraduate student on the presidential search committee, more information to bring to meetings so that her input is more broad, she said.
“This will be a time for students to come out, even students who may not know the ins and outs of what’s going on with the presidential search, with the Board of Trustees, with the university bylaws and all that,” ASMSU Policy Committee Chairman Isaiah Hawkins said. “They can come out and have their voices heard ... because Cookie is our voting member.”
A schedule of the student forums to help provide input into the presidential search can be found on ASMSU’s Facebook page.
In addition, a forum will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 2, in Wells Hall with the four candidates to fill the two Board of Trustees seats: Republicans Mike Miller and Dave Dutch and Democrats Brianna Scott and Kelly Tebay.
These forums will feature both pre-written questions for the candidates, as well as questions from the audience. The pre-written questions will cover important topics like sexual assault and transparency.
“Now we’ve understood how important the role of our trustees are, they should be qualified and shouldn’t just be political favors that parties give out,” ASMSU Vice President of Governmental Affairs Eli Pales said. “The student body should be educated on who is running to lead their institution, and because of that, we hope the experience will be a positive one.”
This event moves in conjunction with a stated goal of ASMSU: to increase student vote. ASMSU and MSU Vote have registered thousands of student in recent months, Pales said.
“The whole prospect that ‘oh, young people are gonna vote this year,’ ... that might happen, but it’s only gonna happen with a lot of work. What we’ve seen so far from our registration efforts is that a lot of students aren’t registered,” he said.
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