The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, held their last committee meetings of the 55th session — the 2018-19 academic year's session — on Thursday.
Policy committee discussed 12 bills, including bills exploring the possibility of creating a Multicultural Building, discussing the benefits of transitioning campus sorority and fraternity recruitment from the fall to spring semester and calling to increase sustainable practices in MSU dining halls.
Exploring potential for a Multicultural Building on campus
A bill that will explore the potential for a Multicultural Building passed through policy committee.
Currently, multicultural organizations at MSU are spread out throughout campus, making it hard for students involved in these organizations to attend multiple events and meetings, explained Culturas de las Razas Unidas, or CRU, representative Edwin Jaramillo, who introduced the bill (Jaramillo is also a staff reporter at The State News).
Aside from being spread out throughout campus, CRU representatives drew attention to the fact that these facilities are tucked in the basements of buildings and are not well maintained.
Alliance of Queer and Allied Students representative Colin Wiebrecht seconded the bill, and said he believes “it’s really important to have a dedicated space for people to collaborate, especially with the CORES and COPS groups and I think that when we are separate it’s difficult for us to come together.”
James Madison representative Alexis Sargent voiced similar approval of establishing a Multicultural Building on campus, saying, “Having the space for underrepresented groups with different identities is so important.”
Sargent also drew attention towards the advantages of presenting this bill now especially at a time when MSU will soon welcome a new president who will be planning things like this at the beginning of their tenure.
College of Music representative Isaiah Hawkins, chair of the policy committee, shared a personal anecdote during the discussion on the bill. He mentioned that in 1989, his dad attended MSU and multicultural students and marginalized groups were asking for this same action to be done.
“This has been a long, long process and the fact that this still has been something that is pushed around through administrative purgatory is absurd to me,” Hawkins said. “This should be at the top of our list. ... Our first question should be, 'When is this happening?'”
Bill weighing the benefits of changing sorority and fraternity recruitment date tabled
A bill that would call for more research to be conducted on the benefits of transitioning sorority and fraternity recruitment to spring semester instead of fall was tabled by ASMSU's policy committee.
Interfraternity Council President Benjamin Libon and Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Guillermo Flores attended the meeting to speak on behalf of their councils, who were not included in the discussion prior to the introduction of the bill at Thursday’s meeting.
“I feel that if a bill is going to be passed concerning fraternity and sorority life, fraternity and sorority life presidents should be aware of what's going on," Libon said. "We were not at all."
The bill, introduced by Lyman Briggs representative Ben Horne, highlighted past research conducted on how a spring recruitment process for sorority and fraternity life would help better members' academic success and overall safety. However, Multicultural Greek Council, or MGC, representative Roderick Bullard voiced concern with the fact the research cited in the bill did not include MGC or the National Panhellenic Council.
“We are not opposed to having this research done ... but the problem is that nobody consulted the fraternity and sorority life office,” Bullard said.
Horne responded by apologizing for not consulting their councils, and explained that it was because the bill called for research, not for actual action to be taken.
“It’s not a specific policy recommendation because I do agree research is lacking in this area and its not necessarily specific to this university, and so this is why I wanted to start this conversation,” Horne said. “I believe more research needs to be done in this area because we do have a pretty gigantic Greek life system.”
Libon also disapproved the part of the bill that explained there would be an increase in student GPAs if recruitment is moved to spring, arguing that many members — specifically members of the Panhellenic Council — have high GPAs despite their fall recruitment.
“If the main concern is about undergraduate GPA, we have a whole report that was done this year with the help of our staff ... on all of the grades. Panhellenic Council's average GPA is around a 3.5 — that's higher than the whole undergraduate GPA by half a point,” Libon said. “Saying that they need to move their recruitment from fall to spring because of grades makes absolutely no sense because they are way higher than any other council.”
The bill was tabled by the committee. Tabled bills will be dropped at the end of the ASMSU session, which is next Friday.
Increasing sustainable practices in MSU dining halls
A bill that will call for for more vegan and vegetarian options, dining hall purchases to be focused on locally grown foods, installation of easily accessible composting bins and the termination of trays to carry plates and cups passed through policy committee.
In terms of waste, the bill drew attention to the “unnecessary” water and food waste that trays create.
On the other hand, the bill also called attention to how vegan and vegetarian options in MSU dining halls are “marginalized within campus dining halls from inaccessibility of nutritional vegetarian and vegan meal options.”
“This puts pressure on administration to change their practices,” College of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative Josh Grindling, who seconded the bill, said.
ASMSU's policy committee agreed with the actions the bill called for and passed it unanimously.
This bill, along with the Multicultural Building bill, will be presented to and voted on by the General Assembly at their last meeting of the session on April 4.
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