The Associated Students of Michigan State University or ASMSU, held their last General Assembly meeting of the 55th session Thursday night.
The assembly allocated money towards a laptop rental program, debated the potential exploration of a multicultural building and reinstated an expired bill regarding internship costs.
Student laptop rental program pilot
With a vote of 21 yes, 2 no and 5 abstentions, a bill that will allocate $15,000 to conduct a pilot laptop rental program for students passed through the General Assembly.
The program will work in collaboration with MSU IT and the MSU Financial Aid department. These bodies will work together to review applicants to the program and distribute laptops to the most needing candidates.
“There have been various studies on laptops being critical to student success and this bill can begin to fill that need,” Introducer of the bill College of Veterinary Medicine Representative Lauren Pepper said. “Most of our resources are online. We have computer banks but they are not accessible late at night especially if you live off campus and have to take a bus.”
Lyman Briggs Representative Ben Horne voiced concern on the ability for this program to continue far into the future, drawing attention towards several unknown costs such as warranty and repair of the laptops.
“I completely agree with the sentiment that this is a service that people need but I don't know if this is necessarily the most effective way to go about it," Horne said. "I want to reiterate that there are a lot of costs here that we don’t know what they are going to be in the future.
“I think the sustainability of this service is something that we should question before we just go ahead and implement it ... I understand that this is a pilot program ... but we need to think about this ongoing in the future as well.”
In response Pepper and other members of the assembly continued to stress the positives to this pilot program, acknowledging that the plan is not perfect yet, but it can only get better from trial and error.
“In terms of the pilot program not being sustainable, any program that we fund requires evolution going forward especially one involving tech," Pepper said. "I think it's actually a good thing that future sessions will need to look at this again and alter it depending on its successes or failures.”
Other members like College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Representative Josh Grindling voiced approval saying, “I think this is an investment we should make because it directly has an impact on education.”
The bill passed by a two-thirds majority vote, meaning the laptop rental program will undergo a pilot period.
Bill passes that will explore potential for a Multicultural Building after debate
After passing through policy committee last week, a bill that will explore the possibility of building a multicultural center that would serve as the headquarters for Council of Racial and Ethnic Students (CORES) and Council of Progressive Students (COPS) groups passed in the General Assembly.
CRU, who introduced the bill, alongside seconder Alliance of Queer and Allied Students Representative Colin Wiebrecht had a presentation to introduce the bill. The presentation touched on the need for a multicultural building due to the inadequate and inconvenient current meeting areas, as described in the presentation.
However, the bill faced criticism from College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Representative Sergei Kelley, who argued that communication between student groups is not just a problem for CORES and COPS.
“Communication between any student group is extremely hard, this is not something that’s somehow an oppression of CORES and COPS groups," Kelley said. "I have just as much trouble communicating with people in the Young Americans For Liberty as much as maybe CORES and COPS groups have trouble communicating with their groups.”
Others, like College of Music Representative Isaiah Hawkins, thought the bill was needed so urgently that it should be, “Number one on ASMSU's list of priorities.”
This statement sparked concern from College of Engineering Representative Ryan Aridi who, although he agreed with the importance of the bill, disagreed that it should be the main priority of ASMSU.
“The point that I disagree with is (saying that) this should be the focal point of ASMSU, I respectfully disagree with that," Aridi said. "I think every representative should be pursuing what matters to their constituency, and again there are members of every constituency that are part of CORES and COPS groups but they are a number of issues that specifically affect constituencies (as well)."
Despite Aridi's argument, Representative Horne brought the conversation back to the importance of passing this bill because it has been such a long time coming and is much overdue, he said.
“Where an institution places its resources is how you can figure out what they prioritize," Horne said. "Currently marginalized students on this campus are not a priority of MSU and that needs to change.”
“This has been a discussion for decades before most of us were even born, and it's still an issue to this day. That should dictate the gravity of this situation.”
Bill passes to advocate for internship credits at a lower cost
A bill that will reinstate expired Bill 48-69 that will “advocate for internship credits to be costed at the same price that is commensurate with the cost incurred by the University” passed in the General Assembly.
James Madison College Representative Stacey LaRouche introduced the bill explaining that, (0:20) “If a student is taking an internship off campus, their not using MSU resources ... they're not really using our facilities. Why are you still paying the full credit amount? That doesn’t really make sense.”
“I think they should re-analyze the costs and just make it a more fair price,” LaRouche said in terms of what her goals are with the bill.
Little discussion was held in the assembly before the passing of the bill.
To end their meeting, the GA passed their 100th bill, which was introduced by the Office of the President “to send good vibes to the MSU men’s basketball team in the Final Four.” The 100th bill passed unanimously.
Elections for the 56th session of ASMSU are currently taking place and will remain open until April 8 at noon. The new GA will vote on the new Office of the President on April 17 and 18.