Monday, September 28, 2020

Diversity and inclusion, trayless dining and more discussed at ASMSU committee meeting

November 25, 2019
ASMSU President Mario Kakos listens at the ASMSU meeting on Oct. 3, 2019.
ASMSU President Mario Kakos listens at the ASMSU meeting on Oct. 3, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

During the last Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, committee meetings of the semester, Vice President for Academic Affairs Brianna Aiello announced that MSU’s current add/drop policy will remain the same throughout this academic year. ASMSU also discussed several bills — including one that will allocate money to a program that would give away sports tickets to students — and held an election for a new chair of the policy committee.

Add/drop policy

The announcement that MSU would not be changing their current add/drop policy follows a presentation given by Associate Provost Mark Largent at ASMSU’s last general assembly meeting Nov. 14 about the proposed change to the policy.

The presented plan, which many general assembly representatives opposed, would put a “W” for “Withdrew” on the transcript of any student who drops a class prior to six days of the class starting. This policy proposal was an attempt to encourage students to drop classes faster so students on the waiting list have a better chance of obtaining a spot.

Though the new policy was not approved, the issue remains on the table. Aiello stated that Largent wants to pursue talks regarding changes to the add/drop policy throughout this year, as well as “continue conversations into next year." 

Finance Committee

Representatives discussed a bill that proposes an allocation of $10,100 for a program in which ASMSU would give away tickets to various MSU sports games, such as football and basketball, to students.

The goal of this bill is to increase awareness of ASMSU among students, an initiative that ASMSU has been heavily focused on following a poor turnout at this year’s election.

Due to concerns from several representatives surrounding the high price and overall effectiveness of the proposed program, the bill was tabled for further editing. 

Another bill, introduced by Vice President for Governmental Affairs Maysa Sitar, would donate $2,500 to East Lansing Info (ELi), a local online news source for the City of East Lansing.

The bill states that ELi has been “a great aid to the governmental affairs office as a consistent and dependable news organization." ELi is also currently receiving a match of any donations until the end of the year, meaning that, if passed, ASMSU’s donation would total $5,000 after funds are matched. 

Sitar included a disclaimer that ELi has previously been employed her, which some could see as a conflict of interest.

After a brief discussion, the Assembly approved the bill will be voted on it at the next General Assembly meeting Dec. 5.  

Policy Committee

The meeting began with the election of a new chair of the policy committee — Representative for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Josh Grindling.

The Assembly discussed only one piece of legislation, which the newly-elected chair Grindling introduced. The bill presents a plan to implement trayless dining in all MSU dining halls by 2020.

As well as possible reduction in water and energy usage, the bill’s reasoning is that “food waste causes higher estimates for student food consumption, raising the cost of meal plans and dining passes; and … reducing tray usage would improve the health of students by encouraging conscious portion sizes."

After receiving high praise from members of the committee, the Assembly approved the bill. 

Academic Committee

The academic committee also had a very short docket, with only one item of business up for discussion.

The Assembly considered a bill, introduced by James Madison Representative Abii-Tah Chungong Bih, that would advocate for a mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion training to be held annually for all MSU faculty, staff and students.

Bih expressed urgency for this legislation due to several recent racist incidents on campus, such as a racially insensitive SONA survey that was sent to graduate students and an incident involving a toilet paper noose being taped to the door of two black students in Bryan Hall. 

The bill also argues that MSU’s large population of students of color — 23.8% of undergraduate students as of fall 2018 — demonstrates a necessity for sensitivity training to promote inclusion among students.

The General Assembly approved the bill unanimously. 

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