Saturday, October 23, 2021

ASMSU approves bills regarding discrimination, tax refunds, Autism Spectrum Disorder

October 19, 2020
The Student Services Building on March 13, 2019.
The Student Services Building on March 13, 2019. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Several bills were approved to move on to the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, General Assembly, or GA, this past Thursday, Oct. 16.

Bill 57-24 was approved by the Policy Committee unanimously. The bill moves to advocate for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories against housing discrimination at both the state and federal levels. At the state level, this resolves to advocate for the Michigan legislature to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights act of 1976, which prohibits housing discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status, to include sexual orientation and gender identity. At the federal level, it moves to advocate that the United States Congress adopt the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which would amend the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories against housing discrimination.

When questions arose about whether this could be localized to the East Lansing community, bill seconder Representative Travis Boling reminded the committee that these protections are already in place at the local level. He further explained that since many students are no longer in East Lansing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASMSU should be advocating for broader change.

"If students were here on campus, then they would be protected under local level, but they're not," Boling said. "A lot of students are not all in East Lansing, so our scope is broadened because of COVID. That's why we are doing this, and I do think we can create change at the state level."

Bill 57-23 was approved by the Finance Committee in a unanimous vote. ASMSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Jordan Polk explained that if passed by the GA, it will move to refund students $3 out of the ASMSU tax, making up for the fact that Safe Ride was suspended this fall.

Bill 57-27, which moves to advocate for several considerations regarding the MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy, or ADP, was approved in the Policy Committee unanimously. If passed in the GA, this bill would advocate for the following changes to ADP:

  • Creation of an ADP Review Committee
  • Review of ADP every two years
  • Prohibition of retaliation against students who report discrimination
  • Prohibition of virtual discrimination
  • Addition of several protected classes including language, gender expression, perceived gender, parental status, pregnancy, citizenship status and HIV/AIDS status
  • Addition of an outline for processing complaints, investigations, and sanctions
  • Inclusion of possible outcomes of Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) investigations
  • Institution of a 90-day window for OIE to complete investigations
  • Inclusion of a clause mandating that OIE release an annual report on their investigations

According to the bill's introducer, Representative Jordan Kovach, this bill was created after viewing other ADP's from schools in the Big Ten.

"This is just a bunch of different things we need within our ADP to just come up to par with other ones, not even to get further ahead than them, this is just to come up to par," Kovach said.

Bill 57-26 was also approved in the Academic Committee. The bill advocates for the ASMSU to condemn Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA, a type of therapy used to improve behaviors of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. The bill cites several surveys and studies proving ABA ineffective and unpopular within the ASD community. MSU's Early Learning Institute serves children with ASD and cites ABA as the most effective treatment option for ASD.

In the Academic Committee, Bill 57-25 was approved for the GA. It moves to endorse two temporary amendments to the Student Handbook due to the Dean of Students Office seeing an overwhelming increase in student disciplinary referrals. For students who deny these allegations, the case must be heard by the Student Faculty Staff Hearing Board, or SFSB. The board only has 13 members and requires five present student members to establish a quorum. To alleviate the increase in cases, the bill proposes that all ASMSU appointees should have the ability to serve on the SFSB and allow all previously appointed and trained members to serve as alternates. The amendments would expire at the end of the 2020/2021 academic year.

The next GA meeting will take place on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. A link to the meeting can be found on ASMSU's website.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that Bill 57-26 moved for ASMSU to condemn Applied Behavioral Analysis, not the university.

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