Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Associated Students of MSU reform presidential elections, advocate for student input in Berkey Hall decisions

February 16, 2024
<p>President Emily Hoyumpa calls for a vote during ASMSU's General Assembly meeting on Dec. 7, 2023 at the International Center.</p>

President Emily Hoyumpa calls for a vote during ASMSU's General Assembly meeting on Dec. 7, 2023 at the International Center.

Photo by Sloane Barlow | The State News

The Associated Students of MSU voted in favor of a popular voting system that would allow MSU students to vote for the student body president, the East Lansing City Council adopting a ceasefire resolution to the Israel-Hamas war, and student involvement in the Berkey Hall decision making process at last night's general assembly meeting.  

60-62

Bill 60-62 amends the Associated Students of Michigan State University’s documents that allow every MSU undergraduate student to vote for the president of ASMSU under a popular system.

Currently, the general assembly is composed of representatives elected from different colleges and organizations who vote for the student body's president in a parliamentary system. This means that currently, MSU students do not have direct voting rights for the student body president. 

James Madison College Representative Shaurya Pandya believes this bill creates more representation for the student body, while also eliminating conflicts of interest in the general assembly. He said the new system would protect the students ASMSU represents.  

This bill would create more legitimacy and accountability for student body presidents, while also allowing students to be more involved with student government, Pandya said. 

One question that arose during the assembly was one of qualifications and guidelines of the people running for the student body presidency.

Broad Business College Representative Delaney Jones said that a student who chooses to run for the position must have an understanding of the "goods and bads of the organization" so they know how they can positively affect the general assembly before becoming elected.

One suggestion Jones makes to this problem is having a qualification of some form of experience in ASMSU before running. 

Vice President for Governmental Affairs Devin Woodruff acknowledged Jone’s suggestion, adding that he and Pandya both had formed ideas of what the qualifications would look like.

Woodruff suggested that to be eligible to run for student body president, a student must: be a taxpaying member of ASMSU, have good financial and academic standings within ASMSU, turn in a packet to UAC, meet a signature requirement, have one academic session as either a general assembly representative or serving on ASMSU staff, and attend the ASMSU Office of the President information session. 

These suggestions were not included in the final version of the bill. 

Another question that was raised during the argument of this bill was what year this would come into effect. Woodruff said he hoped the bill would come into effect in 2025, but after discussion, the general assembly decided waiting until 2026 would allow more time for planning. 

Bill 60-62 passed unanimously. 

60-64

Bill 60-64 advocates for the East Lansing City Council to adopt a ceasefire resolution to the Israel-Hamas war. 

Muslim Student Association Representative Ahmed Amir introduced the bill by stating that around 70 cities across the country have passed ceasefire resolutions. Lansing passed a ceasefire resolution on Monday, so East Lansing adopting a ceasefire resolution is something that ASMSU should be advocating for, Amir said. 

Earlier this year, the East Lansing City Council rejected a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Former ASMSU vice president of academic affairs Alissa Hakim hopes the East Lansing City Council will see that there are more students in favor of this resolution being passed than there are students against it, and that next time a vote on this matter comes around, students' feelings are taken into consideration. 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, however, multiple students from the Jewish Student Union questioned bill 60-64’s legitimacy. Jewish Student Union President Maddie Dallas said the bill was not an accurate representation of what the entire student body wants. 

"Currently, there is a petition with over 200 signatures from students spanning over many different colleges and majors who feel strongly against what these bills stand for," Dallas said. "That alone seems reasonable enough for there to be more consideration taken into account when voting on these bills."

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After Dallas, another public commenter announced that other public commenters would leave the meeting so they wouldn't have to put up with "hate speech and discrimination." Immediately after the speaker finished their public comment, the JSU members in attendance collectively stood up and left the meeting. 

ASMSU could not share the name of the public commenter with The State News.

Later in the meeting, Hakim said the bill is simple in what it’s trying to accomplish, stating that "you’re either with genocide or you’re against genocide."

Bill 60-64 passed, with 29 in favor, one dissenting, and one abstention. 

60-69 

Bill 60-69 advocates for Michigan State University to allow student and community involvement in current and future Berkey Hall decision-making processes. This follows the decision to reopen Berkey Hall less than a year after the MSU mass shooting. 

Lyman Briggs College Representative Kirthi Krishnan introduced this bill, calling it a "very important issue" and saying that student input on this matter was not considered in the university's decision. 

Krishnan advocated for choice in the matter, saying that her overall goal for the bill is to provide space for people who want to revisit Berkey Hall, while also saying that students who are not ready to re-enter the space should not feel obligated to by the university. 

The bill cited examples from other institutions that faced similar events, which have either permanently closed the buildings in which the event took place, or provided the removal of classroom space. One example was Virginia Tech, which handled the shooting on its campus in 2007 by closing the affected building for two years. 

Asian Pacific American Student Organization Representative Alexandra Pham acknowledged that everyone heals differently in a grieving process, and pointed to a lack of "fairness" by the university when rushing to a decision. 

"I just don’t think it’s fair for everyone to be forced to be within the proximity of the building that has a lot of trauma and a lot of history to it that everyone associates negative feelings to," Pham said. "I just think we should keep an option for accommodations for people."

Krishnan suggested that MSU should open up a reflection space and study spaces so students can still enter the building if they feel ready to and form a community there, without having the pressure to enter and partake in classes. 

Bill 60-69 passed unanimously. 

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