Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Associated Students of MSU advocates for gun violence prevention measures, ASL classes on campus

March 15, 2024
<p>ASMSU student representatives at a ASMSU meeting in The International Center on Jan. 18, 2024.</p>

ASMSU student representatives at a ASMSU meeting in The International Center on Jan. 18, 2024.

Photo by Maya Kolton | The State News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University passed bills advocating for sign language classes at MSU, more free spaces for student organizations and the implementation of gun violence prevention measures at Big Ten universities at its general assembly meeting last night. 

60-75

Bill 60-75 advocates for the Inclusion of American Sign Language, or ASL, classes at MSU. Rep. Abigail Rodriguez introduced the bill, stating that students want access to ASL classes at MSU. Unlike many other languages, Michigan State University does not currently have a web page or directory that hosts information about ASL, Rodriguez said in the bill. 

“Until 2014, MSU offered ASL classes on campus, but because of lack of funding and interest by students, the ASL program was taken away,” Rodriguez said. “However, there are other classes that allow students to get language proficiencies through other non-commonly taught languages on campus.”

Rep. Gillian Robbins pointed out that other Big Ten universities, like Michigan, Ohio State and Minnesota offer ASL classes to their undergraduate students through The Less Commonly Taught Languages, or LCTL, Program and Big Ten Academic Alliance CourseShare Program, both of which Robbins claims MSU does not properly utilize. 

Rodriguez and Robbins hope there will be a reinstatement of the ASL program here at MSU, and pointed to the importance of employing a qualified deaf or hard of hearing faculty to that future program

Bill 60-75 passed unanimously.

60-87

Bill 60-87 advocates for the implementation of gun violence prevention measures at Big Ten universities.

Rep. Kirthika Krishnan introduced the bill by stating that many schools still lack significant safety infrastructure and measures and do not implement them until after an incident occurs, making students, faculty and staff more vulnerable in the case of an active perpetrator event. 

“It’s incredibly heartbreaking to think about the fact that not everyone at every single school has safety measures in place," Krishnan said. “It’s just incredibly important that every single student is given the same chance and well-being for survival.”

The bill advocates for the implementation of a standardized, comprehensive and holistic gun violence prevention and response plan at all Big Ten universities. This would include training, infrastructure and policy measures targeting vulnerabilities in the spheres of physical safety, mental health and academic support. 

One thing Krishnan doesn’t hope to see more of is an increased police presence on the streets of college campuses, as it “disproportionately causes harm to minority students, particularly students of color.” 

Rep. Shaurya Pandya expressed support for the bill.

“The fact is very true that many schools and universities, ours included, have dropped the ball on student safety,” Pandya said. “The truth is, there’s not much we can do about it, but what we can do is be a guide to other schools so they know how to be prepared because this is a reality of our college life.” 

Bill 60-87 passed unanimously

60-90

This bill advocates for the availability of more spaces for MSU Registered Student Organizations, or RSOs. Rep. Manvir Bamrah introduced the bill because current reservation systems make it difficult for many student organizations to gather for engagement, Bamrah said. 

Some RSOs that sing and dance require large rooms to fulfill their activities, and Bamrah said the university does not offer enough space to allow this to happen. Bamrah said this bill is a recognition that MSU needs to make more spaces available to these student groups that are so prevalent on campus.

Other problems that RSOs face are significant time and booking constraints, spaces to rent that cost money and non-revenue generating spaces, Bamrah said

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Krishnan seconded the bill, stating that most of these RSOs require late practicing hours which often go past most building hours, something Krishnan can relate to as a member of one of these groups

“It is so incredibly difficult for us to find practice spaces,” Krishnan said. “You would think with the size of our campus and the amount of spaces that we have, there would be enough space for all of us to practice. But in reality, we have a very limited range to select from. A lot of spaces that do exist that are available have restrictions on them, which hinder some RSOs from having that space that they need.” 

Bill 60-90 passed unanimously

60-91

Bill 60-91 advocates for the use of closed captioning technology and recorded lectures on class platforms. It also asks for professors to post recorded lectures and classroom materials online.

Rep. Josh Ennis, who introduced the bill, said there is an abundance of students calling for this change, as it would help them engage in a variety of different ways that they might be more supportive of their abilities and their future. By implementing this, Ennis believes students could relearn class materials and watch lectures that were missed, providing a better opportunity for students to grow and learn. 

Robbins said this bill is helpful for student accessibility. 

“If you’ve had any experience with a college class before, you know how helpful it is when someone records a lecture," Robbins said. “It’s also helpful with accessibility, not only for students who may need closed captioning, but also for people who have auditory processing disorders, people with limitations of note taking, and people who just need a second to process things.”

Bill 60-91 passed unanimously

60-94

This bill allocates $5,000 from the general fund to the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program for a Land Acknowledgement Plaque. In addition to the land acknowledgement, the proposed plaque will acknowledge the historical hardships of the Native American and Indigenous communities, the bill states. 

Rep. Kaylin Casper advocated for the bill, saying that land acknowledgements can sometimes be “self-serving” and require something tangible to represent Indigenous communities.

“Supporting this bill is one way to support Native communities because supporting this bill will help support some of those historical realities and engage in educational work,” Casper said. “This university loves to flaunt the fact that it’s a pioneer land grant university but is less keen to shed light on the historical and contemporary instances of violence. As people living on stolen land everyday, I think everyone has a duty to support the communities that are displaced because of this institution.” 

This bill was originally brought to the general assembly and passed in 2021, but after lack of communication, the money was never properly allocated, Vice President for Internal Administration Conner Le said. However, this time the general assembly aims to "get it right" and properly allocate the $5,000 dollars to the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program in hopes of establishing this plaque.

Bill 60-94 passed unanimously

Michigan Waterways Stewards Presentation 

ASMSU heard a presentation from Michael Stout, founder of Michigan Waterways Stewards, which is a newly founded non-profit organization that is “dedicated” to protecting and caring for Michigan waterways

Upon moving to Michigan a few years ago, Stout said he was “appalled” with how some of the Michigan waterway systems were maintained, pointing towards pollution and natural hazards to be the main reason behind this. These findings prompted Stout to advocate and make a change to different waterway systems around Michigan. 

When working on waterways here in Lansing, one problem that Stout pointed to in his presentation was the large amount of Spin scooters and bicycles found in the Red Cedar River. Stout claimed that there have been 314 scooters, 279 of which were Spin scooters and 160 bicycles retrieved from the Red Cedar River over the past year, with the hot spot being East Lansing's Bogue Street Bridge. This decades-long problem creates hazardous and unsafe environmental conditions, Stout said. 

With the City of East Lansing revoking Spins license to operate earlier this month, Stout hopes that the number of Spin scooters found in the Red Cedar River will deteriorate and calls the passing of the bill a “milestone.

However, there are still many milestones that Stout and Michigan Waterways Stewards hope to achieve, and asks for help from student groups and community members. Four components that Stout is currently pushing for from community members are awareness, deterrence, enforcement and retrieval, all in hopes of creating a safer, cleaner waterway system. 

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