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MForward's Chris Armstrong elected next MSA president

Samantha Trauben/Daily
LSA junior Chris Armstrong celebrates after finding out he was elected the next MSA president. Buy this photo

BY ELYANA TWIGGS
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 25, 2010

Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that there were 15 grievances filed against MForward. There were actually six grievances filed against MForward. A total of 15 grievances were filed against all Michigan Student Assembly parties.

LSA junior Chris Armstrong and Business School junior Jason Raymond of MForward were elected Michigan Student Assembly president and vice president last night, according to unofficial election results distributed late last night.

Armstrong and Raymond won by more than 1,000 votes — beating out the Michigan Vision Party’s Ian Margolis and Tom Stuckey — in an election with a student voter turnout of 14 percent, the highest it’s been in years.

Students also voted to pass a new constitution drafted by Students 4 Progressive Governance, which will alter the structure of MSA.

Throughout the campaign MForward promised to establish a more unified student government where students can see direct results yielded through representative’s passion and advocacy. MVP’s platform was focused on achieving what Margolis called “tangibles” for students by offering events like pep rallies or concerts.

After hearing the results, Armstrong’s satisfaction could be heard in a jittery phone interview.

“I am overwhelmingly astonished,” Armstrong said. “I am so humbled by the fact that the student body voted for us. It’s really hard for me to put into words how incredibly elated I feel.”

Despite a problem with a randomization feature on the MSA voting website which may have compromised as many as 1,000 student ballots, Michael Benson, chair of MSA’s Rules and Elections Committee, said that the election ran “relatively smoothly.”

Benson said he was happy with the voter turnout, though he said the percentage could have been higher.

Student participation in MSA elections has increased every year since 2007. In the winter 2008 election, 6.4 percent of the student body voted and that number doubled for the elections in winter 2009 — with 4,497 votes cast.

This year, the tight race between MForward and the Michigan Vision Party yielded an even higher voter turnout as 5,488 students cast a ballot.

In the phone interview, Armstrong said that he didn’t expect that he and Raymond would win the majority of the student vote.

“Part of me felt like we were doing very well, but I never expected to win,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t know how to react until I actually heard my name.”

Armstrong and Raymond will serve as the new MSA president and vice president for the remainder of the school year and until March 2011.

Armstrong and Raymond won by 1,035 votes, though there were six grievances filed against MForward, which resulted in the party receiving a demerit for one of the grievances — an unauthorized campaign sticker was placed above a urinal in Angell Hall.

Benson said that the number of grievances filed would make it possible, yet highly unlikely to threaten the newly elected president and vice president positions. He added that less than five grievances were filed in last year’s winter elections.

Armstrong and Raymond formed MForward — a party focused on direct advocacy and student involvement — during this year’s election cycle because they believed some members of MSA didn’t think MSA was solving enough issues or making University students unite inside and outside the assembly.

The MForward party platform includes lobbying for Saturday night dining in the residence halls, a gender-neutral housing option for students and the lobbying for the passage of the Good Samaritan Law — a law intended to safeguard against an intoxicated student getting a Minor in Possession for calling an ambulance for another intoxicated student.

The Michigan Vision Party’s platform promoted tangibility — or small events that improve students’ experience at the University.

The Students 4 Progressive Governance new student constitution also passed last night with 2,356 votes in favor of the measure. Since the document was passed, the structure of MSA will be revised accordingly in the coming weeks.

Current MSA Vice President Michael Rorro, chair of S4PG, told the Daily earlier this month that the new constitution will allow students to have “greater access” to how their $7.19 student government fee is being spent.

The new structure includes the creation of the University Council — a body of MSA representatives who can call for a vote on a drafted resolution for their constituents. The resolutions that are approved by the University Council will appear before MSA during the assembly’s weekly meetings.