Musing on her term as Michigan Student Assembly president, LSA senior Sarah Boot said she leaves behind a more unified and approachable legislature than when she took office.

Elected by a 28-vote margin last spring, Boot said she wanted to familiarize herself with representatives before collaborating on political resolutions.

“I met with every rep last year at the beginning of the year to ask them what they wanted to work on,” she said. “Our biggest goal was to make MSA more of a representative body, and I feel like we did that with the people who got elected with us.”

In her year-end MSA officer report, Boot said in addition to mobilizing representatives to adopt projects and develop “game plans” for their terms, she also initiated several resolutions seeking to better the rapport between MSA and its constituents.

During her term, Boot co-sponsored resolutions surveying student opinion on renovations to Recreational Sports facilities, improving counseling to students involved with off-campus housing and pressing the administration to hire more women and minority faculty.

“I think projects like the airBus – where MSA reaches out and students can see us every time we operate – make a big difference,” Boot said, referring to a recent resolution funding airport transportation for students during Spring Break. “When students can contact us and see us in action, that also makes a big difference.”

Although representatives said Boot’s proposals were sometimes controversial, they added that she maintained order in an assembly polarized by party allegiances.

“I think it’s hard to find a point that Sarah didn’t handle professionally, even when the assembly got controversial,” MSA Communications Committee Vice Chair Courtney Skiles said. “I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t have a lot of respect for Sarah.”

But some representatives said Boot’s presidency also bears the mark of ineffective legislation and low attendance at assembly meetings. In addition to gathering votes for many campus improvements, Boot supported dead-letter resolutions about central issues such as race-conscious admissions and war with Iraq, LSA Rep. Darth Newman said.

“We passed a lot of resolutions that did nothing, and certainly had no effect on President Bush,” he said, citing a letter MSA sent to the federal government to discourage U.S. military strikes on Iraq. “There was probably more space to push a little harder on campus issues.”

Looking ahead, Boot said MSA is poised for success next term regardless of the outcome of the elections.

“I think there is so much momentum right now,” she said. “I only see MSA continuing to improve – and I hope it does.”

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