By a 17-16 tally, the Michigan Student Assembly voted down a measure last night that would authorize sending a mass e-mail to students containing information about upcoming lawsuits challenging Proposal 2, the ballot initiative that banned the use of many forms of affirmative action in the state of Michigan.

Next week, the Federal District Court in Detroit will hear arguments on whether to hold a full trial for the lawsuits challenging the constitutional amendment. The e-mail would encourage students to attend the hearing, scheduled for Feb. 6 in Detroit.

Several MSA representatives who opposed the resolution said they did so because the specific language of the e-mail was unavailable when the vote took place.

“If the e-mail text was there, I probably would have voted for it,” said Rackham representative Michael Benson, chair of the Rules and Elections committee.

Art and Design representative Liana Mulholland, who sponsored the resolution, said MSA President Mohammad Dar would write the e-mail if the vote had passed.

MSA representative Ashley Schwedt, who voted for the resolution, said it was important for MSA to remain neutral on the issue of affirmative action.

“As a Democrat and as a minority I feel uncomfortable taking a stance on this issue because I feel that we should be an unbiased group,” she said.

LSA junior Maricruz Lopez, co-chair of the Defend Affirmative Action Party, spoke on behalf of the resolution. She said the decision showed MSA representatives were afraid to represent their constituents and work in favor of the interests of students.

After the meeting ended, some MSA representatives and supporters of the resolution stuck around to discuss the issue.

During a conversation with Lopez and Mulholland, Benson said he might reconsider his previous objections to the e-mail. Benson didn’t commit to changing his vote, but said it was possible that the issue could be revisited at next week’s MSA meeting.

If a representative who previously voted against the resolution states a desire to change sides or abstain from the vote, the assembly will revisit the issue.

Lopez and Mulholland said they plan to send informational e-mails to as many student groups as possible, but wanted MSA be associated with the process so students would take the hearings seriously.

Supporters of the resolution were optimistic about a different outcome at next week’s meeting. Mulholland said she was disappointed that some people voted down the resolution because the text of the e-mail was unavailable.

“People on MSA often use technical procedure to kill someone’s item when they can’t win a verbal argument about the actual issue,” she said.

– Sutha K Kanagasingam contributed to this report.

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