Many Michigan Student Assembly representatives expressed concern at last night”s meeting over recent “attacks” on president Hideki Tsutsumi regarding his ability to communicate with the assembly.
“People are trying to dissuade international students from running for MSA,” said LSA Rep. Erika Dowdell. Dowdell and others said Vice President Jim Secreto”s vocal stance that Tsutsumi had difficulty communicating with the assembly because English was not his first language was racist.
“This attack is beginning to foster racism on campus,” said Defend Affirmative Action Party member Caroline Wong. “The climate on this campus for Asian students is hostile as it is.”
Wong called for an apology from Secreto for “allowing the election to become a vehicle to foster racism on campus.”
Many representatives and constituents said race was not the reason they were unhappy with Tsutsumi”s term.
“My problems are not with his language,” said LSA senior Rodolfo Palma-Lulion. “It”s with his ideology.”
“I don”t support the attacks on Hideki, but I don”t see them as racist,” Kinesiology Rep. T.J. Wharry said. “I can”t understand what my grandparents say but they”re just as white as I am.”
Tsutsumi said he felt all attacks on him were politically motivated and that he is “above the fray of party politics.”
Also at the meeting, Hank Baier, associate vice president for Facilities and Operations, spoke to the assembly about the potential merger between the University bus system and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. The assembly recently passed a resolution against the potential merger.
“We”re trying to develop ways to increase the bus service, not decrease service levels,” Baier said. “In order to expand, we have to go with AATA.”
Amendments to the MSA code and constitution were presented for first reads, and they were not well received.
“As a constituent I have a problem with each and every one of these amendments,” said Palma-Lulion.
The assembly also consented to the transfer of $1,500 for advertising of Advice Online during fall registration. “This is one of the greatest things that we do,” Secreto said. “People need to know about it.”