In her open letter to students published
in the Daily last Thursday, University President Mary Sue Coleman
called for the creation of a Standing Student Advisory Committee,
which will include representatives from student organizations and
provide student input on University issues. The establishment of
this committee is a laudable first step toward an appropriate level
of student involvement. Yet, whether this initiative will create a
forum for student input or become another administration stall
tactic, remains to be seen. Both students and administrators should
strive to ensure that this committee is given the opportunity to
articulate a student voice in the administrative process.

Mira Levitan

Though the formation of student committees can provide an
important forum for dialogue between administrators and students,
these committees are no substitute for action. The new committee
must not become a token act of goodwill toward students nor a
bureaucratic hindrance to real progress on student issues.

Coleman’s role in student affairs should be extend beyond
merely the creation of such committees. Coleman must honor her
commitment to students, and make sure the committee functions to
represent students.

Student pressure is also necessary if this committee is to be
successful. Whether this new administrative creation succeeds or
fails in lobbying for important issues depends a great deal on
student input. Students have to take an active role in shaping and
empowering the committee, making sure that it acts as a voice for
all students and not just a select few. If the student body knows
that the students representing them on the committee truly have
their interests in mind, then they will be more likely to stay
engaged.

And with summer approaching, these efforts must carry over into
next fall. The passion students have shown recently over a lack of
student input cannot be allowed to wither over the summer, and it
is important that students come back in September eager to make
their voices heard.

As a center for student leadership, the Michigan Student
Assembly could do a great deal to assist in this process. It should
establish a student-run committee that would investigate budget
allocations and advise MSA, the Standing Student Advisory
Committee, the student body and the administration on issues
related to the University’s budget and tuition rates.

If these new committees are to be effective, both the
administration and the student body must remain actively involved
in their work. Coleman must make good on her commitment to
encourage student input, and the student body must keep applying
pressure on the administration and be ready to continue the fight
next fall.

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