For the first time in history, student government delegations from all Big Ten universities convened at the biannual Association of Big Ten Students Conference, hosted last weekend by the University of Minnesota.
Members of the Central Student Government’s executive committee comprised the University’s delegation, attending lectures, participating in forums and collectively passing six resolutions pertaining to issues the delegates found to be relevant on campuses throughout the Big Ten.
Business senior Michael Proppe, CSG president, said higher education affordability was at the forefront of talks between the delegates, which ultimately was reinforced by the resolutions they passed.
“You see a lot in common,” Proppe said. “Across the board, you have cuts in state funding to higher education. Everybody’s hurting a lot because of that.”
One of these resolutions, co-sponsored by the University and Indiana University delegations, supports federal efforts to promote tuition equality at Big Ten schools for undocumented youth.
The University’s Board of Regents passed measures to implement tuition equality in July. The board revised residency guidelines at the University, making undocumented resident students eligible for in-state tuition costs.
Music senior Ellie Kirn, CSG communications director, felt that the convention’s most important discussion had to do with the Affordable College Textbook Act, which ABTS supported. The correlating resolution endorses the “open textbook publishing model,” under which digital copies of textbooks are published for free online.
She added that the student government representatives will bear these issues in mind later in the year when the ABTS delegates head to Washington, D.C. as part of “Big Ten on the Hill,” where they will get the chance to discuss policy with federal officials.
Kirn said the three-day event was also an outlet to compare bureaucratic processes.
“Michigan is the only school without a student sitting on the Board of Regents,” Proppe said. “It’ll never happen – it’s in the Michigan state constitution – but (the other schools) were offering ideas to increase the power of student government and make the student voice more prominent at Michigan.”