Through campus politics and the struggle to carry through with promises he made to voters last winter, Hideki Tsutsumi said he has successfully fulfilled his role as Michigan Student Assembly president, despite the questioning of his leadership ability by assembly members.
“I have continued to carry the sign saying “Tell me your concerns” since after I was elected,” Tsutsumi said. “The problem with previous candidates was that students didn”t even know the name of the MSA president in the past.”
He defends himself by claiming that he has fulfilled the promises he made to voters, including putting textbook information online for 380 out of 1,900 undergraduate courses and improving the University bus system.
“I promised to improve the bus system it improved. It used to run every 20 minutes but had gaps during the day when students would have to wait 40 minutes. Now it runs 20 minutes all day,” Tsutsumi said.
MSA Treasurer Siafa Hage said he agrees Tsutsumi has accomplished his campaign promises but there are many other issues that the assembly had to deal with which the president was not involved.
“He did a great job as far as advocating the bus service and getting text book information online, but as far as everything else MSA was involved in, he didn”t bother himself with it. He was not much of a leader and he really frustrated many members of the assembly,” Hage said.
MSA Vice President Jim Secreto, Tsutsumi”s running mate during last year”s election, said Tsutsumi”s leadership skills are lacking. “I”m very bitter,” Secreto said. “Hideki was unwilling to do those responsibilities required of an MSA president and other people had to pick up the slack.”
Secreto said Tsutsumi failed to show up for numerous meetings, was unable to gain respect from administrators and could not communicate effectively.
“Because of his language barrier he was unable to interact well with other members of the assembly,” Secreto said. “Since he is our No. 1 contact with administers they definitely blew him off.”
But Vice President for Government Relations Cynthia Wilbanks said her experience with Tsutsumi was positive.
“The time that we did spend discussing his goals I found him to be sincere and he was eager to learn,” Wilbanks said. “I think we communicated just fine.”
Secreto agrees that Tsutsumi was able to make himself accessible to students through his famous sign, but he also said Tsutsumi is unable to represent the student body well because he cannot relate to them.
“Hideki is a 27-year-old who is not a full-time student, and that is not representative of an average student,” Secreto said. “Once election time is over it is time to put down the sign and roll up your sleeves and get to work. While he did speak to students he was unable to do anything with that information.”
Although Tsutsumi said he has achieved a lot during his term as MSA president, assembly politics have somewhat discouraged him.
“The motion to remove me from party chair was politically motivated by the parties,” Tsutsumi said.
Members of the assembly, however, said any questions about Tsutsumi”s leadership skills are made with MSA”s best interests in mind.
“As a person he does not have a very dominate personality. He has given a unique style of leadership to the assembly that has created uncertainty on members part as to whether he has done his job or not,” said Reza Breakstone, an LSA representative.
Joanna Hooten, Tsutsumi”s running mate in next week”s election, said she feels he has accomplished his goal of reaching University students and will continue that goal.
“He”s done so much everyone knows who he is and that”s something big. Who else can reach that many people?” Hooten said.