LSA-SG presidential elections need to remain democratic, not
insulated

To the Daily:

As a former elected representative of the Michigan Student
Assembly, three-term MSA Student Rights Commission chair and
Central Student Judiciary justice, I am deeply troubled by the
ballot initiative appearing on the ballot of the LSA Student
Government elections this week.

If successful, the initiative would make the president and vice
president of LSA–SG internally selected positions —
only representatives would be elected.

Although this newspaper alleged in your editorial Monday
(Reforming Government 03/15/04) that the proposal would
“ensure that executives are elected based on competence, not
charisma,” I think the real effect would further insulate
student government from the student body.

I view the proposal as a thinly-veiled reaction to the election
of Monique Luse and Tim Whalen as LSA-SG president and vice
president in winter 2002, both student government outsiders at the
time. However, I think their election by a comfortable margin
simply illustrated exactly how alienated and out of touch most
students felt from the existing representatives; Luse and Whalen
won the votes they received.

As long as we profess democratic principals, electoral upsets
will happen. The proper reaction of the other members of student
government should be to educate and work with the newly elected
candidates as much as possible, not to seek to insulate themselves
further from the electorate.

The efforts of Stuart Wagner, Janu Lakashman and Andrew Yahkind
to oppose this elitist proposal should be commended, and in
addition to voting on yesterday and today, LSA students should vote
no on the ballot proposal.

Rob Goodspeed

LSA senior

Former MSA-LSA Representative

Former Daily reporter

 

University needs to do more to help Ann Arbor

To the Daily:

Tuesday, to a full crowd on the opening night of the 42nd Ann
Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor was introduced to Yoni Goldstein and
Max Sussman’s documentary “Whatever You Destroy”
(We Didn’t Start the Fire, 03/11/04). We relived last
summer’s fiery death of the Ann Arbor Tech Center, the last
oasis of affordable studio housing and an essential piece of the
Ann Arbor artistic community. As the documentary faded to black,
the waves of applause resonated out of the theater, through the
lobby, and into the streets of the city, hollowly echoing an
uncomfortable question — what has happened to our fair Ann
Arbor?

The history of Ann Arbor’s cultural and artistic
importance is staggering — Students for a Democratic Society,
the ONCE music festivals, the Free John Sinclair Rallies, the Ann
Arbor Film Festival itself. Yet monuments are fading, and the
community that supported them is in strife as well. In the last
year, in addition to the Technology Center, we have seen the loss
of The Del Rio, the Ann Arbor Tenants Union, the Student Woodshop
and Decker Drugs. Rent costs have forced Schoolkids Records
literally underground and Fantasy Attic Costumes has, like the 555
Gallery of the Tech Center, fled the city. In their place we are
seeing more and more of Starbucks, Sprint Cellular and luxury
condominiums. Hash Bash and the annual summer Art Fair are now
laughable. The town’s gentrification isn’t only a
threat to low income artists; as student housing prices escalate,
it’s a threat to community members, business owners and the
student body.

Tonight, you could feel this in the theater. While the citizens
are upset with the changing face of Ann Arbor, the film documented
the city’s utter indifference to the shift. As we all know,
the University is Ann Arbor. We are still made up of Anti-War
Action!, affirmative action and the newly re-emerging SDS. But what
are we doing for the town? Who is leading the fight for our right
to afford to live in our own town? The students of the University
are responsible for demanding an end to the exploitative
deterioration of Ann Arbor. The death of the Tech Center signifies
a crossroads. We can either demand that the University works to end
the city’s homogenization, or smile as the condos set in to
pick clean the bones of a once vibrant city.

John Notarianni

LSA sophomore

 

MSA president, et al: support Trotter House

To the Daily:

Your article (Bringing down the house, 03/15/04) proposes
that students vote no on the Trotter House ballot question that is
being voted on this yesterday and today during Michigan Student
Assembly elections. We stand as students who maintain that the best
action for students to take is to vote yes on the ballot proposal.
The Daily was right when it said the William Monroe Trotter
House’s infrastructure is falling apart and yes, the
administration has made little attempt to renovate this
facility.

However, the Daily was wrong when it assumed that giving $30,000
to this building would set the precedent of students paying for
buildings that the administration is responsible for. Instead, if
this proposal passes, it will send the message that students are
willing to put their money where there mouth is. This ballot
question was not proposed by MSA to force students to pay for all
the renovations to Trotter. It was brought to the assembly in order
to gather student support in numbers that could be used when
pressuring to the administration for more funds. Any competent
organizer knows negotiations with the administration center around
numbers, especially for issues important to student services. There
are currently students organizing, working and talking to the
administration about the dire need for renovations to Trotter
House. While we can meet and lobby and ask for the administration
to address our concerns, all we have gotten in the past 10 years is
a consultant hired for one year to write the “student
vision.”

It is important that the administration put money toward this
facility, especially with its claim that they have a commitment to
diversity. It is also important that students be conscious and
aware of the way the administration works here at the University.
Students should be prepared and ready for the administration to
stall on issues important to the students that fall under the
Division of Student Affairs. If this measure were voted down, the
University administration would be given a mandate to continue
ignoring Trotter House indefinitely. Experience has taught us that
without statistics and numbers to back us, our pleas mean little to
the administration. We have power in numbers. The Daily should know
that the students who brought this ballot question do not intend to
abandon this issue after the elections.

This is not a “stop-gap” measure. This ballot
question is one step in a much larger process. If this ballot
question does not pass, it will be detrimental to the development
of the Trotter House. Even if it were voted down because students
feel more University resources need to be allocated to the
renovations, these distinctions will be lost in the Fleming
Administration Building. Students will be saying they actually do
not care for the condition of our multicultural center. We urge
students to vote yes on this ballot question. Let’s tell the
administration that we value multiculturalism and the Trotter
House.

Angela Galardi

President, Michigan Student Assembly

Monique Perry

Vice President, MSA

Elliott Wells-Reid

Treasurer, MSA

Jason Mironov

Student General Counsel, MSA

Pete Woiwode

MSA representative

Sam Woll

MSA representative

R. L’Heureux Lewis

H.E.A.D.S. Core

Rahul Saksena

South Asian Progressive Alliance

Avani Kothary

Co-chair, United Asian American Organization

Laban King

Co-chair, Minority Affairs Commission, MSA

Nickole Fox

Co-chair, Native American Student Association

Jackie Bray

Co-chair, MSA Peace and Justice Committee

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