During the hotly contested campaign to lead the Michigan Student Assembly, Abhishek Mahanti and Mike Rorro promised to increase the assembly’s accountability and transparency, if elected.

Now that the race is over, the pair has started to take their campaign slogans and make them more concrete.

Rorro said all of the changes they have in the works have to do with using the assembly’s resources to cater only to students’ direct needs.

“Going forward into the next year, our primary goal, as it was in the campaign, is to bring students back to the assembly, a place where people see it as a resource, where they see their representatives as public servants,” Rorro said. “Everything that we do is based on the question, ‘Have we made student life better here at Michigan through passing this resolution or going out and doing this event or funding this group?’”

Mahanti said one of the most important changes in bringing about this increased focus on student needs is revamping MSA’s website, which he said should be finished by the beginning of the fall semester.

The two new webmasters MSA hired will add links to useful sites for students like like the AirBus pages, ratemyprofessors.com and inexpensive textbooks on Amazon.com to the website, Mahanti said.

Mahanti said the website will also feature ways for students to contribute to and find out more about MSA. There are plans to regularly upload the budget, meeting minutes, agendas and resolutions to the page.

Students will also be able to log in through their Facebook accounts to comment on a new MSA blog.

Mahanti said the website changes would help improve MSA’s relationship with students and would make the assembly more transparent.

“By starting with a new website, with documents, minutes, proposals, resolutions, budget stuff, everything and anything,” he said, “having that there from the get-go is going to really help us on that path.”

In addition to revamping the website’s design, Mahanti and Rorro also want to use it to promote and expand resources like the Blue Hiring Blue program, which helps students get jobs and internships. They also plan to hold a five-day job week, during which MSA would bring in student organizations and representatives from the Career Center and companies to hold résumé workshops, mock interviews, information sessions and forums.

The pair also has plans in the works to help foster stronger relationships between MSA and student organizations by matching up interested student groups with an MSA representative. The representatives would meet with their designated student organizations on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and would attend some of their events.

“It’s just sort of a way to develop a closer connection to MSA, to show that we can actually help (student organizations) out,” Rorro said, “We want to help out student groups with anything at all, not just funding.”

Additionally, Rorro said he and Mahanti want to make funding an easier process in itself by holding workshops to teach student organizations how to fill out funding applications.

Mahanti said that he and Rorro also want to reach out to the student body at large by holding office hours outside of MSA’s location in the Michigan Union, like on the Diag and in Mason Hall. MSA representatives are already required to hold one office hour a week, but Mahanti said students don’t typically take advantage of them because they aren’t well publicized and aren’t held in convenient locations.

“Outreach is really hard. People don’t like to look at signs. They don’t like to talk on the Diag, so it’s inherently a difficult problem,” Mahanti said. “But we’ve been doing our best with the campaign and moving forward to make sure we’re out there as much as possible without annoying people.”

While Mahanti and Rorro said they plan to tackle larger goals like tuition and helping students find jobs, they want to take immediate action to focus on more attainable goals.

“MSA is a series of small victories, and I think that if we go into the year looking at it like that, and if we start having these small victories, then next year maybe we can have bigger victories,” Mahanti said. “But I think right now we can look at these small things and deliver on them, and then push forward.”

As an example of one of these “small victories,” LSA Rep. Ian Margolis is currently working with Mahanti and Rorro to implement “MSA Mondays,” which will include giving out free coffee and placing LCD screens displaying wait times at bus stops.

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