Red cups and kegs are a common sight on campus – but on the Diag? That’s your student government at work.

Sarah Royce
Che Martinez, an Engineering junior, receives a cup of root beer from Michigan Student Assembly representative and LSA junior Arielle Linsky on the Diag yesterday. (CAITLIN KLEIBOER/Daily)

Michigan Student Assembly representatives set up camp on the Diag Wednesday to help “build awareness about MSA,” said Nicole Stallings, MSA vice president and the primary organizer of the event. The event was designed to promote the upcoming Ludacris concert and other MSA-sponsored events. Students could pick up information on MSA’s goals, a packet on their rights regarding alcohol or a free cup of keg root beer. Many MSA representatives were also on hand to talk with fellow students about the organization.

“It’s an information campaign to let the student body know that we are working to make campus better,” MSA President Jesse Levine said. The event was necessary, MSA representatives said, because of concerns that students don’t know much about the assembly.

“I know they pass resolutions and deal with issues on campus,” said Karen Spangler, an LSA junior.

That was more than most students could say.

When asked what she knew about MSA, Nursing freshman Meghan Archer answered with a simple “nothing.”

“People don’t know what MSA is,” Stallings conceded. “We want to work on that. We want them to know who we are, what we’re about.”

MSA has been doing more than booking concerts lately. The CHANGE program – consisting of inter-group dialogues, service opportunities and collaborations with the NAACP and other national groups – and a joint committee with City Council are two of its recent projects.

“CHANGE is really big,” Levine said. “The point is to change the culture of this place.” The ongoing program, Levine said, is designed to help students have a greater understanding of where other people are coming from.

The joint committee with City Council, which the Council approved on Monday, was a major achievement for MSA, which will have the power to appoint the five student members. The idea for the committee came from second-ward City Council candidate Stephen Rapundalo, a Democrat, after several months of public criticism of City Council by Levine and other MSA representatives, who accused the Council of failing to seek student input on city policy.

The committee will “institutionalize communication between students and Council members,” according to the MSA’s 2005-06 agenda.

Diag Day also served as an opportunity for MSA to inform students of their rights and responsibilities regarding alcohol, a personal issue for Levine, whose friend was threatened with arrest when he went to the University Hospital for alcohol poisoning.

“I don’t want students to be afraid to go to the hospital. This is echoed by the police and echoed by the University administration,” Levine said.

To inform students on the issue, MSA representatives handed out packets with information on their rights and responsibilities regarding alcohol. They also played root beer pong throughout Diag Day as a way to draw attention to the event as a whole and alcohol issues in particular.

Diag Day’s major selling point was the recently announced Ludacris concert, to be held in Hill Auditorium on Nov. 3. There are still about 1,500 tickets available for the show, and Levine said he encouraged students to purchase them before they go on sale to the general public on Oct. 25.

MSA held the event to get information about student government out to students, and it appeared to work.

“A lot of people have come by and picked up flyers,” Stallings said.

When asked why he stopped by, LSA junior Doug Emeott said, “I saw they were trying to get word out. I was kind of interested in the first place. I was interested in knowing more.”

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