After two weeks of controversy and reversed decisions, the undergraduate Ford School of Public Policy will receive a seat on the Michigan Student Assembly in this month’s election.
The decision was made Friday by Election Director Ryan Bouchard after he received the new enrollment report from the Office of the Registrar, which says 52 undergraduates are currently enrolled in the school. Bouchard released a revised candidate application later that day.
Initial seat apportionment plans for the election did not provide for a Public Policy seat. Though MSA’s constitution requires representatives from all University colleges and students, its Compiled Code requires that the number of seats for each college be determined by the registrar’s most recent enrollment report. MSA Student General Counsel Arvind Sohoni said he found the new registrar’s numbers Thursday night on the registrar’s website.
Until last week, the most recent report was from the winter 2007 term, when there was no undergraduate Public Policy school, leaving Public Policy with no seats on the assembly. A long MSA battle ensued, and the assembly decided to give Public Policy a seat at last Tuesday’s meeting.
Bouchard then overruled the assembly’s decision, sending out candidate application materials based on the apportionment plans – without a Public Policy seat – originally brought before the assembly. In an interview last Thursday, Bouchard said he based his decision on the most readily available version of the Compiled Code online. But he said Sohoni informed him that a more updated code existed, prompting him to take down the candidate materials Thursday night.
The assembly amended the Compiled Code in January to take seat reapportionment responsibilities away from the Central Student Judiciary and MSA’s Rules and Elections Committee, which previously controlled seat allotment, but the responsibilities were not explicitly assigned to any other body. This amendment is not included in the version of the assembly’s code posted on the MSA website as of last night – the same version initially used by Bouchard.
Sohoni said that over the weekend he went through the minutes from each MSA meeting since last November and will post a fully updated version of the code on the MSA website today.
MSA President Zack Yost, who was student general counsel last year, denied that the code hadn’t been updated regularly, but he said there were a few times when the updating wasn’t as thorough as it could have been. The student general counsel is usually in charge of updating the code when MSA changes a part of it. In an interview last week, Yost said the code hadn’t been updated since February.
Planning for this month’s election has exposed many weak places in the assembly’s code, Sohoni said. After the election, MSA will change the code as needed to assure that the same problems don’t reoccur, he said.
Bouchard’s seat reapportionment plan renders the plan approved by the assembly Thursday null and void, though the assembly’s plan also allowed a seat for Public Policy.
Sohoni said Bouchard was able to modify the pre-approved seat allotment to confirm with the registrar’s report because the updated compiled code heavily suggests that the election board – which Bouchard heads – should have final say over seat reapportionment.