In an attempt to receive input from students, the Michigan
Student Assembly held a public meeting last night.

Student Government
Michigan Student Assembly President Jason Mironov and Vice President Jenny Nathan speak at a public forum in the MSA chambers yesterday. LSA freshman Makael Burrell sits in the background. (ALI OLSEN/Daily)

Although turnout at the meeting was low, MSA representatives
discussed some of their current and future plans, including
addressing University budget cuts and the possibility of creating a
new tenants union.

MSA is currently in talks with Vice President for Student
Affairs E. Royster Harper about forming a student advisory board to
assist in the University’s budget process.

University President Mary Sue Coleman approved the idea of
creating a student board two weeks ago.

Mironov said he wants students to be involved in the allocation
of funds in the Division of Student Affairs.

“On the subject of budget cuts, MSA would like to include
interested students from all areas of campus at every step of the
process, from proposal to senior leadership confirmation,”
Mironov said.

But Students Voices in Action member Liz Higgins said she was
skeptical that the assembly will be able to fulfill this
promise.

The faculty has been unsuccessfully pushing the University to
open the budget to them completely, said Higgins, an LSA
senior.

SVA formed this term in response to a proposed 4 percent
decrease of the Division of Student Affairs. They have organized
several protests and meetings with the administration to discuss
how to avoid these cuts.

But, MSA Student General Counsel Jesse Levine illustrated how
students have a voice in some budget decisions, such as on the
Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee.

The MSA president gets a seat on the board, as well as one
additional student Levine said.

“In the athletic department there is a precedent for
students having a say in budget discussions,” Levine said.
“The athletic department cannot pass their budget without the
consent of the two student members that are on the
board.”

MSA intended to discuss the Naked Mile at the public meetings,
but no students spoke in regard to the event.

Mironov said MSA does not have a specific stance on the Naked
Mile other then to protect student rights and try to keep
participants as safe as possible.

MSA Vice President Jenny Nathan said in the past there was a lot
concern from the administration about the Naked Mile.

Participation in the Naked Mile has sharply declined after it
received criticism in the late 1990s for the threats it posed to
students’ security, both due to the possibility of sexual
assault and the fact that many runs were filmed by spectators.

The revival of a group similar to the Ann Arbor Tenants Union is
an additional concern for MSA.

The AATU was formed in the late 1960s and designed to inform
students of their rights as tenants and to serve as an outlet for
student-landlord dilemmas.

The closing of the AATU occurred because MSA said it was
receiving complaints about the ineffectiveness of the service from
students.

But Mironov and MSA representatives discussed the formation of a
new service to resolve student tenants’ problems.

“It seems that a tenants union will be assembled through
MSA, and will hopefully be allocated the proper funding in next
year’s budget, pending assembly support in the fall,”
Mironov said.

Nathan said the members of the assembly decided to conduct a
public meeting in addition to their weekly Tuesday meetings to
engage in a more direct dialogue with students.

The assembly wanted to make students aware that MSA meetings are
always open and that additional meetings are available to handle
student affairs, Mironov said.

MSA representatives were positive about continuing to conduct
meetings to converse with their constituency, Mironov added.

“I think that this is the first of many public
meetings,” Mironov said. “While initial turnout was
low, this was a pilot program that we intend to carry out through
the summer and next year,” he added.

In the past MSA has had dinners at residence halls to reach out
to the public and members plan to continue this outreach next fall,
added Mironov.

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