After deliberating and listening to constituents and
deliberation, the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution
last night to fund buses to take students to the “March for
Freedom of Choice,” in Washington. The March is a
demonstration for abortion rights.

Among students attending the meeting, both supporters and
opponents of abortion voiced their opinions.

“I came to speak about funding civil engagement. The
resolution is an opportunity to participate in our government. The
role of the student government is to facilitate participation in
that government,” said LSA senior Clair Morrissey, president
of Students for Choice.

Some MSA representatives, such as Gerald Funderburg, asked if
the atmosphere of the trip could keep a neutral viewpoint. They
expressed concern that the buses to the march would not accept
everyone — such as students who oppose abortion.

Other representatives supported funding the buses and said the
assembly was obligated to foster student participation in current
issues, regardless of their stance.

“The money does not go to funding the pro-choice event.
You can’t not fund someone because of their belief,”
MSA Treasurer Elliot Wells-Reed said.

Political belief is not a reason to reject funding to a student
group, MSA Student General Counsel Jason Mironov said.

The communications committee members assured that they would
impartially advertise the ride to D.C. for the march, which is
scheduled to take place April 25, 2004.

Among its sponsors as the National Organization for Women,
Planned Parenthood of America, Feminist Majority, National Latina
Institute for Reproductive Health and Black Women’s Health
Imperative.

Cynthia Wilbanks, the University’s vice president of
government relations, also visited the chambers last night.

Wilbanks informed the assembly that the Higher Education Act is
up for renewal this year.

The bill to renew the act affects financial aid programs and
programs for international students, which are funded by the
federal government.

One of the proposals Wilbanks discussed was government-imposed
price controls on tuition, which would penalize public and private
institutions if they exceeded the federally mandated tuition
increase.

Wilbanks said she disagreed with this proposal.

“Every institution looks different from each other, so
requiring everyone to adhere to the same standards would be
difficult,” said Wilbanks. The University’s priority is
affordability and accessibility, she said.

No tuition increases are implemented without concerns of
affordability, accessibility and maintaining academic excellence,
Wilbanks added.

“We are going to consider all the options, we will model
the impact of what governor says on Thursday. We are going to do
models of all the proposals,” said Wilbanks, referring to the
Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s plan to release her proposal for the
state budget later this week.

The assembly also passed a resolution to fund AirBus — a
cheap alternative to airport taxis — during spring break.

AirBus began last year as an experiment, and this year it
expanded to be able to provide over 3,000 rides for students, said
Neil Greenberg, AirBus coordinator.

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