While not directly affiliating itself with any political side,
the Michigan Student Assembly is considering allocating funds
toward bringing to campus filmmaker Michael Moore — one of
the most controversial and outspoken liberal figures in popular
media.

The Peace and Justice Commission of MSA presented a resolution
last night that would set aside $12,000 in assembly funds to
attract Moore to speak in Hill Auditorium, on a date tentatively
scheduled in late September. MSA will vote on the resolution next
week.

Commission co-chair Ashwini Hardikar said although the plans
with Moore are still “in negotiation,” he has expressed
his interest in coming to the University and has requested a
relatively small speaker’s fee for his appearance.

If an agreement is reached, Moore — who spoke at the Power
Center last year for the peace movement Anti-War Action —
will address a crowd of up to 35,000 people in the auditorium,
which MSA would rent for $10,000. If plans materialize, the
commission would charge $5 for student admission and $7 for
non-students. Commission members said they are confident that they
will see a large turnout for the event.

The MSA budget is funded by fees which every student is required
to pay.

Concerning the possible potential conflict of the student
government providing funding for a speaker who stands very strongly
on one political side, MSA president Jason Mironov said “MSA
is not allowed to lobby or endorse a candidate, but it is within
our rules and statutes to fund political events from all
sides,” based on how the political group is covered under the
tax code.

Scott Foley, a Business School senior and chair of Students for
Bush at the University, said he would see no problem in the
assembly’s accommodation of Moore so long as an equally
prominent proponent of the right gets an opportunity to address the
University community later on.

“If they in fact sponsor his speech, it would be
absolutely ridiculous for them to not sponsor a conservative
speaker,” he said.

While the text of the proposed resolution stops short of showing
any support or disfavor for Moore’s own beliefs, Foley said
the assembly’s funding of the event could cast a partisan
light on MSA representatives’ ongoing efforts to register
students to vote.

“If MSA ends up funding Moore while they are holding voter
registration drives, I definitely see a link. However, if they fund
an event spotlighting a politically charged speaker of the right
then it would be acceptable.”

But MSA Treasurer Anita Leung, an Engineering senior, said
bringing Moore to the University is not equivalent to supporting
him politically.

“Enabling Moore to be brought to campus does not mean that
we agree with what he says, Leung said.

Mironov also said, “We encourage groups from the right to
come and ask for funding (as well).”

Beginning Friday the Voice Your Vote Commission of MSA will
dispatch representatives to the residence halls with voter
registration forms, at the permission of the Residence Hall
Association. Voice Your Vote is dedicated to registering all
students to vote and getting them to the polls, and says it is
concerned with presenting both sides of political issues. Students
can find more information about Voice Your Voice on the
group’s website: www.mgovote.com.

Also in last night’s assembly meeting, Mironov expressed
his eagerness for what he hoped would be a strong year of action
for MSA.

The assembly received 500 signatures at last week’s
Festifall — more than has been collected in recent years
— and anticipates a high turnout at its open-house meeting
next week.

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