The Michigan Student Assembly last night approved spending $3,093.04 to pay for damage to rental vans that occurred during representatives” trip to Minneapolis last month for a conference of the Association of Big Ten Schools.

One of the drivers of the two vehicles, LSA Rep. Zach Slates, said police reports were not filed because the damage wasn”t noticed until long after it occurred.

Therefore, the rental company refused to pay for repairs even though the vans were insured.

Slates admitted damaging the vehicle he was driving by striking a freeway median. A second van, driven by LSA Rep. John Simpson, was damaged by an unknown vehicle while parked.

Some members of the assembly voiced concern that the assembly”s money was being used to cover up reckless actions however, the majority of the assembly agreed paying the repair costs was unfortunate but necessary. The motion to disperse the funds passed 17-5-4.

Also last night, MSA unanimously passed a statement in support of women”s right to fully participate in social and political life.

The resolution requires the Women”s Issues Commission to form a task force “working against the perpetuation of passive acceptance of sexism through the media and among members of the University community.”

Commission co-chair Elizabeth Higgins said the resolution is “a response to an increase in publicity about sexual harassment. It used a specific case, Jessica Curtin”s, to show the usefulness of coming out after you are harassed.”

The writing of the resolution was triggered by comments printed about Rackham Rep. Jessica Curtin in the Michigan Independent and numerous alleged rapes and other forms of sexual harassment recently on campus.

“The issue (of sexual harassment) needs to be talked about and acted on,” Rackham Rep. Jessica Curtin said. “Our first victory was with the Independent”s public apology, which showed it is not hopeless people can change.”

Later in the meeting, the assembly passed a resolution to ask Dining Services to serve Fair Trade certified organic coffee.

The use of Fair Trade certified coffee helps small farmers receive more of the profit their coffee by guaranteeing the coffee will be sold at $1.26 per pound, which is about four times the market price.

Student groups such as Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality, Campus Greens, the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan and the New World Economic Agricultural Group support University residence halls” use of fair trade coffee, and they are researching the feasibility and additional cost it could incur.

LSA Rep. Rob Goodspeed said some of these groups will be setting up tents near residence hall dining rooms to garner student support for the use of Fair Trade coffee.

The election of MSA and LSA Student Government representatives and voting on the $1 student fee increase began last night at midnight and runs through midnight tomorrow. Students can access the voting website at vote.www.umich.edu.

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