Michigan Action Party candidate and Zach Yost and Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Maricruz Lopez met in South Quad Residence Hall last night for what was billed as the annual Michigan Student Assembly presidential debate last night.
But there was no debate to be found, even though the election, which is not nearly as hotly contested as last year’s four-horse marathon, is next week. There were only a handful of attendees, mostly MAP members.
However, there was a 20-minute question-and-answer session among Yost, Lopez and Katie Woods, WOLV-TV anchor (Woods is also a reporter for The Michigan Daily, but she was not serving in that capacity last night) and a reporter for The Michigan Daily.
The short session focused on MSA’s shortcomings and Proposal 2, the ballot initiative passed in November that banned the use of affirmative action by public institutions in the state.
Yost said he and his vice presidential candidate, Mohammad Dar, are aware of the potential ramifications of the ballot initiative and were ready to take action.
“We are trying to implement a plan based on recruitment, retention and jobs,” he said.
Lopez pointed to her party’s commitment to fighting Proposal 2.
“DAAP has been very involved,” she said. “Voters of Michigan don’t want to see this campus go back to the Jim Crow days.”
When asked about the shape of the current assembly, Yost, the current MSA student general counsel, was positive.
“MSA is undergoing internal change right now,” he said. “We want to make it a more accountable organization.”
Lopez said she wants change.
“We want to make MSA more of a student union, more a voice of the students,” she said. “Right now they are too closely linked to the administration. They have become a spokesperson for the administration.”
In his closing statement, Yost replied that a strong relationship with the University administration is vital to the success of MSA.
“You may have all these diversity plans,” he said. “But if you want to get them through, you have to be willing to sit down and talk with administrators.”
The only topic that roused strong emotions was Airbus, a successful bus service sponsored by MSA that brings students to and from Detroit Metro Airport before and after breaks.
While Yost touted it as an achievement, Lopez said as president she would focus on more important matters than getting students to the airport.
Yost said he was disappointed with her attitude.