A resolution proposed last night at the Michigan Student Assembly meeting would allow the student body to vote for the two student members of the Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee.

The proposed resolution comes after The Michigan Daily published an article on Nov. 16 highlighting a series of problems with the DPS Oversight Committee, including analysis from independent lawyers who said that the assembly’s current appointment process for representatives may violate state law.

Although state law requires student, faculty and staff members of the DPS Oversight Committee to be “nominated and elected” to the committee by the each constituency group, MSA has in recent years appointed students to serve.

MSA President Abhishek Mahanti, who co-authored the resolution, urged MSA members to support it to ensure the assembly would no longer violate state law. He also said that many of the members were motivated to get a resolution on the table after first hearing about the issue.

“It’s nice that the entire assembly got behind (the issue) to figure out what can be done to go forward,” Mahanti said. “It was a really good collaborative effort.”

LSA Rep. John Lin, who co-authored the resolution with Mahanti, said it’s necessary to change MSA’s Compiled Code so that years down the road, future MSA members will understand the necessity of having a student-wide election for DPS Oversight Committee members.

“We realized that if you don’t put it in the Compiled Code,” Lin said, “there’s a strong chance that years from now somebody’s going to forget that it’s actually something we have to have an election for.”

If this resolution passes, elections to seat student representatives to the DPS Oversight Committee would take place in the campus-wide elections in March and November. After the initial election in March 2010, elections would be staggered, with each student serving a full year term.

Because the March election would be the first, the winner of that election would serve on the committee a full-year term and the runner-up would serve a half-year term to ensure both seats would be filled. The runner-up would then step down after the November 2010 election.

This resolution will come up for a vote on Jan. 12, the first MSA meeting next semester.

The DPS Oversight Committee is be made up of two students, two faculty members and two staff members who are tasked with making recommendations regarding grievances against DPS.

According Mahanti, campus-wide elections of students to serve on the DPS committee have not happened in recent years. According to a Nov. 29 article in The Michigan Daily, the last campus-wide election is believed to have been held in 1999. Since then, MSA has appointed already-elected MSA representatives to serve on the committee through an internal nomination process.

— Scott Suh contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *