Last night, the Michigan Student Assembly discussed a resolution that, if passed, would revamp the way community members are allowed to address the assembly.
In the past, the “community concerns” portion of the agenda has been known to take up long stretches of meeting time.
In the last two semesters, MSA meeting agendas were routinely derailed during the community concerns portion of the evening by local activists promoting their side of issues sometimes not directly related to campus affairs.
Michael Benson, chair of the Rules and Elections committee, authored the resolution along with Student General Counsel Jim Brusstar. Benson said there were more problems with the community concerns time last year than this semester.
“When people are coming in speaking to things that MSA has no control over, or that MSA cannot affect, it’s a waste of time,” Benson said.
The resolution would shorten the time allotted to each speaker from five minutes to three minutes.
It would also require speakers to present a valid, unexpired MCard. Those without a University affiliation would be able to apply for time with MSA executives at least two business days in advance.
Benson said the assembly “wants to remain open.” He said the resolution is not intended to discourage community members from coming to speak.
But some representatives are wary of the resolution’s implications.
Public Heath Rep. Hamdan Yousuf expressed concerns over limiting the rights of community members to speak during the general meetings.
“I don’t think any democratic body can say give me your valid, unexpired MCard if you want to speak,” he said. “We don’t need to have all of these crazy rules about who can come in and address us. If someone wants to come in and address us they can. They have the right.”
The proposed change also includes giving priority to people speaking about specific agenda items and shortens the time allotted for guest speakers from 30 minutes to 20 minutes.
Though it was debated tonight, the resolution will be voted on during next week’s meeting.
— Caitlin Huston contributed to this report.