Recently I found myself gathered with a group of students who I knew of, but hadn’t met. We shared no common background — our differences seemed to outweigh our commonalities. We are from different sides of ideological divides, different parts of the country, different backgrounds and a variety of campus organizations. But we were united by one key element: frustration. There was a sense that although we were proud of our individual work in our student groups and among our peers, the larger student body deserved better.
There is a group that has the power to affect every student, yet in recent years has become complacent. The potential of the Michigan Student Assembly outweighs its product by a large margin. This has been apparent not merely to some of those who served, albeit briefly, in the assembly itself, but a sentiment that has been rightfully articulated on these pages and among the most disinterested of students. Students don’t need campaign promises of cheaper textbooks and meetings with the administration for the sake of meeting — they need a student government whose accomplishments and failures are visible and clear. Michigan students need a new vision.
You might think that this diverse group of students would have trouble finding a vision they could all agree to, and that different views would produce conflict. Upon assuming the post of message chairman for the Michigan Vision Party, I thought I would have one of the hardest tasks of my college career ahead of me. How could I present a unified vision that represented so many perspectives? I am pleased to find that while my job isn’t easy, our message carries a special sort of resonance.
This vision is founded on two core principles: transparency and accountability. The majority of us gathered together that Wednesday never saw our future in MSA. We didn’t want to be a part of the problem. But when we talked to each another and others, we found that more students see that they can be a part of the solution. Better student involvement is the only way to accomplish our goals of a more transparent and accountable assembly.
To be a part of the solution is not to be satisfied with winning an election. March 19 is only day one of the task ahead. Though I chronicled our beginning, we want to be clear about one thing: a vision is an open-ended, guiding set of principles. If we believe MSA is to be held accountable, we must begin these tasks by holding ourselves accountable. As one of my responsibilities as message chair, I will ensure that each one of our candidates has a plan not just during but also after the election. If they do not follow through on a campaign promise, I will be the first to let you know.
In order for this to succeed, we won’t allow our involvement to be stagnant or complacent and assume the current character of the assembly’s dominant party. We are not a movement that is interested merely in repackaging and recycling. When our members come to us with resolutions, I will be asking: How does this improve our accountability and transparency to the student body? How does this proposal reflect an achievable student concern? There is only one group they need to be accountable to, and that’s the student body. I want to do my part to ensure that this happens.
Curious about our message and our vision? Email me at email@example.com. Want to see your concern become a part of our program? Please go to our forum, VisionTalk, at our website, michiganvisionparty.com.
Isn’t it time your vision was realized?
Brady Smith is the message chairman for the Michigan Vision Party.