Michigan Student Assembly President Jesse Levine endured the first defeat of his presidential term Wednesday night when his proposal to create a liaison between MSA and City Council was shot down by the assembly, but quickly recovered last night by forging a compromise with an MSA committee.

Instead of creating a new committee to establish a relationship with Council members, as Levine had originally proposed, MSA’s External Relations Committee, which traditionally handles relations with other governments – and whose members saw Levine’s original proposal as an intrusion on their authority – will elect a liaison by itself.

“It’s almost exactly the same thing,” said Tim Wiggins, vice chair of ERC.

Wiggins said the ERC’s decision will create a committee nearly identical to the one Levine originally wanted. The only difference is that ERC will be responsible for nominating and electing the committee chair independently from the rest of MSA.

Levine said on Wednesday that he felt relations with City Council was an important enough issue to warrant its own committee. But after the meeting, he said that he felt the ERC’s solution was just as good. “(This is) very similar, and I think the assembly is behind it implicitly,” he added.

Mike Forster, chair of ERC, said the reason he didn’t vote for the original proposal was a lack of communication on Levine’s part. He said he thought the idea probably should have gone through ERC originally.

“(We) felt more comfortable doing it as a committee than handing the responsibility over to the assembly as a whole. That’s our specialty – local politics and state politics – that’s what we do,” Forster said.

MSA and City Council have had strained relations in the recent past. The council has passed and considered several ordinances that students have opposed, most notably the proposed ban on porch couches and limitations on street parking that are seen as anti-student. The dispute climaxed in August when then-MSA Rep. Stuart Wagner handed City Council members ear plugs and sarcastically told them that, with the aid of the plugs, they would no longer have to listen to students.

“Historically, students have not been well represented in City Council,” said Levine. “It is my hope that creating new venues and channels for communication will lead to the implementation of policies that will benefit all students.”

Levine said he was pleased with the ERC’s decision to tackle this problem. He said in the future he hopes MSA will know when Council is discussing issues that affect students and will be able to organize a response. This could include finding out about less-publicized meetings when City Council discusses important issues.

“This position is vital in assuring that we’re setting the tone and letting them know that students are members of this community,” Wiggins said. “There are issues that affect us and our lifestyle, and we need to be aware of those so that we can speak up for or against them.” Wiggins added that up until this point, he believes Council members had exhibited a complete disregard for, if not hostility toward, the student population.

The ERC will interview potential candidates for the position at its meeting next Thursday in the MSA chambers at 7 p.m. and elect the liaison later that night.

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