The Michigan Student Assembly, in conjunction with Students Supporting Affirmative Action, has earmarked almost $12,000 to pay for buses to transport students to and from Washington when the admissions cases are heard. This decision has sparked outcry among some students and has left others wondering why MSA is allocating its funds to bus students to Washington. Furthermore, the coordination with SSAA has lead to a widespread misbelief that this money will be going solely to transport pro-affirmative action protesters to march on Washington.
By providing almost $12,000 to bus students to Washington, MSA has performed a vital service by encouraging student activism. Students who wish to go to Washington and show solidarity with other groups now have a feasible way to get there.
Additionally, this transportation to Washington is strictly non-ideological. While SSAA is helping MSA coordinate and finance the service, the MSA resolution made it expressly clear that these buses will be open to any students, regardless of political positions. It is enabling the students of this University to express their views on a national scale. The opportunity presented here is clearly beneficial to the University as a whole. Going beyond just encouraging activism, MSA has recognized the campus-wide split over affirmative action and has made sure each side can be represented.
While MSA has done its part in encouraging student activism, the same cannot be said for many faculty members. Due to the way the cases are scheduled, it is not possible to rally in Washington without missing class. Making it easier for students to miss class, at this historic moment in the University’s history, would be of great benefit to the entire community. Canceling class might not be the best solution, but providing alternative coursework or adjusting lectures to meet these constraints would allow students to maintain academic standing and the achievement of their intellectual goals while still permitting them to express their views on a national stage.
On April 1, the buses will roll and students will begin the much anticipated “March on Washington.” Thanks to the logistical and financial support of SSAA and MSA, students from both sides of the debate will be able to attend rallies in our nation’s capital. With the additional support of the University’s faculty and staff, students will be able to express their views and partake in this unique experience without the added stress of missing class. MSA stepped up to the plate, took a risk and succeeded in doing its part to aid students. It is time for the faculty to do the same.