With her right hand raised and her left planted on a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order, Nicole Stallings was sworn in as the new Michigan Student Assembly president last night. The action closed the book on one of the most contentious elections in the assembly’s recent history.
The juxtaposition between the welcoming of new members, the often sentimental goodbyes of the old and the desire to put the past behind them were recurring themes at last night’s MSA meeting, the last for the current assembly members.
Outgoing MSA President Jesse Levine offered words of wisdom to incoming assembly members.
“Don’t let anyone else define who you are and don’t let anyone else decide what success means for you,” Levine said.
Levine also took the time to praise his successor, offering his congratulations and support to Stallings.
But Levine offered more than advice during his last night as president. At one point in the meeting, Levine proudly undid his button-down dress shirt, revealing a T-shirt underneath with “21 percent” written on it in marker.
Levine said the shirt represented the percentage of students who voted in last week’s elections – a number he said was the highest in five years.
After being sworn in, Stallings called to order her first meeting as MSA president.
“It was definitely exciting, but I’m a little bit nervous,” Stallings said in an interview afterward. “I’ve learned so much over the last year, and that will really help me to be successful this year.”
Most assembly members said they were eager to start planning MSA’s future, but some remained focused on last week’s election scandals.
Most vocal about MSA’s need to confront unethical and possible illegal campaign tactics was outgoing Rackham Representative Mat Brener, an ally of MPP presidential candidate Rese Fox.
Brener said the assembly needs to take further action against people who engaged in illegal campaign tactics, most notably a denial-of-service attack of the Michigan Progressive Party’s website by people affiliated with S4M.
In a long and passionate outburst, Brener slammed S4M for its actions.
“When May comes, I’m glad to get the hell out of this place and do my dissertation in another state,” Brener said. “I will still be registered here, though, so I can still vote against S4M until hell freezes over, or you all go there,” he added, pointing to S4M members.
Regarding to Brener’s statements, Stallings said she felt a little troubled.
“Obviously, I guess I’m a little disappointed and concerned that people are still thinking about the party politics,” Stallings said. “But over the next few weeks I’m going to do my best to smooth things over and make sure that everyone feels welcome on the assembly.”
Adding to the feeling that the election controversy might not be over was a meeting yesterday between the Central Student Judiciary and members of the Michigan Progressive Party as well as the Student Conservative Party. Tommi Turner, SCP’s vice presidential candidate, said CSJ appeared open to hearing new allegations of election fraud by S4M from the two rival parties.
Turner said CSJ’s renewed interest in the complaints could lead to a change in the election results.
In the wake of last week’s election, which was tainted by dirty politicking and spamming, MSA passed a resolution last night condemning the “election misbehavior” and establishing a committee to investigate possible MSA election reforms.