About 40 people attended a teach-in hosted by the Student Union of Michigan on Saturday about the ability of students to organize and vocalize causes at the University.

Members of SUM, a group that formed last year to fight rising tuition rates, listened to presentations from leaders of the Coalition for Tuition Equality, the Graduate Employees’ Organization and the Lecturers’ Employee Organization as well as a member of the Quebec Student Movement via Skype.

LSA senior Ian Matchett, founder of SUM, explained that his group’s goals center around ensuring a student voice is heard by the University’s executive officers.

“We have the right to have a say in what happens to our money, what happens to our University, what happens to this huge institution that has greatly affected so many of us,” Matchett said. “We need to bring democracy to campus.”

Matchett added that while keeping tuition low is important, it’s important for the University to go beyond appeasing students by recognizing the value of student input into decision-making.

“We should have the ability to say ‘no’ to the administration,” he said.

In an interview after the event, Matchett said that SUM plans to increase its visibility on campus this semester and will push the envelope for its message to be heard.

“Depending on how CTE’s campaign goes — if the University keeps stonewalling them — I’d be in favor of building toward some sort of joint actions to kind of really draw attention to both our campaigns together,” Matchett said. “A really good thing that came out of today was a sense of unity between the organizations.”

Alan Haber, the first president of Students for a Democratic Society — a student group that wrote the Port Huron Statement in 1962 — attended the meeting. Haber noted the importance of student activists getting involved with community and local government.

Follow Giacomo Bologna on Twitter at @giacomo_bologna and The Institution, the Daily’s new student leadership blog, at @TMDinstitution.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.