As you walk to class, you are disgusted at the sheer amount of
garbage that is strewn across the Diag. Having it cleaned only once
a month is simply not enough. When you arrive at your psychology
discussion, your comments are often ignored because of the 40 other
people who are forced to take this section because so few have been
offered. And when your student group goes to book a room in the
Union, you realize you cannot, as the $140 necessary to acquire
meeting space is absent from your account. Think budget cuts
aren’t going to affect you? Think again.

Unfortunately, budget cuts are ripping through the University
with no clear end in sight. If the money is drained any faster,
you’re going to hear a whooshing sound when you walk past the
administrative offices in Fleming. To add to the economic strife,
the newly implemented tuition cap, while a good idea in theory,
will mean further incursions in our academic and extra-curricular
outlets. Perhaps the hardest part of any financial crisis is the
need to prioritize which facets of campus will lose the precious
dollars that ensure their existence. In essence, the provost will
choose who lives and who dies.

Like an Atkins diet fanatic, the University will be attempting
to trim fat right and left. But the inherent flaw until now is the
absence of students in the budget allocation process. While
independent units will lobby the provost about their respective
departments, the amount of student input has arguably been
negligible. Student Voices in Action, a group of activists hoping
to install a student voice, should be applauded for shoving their
foot in a door that would be closed without their dedication.

The Michigan Student Assembly is going to attempt to increase
student group funding, not only for the summer but also for next
year. This aligns with our responsibility to the student body to
expand education outside of the classroom. We will do our part to
provide student services at little or no cost to students. At the
same time, we expect the administration to uphold its part of the
bargain and implement student input in every decision-making
process.

The procedure will begin with conversations, letters and
educational forums advocating for rights of students to receive an
educational experience that should reach far outside the bounds of
Angell Hall. The government, the University and the administration
have a duty to us to provide an environment where we not only feel
comfortable but empowered.

In an effort to offset the damage that is about to be incurred,
MSA will better define itself, not only as a source of student
group funding but as a lobbying arm of the student body. In the
next few weeks, MSA executives are going to develop a strategic
plan to help cushion the blow of absentee state appropriations. MSA
will plan to coordinate student groups in an effort to truly
represent the diversity of our campus. This “steering
committee” will help articulate a plan of action to save
higher education and student life at the University. Eventually,
the University will team up with counterparts all over the Big Ten
and across the United States. Every public university in the
country is fighting this battle — but together we can win the
war.

In the fall, MSA will pressure Lansing and Washington to address
higher education funding issues. As responsible members of the
community, it is our duty to register and vote in elections and
keep a careful eye on local politicians. Engage your elected
representatives. Find out how they feel about higher education
funding and the University community. Invite leaders to campus so
they can appreciate the uniqueness of student life here.

If there is one thing that you should get out of this viewpoint,
it is a plea for your assistance. In order to attain success, we
need to defend ourselves. Our strength can be derived from the
number of people who choose to participate. I would encourage every
student to pick up the phone, send e-mail, go to a meeting and send
a very clear message to those who make decisions that affect our
lives.

The students of the University will not tolerate continued
attacks on student life. We listen, we vote and we demand
recognition of the immense value of our institution and expect
increased appropriations so we may continue to foster and educate
responsible and well-rounded members of society.

Mironov is the president of the Michigan Student Assembly and
a Business School junior.

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